North Carolina and South Carolina both contain national forests and state forests. While the national forests are operated by the U.S. Forestry Service, the state forests are run by each state. Dozens of these forests exist throughout both states, and many of them have fishing opportunities.
Some of the forests contain streams, some have ponds, some have lakes, and some have rivers. A good number of the forests have more than one type of water, and the species of fish available ranges from cold water trout in the mountains to flounder along the coast.
A state fishing license is required to fish any of these waters, and some forests may also require a separate permit. Some of them also have their own creel limits that may vary from state limits.
These fishing opportunities give anglers a chance to really get away from the crowds, and Dennis Branford of Gastonia, N.C. said he feels these are the most underutilized fishing holes in the Carolinas.
Branford relishes fishing in the state and national forests throughout the Carolinas, and has plenty of opportunities as he stays on the road for work between both states.
“These are some of the cleanest areas I’ve ever fished, and many times I have whatever body of water I’m fishing all to myself. These spots are far less crowded than even state parks. I’ve caught every species of fish in the Carolinas in the state and national forests, and even though they are mostly of average size, I’ve never had as much luck catching the quantity of fish as I have at these forests,” he said.
Branford also said that on most of these bodies of water, easy access for bank fishing is plentiful, but that doesn’t mean boats are out of the question.
“In some forests, bank fishing is all that’s available, but that’s okay because the banks are clean and clear, and some bodies of water are small enough that you can reach all of it by casting from the bank. And I’ve used my canoe in some of these locations. But other forests have decent boat ramps that you can launch a boat from,” he said.
Click here for a list of national forests in North Carolina, and check out the Tarheel State’s state forests here.