Catch trout, sleep under the stars

Campgrounds come in all shapes and sizes, but most operated by the governmental agencies have picnic tables, tent pads,grills, lantern hangers and bathroom facilities.
Campgrounds come in all shapes and sizes, but most operated by the governmental agencies have picnic tables, tent pads, grills, lantern hangers and bathroom facilities.

These four camp sights will put you in reach of some of the best trout fishing in the Carolinas

June is an ideal time to plan a fishing-camping trip to the mountains. The weather is perfect. Warm days and cool evenings make sleeping out a true pleasure.The trout fishing, too, is excellent. The water is still cool enough for trout to be feisty. But warm enough that anglers can wade without bulky, hot waders. Evening hatches are prime. Golden stones, yellow mayflies and light cahills are especially active. And terrestrials such as inchworms, beetles and ants are very productive, particularly around the middle of the month.

The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and state parks in North Carolina and South Carolina operate hundreds of campgrounds. Fees are nominal, usually between $15 and $20 per night, depending on the services provided. Unless the campground is designated as a primitive site, campsites have sturdy picnic tables, tent pads, fire grills, lantern hangers, flush toilets, drinking water and parking spaces for RVs. A few USFS campgrounds and most state-park campgrounds have hot-water showers.

Fishing access is the key

The campgrounds listed are selected to represent a wide geographical area. But the primary emphasis is on access to excellent fishing.

Campgrounds are a lot less expensive than motels. And anglers don’t have to travel far to fish.

Here are four of the best:

  • Black Mountain Campground – Pisgah National Forest, Yancey County, N.C. Located adjacent to the famed Toe River, Black Mountain has 46 sites for tents and RVs.

Fishing: The South Toe River is one of the top wild-trout streams in the mountains and is known for its trophy browns and rainbows. From the concrete bridge at the campground downstream to the game-lands boundary, the South Toe is catch-and-release, artificial flies only fishing. From the game-land boundary to Clear Creek, the stream is wild-trout water, and from Clear Creek to Yancey County Recreation Park, the stream is hatchery supported water. Other nearby streams worth visiting are: Upper Creek and Lower Creek (catch-and-release, artificial flies only), Big Lost Cove Creek, and Camp Creek (both wild-trout waters).

Directions: From Burnsville, N.C., take US 19 east 5 miles, turn right on NC 80, go 12 miles, turn right on FR 472 and go 3 miles to the campground.

For reservations, call 877-444-8777.

This national park has plenty of campsites

  • Smokemont Campground – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Swain County, N.C. Located near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Smokemont has 142 sites for tents and RVs. Flush toilets and drinking water are available.

Fishing: Bradley Fork, one of the most-underrated trout streams in the park, runs through the campground and joins the Oconaluftee River. Other good trout streams close by are the Oconaluftee River, Chastain Creek (a tributary of Bradley Fork), Raven Fork and Straight Fork. Cherokee Enterprise Waters are only a short drive from the campground.

Directions: The campground is on Newfound Road, US 441, 6 miles north of Cherokee. The campground is open year-round, and sites may be reserved between May 15 and Oct. 31 by calling 877-444-6777.

  • Stone Mountain State Park Campground – Wilkes and Alleghany counties, North Carolina. The family campground has 37 sites for tents and trailers on two loop roads, drinking water, flush toilets, and hot-water showers. The campground also has a dump station. Backcountry camping is permitted along Widow’s Creek.


More than 17 miles of the park’s streams are designated as trout waters, with rainbow and brown trout dominating the lower parts, and brook trout inhabiting the upper reaches. Garden, Widow’s, and Big Sandy Creeks are wild-trout streams. The East Prong of the Roaring River is a delayed-harvest stream. Harris Creek in the western portion of the park is designated as special trout waters (catch-and-release, artificial lures only). Additionally, Stone Mountain has a “trophy” trout fishing program on Bullhead and Rich Mountain creeks. For a fee, anglers get exclusive rights to one of eight sections on the streams. Only fly fishing is permitted, and hooks cannot have barbs. All trout must be released.

Directions: From the south, turn off US 21 north onto SR 1002 and go to the John P. Frank Parkway. From the west, take NC 18 north, turn right on SR 1002 and follow the parkway to the park. For reservations, call 877-722-6762 or visit the ReserveAmerica website.

Don’t overlook trout fishing on Lake Jocassee

  • Devils Fork State Park Campground – Oconee County, Salem, S.C. Located on Lake Jocassee, undeniably the best lake for trout fishing in North Carolina or South Carolina, the campground has 59 sites with electric and water hook-ups, 25 primitive camping sites, a boat-in camping site and four boat ramps. The only access to the lake is from the park.

The campground offers fairly access to the excellent trout streams in the Jocassee Gorges. Maps to the streams are available at the park ranger station.

For those who prefer luxury accommodations, the park has 20 furnished villas.

Directions: The park is in Salem, S.C., in Oconee County. From SC 11, take the Lake Jocassee Road exit to the park. For reservations, visit the South Carolina State Parks reservation website or call 866-345-7375.

Click here for more trout fishing options in western North Carolina.

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Robert Satterwhite
About Robert Satterwhite 178 Articles
Bob Satterwhite has been writing about the outdoors, particularly trout fishing, for more than 25 years. A native of Morganton, N.C., he lives in Cullowhee, N.C., close to the Tuckasegee River, Caney Fork, Moses Creek, and several other prime trout streams.