Finding fly-fishing water

Great fly fishing opportunities are available for many anglers in western NC and the upstate of SC. (Picture by L. Woodrow Ross)

Fly-fishing is a unique sport, and although we think of trout being a favorite quarry, warm water species also offer good opportunities for the fly fisherman. If you are a novice and seeking a place to fly-fish for trout, a good place to start is on the internet. A little research, prior to aimlessly looking for a likely spot, will yield a wealth of information.

NC streams

A quick search online revealed “Fly Fishing Guide to North Carolina Mountain Trout Streams.” This site covers a wealth of information about streams, fly selection, hatch chart, maps, GPS coordinates, stocking schedules, guide services and a listing of fly shops.

It also offers details about required licenses, best times to fish, types of trout available, and much more valuable information.

This is by no means an exception to the great sources of information on the internet. You can select a likely topic and will be rewarded with good information that can save you a lot of “boot leather” and unproductive trips. A lot of valuable information is available for those willing to search for it.

Another good source of information is your local fly shop. They can provide timely information about destinations, water condition and tactics for taking trout. Of course, they will offer the “latest and greatest” flies and guide services, if needed.

SC opportunities

Although this state does not have the abundance of good trout water that North Carolina offers, South Carolina does have some good limited options. These include the Chattooga River, Chauga River and the Eastatoe River.

Lake Jocassee is a destination for trophy trout, but does not offer great fly-fishing opportunities, except on the rivers feeding the lake. Be careful if fishing these rivers, as the upstream portions of them may be North Carolina waters. You might need both South Carolina and North Carolina licenses if you are fishing these rivers: Whitewater River, Toxaway River, Thompson River, Horsepasture River and Laurel Fork River.

Although the Chattooga River is the border between South Carolina and Georgia, either license is acceptable as long as you do not leave the water to fish on the side where you are unlicensed.

State agencies

The NCWRC and SCDNR provide excellent sources of information regarding regulations and locations for fly-fishing. As noted above with regards to reciprocal agreements between states, North Carolina has reciprocal agreements with Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia for boundary waters, but not with South Carolina.

Also, students and military personnel and their families are permitted to purchase resident licenses when they are living in the state full-time. This applies in both North and South Carolina.

Other Resources

Other good online resources include and These are valuable and entertaining sites that will help educate and excite you with tactics, tips and trophy photos. Recent articles include: Winter Nymphing on the Catawba River, Southern Appalachian Brook Trout and Davidson River Brown Trout.

The recent blog https:, hosted by Mike Watts and Larry Chesney, offers articles about fishing destinations, fly tying and techniques that will enhance any fly-fisherman’s abilities. It is full of valuable information and is good reading for those of us in the fly-fishing community.

Good information is only helpful if it is put to use. So get out and apply some of that knowledge. I can’t think of a more gratifying place to be than on a trout stream with a good fly rod in hand.

Just ask:

While anglers are always hesitant to give up the exact locations of their favoirte “honey holes,” almost any will offer tips on general areas if asked respectfully by other anglers unfamiliar with the waters in question.

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