Transylvania County has nearly 500 miles of creeks, streams and rivers that course through its steep mountains and rich forests, and they are a top destination in the state, and beyond, for fly-fishing.
The East Fork of the French Broad River is a favorite destination, thanks to its easy access and the smallmouth bass and large trout population. The drop- and pool-style river is home to countless brown, rainbow and brook trout.
Fishing in the East Fork is typically good from October to June. In the summer heat, anglers have two excellent options: go early or go to the higher elevation streams, where there are more oxygen-rich waters to be found.
The size of fish that can be caught in the river run the gamut, but the average is usually between 10 and 12 inches. Each year, the state stocks around 17,000 trout along the nearly 5-mile section of the East Fork that runs alongside East Fork Road between Glady Fork Road and the main stem of the French Broad. Catch-and-release regulations apply from October to May, and only single-hook artificial lures are allowed.
North Fork French Broad
The deep gorge of the North Fork of the French Broad is a place to find wild and elusive trout. The river’s rugged location makes it less popular with the average fishermen and there are a limited number of access points. There are stretches where you have to climb over waterfalls and big boulders and there is no official trail or trail markings for 3 to 6 miles, so caution is advised. The North Fork isn’t for those looking to land big stocked trout just minutes from the road. The river holds rainbow and brown trout, but occasionally a brook trout from one of the small tributaries will wash into the river. It’s recommended fishermen looking to test their mettle on the North Fork start at the Pisgah National Forest boundary at Lazy “J” Campground, located at 1237 Parkway Road. The North Fork is regulated as Wild Natural Bait, allowing anglers who favor bait to fish backcountry streams for wild trout.
The state-run hatchery at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education is located near the headwaters of the Davidson River and creates ideal conditions for trout. The hatchery puts nutrients into the river that feed the whole river and results in some big fish. Most of the Davidson is only a “stone’s throw” from U.S. 276, but above the hatchery the river narrows into a smaller stream that offers more of a wilderness setting and fewer people. The average size trout in the river is around 14 inches, but those bigger than 20 inches are often caught. The public water begins at the entrance of Pisgah National Forest on U.S. 276 and runs upstream to the confluence with Avery Creek (near Pisgah Horse Stables). It is designated “Hatchery Supported” and is open to fishing the first Saturday in April.
The Little River, flowing out of DuPont State Recreational Forest, is the other delayed harvest river in the county. The special regulation water begins near Hooker Falls and continues upstream to the confluence with Lake Dense. This river is also a popular area with hikers, bikers and sightseers, and seclusion is often fleeting. The above rivers are just a few of the waters that flow through Transylvania County. A newcomer might be wise to employ the use of a guide in finding the right spot, while more adventurous souls may simply purchase a map and strike off on their own. Guide services for fishing in the county include: •Bear Tracks Travel Center is located at 10932 Rosman Highway on the way toward Lake Toxaway and Sapphire. For more information, call (828) 862-8992 or go to www.beartrackstravelcenter.com. •Davidson River Outfitters is located at 49 Pisgah Highway in Pisgah Forest. For more information, call (828) 877-418 or go to www.davidsonflyfishing.com. •Headwaters Outfitters is located at 25 Parkway Road in Rosman. For more information, call (828) 877-3106 or go to www.headwatersoutfitters.com.