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River - LOWER section

Large-size tailwater, limestone, and freestone river

Location West of Bryson City on US 19/74. Moderate to difficult access. (see below)

Species Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout

License Requirements NC fishing license with a trout stamp   

The Nantahala River To create the most perfect trout stream in the world, would you combine the attributes of tailwater, which supplies fresh flows of cold, clean oxygenated water, with the nutrient rich properties of a limestone stream? Named one of the top trout streams in the country, and rated as one of the Top 100 Trout Rivers in North America by Trout Unlimited, the Nantahala is that perfect trout fishing destination. The North Carolina State Record Brown Trout was caught on the lower Nantahala River and weighed 24lbs 10oz! Trophy trout, and many smaller wild trout inhabit the deep, clear waters of the Nantahala.

The lower Nantahala is also hatchery-supported by the State of North Carolina and is stocked from March through October. Thanks to efforts of the US Forest Service there are many great points of entry to the river complete with restroom facilities and picnic areas.

NOTE: Hatchery supported trout waters are closed to 30 minutes past sunset on the last day of February until 7 am on the first Saturday in April (opening day). While fishing is closed, Wildlife personnel will stock all hatchery supported trout waters.

Read Fly Fish America article by Beau Beasley

Ease of wading here depends on the generation schedule from the upstream Duke Energy power plant. When water is not being generated to make electricity, the lower Nantahala is easily waded and you can find hundreds of trout in calm, slick pools sipping dry flies.

Once the gates are opened, the Nantahala River transforms into one of the most exhilarating white water destinations in the south. Wading and fishing under generation can still be accomplished with caution and use of the generous access points along the river.

14 minute segment of a Fly Fish TV episode with Kelly Galloup and Bryson City guide Mac Brown fishing the Lower Nanatahala River for Browns in the Fall.

Fishing Map