For most average anglers in North Carolina who don’t have access to private trout water, delayed harvest streams/ponds are always a great opportunity to have some fun. For those of you who don’t know what “delayed harvest” water is: it’s a collection of some 30-40 North Carolina rivers and ponds that are stocked periodically every fall and spring with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. If you enjoy catching large numbers of fish with the occasional 18+ incher, these fisheries are for you. If you’re a resident of North Carolina, or somewhere close by, this may very well be worth your time. Here’s where we recommend you fish on your next trip North Carolina:
1. Helton Creek
- If you’re ever in or around West Jefferson, NC this is a great place to stop. Because such a large portion of this stream is stocked, even if it gets a little crowded there’s still plenty of room to fish. This a great mid-size stream with plenty of deep holes and runs to nymph.
2. Wilson Creek
- This is probably one of the most well-known fisheries on the list of delayed harvest streams in NC. It attracts a lot of attention from the Charlotte, Raleigh, and Hickory areas. Located in Collettsville, NC this is a relatively large body of water. If you can beat the crowds, their have been stories of 30 inch browns taken from the hatchery supported section of Wilson. However, you will find that like every other DH stream, 10-12 inch fish are the norm. One great thing about Wilson is it provides quite a variety of things to fish; you can find lots of runs, riffles, and deep holes scattered all throughout.
3. North Toe River
- The delayed harvest section of the North Toe River located in Spruce Pine, NC is a great place to bring the family for a picnic and some fishing. It sits on Riverside park in downtown Spruce Pine, with plenty of paved parking, walking trails, and benches there should be no reason for the wife to say no. Despite its ease of access, the toe can get extremely crowded making it very tough early on in the delayed harvest season. It can also be dangerous to wade in high water conditions.
4. Mitchell River
- The Mitchell River is the eastern-most river on the delayed harvest stocking schedule. Located in Surry county, this is also a great river for anglers coming from Winston, Hickory, Statesville and other cities in the Piedmont as well as those in southern Virginia. Like any other Delayed Harvest river, the Mitchell can get pretty crowded. One attractive feature on the Mitchell is it’s easily accessbile, relatively spacious, and easy to wade thus making it easier to sustain a large crowd. It tends to fish average throughout the delayed harvest season.
5. Little River
- The Little River in Sparta, NC is one of the best delayed harvest fisheries in the state, in our opinion. With robust populations of good-sized holdover fish (fish that have survived the harvesting season) and some wild fish scattered about, this is an extraordinarily fun spot. The little river offers several miles of pretty dang awesome water, and the best part about it is: not many people know about how well it fishes. Of course, a delayed harvest river is a delayed harvest river, how much easier can it get? However, this river should be taken into consideration on the next trip out.
6. Watauga River
- Before anyone gets their hopes up, the North Carolina delayed harvest section of the Watauga fishes absolutely nothing like the eastern Tennessee section of the Watauga. Nevertheless, there are plenty of 10-12 inch stocked trout willing to munch on your flies behind Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC. This place gets stupid-crowded however, it’s typically never too crowded to find fishable water. The NCWRC (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission) has really done a fantastic job making this a good fishery. Their are plenty of man-made attributes scattered all throughout the delayed harvest section that are fairly easy to see. Fishing here would be a good choice for anyone visiting Blowing Rock or Boone, NC.
You may not see your favorite on the list, comment below and tell us where you fish!
To check out our last post “Catching More Fish in the Cold” click here: https://catchingfishonthefly.com/2016/12/11/catching-more-fish-in-the-cold/