Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fly Fishing Trails and Jackson County, N.C.

Alex Bell is crouching over a small trout stream

Traveling to Western North Carolina means relief from the heat and humidity of summer for most Lowcountry residents. The Smokey Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Cherokee Indian Reservation all intersect near the town of Sylva. A half-hour ride in any direction from Sylva will allow anglers to cast into their Fly Fishing Trail.           

I met Guide Alex Bell at 8 a.m. at Caney Branch General Store in Cullowhee. Bell is a Founder of the N.C. Fly Fishing Trail and he runs his own guide service, appropriately called AB’s. We were joined by Marianne Baker, a social media specialist working for Jackson County Tourism.
We loaded into Bell’s pick-up and headed into the Nantahala National Forest where public fishing is allowed. My out-of-state trout fishing license cost $42, making me eligible to keep seven trout per day with no size limit in effect. We were bound for Moses Creek, which is a tributary for the Tuckasegee River via Caney Fork Creek. We put on Frogg Toggs waterproof and breathable waders in order to be comfortable in the cold water stream. We also used boots with a felt sole for surer footing on the slippery rocks.
Beautiful brook trout are usually very small
After a couple of hours of fishing I managed to catch two small trout, and Bell managed two more. Perhaps the full ‘Honey Moon’ the night before had the trout full after a nighttime feeding frenzy? But that’s just fishing. Still, the small stream fishing for native brook trout in this instance is very demanding, and I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to find out about the challenge of brook trout waters.

We exited the stream and departed Cullowhee, or Land of the Lilies, and charged northward to Sylva to enjoy a lunch downtown. Due to the elevation changes in Jackson County, windy roads are the norm, making travel times increased since slower speeds are necessary. All along these roads are trout fishing areas that offer broad creeks and gentle slopes, so visit the Internet at to review your options.
At Lulu’s On Main, Bell and I were joined by Julie Spiro, Executive Director for Jackson County’s Chamber of Commerce. “Our county covers 440 square miles, and the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is at Balsam,” said Spiro. “That elevation is 6053-feet and it’s near Scott Creek, which is also on the Fly Fishing Trail.” Spiro grew up in Jackson County fishing the Tuck near her family farm, and she can use that lifetime of experience to showcase their county as a trout fishing destination. 

To read this feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about Jackson County click on Nature Notes or Arrowmont Stables.

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