Eight miles of beautiful fishing spots on the Catawba River

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Tom Keer

The fishing in North Caroling is good and the trout fishing in North Carolina is strong, and for some time the Catawba River has been a booming fishery.

The Catawba River flows 3,285 square miles, but the trout water begins on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The stretch below Lake James is one of the main trout fishing spots on the Catawba River as the dam creates an underwater environment. Water temperatures are cool in summer and warmer in winter, and the river is stocked with brown, rainbow, and brown trout. In October 2011, the NC Wildlife Resource Commission stored nearly 10,000 brown trout 8-10 inches in size. Due to the fertility of the river, the shades of brown grow about 3/4-inches per month. The state is tracking this initial stocking with 5 additional stockings over the next four years. Needless to say, anglers can find tons of trout per mile in the river.

Where to fish on the Catawba is a problem as wading access below Lake James is very limited. Since most of the property on the river is private, there are only two fishing spots on the river. The first is at the entrance to the Watermill on Watermill Road in Glen Alpine and the second is below the Bridgewater Hydro Station on Lake James. Public land is located in the four state parks in the Pisgah National Forest basin.

Most of the fishing on the Catawba River is done by drift boat. Most boats depart from the Bridgewater Public Fishing Access Area on the Morganton Water Inlet Dam. Fishing spots on the Catawba River along the eight-mile long river include rifles, runs, and pools. If you have your own boat, choose the paint job for a ride. If not, give one of the fly shops in the area a call. There you will find a number of excellent guides who can take you on some hot fishing action on the Catawba River.

Depending on the time of year and the hatches, there is a lot of fishing with a floating line and dry flies. River fishing rigs can include working subsurface with nymphs and emergers. Throwing streamers in the fall attracts large shades of brown looking to gain some weight before winter.

Get your final licks by going to the Catawba before it gets too cold. You will not regret it!

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, co-author of Covey Rise magazine, editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and blogger for the Take Me Fishing program of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation. Keer is a regular contributor to over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics including fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor activities. When not fishing, Keer and his family hunt highland birds over their three English setters. His first book, A New England Coast Fly Fishing Guide, was published in January 2011. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or www.thekeergroup.com.