Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Asheville

Asheville, North Carolina is a famously awesome hub for outdoor recreation: easily one of the best cities in the country on that count. On top of all the hiking, backpacking, whitewater rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and other adventures, you’ve got some truly spectacular fishing on tap as well.

If you’re all-around addled for angling, you’ll find yourself sitting pretty in Asheville, with productive (and gorgeous) trout streams left and right and some world-class guides to help boost your chances of a picture-worthy catch.

Fishing With an Asheville Home Base

From the cold, shady trout streams tucked into remote highland ravines to the big rivers, Asheville’s Southern Appalachian backyard abounds with top-class fishing grounds.

Here you’ll be able to cast for brook, rainbow, and brown trout, plus the brown/brook hybrids called tiger trout. The only native Southeastern trout is the brook trout—aka the “speckled trout,” the “speck,” or the “brookie”—which in this neck of the woods historically existed as a unique regional form: the Southern Appalachian brook trout.

Logging and associated road- and rail-building decimated these indigenous trout as did introductions of non-native fish (including brook trout stocked from other parts of the country). Conservation practices, though, have helped recover the Southern Appalachian brook trout, a beautiful expression of the wild Southeast and a treat to cast for.

Asheville’s regional waters are also rich in smallmouth bass, prized for its fighting spirit, plus largemouth and striped bass. Then there’s the legendary muskellunge, that king of the pike family that can reach lengths of six feet and tip the scales past 60 pounds. Other popular catches include crappie, bream, sunfish, and catfish.

Places to Fish Around Asheville

Some of the Southeast’s most celebrated angling rivers lie within easy day-tripping reach of Asheville. That includes the French Broad River itself, which rolls right through town and is especially known for its smallmouth bass and musky opportunities. Then there’s the Nantahala—one of the truly venerated trout streams in the East—the Davidson, the Pigeon, the Tuckaseegee, the Nolichucky, and more: each flow with its own special character.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole universe of remote mountain trout streams open to the backcountry angler: a stirring taste of Southern Appalachian wilderness.

You’ve got also got ample lake and reservoir fishing at your disposal, not least at Lake Julian just a stone’s throw from Asheville: a spot to cast for bass, crappie, bream, catfish—heck, even some introduced tilapia!

Local Asheville Fishing Guides

You can, of course, strike off for your own independent fishing adventures on your Asheville getaway, nabbing some insider tips from bait shops and outfitters before you go. But there’s a lot to be said for hooking up with an expert local guide: the surest way to experience Southern Appalachian fishing at its best.

Here are just a few of your options:

Asheville Anglers

Asheville Anglers offers float trips after trout, smallmouth and stripers, muskies, and more, targeting such reliably excellent rivers as the French Broad, the Pigeon, the South Holston, the Watauga, and the Tuckaseegee.

Mountain Fly Anglers

Enjoy half- or full-day wade and float fly-fishing trips while tapping the deep local knowledge of the friendly and resourceful guides guides at Mountain Fly Anglers.

Asheville Fly Fishing Co.

A smorgasbord of casting adventures awaits you with Asheville Fly Fishing Co., including multi-day expeditions and unique smallmouth bass fishing on Class III and IV whitewater. Go-to rivers include the French Broad, Watauga, South Holston, Nolichucky, Pigeon, and Davidson; the outfitter also leads fishing trips to backcountry streams in the Pisgah National Forest.

Brown Trout Fly Fishing

Asheville’s only ORVIS-endorsed guiding service, Brown Trout Fly Fishing leads wade and float trips after trout on the Wautauga, South Holston, and Tuckaseegee, and after smallmouth bass on the French Broad, Pigeon, Toe, and Nolichucky.

Southern Appalachian Anglers

From wade and float trips on the South Toe, Watauga, Cane, Davidson, and French Broad rivers and Wilson’s Creek to fly fishing on backcountry trout streams, Southern Appalachian Anglers is another outstanding choice for experiencing Asheville-area casting at its finest.

Primo Southeastern Fishing Out of Asheville

Half the fun, of course, of a fishing trip out of Asheville, is soaking up the lush and rugged beauty of this irresistible mountain town’s scenic hinterland. Even if those brookies or smallmouths aren’t biting, you’re going to enjoy a day well spent amid Southern Appalachian beauty!