Three Jackson County towns — Sylva, Webster and Dillsboro — recently joined the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Mountain Heritage Trout Waters Program.
Nearly 9 miles of trout streams in Sylva, Webster and Dillsboro are now classified as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, where anglers can fish with a $5 Mountain Heritage Trout Waters license. This special license is valid for three consecutive days and only for the portions of streams designated as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, which are clearly marked with green and black signs.
Anglers who currently hold a valid resident or non-resident North Carolina fishing license can fish Mountain Heritage Trout Waters without purchasing the special license.
In Sylva, the 3.25-mile section of Scott Creek from Hospital Rd. (S.R. 1437) to Hometown Place Rd. (S.R. 1381) is classified as a Mountain Heritage Trout Water and is a Hatchery-Supported Trout Water.
In Webster, a 3.4-mile section of the Tuckasegee River from the N.C. 107 bridge to Savannah Creek is classified as a Mountain Heritage Trout Water and is a Delayed-Harvest Trout Water.
The three Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Dillsboro are:
- A .65-mile section of Scott Creek from Hometown Place Road (S.R. 1381) to the Tuckasegee River, which is a Hatchery-Supported Trout Water;
- A .15-mile section of the Tuckasegee River from the falls upstream of the U.S. 23-441 (marked with sign at the falls) to Scott Creek, which is a Hatchery-Supported Trout Water; and
- A 1.9-mile section of the Tuckasegee River from Savannah Creek to the falls upstream of the U.S. 23-441 bridge, which is a Delayed-Harvest Trout Water.
When fishing public mountain trout waters classified as hatchery supported, anglers may keep up to seven trout per day, per angler, with no bait or lure restrictions and no size limits. The season for hatchery-supported trout waters runs from the first Saturday in April until the last day of February. Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters are closed to fishing from March 1 to the first Saturday in April each year.
When fishing on public mountain trout waters classified as delayed-harvest, anglers must use single-hook artificial lures and cannot harvest or possess any trout from Oct. 1 until the first Saturday of June, when waters re-open at 6 a.m. to youth 15 years old and younger under hatchery-supported regulations, with no bait restriction, no minimum length limit and a 7-trout-per-day creel limit. Waters open to all anglers that same day at noon. Hatchery-supported regulations remain in effect until Oct. 1 each year.
The Mountain Heritage Trout Waters program, established in July 2008, promotes trout fishing as a North Carolina Heritage Tourism activity. In addition to Dillsboro, Sylva and Webster, eight other cities are in the program — Spruce Pine, Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Bakersville, Burnsville, Newland, Hot Springs and Old Fort.
For visitors who do not have fishing equipment, loaner rods and reels are available free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis through the Commission’s Fishing Tackle Loaner Program, which offers rods and reels, including spincast, ultra-light and fly rods, for the day.
After returning the loaner rod and reel, first-time participants under 16 receive a free mini-tackle box containing tackle, such as flies and spinners. Tackle loaner program registrants can use their identification cards at any participating tackle loaner site across the state, including nine tackle loaner sites associated with the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters program: Spruce Pine, Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Bakersville, Burnsville, Old Fort, Sylva, Dillsboro and Webster. Rods and reels must be returned to the original loaner site.
The Mountain Heritage Trout Waters license is available only from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission by calling 1-888-248-6834 or visiting the website. For more information on the program or to download Mountain Heritage Trout Waters maps, visit www.ncwildlife.org/fishing/trout.
Image courtesy N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission