May 16-20: Cherokee NC Outing – River Valley Campground

Group Leaders / Additional Information:

The outing leader is Joel Dean.

River Information

The MTFF Cherokee Indian Reservation Fly Fishing Outing provides some of the best fly fishing opportunities available in the Eastern USA. Whether you are fly fishing for native Brook Trout, tailwater Brook Trout,  Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Palomino Trout, or Bass this is great place to start your spring fly fishing experiences. Popular fishing locations such as the Ocunaluftee River, Raven Fork River, Nantahala River, and Tuckaseegee River give you some of the most diverse fly fishing opportunities available in the Eastern USA. There are 30 miles of freestone streams on the Cherokee Indian Reservation that are privately stocked using the Tribe’s own fish hatchery.

The Ocunaluftee

The Ocunaluftee River is sometimes an overlooked section just outside of Cherokee NC and is some of the best trout water in the Great Smokey Mountain Park to fish. There is a good population of both Brown and Rainbow trout here. The access is very easy and U.S. Hwy-441 offers multiple spots for accessing the river by roadside pull-offs. It really couldn’t be any easier to access such gorgeous water.

The Ocunaluftee River in Cherokee is a large-size freestone creek featuring brown trout, rainbows, brookies and palominos. It is stocked twice each week by the Tribe’s hatchery. There is easy access along the entire length of the river. Cherokee maintains areas from which to access the river to fish, including an island park, handicap access locations, and numerous access points with ample parking. Map

Raven Fork

The Raven Fork as it flows through the Qualla Boundary is stocked twice each week with rainbow, brown and brook trout, Donaldson strain rainbow trout, and palomino trout. There is great roadside access and easy wading.

Raven Fork / Troph Trout Fly Fishing Only Section

This section is home to the biggest trout in the Smokies. You can expect to catch rainbow, and brown trout that exceed 20 inches, some measuring in the mid-30-inch range. Oftentimes anglers fishing this section will catch the trout of a lifetime. Access is great, and wading is easy to moderate. A 2.2-mile portion of Raven Fork is set aside for catch-and-release fishing. This stretch, which runs north from where the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses Raven Fork, offers deep, inviting pools alongside riffles, runs, and pocket waters. A special permit is required.

Nantahala River

The Nantahala River offers anglers some of the South’s most celebrated trout-fishing waters. North Carolina Game and Fish named it one of the state’s ten best trout streams and Trout Unlimited listed it as one of the nation’s ‘Top 100’ trout streams. The river is stocked by the state of North Carolina but also has a very good population of native trout. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest offer hundreds of miles of spectacularly clear streams. Just a few minutes from Bryson City, the sparkling waters of Deep Creek are ripe for fly fishing, and many anglers enjoy the Nantahala River just west of town, particularly the section above the powerhouse on Wayah Road.

Sections of the Nantahala River

The Nantahala River is divided into three sections, with different fishing regulations for each.

  1. The Upper Nantahala from the dam to White Oak Creek is classified as Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters with no size limit or bait restriction and a creel limit of seven trout per day. Hatchery Supported Trout Waters are marked with green-and-white signs that are posted conspicuously along the watercourse. This is primarily the section along Old River Road. Map


  1. The Upper Nantahala from White Oak Creek to the Duke Energy Power Plant is classified as Delayed Harvest Trout Waters, which may be fished only with artificial lures with one single hook (no natural bait). And there are strict seasonal restrictions between October and June.

The Upper Nantahala offers a consistent flow and is arguably one of the most scenic mountain rivers in the nation with its many cascades and waterfalls.


  1. The Lower Nantahala, along the floor of the Nantahala Gorge downstream of the power plant is also classified as Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters with no size limit or bait restriction and a creel limit of seven trout per day. But because this is where most of the rafting and kayaking activity occurs, the Lower Nantahala is the only stream in the state where night fishing is allowed.

Tuckasegee River

The Tuckasegee River, the Gem of the Southeast. Nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, Jackson County is home to the Fly Fishing Trail with its center piece being the Tuckasegee River, which dissects the county as it flows north to Fontana Lake.  The “Tuck,” as it is known to the locals, is a beautiful tail water used for the 2011 USA Fly Fishing Championships, in which the Gold Medal was won by Team USA Member Lance Egan. Map

The WNC Fly Fishing Trail

THE WNC FLY FISHING TRAIL includes some of the best fly fishing waters in North Carolina. Its 15 stops provide a variety of options for catching brook, brown and rainbow trout. Whether you’re searching for quantity or size, open water or small streams, the WNC Fly Fishing Trail has you covered. Western NC Fishing Trail. Map

The most popular time to fish the Tuck is during the Delayed Harvest (DH) Fishing Season which runs from October 1 till the first Friday in June.  During this time frame the Tuck is a catch and release fishery with an artificial single-hook restriction.  The Tuck DH Boundary runs approximately 5.5 miles from the NC 107 bridge to the falls located 275 yards upstream of the U.S. 23-441 bridged marked by a sign on each bank.  This regulation appeals to fly fishermen and spin fishermen alike.  You will not only see anglers stripping streamers, drifting nymphs, and casting dries but you will see a fair amount of spinner fishermen taking good numbers of non-native Brook, Rainbow, and Brown Trout.

Jackson County receives an annual stocking of 92,800 trout, the most in the state of North Carolina.  In the months of October and November 2016, the Tuck DH section was stocked with 19,600 trout.  Eighty percent of this number was comprised of non-native Brook and Rainbow Trout with the other 20% comprised of Brown Trout.  Normally, trout reach 12″ in length before making it to the Tuck, but you can expect to see, and potentially land, trophy sized trout on any drift presentation.

STATE: North Carolina

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Driving Directions:

    River Valley RV Park and Campground

    PO Box 471 (Located at 2987 Big Cove Road)
    Cherokee, NC 28719
    Campground: (828) 497-3540; Store: (828) 497-6510
    Open Late March through October