Western North Carolina trout fishing is one of the most popular outdoor activities that is enjoyed by both expert fly-fisherman, and kids alike. Our area boasts an almost endless amount of pristine mountain waters that offer many different types of trout fishing opportunities. In this post, we want to share our opinion on the Cullasaja River, along the Cullasaja River Gorge, between Franklin & Highlands, NC.
The Cullasaja River is a ‘Hatchery-Supported Waters‘ river that receives a good number of Rainbow, Brook & Brown trout throughout the year. The ‘stockers’ (as we like to call them), are stocked from several different points along the river, usually around bridges. If you’re lucky and time it just right, you could find yourself in the middle of a recent stocking. If so, you’ll have no trouble catching fish!
Even if you don’t hit the jackpot, you’ll still be in good shape to catch some mountain trout. It seems like every time we walk over a bridge along the Cullasaja, we see a few trout swimming around below. One such bridge accessed via ‘Goldmine Road’. This is a popular stock-point and offers very easy access to some nice fishing spots for any level of fisher.
The Local Scoop.
Although the Cullasaja River is hatchery-supported, there are wild trout to be caught… If you take the time to find them. The majority of fishing ‘pressure’ is located around the bridges, the pull-offs along US Highway 64, waterfall/swimming holes, etc. The trout you’ll find near these locations will more than likely be ‘stockers’. Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these trout; they are clean fish and are perfectly good to eat! The reasons we enjoy catching wild trout vs. the stocked variety are: color, fight & challenge.
Wild trout have prettier color and skin patterns than stocked trout due to their exposure to natural surroundings their entire lives.
More times than not, a wild trout will put up more of an aggressive ‘fight’ during the catch and while landing the fish. Think about it this way: a ‘stocked trout’ is fed… a ‘wild trout’ has to hunt for it’s food. Which do you think would be more aggressive in it’s pursuit?
You’ll find it harder to catch a wild trout than a stocked trout. Why? Well, we can use the same comparison as we did above in the fight description. After being fed for the majority of it’s life, the stocked trout will bite at just about anything that resembles a food source. This isn’t the case for the wild trout because it has had to hunt for it’s food to sustain it’s existence. This makes the wild trout much more selective in it’s diet. The wild trout knows what will benefit it the most.
Having described why we prefer catching wild vs stocked, we hope you get a better picture of why this is.
So, are you ready for our recommendation??
We recommend wading the Cullasaja River from any of the easy access points located along U.S. Highway 64 between Franklin & Highlands, NC, for a chance to catch some wild trout. Remember you can use natural or artificial bait in this river, but we recommend using artificial. By doing this, you’ll make catching either type of trout (wild/stocked) more of a challenge, and you’ll save a lot of time not having to bait your hook!
If you plan on ‘killing’ fish, please remember that your limit is 7 trout. Check out this simple but delicious way to prepare our catch at dinner time!! —> Fish Fry Recipe Mix