Places to fish in North Carolina Mountains | Otter Creek Trout Farm


a father and his daughter fish for trout

Take a family & kid-friendly trip to the North Carolina mountains this summer, near Franklin NC, to experience Otter Creek Trout Farm.  The kids will have a fabulous time pond fishing, learning, and simply watching the beautiful trout at the farm.

welcome sign at otter creek trout farm

Alex and Nicole, owners of Otter Creek, will undoubtably welcome you with open arms.  I had the opportunity visit their unique property last summer, tucked in the scenic Nantahala Mountain range of Macon County.  During my visit, I sat with Alex beside Otter Creek (which borders the entire property, and is available for private fishing outings by appointment), as he told me a bit more about the process of raising NC Mountain Trout. He has some cool stories of how he’s grown his business over the years.  It’s tough work to produce such a beautiful product, which is Rainbow Trout.  Such a peaceful property to visit.  If you close your eyes for a moment, you can almost hear the water splashing by.

The Trout.

From fingerlings, all the way up to 8 lb. monsters, the trout at Otter Creek Trout Farm are a sight to behold.  You can image your kid’s first experience watching a 20+ inch trout as it cruises by, just out of their reach.  How exciting!
Pond Fishing is available to all.  Otter Creek sells their trout by the pound, and it’s keep what you catch. Pond fishing trout average about 1 pound to 1.5 pounds.

It’s tough to beat fresh NC mountain trout, so definitely plan on catching some while at the farm.  Alex will even clean them up for you!  Whether you fry them, bake them or grill them, you can’t go wrong.  If you’ve never cooked trout before, it’s usually best to start simple.
Try this delicious trout recipe, for starters.

The Farm.

While planning your trip to OCTF, call ahead and ask Alex or Nicole to book a farm tour for your family or group.  Trout farming is a very interesting process and I promise that you’ll learn lots!  You might even meet the resident hogs 🙂
Also, be sure to ask Nicole about her herb garden.  Fresh herbs would pair well with your fresh mountain trout… hint, hint!
Have you ever had a goose egg?  Probably not.  I hadn’t either until my trip to OCTF.  I came home with a humongous goose egg… and it was delicious!  I know, random mention, but this IS a farm, ya know?!

Now, start planning your trip to Otter Creek Trout Farm!
Give Alex and Nicole a call:  (828) 321-9810
Or, shoot them an email:
More info about OCTF on Stay And Play In The Smokies

trout farm in north carolina


17th Taste of Scotland & Celtic Festival


The Taste of Scotland is back again this year in downtown Franklin NC!  Officially in it’s 17th year of operation, this great cultural festival is always held on Father’s Day weekend.  The events start on Thursday, June 12th, and run through Sunday, June 15th.

Unlike many of the other regional/national Scottish Festivals, the Taste of Scotland is, and always will be, FREE to the public!

What to expect.  (For a full schedule of events, please click here)

Authentic Scottish foods, Live Music (2 locations downtown), Parades, Highland Game Demonstrations, Crafters, Cherokee/Scottish Heritage Demonstrations, and even a “Ceilidh” (Scottish for “Party”) with local food & craft beer can all be enjoyed over this multi-day festival.  The main day of attractions will be held on Saturday, June 14th.

downtown franklin nc festival

Family & Kid-Friedly.

As always, the TOS is a family and kid-friendly event!  Bring the entire family to this historic and cultural event in the cozy little North Carolina mountain town of Franklin NC this Father’s Day weekend 2014!

kids having fun with their dad at a festival

Connect with the Taste of Scotland on Facebook
Email the Taste of Scotland Festival Director

Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail | Jackson County


Image Credit: Jackson County Chamber of Commerce

Sylva, Dillsboro, & Cullowhee NC | A trout fishing destination on the rise

Trout Fishing is on the rise in western North Carolina, and rightfully so.  The rise in popularity for the sport of fly fishing here can be largely attributed to Jackson County’s creation of the “first and only fly fishing trail in the United States,” the WNC Fly Fishing Trail.  The creation of the Trail helps cater to the one-third of all visitors that stop by the Jackson County visitor center with trout fishing already in their sights.

The Trail boasts a diverse selection of mountain trout waters including:  Hatchery Supported, Delayed-Harvest, Wild, Wild Natural Bait, Catch And Release – Flies Only, Catch And Release – Artificial Lures Only.  There is truly something for every level of experience.  Before heading out, please take some time to familiarize yourself with the NC Wildlife Regulations that are applied to each body of water along the Trail.

When trying to decide on which trout waters will better suit your experience level, here a few recommendations (for more detail about North Carolina Wildlife fishing regulations, visit our website here):

Hatchery Supported & Delayed Trout Waters:  Beginner to Experienced.  Expect to catch fish fairly easily.

Wild:  Experienced.  You must use artificial single-hook lures, making for a much more challenging day on the water.

Wild Natural Bait:  Intermediate to Experienced.  The use of natural bait such as worms makes it a little easier to attract a wild and cautious trout.

Catch & Release (Flies/Artificial Lures Only):  Experienced.  The lure restrictions make for a challenging day, and releasing the trout properly takes some knowledge.


Photo Credit: Jackson County Chamber of Commerce


The WNC Fly Fishing Trail takes you to 15 excellent spots to try your luck at Smoky Mountain trout.  You can catch Brook, Brown, and Rainbow trout.  Whether you desire quantity or size, small streams or large open water rivers, WNC Fly Fishing Trail has you covered.  The website lists each creek or river, and gives you each of these tools to help plan your adventure:

The Stretch:  An overview of how long each body of water is.

Access Points:  Where to park

Type of Water:  Fishing Designations like “Hatchery Supported”

Available Fish:  What you can expect to reel in

Numbers or Size:  Will you catch a lot of small to medium sized fish, or will you catch a trophy?

Noteworthy:  The 411 or local knowledge about the area

Another feature of the WNC Fly Fishing Trail in Jackson County is their detailed, waterproof map of the trail.  The maps are complimentary and can be downloaded from the website, picked up at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, or you can contact the Jackson County Tourism Authority (800-962-1911).

The Trail even has a “Trail Pledge” that everyone is asked to make before heading out.

“As a true sportsman, I pledge to never litter and to avoid trespassing on private lands.  I will respect the rights of property owners, and always leave the streams in better condition than I found them.”  I don’t know about you, but I can get on board with this!

See more articles and info like this via our On-Line version of Stay And Play In The Smokies the magazine here.

Cullasaja River Gorge Cleanup | Franklin & Highlands NC

group of 20 volunteers from Franklin NC
On Saturday, April 13th a group of 50 volunteers comprised of a diverse group of citizens from the Franklin & Highlands area joined forces to cleanup the beautiful Cullasaja River Gorge’s roadside and riverbank.
This initiative is one of the Highlands Chamber of Commerce’s ongoing annual projects to help keep our natural assets clean. This takes place every spring during the NCDOT’s clean sweep week.

This year, Venture Local Franklin members, Franklin Chamber of Commerce staff/board members,  Stay And Play In The Smokies, and other dedicated citizens of Franklin joined in to make an even bigger impact on this stretch of the gorgeous”Mountain Waters Scenic Byway“. Twenty volunteers were representing Franklin.

“Franklin & Highlands market this same stretch of scenic highway for tourism and recreation purposes, and its very important for both communities to keep the roadsides of Highway 64 as beautiful as the natural assets that surround them. So we decided to reach out to Jennifer Smathers at the Highlands Chamber Visitor Center to join forces.” – Matt Bateman, Venture Local Franklin/Stay And Play In The Smokies.

“One of VLF’s goals is to continue to reach out to other groups and entities within Franklin and beyond, so we can work together on moving Franklin forward in a positive direction” – Matt Bateman
The combined effort bagged litter from just above Cullasaja Falls, all the way up to the town limits of Highlands.  Over 100 bags were filled by volunteers and hauled away by the U.S. Forest Service.

Main Street Coffee & Tea in downtown Franklin donated coffee for the volunteers of Franklin, while Bill & Sharon Van Horn donated bagels from Dills Creek Bagel Co. also of Franklin.


Early Spring Magazine is here! Plan Your Trip to the NC Smokies

Plan your trip to the ‘quieter side of the Smokies’ this spring with help from our newest magazine!
In this issue you’ll have a crazy amount information to help you with your next vacation OR ‘stay-cation’, here in western North Carolina.
From Smokemont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (yes, there is STILL much to enjoy on the NC side, regardless of the U.S. 441 landslide), to the Appalachian Trail Community, Franklin NC’s ‘April Fools Trail Days Festival‘, March 29th & 30th, 2013, you’ll be sure to find something to get outside and enjoy this spring!

Next up… be on the lookout for our May/June issue!
As always, you can find our on-line magazine on ALL of our website pages.

2013 Spring Weekend Adventure in Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Smokemont Campground


As you ride along U.S. Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road) this spring you’ll see, “No access beyond this point”.  Before you start to say “What have we done?”, or, “there is nothing to do, lets turn around!”, we would like to introduce you to the ‘last stop’ along the NC side of 441 this spring, Smokemont Campground.  Note:  The recent Smokies landslide repairs will be completed May ’13 (for more info on the recent landslide, see ‘Bryson City’ pg. 28).

smoky mountains landslide on U.S. highway 441 in north carolina

The 200 foot wide landslide in the Smokies happened January 16, 2013 and is set to be repaired by May ’13.  Don’t let this hinder your visit to the NC Smoky Mountains.  We are STILL open for business!

Smokemont is an outdoor lover’s dream.  If front country camping in an RV or tent is your thing this is the spot.  Maybe you’re looking for easy accessible back country camping.  If so, GSMNP back country campsite number 50 is only a short hike away.  So as you can see, we’re already off to a great start.

backcountry campsite post signifies #50 in great smoky mountains national park

You’ll see this post at the entrance to backcountry campsite #50 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Access this campsite via Smokemont, Bradley Fork Trail & Chasteen Cr. Trail.

One of the things we love most about the Smokemont area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the water.  The Oconaluftee River and Bradley Fork converge within the campground area, creating an oasis for trout fishing, swimming & more.  After setting up camp, check out the awesome hiking possibilities Smokemont has to offer.  Just another reason to plan a trip to Smokemont.  Head out along ‘Bradley Fork Trail‘ as it follows ‘Bradley Fork’ for just over 1 mile. For even more water fun, take the ‘Chasteen Creek Trail‘ for 0.4 mile up to ‘Chasteen Creek Cascades’.  Find the great little spot at the base of the cascades to sit, relax and enjoy the Smoky Mountains at their best.

whitewater cascades tumble in a green smoky mountain forest

Chasteen Creek Cascades tumble down and over the rock formations for about 50 feet. A peaceful location only 1.6 miles from Smokemont Campground.

Recommended Nearby

While you’re in the Smokemont area you’ll want to venture out and explore a little further.  We’re almost sure of it.  So, below we have listed a few recommendations for you to consider while here.  For more details, pictures & directions visit our website,  (Hint: to search for one of these areas, remember our ‘custom search’ box on the top right corner of any web page)

Oconaluftee Visitors Center & Mountain Farm Museum

Located near the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Cherokee NC.  This state-of-the-art center & historic property is an excellent resource for Smoky Mountain History.  Plan at least a half hour here.

Blue Ridge Parkway MP 469 to Waterrock Knob

Located near the entrance to GSMNP is the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, ‘America’s Favorite Drive’.  We suggest hoping on here and driving up to ‘Waterrock Knob’ for a hike, long-range views, and a mile high picnic.

Mingo Falls

– Located outside of GSMNP, but just a short, scenic drive away you’ll find the near 200 foot, Mingo Falls.  Take Big Cove Road (near the GSNMP entrance) for 5 miles until you reach the parking area.  Get your heart pumping with a 160 stair hike to the falls.


National Park Service & Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians partner on Smokies landslide construction incentives

You may already be aware of the recent landslide that occurred via U.S. Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on January 16, 2013.  If not, the landslide happened near mile marker 22 between Collins Creek and Webb Overlook, on the NC side of the Park, sometime around 9:30 that morning.  The landslide is a 200 foot section of this heavily traveled highway, between Gatlinburg, TN & Cherokee, NC, that extends a near 1,000 feet down the slope near Beech Flats Prong.

Here is what the landslide in the Smokies looks like ->

landslide in great smoky mountains national park

A great picture of the 200 foot long/50 feet deep landslide that occurred on the NC side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in January 2013. Photo Credit:  Great Smoky Mountains Association

Initial reports from the National Park Service stated that an estimated completion of the repairs would be around May or June.  However, breaking news on February 8th suggests that the completion date could be guaranteed sooner than originally expected.  According to the National Park Service (NPS) Public Affairs Office, the NPS and EBCI (Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians) have partnered to launch an early completion incentive proposal with the contractor.  $18,000 will be awarded for each day the project is completed prior to May 15, 2013, up to a maximum of $500,000.  The NPS and EBCI have both agreed to potentially $250,000 each.

But, along with what seems to be lucrative monetary incentives also includes monetary disincentives.  For each day after May 15, 2013 that the project is prolonged, $18,000 will be charged to the contractor.  This will help insure the project is completed as planned.