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Home N.C. Trout Regulations N.C. Regulations for Mountain Trout Fishing

North Carolina Trout Fishing Regulations


     Fishing in the state of North Carolina does require either a resident or non-resident fishing license depending on your residential status. In addition, trout fishing in Public Mountain Trout Waters requires an additional license called a Special Inland Fishing license which allows anglers to fish public mountain trout waters both on and off of designated Game Lands. Also, note that each of these licenses can be purchased on-line from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission or in person from one of their agents. In addition, the NCWRC conspicuously marks all Designated Public Mountain Trout Waters at regular intervals along the trail, stream, or lake with diamond-shaped signs that indicate the type of designation for that water as well as the accompanying regulations.


     In addition, Brook, Speckled, Brown, and Rainbow Trout are the dominant species of freshwater trout in North Carolina and they all require cold, clean water, habitat. Therefore, they are generally restricted to mountain streams and lakes. Of those mountain trout waters that do support trout and are open to public fishing, most are designated as “Public Mountain Trout Waters” by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and are managed for public trout fishing.

 

From the NCWRC Regulations Digest:

Designated Public Mountain Trout Waters -

     Designated Public Mountain Trout Waters are classified for management purposes as either “Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters” or “Wild Trout Waters.” Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters must be stocked periodically with trout to sustain angling. Wild Trout Waters are high-quality waters that sustain trout populations by natural reproduction. Some Designated Public mountain Trout Waters are specially regulated to meet specific management objectives.

 

Designated Public Mountain Trout Waters signs-

     The state of North Carolina has six different types of designated Public Mountain Trout Waters and each designated water is marked with diamond shaped metal signs attached to trees along the trail, stream or lake. Thus, when fishing these waters, it is important to pay attention to these signs and follow the regulations listed on each sign. To view a picture of each of these signs, please click here.

 

Trout Fishing in Undesignated Waters -

     Some waters that are not Designated Public Mountain Trout Waters do contain trout. When fishing in these waters, the trout fishing regulations are the same as for Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters except that the Special Inland Fishng license is not required to fish undesignated waters, and there is no closed season for fishing. However, it is important to note that trout may not be possessed or retained in the creel when fishing undesignated waters during the closed season for Hatchery-Supported Trout Waters.


 

Attention Trout Fishermen:

  

     Many streams open for public trout fishing are located on private lands. Fishing is allowed on these streams because landowners have generously provided access to the public for fishing. Please show your appreciation to these landowners by removing your trash and being respectful of their property. Failure to do so could result in the closure of these streams in the future.


 

Hatchery Supported Waters-

These waters make up over half of all trout waters in North Carolina. They cover approximately 1,100 miles of streams. Most of these streams receive at least one stocking per year of catchable size fish. Here is a breakdown of the Hatchery Supported Regulations:

  • The season is open from August 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012
  • No fishing allowed from March 1, 2012 to April 6, 2012
  • Then from 7:00am April 7, 2012 to February 28, 2013:
  • There is no bait or lure restriction
  • There is no size limit restriction
  • There is a seven (7) fish per day creel limit

 

Delayed Harvest Waters-

These are stocked trout waters open to fishing year-round but, trout caught between October 1 and the first Saturday in June must be immediately released. You cannot keep or have in your possession any trout while fishing these waters during this time. Single-hook, artificial lures or flies are required during the October-June period. Beginning the first Saturday in June, harvest of trout from these waters is allowed, and anglers can use natural bait. "Hatchery Supported" trout regulations apply during this time. Beginning October 1, these waters revert back to "Delayed Harvest" trout regulations. Harvest of trout is again prohibited and anglers must use single hook artificial lures or flies. Here is a breakdown of the Delayed Harvest Regulations:

 

From October 1, 2011 to June 1, 2012:

  • You may only use single hook artificial lures
  • No trout may be harvested or possessed
  • No fishing allowed at all between 1/2 hour after sunset on June 1st, 2012 and 6:00 AM on June 2nd 2012
  • 6:00 AM June 2nd, 2012; these waters open to fishing for youths under 16 years old under Hatchery Supported regulations
  • At 12:00 PM on June 2nd, 2012 these waters open for all anglers under Hatchery Spported regulations which are

           as follows:

  • No bait restrictions
  • No minimum length limit
  • Seven (7) trout per day creel limit

 

Wild Waters-

Wild Waters are streams where the trout population is replenished entirely by natural reproduction. Thus, no stocking of trout takes place on these streams. Here is a breakdown of the Wild Waters regulations:

  • There is no closed season
  • You may only use single hook artificial lures while fishing these waters
  • You can only keep four (4) fish
  • The four fish must be at least seven (7) inches long
  • It is unlawful to possess natural bait on your person while fishing
  • It is unlawful to use more than one line per person
  • It is unlawful to take fish bait or bait fish from "Wild Waters"
  • It is unlawful to move wild fish from one stream to another on game lands without prior written authorization from

           the NCWRC

  • Except in the following areas: Nantahala River downstream from the Swain County line and in the sections of Green

           River in Polk County located on Green River Game Lands from the confluence with Cove Creek, downstream to Brights

           Creek: it is unlawful to fish from one-half hour after sunset, to one-half hour before sunrise.

 

Wild Trout, Natural Bait Waters-

Here is a breakdown of the Wild Trout, Natural Bait Waters Regulations:

  • The season is open year-round:
  • You can use a single hook artificial lure (or)
  • You can use a single hook with natural bait
  • You can only keep four (4) fish
  • The four fish must be at least seven (7) inches long
  • It is unlawful to use more than one line per person
  • It is unlawful to fish from one-half hour after sunset, to one-half hour before sunrise
  • It is unlawful to take fish bait or bait fish from "Wild Trout, Natural Bait Waters"
  • It is unlawful to place hatchery-reared fish into a wild trout stream or move wild fish from one stream to another on

           game lands without prior written authorization from the NCWRC

 

Catch and Release, Artificial Flies Only Waters-

You must release fish once caught and you can only use artificial flies in doing so. Here is a breakdown of the Catch and Release, Artificial Flies regulations:

  • The season is open year-round
  • No trout may be harvested or possessed
  • Only artificial flies having one single hook may be used
  • It is unlawful to possess natural bait on your person while fishing
  • It is unlawful to use more than one line per person
  • It is unlawful to fish from one-half hour after sunset, to one-half hour before

           sunrise on any Catch and Release stream located on Game Lands

  • It is unlawful to take fish bait or bait fish from "Catch and Release Waters"
  • It is unlawful to move wild fish from one stream to another on game lands without prior written authorization from the

           NCWRC

 

Catch and Release, Artificial Lures Only Waters-

You may catch the fish but you must release them back and you can only use artificial lures in doing so. Here is a breakdown of the Catch and Release, Artificial Lures Regulations:

  • The season is open year-round
  • No trout may be harvested or possessed
  • Only artificial lures having one single hook may be used
  • It is unlawful to possess natural bait on your person while fishing
  • It is unlawful to use more than one line per person
  • It is unlawful to fish from one-half hour after sunset, to one-half hour before sunrise on any

           Catch and Release stream located on Game Lands

  • It is unlawful to take fish bait or bait fish from "Catch and Release Waters"
  • It is unlawful to move wild fish from one stream to another on game lands without prior written authorization from the

           NCWRC

 

Special Regulation Waters-

The Special Regulation classification allows the Commission to implement site specific regulations on unique trout fisheries in the state that do not fit into existing categories. The regulations for each water body managed under Special Regulation will be displayed on each sign.

 

 

More information regarding N.C. trout fishing regulations is available at:


www.ncwildlife.org