Where is the Best Trout Fishing in the Southeast?

Last Updated on October 27, 2023 by Kyle Whitley

where is the best trout fishing in the southeast

When you think of trout fishing destinations, most folks don’t think of the southern United States as a haven for great trout fisheries, unless you are from the south.  Most peoples think of Montana and Colorado.  There is good fishing in the south and we will tell you where is the best trout fishing in the southeast.

Top Trout Waters – Blue Ridge Mountains

From the Cherokee who lived and thrived in the mountains for centuries to the modern angler flying into Asheville in his jet for a weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Blue Ridge has long been known as a great place for trout fishing.

Trout fishing in the Blue Ridge has always been a closely guarded secret. The rugged terrain of the region protected the fisheries as well. After World War II, improved roads and infrastructure brought more people to the region, and now the southeast is the fastest-growing region in the country for fly fishing.

These six favorite trout streams are located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Each stream offers a great opportunity to explore more remote areas.

The Davidson River

The Davidson River is the most famous fishery in the southeast. It produces some of the largest fish in the world. In fact, the state record brown trout was caught here. Fly fishing is allowed only in this river.

The Davidson River has been successful because of its insect population. Green drakes have been wiped out by floods, but insects such as mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies have survived and continue to hatch.

Cataloochee Creek

Surrounded by the towering 6,000-foot peaks in the Balsam Range in the Great Smoky Mountains, Cataloochee is one of the most isolated and beautiful areas in the park.

Because of its remoteness and its protection from the heavy logging that was so common in the Southern Appalachians during the early 20th century, the river shed did not suffer the deforestation and heavy lumbering that were so prevalent in the region.

To this day the remote location of the valley and its creeks still help protect them from large groups of people.


For the main river, you’ll need an 8-9 foot fly rod in a 4-5weight. You need long leaders and an accurate cast because of the clarity of the water and the fact that the fish have plenty of time to inspect your flies.

Cataloochee will offer anglers opportunities for catching brown, rainbow, and Brook trout. 

Fishermen who target small streams will most likely need a rod between six and eight feet long, which is usually in a three-weight. The brook trout and rainbow trout in the small streams are really aggressive and will take dry flies readily.

Angling is best in springtime and autumn.

Mossy Creek

Mossy Creek is one of the best creeks in the world. It flows from Mount Solon, Virginia, to the North River. About half of the river‘s eight miles are open for public use.

The river is managed by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. Anglers wanting to catch trout in the river will need to get permission from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

Like most limestone streams in the United States, Mossy Creek has a large insect population and very reliable hatch times. The river is open all year round and winter anglers will even find some dry fly action in the form of brown trout.

High water or off-color water will attract large trout out from under their banks in search of food, just like their freestone counterparts. During the high water period, streamers will produce large numbers of trout along with the largest specimens in the stream.

Anglers who travel to Mossy Creek will need to bring a wide variety of rods ranging from three-weight fly rods to seven-weight fly rods.

Unlike some of the others in the area, Moss Creek will fish well most of the summer because of its cool water spring that feeds it. Summer rains usually cause a good hatch of bugs, but not always.

Toccoa River

For wade angling, the only access points to the lower Toccoa are at Horseshoe Bend (the most popular), Tammen Park, Curtis Switch, and Power House River. Because of the limited wading access at these four locations, they can get quite crowded on nice weekends during peak season.

Those anglers who want to float their rivers will find access a lot more easily and will find it considerably more easy to get away from the crowds.

Summertime offers great fishing opportunities. During spring the river comes alive with hatches of mayfly and caddis fly larvae.

Streamer fishing is best when the TVA is generating power from the Blue Ridge Dam or during periods of high water. Fall fishing is usually good because fish feed up for the winter. Streamers are a good choice for fall fishing.

The river is open for fishing and offers easy access. Anglers will want to bring 9 feet of 4-6 weight rod with them. The fish on the river isn’t really leader shy.

Chattooga River

The Chattooga River begins just south of Cashier, North Carolina, and flows south. 

From Ellicott Rocks south, the river is where Georgia and South Carolina meet. The river was one the first to be designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

Ellicott Rock, this section is accessible to those who want to make the long hike in and then out of the Wilderness Area.

There are some remote stretches on the upper parts of the creek, but Reed Creek down to the Highway 28 Bridge in Greenville is one of South Carolina’s best-delayed harvest streams.

The river will be best for fishing from late fall through late spring. The river has decent mayfly hatchings in the spring, especially in May.

The best fishing usually happens from 4 p.m. until it gets too dark to see. The delayed harvest section gets busy during the summer months because of its proximity to Greenville, South Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.


Seneca Creek

The towering rocks of the River Knobs will offer some of the best scenery for fishing in the country.

Sections of the river only allow catch and release fishing.  Other sections have harvest limits where you can take a fish home for dinner.

The best access is from Highway 28/55 and close to Spruce Knob Recreation Area. If you’re looking for some seclusion, stay at Harman’s North Fork Cabins and fish their private stretch of the north fork.

Most fish in the Northern Range is between 12 and 15 inches long. However, a 20-inch fish is not unheard of. Bring your favorite fly rod and a good assortment of flies.

Those who prefer small streams should concentrate their efforts on Seneca Creek, which flows through Monongahla National Forest and enters the north fork near the town of Seneca creek.

The fishing in Senaca Creek is mostly pocket water fly fishing for smaller rainbows, native brook trout, and browns.

Because fishing in the region has grown in popularity, it is more important now than ever that we as fishermen protect our resources.


fly fishing in river for trout

Seven Prime Southern Trout Fishing Spots

Here are seven more spots that have some pretty excellent trout fishing in the southeast.

Slickrock Creek

North Carolina has some of the most diverse trout streams imaginable, from large rivers to small creeks.

You can’t go wrong with this creek. It has a healthy population of browns and rainbows, and even brook trout depending on which part of the creek you fish.

The great scenery and mild to moderate fishing pressure make this must-see. Getting to the fish can be a little challenging but nothing easy is ever worth it right. 

For further info, check out the North Carolina Sportsman

Clinch River

The Clinch River runs through Tennessee and Virginia. It has a high concentration of brown trout,

This tailwater trout stream boasts trophy-sized browns, rainbows, and brooks year after year. It has a state record for brown trout.

With anglers often pulling 5-10lb+ trout from this stream, even its average rainbow could dwarf that of many other fisheries.  So if you are looking for a chance to catch monster trout with fairly easy access to the river, the Clinch is well worth a visit! 

Sipsey Fork

The Sipsey is a tributary of the Tennessee River. It starts near the town of Tuscumbia, Alabama, and flows through Sipsey Fork State Park before joining the Tennessee River just south of Florence, Alabama.

Flowing from the cold, frigid depths of Lewis’ Smith Lake, the Sippey Fork tailwater is the only year-round trout fishery in Alabama. It offers a great opportunity for trout fishermen of the deep South to get their fix.

Sipsey trout move freely for many miles along the river’s gentle current, but only the first couple are publicly accessible for wade fishing.  However, boat fishing and kayak fishing are welcome, and, as with all tailwaters, the biggest fish are often caught further below the dam. 

The area is quiet, surrounded by pristine woodland, and home to a diverse ecosystem of wildlife, making it an angler’s dream. 

To learn more and hear from the local experts, visit Riverside Fly Shop 

Whitewater River

The whitewater river in South Carolina is a great place to fish for trout. There are several rivers in the area that offer excellent fishing opportunities.

With its gentle and wadable currents, this mountain river has two magnificent waterfalls, but the best fishing happens between them.

It has cool water year-round, so it’s a good place to fish. But you need to be careful not to get too close to the edge of the falls because it can be very dangerous.

It’s no wonder that this river made the list. Its majestic beauty and abundant population of trout make it a must-see destination for anyone who loves fishing.

To learn more about fishing in SC, check out this guide

Spring River

The spring river in Arkansas is one of the most popular places to fish in the southeast. It has great fishing but access isn’t always easy.

There are several different routes to the spring river, so you might want to check out our guide on which spots are best for fishing.

The spring river begins near Mammoth Springs and flows nearly nine million gallons of water per hour.

This massive spring river offers some of the best fishing for stocked rainbow and brown trout anywhere in the Natural State. Some of the best places to fish include where the water tumbles down into deeper pools below the waterfall.

Rapidian River

The Rapidan River is located in Virginia and it has a lot of great fishing spots. It is not too far from the coast so if you want to fish near the ocean this is the place to go.

The Rapidian River is dotted with a vast array of springs and creeks, many providing ideal conditions for trout to thrive. However, the river is unique in that it has a robust population of completely wild brook trout.

This small stream is covered in a wooded canopy, so anglers need to be prepared to cast conservative­ly and bring their best game.

To learn more, visit this link at Virginia.gov

Little River

The Little River runs from the heart of South Carolina into Georgia. It flows from Lake Hartsville near Asheville, North Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. It’s not easy to get to this river, but there are some good fishing spots here.

With its pristine waters and lush vegetation, this tailwater of Greers Ferry Lake offers up an angling paradise.

With its reputation as one of the best trout waters in the world, the Little Red River draws crowds of anglers from all over the country.

But even if the Little Red River’s repu­tation for being one of the world’s greatest trout streams remains set, its reputation for being one of North America’s premier fly fishing destinations remains unquestioned.

Trout thrive best in deep pools, tumbling shoal rivers, and overhanging rocks. You’ll never forget the sweet smell of 45-55 degree water in the morning.

If you haven’t already fished Little Red, you’re definitely missing something.

Click here to learn more.   

Summing it Up: Where is the Best Trout Fishing in the Southeast?

In conclusion, the answer is everywhere! There are many places around the country where you can catch trout, but the southeast has some of the best fishing spots. From Virginia to Georgia, there are countless opportunities for anglers to enjoy the sport.