Being a fly fishing outfitter in town for over 30 years, we’ve answered a lot of questions concerning where to fish, how to fish, and what to fish with, but the most frequently asked question over the years has to be “When is trout season?”
There is a common misconception about the time of year an angler is able or even allowed to fish for trout on a stream. The reason for the confusion related to “trout season” is caused by more than a few different designations of fishable water such as wild trout water, hatchery-supported water, delayed harvest sections, wild trout natural bait regulated water, catch and release artificial flies-regulated water, as well as your catch and release artificial lures regulations.
However, the only one that restricts fishing during set times - thus being the designation that causes the most confusion about “seasons” - is the hatchery-supported designation. A good, and very local, example of hatchery-supported water is the Cullasaja River that runs along US 64 West. March is the month that the State of North Carolina stocks the river full of fish. The state then closes it down to anglers from the first of the month to the first Saturday in April. This allows the fish to have time to move up or downstream and get acclimated to
their new home.
Wild trout water, delayed harvest sections, wild trout natural bait, catch and release, artificial flies, and catch and release artificial lure designated water are open year-around and have different rules and regulations, which you can always determine by going to NCwildlife.org.
So, the answer is quite easy – It’s always trout season, it’s only the accessibility of certain waters that are determined by their designation that can change. If you have any questions about regulations or designations of water, please contact Andrew Watson at The Highland Hiker.