Fly Fishing The South Toe River North
The South Toe River's headwaters are near the Blue
Ridge Parkway, on the slopes of Mt. Mitchell, the highest
mountain in the eastern United States. It is formed by
the confluence of its Right Prong and Left Prong
streams. Hemphill Creek also adds water in its
uppermost section. It receives additional water in its
headwater area from three other major tributary
streams, each of which have their own designated
wild trout waters - Rock Creek, Upper Creek and Lower
Creek. The South Toe River is joined in its lower section
by the North Toe River and the two form the main stem
of the Toe River. It only flows for a short distance before
converging with the Nolichucky River.
Forest Service Road #472 follows over five miles of the
South Toe River. Its access ends at the Blue Ridge
Parkway. All of the section of the river flowing on Pisgah
Game Lands is a designated wild trout stream. This
upper, wild trout section is rugged and difficult to access
in many places from the road. The road crosses the
stream where access is easy but in many places it is well
above the stream and not practical to access. It's best to
park upstream, hike downstream and fish back upstream
to your vehicle in parts of this upper section. The stream
falls on a steep decline and consist mostly of short
plunges and runs into small pools. It contains wild
rainbows, some wild browns and native brook trout.
The section of water from a bridge above the Black
Mountain Campground downstream to the Pisgah Game
Land border is designated as "catch and release -
artificial lures/flies only". Fly fishing the South Toe River
is very good in this section. It's just over a mile long and
flows through the campground. In this area, the river is
open and about thirty to forty feet wide.
Little Mountain Creek, a small tributary stream, also
flows into the campground area. Just below the
campground, Big Lost Cove Creek and Neals Creek,
both small wild trout streams, add to the flow of the
South Toe River. From the Game Lands downstream to
the mouth of Clear Creek, the river is back under wild
trout regulations. This section is approximately three
Below the Clear Creek confluence, downstream for at
least ten miles, the South Toe River is stocked, or as the
state of North Carolina likes to described it, hatchery
supported. The river is stocked with brook trout, brown
trout and rainbow trout. It also has a few wild trout in this
area along with holdovers.
The lower part of the stocked section is accessible from
Halls Chapel Road, or state road # 1169. It flows
through strips of private property mixed with public
access points. Upstream, the river can be accessed
from Celo Clinic Road, or in another area by state road
#80. The entire stocked section of the South Toe River
is a medium to large size stream. Farther on upstream,
access is provided from Forest Service Road 472, which
as mentioned above, provides access to most of the wild
The three main tributaries are regulated as follows:
Upper Creek is designated as a "catch and release -
artificial lures/flies only" stream. Its headwater tributaries
are the South and Middle Forks of Upper Creek and
Grassy Knob. It can be accessed from Forest Service
Road #472 at the bridge where it crosses Upper Creek.
You can fish upstream on an unmarked trail that looks
like an old lumber road. At the point the trail ends, you
can fish upstream in the streambed.
Lower Creek is also designated as a wild trout stream.
It's about the same size as Upper Creek which is just a
short ways upstream. Forest Service Road #472
crosses Lower Creek and you can fish from that point
upstream on an unmarked trail. Both Upper and Lower
Creeks are small streams plunges and runs that flow
into small pools. There's barely enough room to cast in
Rock Creek is the larger of the upper tributary streams
but it's still a rather small stream. Its designed as a wild
trout stream by the state and has a population of wild
rainbows in its lower section. Three Creek is a small
headwater tributary of Rock Creek. About a mile of Rock
Creek can be accessed from Forest Service Road
#5521. A trail picks up where the road ends and you can
fish on upstream. The stream joins the South Toe River
near the Mt. Mitchell Golf Course. Still Fork Creek
enters the South Toe just upstream from Rock Creek. It
has a small tributary called Roaring Fork that is known
for its Roaring Fork Falls.
All things considered, the South Toe River has a lot to
offer a fly angler. Like most other areas of western North
Carolina, the wild trout water is not heavily fished
simply because easier to fish stocked sections of water
are nearby. On most days, you can have all of the wild
trout water to yourself you want fishing the South Toe
River or one of its several tributary streams. The fish are
plentiful and usually very eager to take a fly. Although
the rainbows usually average only six inches (up to
twelve inches) or so, brown trout up to and over twenty
inches can be caught in the wild trout section. In some of
the uppermost headwaters you can choose to fish for
the native Appalachian Brook Trout. Whatever you
preferences, the South Toe River has something to offer.
We have fished this river several times, usually in a
different area than the previous trips. Each time we have
been able to catch a decent number of wild rainbow
and/or brown trout. We have only fished for its brook
trout on one occasion and that was okay, but we were
not as successful as we expected we would be. I'm sure
there are many areas of the tributaries that do have a
good brook trout population that we haven't fished.
It's possible to catch trout during warm, nice winter days.
Fly fishing the South Toe River is best during the Spring
because of the aquatic insect hatches..
Summertime is a good in the headwaters.
Early Fall is an excellent time to fish this stream.
Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing: 71/2 ft.,
3 or 4X, Streamers 1-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
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