“The Tuck” is one of the most popular fly fishing destinations on the WNC Fly Fishing Trail, and is a superb river for beginners and advanced alike. It is not uncommon to catch 20-inch trout on the Tuck.
American Angler said, “ [The Tuckasegee is] one of the best-known trout rivers in the entire Southeast, and it comes by that reputation honestly.”
The “Tuck” is a large-bodied tailwater that flows northwest from Cedar Cliff Reservoir into Swain County prior to flowing through Bryson City. It stops about 20 miles west of Bryson City as it flows into Fontana Lake.
The West Fork of the Tuck splits at the town of Tuckasegee and flows south along NC-107 until it empties into Lake Glenville.
The Tuckasegee is stocked with Brook trout, Browns, and Rainbows making this river an incredible trout fishery. Trout are not the only species that thrive in this river, in fact, more species of fish can be caught on the Tuck than any other river in Swain County.
The upper section of the Tuckasegee is one of the best Delayed Harvest stretched in the state. For those who don’t know Delayed Harvest is a trout water regulation whereby no trout can be harvested between Oct 1st and June 5th. Moreover, anglers can only fish artificial lures with a single hook.
The Delayed Harvest section of the Tuck is a gem. This section is about 5 miles long and is found between Dillsboro and Sylva, WNC. The DH section is a very popular section of the Tuckasegee 1) because of the robust stocking the state does here and 2) because the special DH fishing regulations in place keep many of the catch and keep anglers fishing other streams or sections. So, between Oct 1st and June 5th, there is an abundance of trout to be caught!
Here are the Delayed Harvest stocking dates, not only for the Tuck but for all of North Carolina
This river is wadable, however, it can be tough to navigate when the flows are up. Daily releases for power generation from dams upstream can cause significant changes in water levels. Please do use caution when wading. Make sure you have proper gear (fly fishing waders and wading boots), carry a wading staff, and check the release schedule via the links provided below.
The Tuck does have a range of fishing regulations that vary based on season and the stretch you are fishing. Please be sure to check the Tuckasegee fishing regulations via the link in our “additional resources” section below.
I have been fly fishing for over a decade and the first time I fished the Tuckasegee River in Western North Carolina a memory was created that rises above all others.
My day started with a cup of coffee and little sleep. I packed my gear and headed to the Tuckasegee River for a Euro Nymphing demo that Sage was putting on. Immediately after the demo, Eddie SO KINDLY invited me to put what I had learned into action.
What followed was THE BEST DAY fly fishing I have ever had. Within two hours I caught 5 fish—3 different species—one of which was a 2.5 lb trophy brook trout! In Northern New Mexico, where I learned to fish, if I were lucky enough to catch a brook trout, it was likely 6 inches or smaller. With Eddie, all of this was accomplished by using a tight-line nymphing technique I had never attempted before but knew I had fallen in love with.
My experience with Eddie on this day far surpassed my best-guided trip ever. Yes, even that of a trip to the San Juan River in New Mexico where my best friend and I caught fish all day long!
I have since fallen even deeper in love with the sport of fly fishing. I am happy to say Eddie has been a true inspiration. He is a patient, friendly, skilled angler and his knowledge of Western North Carolina is uncanny—he has shown me fishing spots I NEVER would have gone. After getting guided by him several more times—including a trip with my father introducing HIM to the sport of fly fishing—I am PROUD to call Eddie a dear friend.
Eddie Hudon knows Western North Carolina intimately! If you are a beginner, an expert AND/OR (especially) if you are visiting the area of WNC he comes HIGHLY recommended. Your day will be filled with knowledge, laughter, and… lots of trout!
If someone wants or wills something strong enough, a way can be found to make it happen. It’s an old proverb, but true.
Such is the case with a friend of mine named John Van Deun (JVD). John and I went to high school together in Connecticut. Over time, we met at our class reunions. At the last reunion, John told me he had a moderate stroke, which paralyzed his left arm and his left leg. He also told me that he was an avid fly fisherman before his incident and wasn’t able to fish much at all. He mentioned that he was following me on Facebook and wished that he could fish the waters I guided in. So, I offered to guide him.
We made plans that included a weekend at my cabin. During his stay, we fished in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the West Fork of the Pigeon. In both instances, we only walked a few feet into the water. John was able to cast with his right arm and did a great job of mending and getting good drifts. It was obvious that John was a good fly fisherman. John caught several trout in both locations. This gave him the encouragement and inspiration to fish more often when he got home.
I had another fishing trip last year with a client that had two full knee replacements. We took the same precautions entering the water and fished from a safe position. He said he enjoyed himself and would be back.
I have two more scheduled trips this year and those clients also have knee replacements. In both cases, they have the will, and I will show them the way. Don’t let your handicap keep you from considering a fishing trip!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Most of us know John 3:16 as a biblical phrase, however in this story, it has a humorous meaning.
On my way to a guided fishing trip, I stopped into the Outpost Mountain Outfitters in Whittier to pick up some split shot. While cashing out, John Honeycutt asked me how it was going. I told him fishing has been real good this fall. In spite of this good report, John showed me a new streamer pattern that he just brought into the store. He said that he has tried it and it worked very well. “If it gets slow out there, try this out.” So, I bought a dozen and put them in my shirt pocket.
I met my clients and we were off to the West Fork of the Pigeon.
The day started out a little slow, so I decided to try one of John’s streamers. As soon as we started using it, we were catching fish! I was so happy that I looked up into the sky, spread my arms out, and said, “thank you John.” My client said, “you mean John 3:16.” I said no, “ I mean John at the Outpost!” We laughed so hard. It was a funny moment. My client, who was pretty religious, said, “most people know about John 3:16, but do you know what John 3:17 was about?” I couldn’t help it. I said, “ is it his batting average?” Needless to say, we shared a precious memory together.
PS; Next time I stopped into the Outpost, I told John the story. He laughed. We all did. Stop in and ask for The John 3:16
You’ll be glad you did…………
As a Fly Fishing Guide, I get to spend a lot a time on the water with many different types of clients.
They are all super! Sometimes, I feel guilty taking my fee because I’m having just as much fun as they are (only kidding about the fee), but we do share a lot of memories together. In this article, I want to share my experience with a young boy from Georgia, Cameron Mallin.
It was in July of 2015 that one of my friends' wife asked me to take her girlfriend’s son fly fishing. I was told that he did fish for bass with a spinning outfit but wanted to get into fly fishing. So we met up in the morning and proceeded to register him for the Trophy waters at Cherokee. (How about that for your first day out with a fly rod!) Most of the morning was spent teaching, instructing, and showing Cameron what to do and how to do it. He picked it up pretty quick.
As the morning went on, he had his first encounter with a trout. I estimate it to have been approximately 22” and about 4 lbs. The fish took him down the river, back up and all around. He did a real good job of handling the fish until it eventually came off. I don’t know if I could have done any better. Well, we sat down together to repair his leader and discuss what just had happened. At that point, he put his arm around me and said, “Today is the Greatest Day in my Life.” I bowed my head down and almost began to cry. That’s how much that meant to me.
This is exactly why I love fly fishing and working with young people and new people. Little did Cameron know, that day was one of my greatest, too.
BLUE CHIP FLY FISHING
I recently went on a fishing trip with (4) friends. At the end of the day, we were deciding were to eat dinner.
While we were thinking about where to go, one friend said, “I got about 8 or 10” Another friend said, “I got close to 15.” I chimed in and asked, “Why do you guys count your fish?” I want to share some of their answers.
Gary: Well, I sort of count. I try to measure how good the day was.
Mike: I usually start to count, but then I lose count or forget. Especially when I get to double digits. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I’m satisfied.
James: I don’t count. I don’t care, however, I know if it’s less than five. I’m more concerned about catching. It’s a challenge to find out what fly is working.
Austin: Well, I do fishing competitions. So, I’m used to counting, not only how many, but sometimes how long too. Also, if I catch 20 in one day, I want to beat that number and try to increase my catch rate.
I fished a father and son combo in March this year. As soon as the father caught the first fish, he yelled out to his son, “one to nothing.”
As I continue to guide, I realize that counting will always be a part of the day. I came up with a fun way to count fish, and be ACCURATE at the same time. I use baseball players by identifying their uniform number with their names. Here are some examples. My clients get a kick out of it. FIRST fish caught is Billy Martin. SECOND fish is Derrick Jeter. THIRD is Babe Ruth. FOURTH is Lou Gehrig. Here‘s the rest:
My friend James Serra, from Georgia, and I planned a trip to Fires Creek, NC on March 3rd. I enjoy fishing with James. We have good chemistry together.
The day was a pretty cold one and the water was high and moving fast. Tough conditions, to say the least. For me, the morning session was slow. Caught plenty of fish but not the usual high count day.(James was doing better than I was) We decided to break for lunch then go back at it for the afternoon session. While looking for a spot on the river, we came across two young couples. Adam Dunton and his wife, Ladson, and Caleb Stewart and his wife. (Ladson is the Marketing Coordinator for SWEETWATER beer company out of Atlanta.) I asked Adam how he was doing, said “ caught a few but my wife hasn’t got anything yet.” I asked if I could assist her. He said yes. Here I go, budding into someone else’s business. But I can’t help myself.
So, I asked Ladson to bring in her line and let me check it out. I changed her fly, put one of mine on, added some weight, and lengthened her indicator. With a little instruction where to cast, Ladson made her first drift. Well, the fishing Gods have always been good to me. On that first drift, she hooked and landed a nice little rainbow. Where we excited? Oh ya! After a quick photo and release, she had some confidence and it showed. A few more casts and she hooked into and landed a Brookie. WOW – this is more fun than me catching fish (well, almost LOL)
I explain that she needed to catch a Brown to claim the Fires Creek Slam. Like I said, I’ve been blessed. Indicator goes down, I yell set, and she pulls out a Brown. SLAM, and She goes on my Wall of Fame – Bronze Status. At this point, I felt like the Lone Ranger. “Come on James (Tonto), our work here is done.” LOL
I love to fish. Always have. But I can honestly say, that when I guide or “bump” onto someone, and put them on fish. It’s the best feeling for me. HOW SWEET IT IS!