Recently, the NC Wildlife Commission released a Trout Fishing Economic and Socioeconomic Data Report on the impact of Mountain Trout Fishing tourism and visitors to our region that participate in fly fishing activities. The report showed there was a 53% increase in fishing license holders from 2014-2023, and an overall 32% increase in Trout anglers during that time period. We're grateful to be a destination that both anglers and outdoor recreation folks seek out each year!
Old Fort, NC and McDowell County offer a unique, relaxed, getaway-from-the-crowds experience for fly fishing enthusiasts, and anglers. The town of Old Fort is designated as a state Mountain Heritage Trout Town, which allows the public to access a 0.7-mile section of Mill Creek between Main Street and the I-40 bridge.
The creek is classified as a delayed-harvest trout stream. Anyone wishing to fish can purchase a special 3-day Mountain Heritage Trout Water license for $8, and anyone who already has an inland fishing license does not need to purchase an additional license. If you haven't already, check out our page on NC Fly Fishing and NC Wildlife Regulations with current info on fishing in our county.
As a Heritage recreation in North Carolina, fly fishing and angling can be your next family tradition to pass down through the generations. Stop by the Mountain Gateway Museum to take advantage of the Youth Tackle Loaner Program where youth can check out a rod and reel for the day, just like a library book! Youth under 16 can also receive a free mini-tackle box when they register with the program. Borrowed equipment should be returned before the close of business the same day.
Alternately, Buck Creek Trout Farm offers a unique, family-friendly experience for anglers young and old. Stop by their location for catch out ponds, group fishing, and their country store. Fishing poles, bait, and ice provided. Any age or skill level. No fishing license is required. Trout cleaned for a small fee, or facilities available to clean your own. With nearby campgrounds and cabins, their location makes a great experience for family and friends to enjoy the legacy of mountain trout fishing in the Carolinas.
Public access to Trout Fishing sites changes over the course of time, and we've got an updated list of locations to access public waters through McDowell County!
You can also search for various Trout Waters for yourself on the NC Wildlife Commission website HERE.
Looking to resupply or stock up on fly-fishing gear or outfit yourself for an entire trip? Flavors On Main General Store is McDowell County's most well-known Fly Shop and Outfitter! They're a one-stop-shop for all your lure, wader, cooler, and clothing needs.