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The North Carolina side of the Smokies has one of the best wild trout fisheries in the East. Deep Creek, Little Cataloochee, and Hazel Creek are streams known to serious anglers all over the country. The North Carolina side has more than 1,000 miles of streams (not all contain trout), and all are open to fishing year-round, except Bear Creek at its junction with Forney Creek, and upstream from there.
Among the best trout streams on this side of the park are Big Creek, Cataloochee Creek, Palmer Creek, Raven Fork, Deep Creek, Hazel Creek, and Noland Creek. Often the best fishing is in higher-elevation streams, in areas that are more difficult to reach. Streams that are easily accessible, such as the Pigeon River, have greater fishing pressure.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. You can order a North Carolina inland fishing license, valid throughout the park, by telephone or online, or buy one from fishing shops. The NC license is good throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, even on the Tennessee side. A 10-day nonresident fishing license is a bargain at $10, while an annual license is $30. Licenses for NC residents cost one-half the nonresident fee. To fish for trout outside the park, you'll also need a trout stamp, which costs an extra $10 for either NC residents or non-residents. To fish in the Cherokee Reservation (Qualla Boundary) you'll need a separate permit, available at shops on the reservation. 1751 Varsity Dr., Raleigh, NC, 27606. 919/707–0010; 888/248-6834 to buy NC fishing license. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.ncwildlife.org.
For backcountry fishing trips, you may want to hire a licensed guide. Full-day trips cost around $225–$300 for one angler, $300–$400 for two. Only guides approved by the National Park Service are permitted to take anglers into the backcountry.