Stone Mountain State park is located in both Wilkes and Allegheny counties in the mountains of North Western North Carolina. This thirteen thousand acre park is home to over seventeen miles of designated trout water. Brown, Rainbow and Brook trout thrive in the streams that run through the park making it possible for the savvy angler to catch one of each on a good day. The thing that makes this fishery noteworthy is the fact that you have the ability fish three very different types of water during the same trip should you desire.
The East Prong of the Roaring River and the first type of water you can try, falls under “Delayed Harvest” regulations and runs alongside the main access road throughout the park. This is a medium sized river that is characterized by large slow pools at the lower end of the park and fast moving waters near the top of the mountain.
During delayed harvest season the river is heavily stocked and fishing is restricted to artificial flies having only one hook. No fish may be possessed and all fish caught must be released unharmed. The fish that inhabit this beautiful place can be very eager to bite at times and have lock jaw at others . Late in the season after they have seen many different flies and presentations they can be a real challenge for any fisherman. The river has excellent access all along the main road. Since access is so good it gets a lot of fishing pressure, especially on the weekends. However, if you can manage a midweek trip and start out early you might be rewarded with having a portion of the river to yourself. After lunch every rock will likely have a wet foot print on it.
The second type of water you can try while visiting this park will appeal to the angler in search of wild trout. Many of the various tributaries that run into the East Prong are classified as wild trout waters. One of these streams is Garden Creek. At first glance Garden Creek looks tough. Don’t let it fool you, it is very tough. Anglers who frequent this piece of water do so crawling on their bellies wearing camo clothing and face paint. All kidding aside, these fish are unusually skittish and their home is almost exclusively overgrown with mountain laurel bushes making all but a well aimed “bow and arrow” cast an exercise in futility. The fish you will find in the upper reaches of this creek are often the small wild brookies many casual anglers never get the opportunity to see. Single hook artificial lures are required and the smaller the fly the better.
The third type of water you can try your hand at while visiting Stone Mountain State Park is what park officials refer to as “Fish for Fun” water. Bullhead Stream and Rich Mountain Creek fall under this classification. Both are strictly catch and release and must be fished with barbless hooks to minimize damage to the fish. You must be in possession of a net in order to fish these waters. The permits are $15 and entitle you to your very own “beat” or section of the creek. Fishing starts at 8:30 am and the sections fill up very quickly. I can say from experience that this “fish for fun” watershed holds some of the largest trout that I have ever laid eyes on in the outdoors. The price has increased from the $8.00 I first paid to fish it several years ago but I would have no qualms about paying the extra dough to see the sheer numbers of large trout, some of which will go thirty inches or better. A word to the wise, these trout are well fed (the park feeds them trout chow regularly) and have seen just about every kind of fly in the book. Take some small nymphs and the smallest tippet you can stand to increase your odds. There is a restriction on using any kind of fly that might resemble trout chow so scratch that idea first thing.
Stone Mountain State Park is a trout fishery with lots of opportunities for a fun and challenging day on the water. The park can sometimes be crowded and the streams get a lot of fishing pressure. However, if you take the time to explore some of it’s more remote areas you will be rewarded. This is the kind of place you can take your son or daughter for a first successful fly fishing experience as well as spend a serious day on the water angling for wild trout.
The entrance to the park is located on Frank Parkway in Roaring Gap, NC about two hours north of Charlotte, NC. The park office can be reached by calling 336-957-8185. They offer camping, hiking and rock climbing in addition to the fishing. In my opinion the facilities are very nice. Expect to see deer and wild turkey in abundance. Often I have fished here in the early mornings or late evenings only to have deer join me on the opposite creek bank.
Flies to consider when visiting Stone Mountain:
Bead head Gold Ribbed Hare’s ear sizes 14,16,18
Bead head Pheasant Tail sizes 16 & 18
Small nymphs in black and olive
Yellow egg patterns
Small Woolly Buggers for fishing faster water
Elk hair caddis (yellow body or trailing shuck to match the hatch)
Adams and Female Adams in size 16-18
Mosquito and midge patterns in small sizes during summer
Sources for this article included personal experience and:
Photos and accounts copyright 2005 - Flyfishmagazine.com. all rights reserved