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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks. I have a question about accessing trout water and I thought the fly fishing forum would be the place to ask. When I look at the NC Wildlife "public trout waters" map, I see a lot of small streams designated as "public mountain trout waters" of different varieties (delayed harvest, hatchery supported, etc.), but I see very few "public access areas". Is it safe to assume that I could find a place to access these "public" streams if I were to head up without any advance knowledge of the area? Are they mostly bounded by private property, and are the little diamond shaped "public mountain trout waters" signs supposed to be considered permission to access? Do you guys typically just drive the stream looking for a place to pull off and park?

Supposing I do find a place to access, what are the rules for wading up or down designated streams? Is the entire designated portion fair game?

I've tried looking all over the NC Wildlife website, but the only references I can find are for the expressly public "mountain heritage" areas and canoe/kayak accesses, which only make up a very small portion of the designated public trout waters on the map. How do you get to the rest of them?

Thanks. If it matters, I'm looking specifically around Bakersville, at areas such as Big and Little Rock Creeks and Cane Creek.

-Drew
 

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Follow the diamond signs, but keep your eyes out for no trespassing signs also. WRC seeks permission from property owners in the area they stock and/or mark, but not all owners on a stream give permission to access the streams. If too many owners revoke their permission, the WRC removes their designation on that stream, so be nice, don't litter, don't block driveways or private roads, and don't drive or park in folk's yards or crop fields!

You can use highway right of ways when they reach or cross streams. You can float on navigable waters even across private property, but if you are touching bottom you are in need of the property owner's permission. (The definition of navigable water in NC is about as clear as mud. The water is publicly owned, but the land underneath it is owned by somebody.)

Short answer: If you see posted signs on a designated stream, skip that section of water. If a property owner objects, just leave. Fish aren't worth a confrontation.
 

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I pretty much go by what @m75rlg posted.

The interactive map does provide info on direction to some designated stream including parking. Not many though so I rely on Google street view where I can, along with the good folks on here for tips.

I've not fished in the areas you noted, so hopefully someone will chime in.
 

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You can always call and give the local game warden a call. They have been very helpful and willing to share when I've called. I called for clarification on this same subject myself.
 

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I've trout fished the mountains for around 30 years, though not very active recent years. m75rlg advice is dead-on. Typically if a stream is designated trout water, it's okay to wade and I've never had a question or confrontation. If land is posted, just avoid it. Most streams have various road crossings which offers access and typically also has some pull-off type area around within highway right-of-war. But again be careful where you park, make sure you're not on private property.

It's been a number of years since I fished Little Rock Creek up near Bakersville. At that time, the creek passed through mostly private property IIRC, but access was no issue, most landowner were friendly, and I don't recall any posted land. Things may have changed in recent years though. Try a high floating fly like an Elk Hair Caddis with a small nymph on a dropper. (wink) Most will hit the dropper.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks guys. That definitely puts my mind at ease. I have no problem avoiding posted areas, I just worried that I'd get up there with plans to fish a certain creek and the whole think be landlocked. It sounds like that's largely not the case, so that's good. I might make a trip up during the closed season and scout it out in advance. I appreciate the replies.
-Drew
 
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