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Panthertown Valley: Fishing at Its Finest

Updated on January 19, 2018

The Geography

Panthertown valley lies in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. The valley is known as the "Yosemite of the East". A map is highly recommended for the labyrinth of over 25 miles of trails within the 6,300 acre forest. Visitors to the valley will find deep gorges and expansive meadows. Wild trout streams with catch and release, artificial lure only designations are found within the park as well. Due to increased traffic, efforts are being made to further improve the trail system to allow easier navigation. Although horseback riding and bicycling are permitted, riders are asked to follow the proper trail designations.

School house falls
School house falls

The Water

Panthertown creek and Greenland creek run through the valley offering a variety of recreation. Greenland creek contains a number of cascades and waterfalls accessible from the trailways. Schoolhouse falls is an easy hike into the park and provides a cool place to swim in the summertime as well as great opportunities for photographers and fishermen alike. The creeks run a tea color due to the steeping drainage waters running through bogs of leaves and pine needles upstream. The waters dirty appearance is deceiving since the water is actually of great quality. 

A tea stained cascade
A tea stained cascade

The Fishing

Fishing in the Panthertown valley is absolutely amazing. The wild brookies of the creeks are abundant and more than willing to take your offerings. The possibility of fish in the foot long and bigger range exists. A simple Parachute Adams is all you need in your arsenal to have a good time. The cascades and waterfalls delve out deep pools to work over without worrying much about scaring the fish into hiding. The tea stained water also seems to help reduce the fishes awareness of your presence. Between pools you may find good flat sections of stream where you can spot fish rising from time to time. Just beware of the bees, several football sized nests were spotted around a single hole on my visit.

A small panthertown brookie
A small panthertown brookie
Unbelievable colors
Unbelievable colors
Nice sized fish to be found
Nice sized fish to be found

Equipment for the Adventure

Some things you may want to take with you for a Panthertown valley fishing adventure include a map of the trail systems. Although you can print a map out, I recommend looking for one at nearby outfitters or state park offices. Each year there is numerous reports of people getting lost in Panthertown valley. For fly fishing, I recommend a 3 or 4 weight rod around 8 feet long since some longer casts do occur at the cascades and falls. I would also recommend wet wading in the summer time or carrying your waders in during the hike to the water since it can be miles to certain fishing spots. For flies, I stuck with dries the whole day but deeper water for nymphing does exist. Also, don't forget to bring a camera for the fish and the scenery you will be sure to encounter.

Located just minutes away from Lake Toxaway in North Carolina


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