Catawba River Info

Here’s a collection of resources we have compiled to help you find an area to fish.  We’re proud to offer this service and hope it helps you find more fish willing to eat your fly!

Nice brown caught on the “Catawba Bugger”

Catawba River Tailrace below Lake James
Duke Power manages the Bridgewater Hydro Station on Lake James and releases water for power generation into the Catawba River below the dam.

Bridgewater Hydro Station

  • Capacity: 20 megawatts
  • Location: McDowell and Burke counties, North Carolina
  • Commercial Date: 1919

Bridgewater Powerhouse

Bridgewater Hydro Station has two generating units. Located on Lake James in Morganton, N.C., it began commercial operation on May 4, 1919. Lake James, named after J. B. “Buck” Duke, spans McDowell and Burke counties, N.C., and is formed by damming three streams: the Catawba River, Paddy Creek, and the Linville River.

Bridgewater Hydro Station was named for the Southern Railway depot to which the materials to build the dam and hydro station were shipped.

A word of wisdom from Duke Energy
Caution: Do not enter the tailrace section directly below hydroelectric stations. These areas are prone to a sudden rise and violent turbulence in the water.

Note: Scheduled flow releases are subject to variability based on natural conditions and/or unexpected changes in hydro project operation. Duke Energy may, at any time, and without prior warning, change operations of our hydro facilities in response to high electricity demand, flooding, electric system emergencies or other conditions. Always exercise caution when boating or fishing on lakes and rivers. Please remember to stay 300 feet away from the upstream and downstream sides of the dam and powerhouse.

WCO Notes about access..
Access is very limited for the wade fisherman, the first 1/4 mile or so below the dam is managed as Hatchery Supported Trout Waters (dam to Muddy Creek), from Muddy Creek to the Morganton Water Intake is managed as Special Regulation Trout Waters.  For float fisherman a nice state maintained ramp is located just downstream from the dam and a take out ramp is located 8 miles downstream which is maintained by the city of Glen Alpine.  WCO offers shuttle services for angles floating the river.  Just give us a call to set up the details.

Duke Energy Information Line 800-829-5253 then select options 1, 1, 2, then 1 for Bridgewater

Duke Energy Flow Arrival & Recession Times

Duke Energy Scheduled Flow Releases

USGS Gauge @ Bridgewater

Map provided by NCWRC

Update – 11/27/11

The Catawba Tailrace has been stocked with brown trout.  From the dam to Watermill bridge access provides good numbers of feisty brown trout willing to eat your fly.  Of course access is still an issue.  Our oar frame rafts are the perfect platform to access the remote stretches of this river.  We are now booking full day float trips, which include a streamside lunch, beverages and snacks.

5 thoughts on “Catawba River Info

  1. Looks like Jan 2012 before new turbines are ready to go….. here’s some recent info we found…
    Aug. 17–The fall outage Duke Energy (DUK) was planning in September at the Bridgewater Hydro Station has been rescheduled for winter.

    This allows Lake James to continue at a normal operating range for the rest of 2011, rather than requiring the lake to be lowered slightly to 95 feet as previously expected.

    “With the region’s persistent dry conditions, it is possible Lake James’ lake levels may gradually decline from lack of rain outside of any Duke Energy lake management actions,” said Erin Culbert of Duke Energy’s corporate communications in a Wednesday news release.

    Duke Energy engineers have developed plans to test and begin using the new hydro station turbines while the existing hydro station is still in service. Once the new hydro station generating units have been tested and placed in service, Duke Energy will then permanently disconnect the old station in a 30-day outage likely to be scheduled for mid-January 2012. Lake James would be operated at about 95 feet during the outage to provide storage in the event of significant rainfall.

    For updates on lake levels and project information, visit the Duke Energy website “Check Lake Levels” page at, or call the Lake Information Line at (800) 829-5253.

    Construction at the new Bridgewater Hydro Station is about 85-percent complete. The new Bridgewater powerhouse is being built downstream from the original 1919 hydro station to accommodate upcoming federally required seismic stability work on the Linville Dam in 2012.

  2. Stopped by the powerhouse yesterday and saw a great site….. water flowing out of the NEW powerhouse!!!!! Not sure what was going on but water was flowing. Several workers were standing on the walkway watching the water flowing out of the new powerhouse. Phone message said “No Generation Scheduled” but the flow was HUGE!

    So not sure when everything will get rolling but it sure was nice seeing the water flowing.

  3. Pingback: Catawba Fishing Report |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>