Wilson Creek is a freestone stream that comes to life in Avery County along the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in the Pisgah National Forest. From it’s headwaters to the confluence with John’s River in Caldwell County, Wilson Creek drops several hundred feet and flows some 25 miles. Wilson Creek was named a Wild and Scenic River in August of 2000.
Basically you can divide Wilson Creek into 4 sections. The upper section is regulated as Catch and Release Artificial Lures Only. This upper section is defined by large boulders and plunge pools. This section requires anglers to hike/walk into the remote sections of the stream. Lost Cove Creek, one of the major tributaries, is regulated as Catch and Release Artificial Fly Only water. Lost Cove marks the lower boundary of this section.
From just below Lost Cove down to Phillip’s Branch, which is just downstream of Harper Creek is regulated as Delayed Harvest water. This section is very heavily stocked with over 10,000 fish stocked each year. This section is much flatter than the upper section and has some large slow deep pools. Harper Creek is a major tributary in this section, it’s regulated as a Wild stream and offers the visiting angler the opportunity to hit some Wild water after they “tune up” on the fish in the DH waters.
The next section is about 7 miles long and is regulated as Hatchery Supported trout water. This section includes the Wilson Creek Gorge which is one of the premier whitewater kayaking runs in the southern US. This section is the most visited part of the stream, with lots of swimmers, tubers, sun bathers etc. This section is BIG water with lots of deep pools and some Class III and IV rapids.
The lower stretch of Wilson Creek below Brown Mountain Beach to John’s River is very marginal trout water and is a smallmouth bass fishery. Some great smallmouth bass action can be found here and with so much water close by it’s often over looked by the visiting angler.
General Overview of Wilson Creek Fishing Conditions by season
Blue Winged Olives and Black Stone flies are the primary hatches throughout the spring. Starting in April you’ll find big hatches of Hendricksons and Caddis flies. Spring is a great time of year to fish Wilson Creek since you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself.
Summer months can be challenging to the fisherman on Wilson Creek. The water warms, the crowds grow and the fish activity slows. Once the Caddis flies begin to tail off you’ll still find a good concentration of Stoneflies and Light Cahills and like all streams in NC terrestrial flies like the ants, beetles, and hoppers can be very effective.
Fall and Winter:
The fall and winter fishing on Wilson Creek can be be INCREDIBLE! From streamer fishing the gorge for big browns, to stalking wild fish up high to testing your skills on the Delayed Harvest section, Fall/Winter fishing offers great opportunities for the visiting angler. Typical hatches include Blue Wing Olives (BWO’s) and black stone flies and your typical midge nymphs throughout the season.
General Overview of Access for Wilson Creek
From Morganton, travel north on NC 181 for 12 to 15 miles, then turn right onto Brown Mountain Beach Road (sign on the left large white church at intersection), follow this about 5 miles to where Brown Mountain Beach Road turns left (just pass the Wilson Creek bridge). This will parallel Wilson Creek starting at the gorge and heading upstream.