Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Catawba River - below Lake James - North Carolina

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Blue Winged Olive Afternoon #18-22 Pheasant Tail, Zebra Midge
February Blue Winged Olive, Midges Afternoon #16-22 Zebra Midge, RS2
March Quill Gordon, Blue Winged Olive Mid-Day #12-18 Parachute Adams, Pheasant Tail
April Hendrickson, March Brown Afternoon #12-16 Elk Hair Caddis, Hare's Ear
May Caddis, Sulphur Evening #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, CDC Sulphur
June Sulphur, Light Cahill Evening #12-16 CDC Sulphur, Parachute Light Cahill
July Terrestrials, Light Cahill All day #10-20 Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Ant
August Terrestrials, Tricos Morning #18-24 Trico Spinner, Foam Beetle
September Blue Winged Olive, Terrestrials Afternoon #16-22 Parachute Adams, Ant Patterns
October Blue Winged Olive, October Caddis Afternoon #14-18 Pheasant Tail, Pumpkinhead
November Blue Winged Olive, Midges Mid-day #18-22 Zebra Midge, RS2
December Midges Mid-day #22-24 Zebra Midge, Thread Midge

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

The Catawba River located below Lake James is considered a gem for fly fishers due to its teeming fish population and stunning environment. Here are the best spots to fish on this river:

  • Bridgewater Canoe Portage: An easily accessible slice of the river with reportedly abundant fishing opportunities.
  • Lake James State Park: Despite being a lake area, the outlet which becomes a part of Catawba offers an amazing fishing experience.
  • Resort at Lake James: Another lake area, but magnificent for fly fishing due to the stocked fish.

Fly fish species that can be hooked in these areas include Trout, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and Catfish. Always ensure to obey the local fishing rules and licenses requirements to protect these precious fishing grounds.

Best Access Points

The Catawba River, below Lake James, offers several attractive options for fly fishing. The most frequented access points for fly fishing on this stretch of the river are:
  • Old Fort: This access point is found at the confluence of Mill Creek and the Catawba River. It is popular for trout fishing.
  • Pleasant Gardens: Located near McDowell County, this access point has ample parking and is a frequently visited spot for fly anglers.
  • Bridgewater: This access point in Burke County gives way to a wide river stretch known for an active fish population.
  • Lake James State Park: Although technically above the dam, it still provides plenty of opportunities for wonderful fly fishing.
  • While these sites have confirmed good fishing opportunities, remember to check local guidelines and regulations before fishing, as some sections of the river may be restricted or privately owned.

Local Fish

  • Brown Trout: These fish are known for aggressive behavior, spectacular aerial displays and the selective feeding habits that frustrate many beginners.
  • Rainbow Trout: Fly fishermen target this species during nearly all stages of their development, from fry to adult.
  • Brook Trout: While these fish prefer cooler, smaller streams, they can also be found in the Catawba River. These fish are prized for their beautiful markings and fighters on a fly rod.
  • Smallmouth Bass: These fish are aggressive fighters and are very popular among fly fishermen. They offer a great opportunity for top water fishing.
  • Largemouth Bass: Largemouth bass are found in warmer waters and are known for their aggressive strikes and leaps out of the water.
  • Bluegill: A popular choice for beginners, bluegills are also targeted by experienced anglers due to their aggressive nature and the fun challenge they provide on light tackle.
  • Redeye Bass: These are native to the Catawba River and are known for their fighting abilities which make them a sporty fish for fly anglers.
  • Channel Catfish: Although not a traditional species for fly fishing, Channel catfish are abundant in the Catawba River and offer a unique challenge for those willing to tackle them with a fly rod.

About The River

The Catawba River below Lake James is one of the magnetic points not only for locals but also for tourists chasing water-related adventures. The glowing history of this waterway will surely captivate your attention.

The Catawba River was named after the Catawba Indian nation, the original inhabitants of the areas along the river. Long before colonisation, these resourceful tribes used the river as a critical channel for transportation and fishing.

In the 1800s, settlers began to use the river’s power for grist mills and later for hydroelectric power production. The Catawba River thus played a decisive role in the development of the textile industry and manufacturing in the region.

  • Today, it’s mainly renowned for recreational opportunities like kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and so much more.
  • Comprising over 30 different species of freshwater fish, the river below Lake James offers a remarkable biodiversity experience.

The tale of the Catawba River, interweaving with human and natural history, offers a profound narrative that you’ll appreciate knowing.


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