Major Fishing Lakes in Western North Carolina

Fishing in Western NC

Lake Adger

This pristine 438-acre lake is located in Polk County between Columbus and Lake Lure just off Hwy 9. Lake Adger has only recently been opened for real estate development after Duke Power sold it to private developers. The lake, which is fed by the lower Green River, is home to an impressive array of fish including the state record muskie and some of the biggest largemouth bass found in Western North Carolina. Other common species include catfish, crappie, and panfish. The fish of Lake Adger are best pursued by boat or canoe. There is an 80 horsepower limit on pontoon boats and a 60 horsepower restriction on any other watercraft. Anglers will be glad to know that no jet skis or water skiing is permitted on the lake.

Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge in North Carolina and Georgia - Photo Courtesy Georgia Department of Economic Development

Located just South of Hayesville, NC straddling the border of North Carolina and Georgia, Lake Chatuge is a 7,050-acre reservoir operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Constructed on the Hiwassee River, this deep mountain lake was once a haven for smallmouth bass, including a long standing Georgia state record. With the illegal introduction of the spotted bass the smallmouth population rapidly declined. The most sought after species currently include hybrid striped bass, spotted bass, white bass, largemouth bass and walleye. A cooperative agreement between NC and GA allow fisherman in boats to fish in the entire lake and tributaries reachable by boat with either states fishing license. Size and creel limits are enforced based on the state you are currently fishing in regardless of where the fish was caught, and a sportsmen fishing from the shore or a docked boat must possess a license for the state they are fishing in. Be prepared to fish deep, often 25 feet or more, with light tackle to have success on Lake Chatuge.

Lake Hickory

Just a short drive North of Hwy 40 in Hickory, NC, Lake Hickory is an ideal medium sized reservoir for family fishing. Excellent populations of largemouth bass, striped bass, channel catfish, crappie, shellcrackers and other panfish make for excellent fishing year round. Renting a cabin on the lake, making a day trip to one of the numerous public boating access points or utilizing the services of one of the many area guides are all great ways to get at the fish on Lake Hickory. For more information on public access and maps visit the Duke Power’s Lake Hickory facts and maps page.

Lake Fontana

Sunset at Lake Fontana - Photo US Fish and Wildlife Service

Lake Fontana, located 65 miles West of Asheville in Bryson City, NC, is known for its deep, clear and extremely cold waters that are home to trophy largemouth bass, muskie, walleye, a variety of panfish and arguably some of the best smallmouth bass fishing anywhere in the country. Few North Carolina lakes can boast the beauty of Lake Fontana, especially considering that over 90% its 240 miles of shoreline on this 11,700-acre lake remains undeveloped and is owned by the National Park Service or the US Forestry Service. Be sure to visit the Fontana Village Marina for boating access regardless of water level, fishing advice, bait and tackle, guide service and much more.

Lake James

Lake James in Morganton, NC

Lake James is the Eastern most mountain lake, and is located a few miles North of Hwy 40, 15 miles West of Morganton. Because of its unique location it is home to generous populations of colder water fish such as walleye and smallmouth bass, as well as impressive numbers of largemouth bass. Other species found on the lake include catfish and a variety of panfish. The 6,500 acres of Lake James are comprised to two distinct fingers. The Southern section is fed by the Catawba River, while the Linville River feeds the colder Northern branch. As one would expect, the cold-water species are more densely populated in the Linville arm of the lake. Duke power operates several public access points around the lake. Visit their facts and maps page for more information.

Lake Lure

Lake lure is located 30 miles Southeast of Asheville at the convergence of Hwy 74-A and Hwy 9. Well stocked with largemouth and smallmouth bass, the lake also boasts populations of rainbow trout, brown trout, crappie, catfish, bluegill and other panfish. The town of Lake Lure and nearby Chimney Rock Park make a wonderful day-trip or weekend getaway by themselves, add fishing, rock climbing and the countless other recreational activities and you might just have to stay for a whole week.

Lake Santeetlah

Lake Santeetlah in the Great Smokies National Forest - Photo USDA Forestry Service

Lake Santeetlah is a gorgeous mountain lake located 90 miles West of Asheville in Nantahala National Forest. The majority of the shoreline of Santeetlah’s 3,000 acres are owned by the National Parks Service and there are plenty of camping locations dotting the water’s edge. Warmer than Lake Fontana to its West, Lake Santeetlah was formerly home the NC state records for largemouth bass and walleye. The lake also contains healthy populations of smallmouth bass, crappie and bream. This mountain lake is one of the best places to get away from the hubbub of the city and experience the outdoors, take a swim and catch some impressive fish. Click here for more info.

Lake Summit

This small 300-acre lake is the largest body of water in Henderson County, and is located 40 miles South of Asheville on Hwy 25. Fed by the upper Green River, and emptying into the famed Green River narrows, Lake Summit is home to some impressive largemouth bass (an impressive 9lb 11oz specimen was caught in May of 2007) and several species of panfish. The lake can be crowded especially during the summer, but is still a great small lake that is closer to Asheville than most other lakes in the area.

Other Small Asheville Area Lakes

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake is just a short drive up Merrimon Ave from downtown Asheville. Boats may be launched, but require the purchase of a permit. Much of the shoreline on the Eastern side of the lake is accessible to fisherman.

Lake Julian

Lake Julian in Fletcher NC - Photo NC Wildlife Resource Commission

Operated by Buncombe County parks and recreation, Lake Julian is a small lake located 10 miles South of Asheville less than two miles East of Hwy 26 at exit 37. This lake can be fished from the shore or from rented Johnboats. Patrons must provide their own electric motor for rented boats. Abundant populations of bass, catfish, crappie and panfish are found on the lake as well as an imported fish called “Tilapia.”

Lake Powhatan

Lake Powhatan is located in the Bent Creek section of the Pisgah National Forest, behind the NC Arboretum, approximately 7 miles West of downtown Asheville. Boating is not permitted on this cold mountain lake, but a fishing pier has been constructed and large portions of the bank are accessible to fisherman. Surrounded by hiking and biking trails, Lake Powhatan is ideal for beginner anglers and family outings.

Lake Tomahawk

Located in and operated by the City of Black Mountain, Lake Tomahawk is ideal for a casual fishing day-trip. This 10-acre lake has public fishing docks and boating access (no motors). Visit the Black Mountain parks and recreation page for more details.


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Fishing the Lakes of Western North Carolina
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