11/16/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
3.    Slate Drakes
4.    Needle Stoneflies
5.    Little Yellow Quills
6.    Ants
7.    Inchworms
8.    Beetles
9.    Grasshoppers
10.  Craneflies
11.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)

Fly Fishing The South Toe River North Carolina

The South Toe River's headwaters are near the Blue Ridge Parkway on the slopes
of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain in the eastern United States. It is formed by the
confluence of its Right Prong and Left Prong streams. Hemphill Creek also adds
water in its uppermost section. It receives additional water in its headwater area
from three other major tributary streams, each of which have their own designated
wild trout waters - Rock Creek, Upper Creek and Lower Creek. The South Toe River
is joined in its lower section by the North Toe River and two form the mainstem of
the Toe River. It only flows for a short distance before converging with the
Nolichucky River.

Forest Service Road #472 follows over five miles of the South Toe River. Its access
ends at the Blue Ridge Parkway. All of the section of the river flowing on Pisgah
Game Lands is a designated wild trout stream. This upper, wild trout section is
rugged and difficult to access in many places from the road. The road crosses the
stream where access is easy but in many places it is well above the stream and not
practical to access. It's best to park upstream, hike downstream and fish back
upstream to your vehicle in parts of this upper section. The stream falls on a steep
decline and consist mostly of short plunges and runs into small pools. It contains
wild rainbows, some wild browns and native brook trout.

The section of water from a bridge above the Black Mountain Campground
downstream to the Pisgah Game Land border is designated as "catch and release -
artificial lures/flies only" water. This section is just over a mile long and flows through
the campground. In this area, the river is open and about thirty to forty feet wide.
Little Mountain Creek, a small tributary stream, also flows into the campground area.
Just below the campground, Big Lost Cove Creek and Neals Creek, both small wild
trout streams, add to the flow of the South Toe River.  From the Game Lands
downstream to the mouth of Clear Creek, the river is back under wild trout
regulations. This section is approximately three miles long.

Below the Clear Creek confluence, downstream for at least ten miles, the South Toe
River is stocked, or as the state of North Carolina likes to described it, hatchery
supported. The river is stocked with brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. It
also has a few wild trout in this area along with holdovers.

The lower part of the stocked section is accessible from Halls Chapel Road, or state
road # 1169. It flows through strips of private property mixed with public access
points. Upstream, the river can be accessed from Celo Clinic Road, or in another
area by state road #80. The entire stocked section of the South Toe River is a
medium to large size stream. Farther on upstream, access is provided from Forest
Service Road 472, which as mentioned above, provides access to most of the wild
trout waters.

The three main tributaries are regulated as follows: Upper Creek is designated as a
"catch and release, artificial lures/flies only" stream. Its headwater tributaries are the
South and Middle Forks of Upper Creek and Grassy Knob.  It can be accessed from
Forest Service Road #472 at the bridge where it crosses Upper Creek. You can fish
upstream on an unmarked trail that looks like an old lumber road. At the point the
trail ends, you can fish upstream in the streambed.  

Lower Creek is also designated as a wild trout stream. It's about the same size as
Upper Creek which is just a short ways upstream. Forest Service Road #472
crosses Lower Creek and you can fish from that point upstream on an unmarked
trail. Both Upper and Lower Creeks are small streams plunges and runs that flow
into small pools. There's barely enough room to cast in most places.

Rock Creek is the larger of the upper tributary streams but it's still a rather small
stream. Its designed as a wild trout stream by the state and has a population of wild
rainbows in its lower section. Three Creek is a small headwater tributary of Rock
Creek. About a mile of Rock Creek can be accessed from Forest Service Road
#5521. A trail picks up where the road ends and you can fish on upstream. The
stream joins the South Toe River near the Mt. Mitchell Golf Course. Still Fork Creek
enters the South Toe just upstream from Rock Creek. It has a small tributary called
Roaring Fork that is known for its Roaring Fork Falls.

All things considered, the South Toe River has a lot to offer a fly angler. Like most
other areas of western North Carolina, the wild trout water is not heavily fished
simply because easier to fish stocked sections of water are nearby. On most days,
you can have all of the wild trout water to yourself you want fishing the South Toe
River or one of its several tributary streams. The fish are plentiful and usually very
eager to take a fly. Although the rainbows usually average only six inches (up to
twelve inches) or so, brown trout up to and over twenty inches can be caught in the
wild trout section. In some of the uppermost headwaters you can choose to fish for
the native Appalachian Brook Trout. Whatever you preferences, the South Toe
River has something to offer.

We have fished this river several times, usually in a different area than the previous
trips. Each time we have been able to catch a decent number of wild rainbow and/or
brown trout. We have only fished for its brook trout on one occasion and that was
okay, but we were not as successful as we expected we would be. I'm sure there are
many areas of the tributaries that do have a good brook trout population that we
haven't fished.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh