Whether you’re new to fly fishing or you’re just looking for a new adventure, the Green River in western North Carolina is worth a visit. Planning the best fly fishing trips doesn’t require the expertise of a paid guide, either. You can make your own adventures with a little bit of knowledge.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about the Green River, including when you should visit and where to fish for the best catches. We’ll also cover what to bring and provide you with some travel tips so that you can have the best time on your DIY fly fishing getaway.
Fly fishing the Green River in North Carolina
The Green River is located near Hendersonville, not far from the state line that is shared with South Carolina. The tributary flows from the north side of the Saluda Mountains and offers rainbow, brown, and brook trout. The rainbows and browns are wild and stocked, while the brook trout are stocked.
This medium tailwater stream offers a lot of good access for those who are willing to hike to reach the fishing. The river flows through Lake Summit and the Fishtop Access Area, and through the Green River Game Lands, before ending up near Lake Adger.
Much of the river is managed as wild trout waters, with select sections operating under hatchery-supported operations. The I-26 bridge passes over the Green River Gorge, which is where you’ll find some great fishing if you’re willing to trek the hike to get to the river. The delayed harvest section runs for about three miles from Fishtop Falls to Cove Creek and is where boats can be used for those who don’t want to wade.
Some tributary streams off the river offer a lot of potential for fishing, and many have public access that is fair to good in terms of how easy it is to get to the water. If you want the best views and some of the least-fished waters of this river, you will have to go a bit further in your hikes.
This stream offers tailwater fishing below the lake. You’ll want to check the dam discharge before you go just in case the water levels are fluctuating. The Green River flows through some of the most beautiful lands in the state, so no matter where you settle to cast a line, you’re sure to enjoy the view.
Green River Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Places to Fish the Green River
You can find plenty of access, as mentioned, depending on how far you’re willing to hike. The Green River offers the delayed harvest section near Fishtop Falls, which can be accessed directly from Green River Cove Road, where boat access is also available. From Cove Creek to Brights Creek, you’ll find another hatchery-supported section.
With several miles of hatchery-supported waters and several miles of wild fishing, you’ll find plenty of great stops on the stream. You can find access near the Highway 76 bridge for those who want to explore the area that flows through the canyon.
The 16 miles of trails in the Gorge section will take you to some of the most fast-paced rapids with big whitewater. Known as the Narrows, this section does offer great fishing for those who find it. You’ll also find access at Big Rock, just above Lake Adger.
Trails lead up and down the river, offering various access points. There are some access points on game and parklands, as well, although again there might be a bit of a hike required. All in all, it should be easy for you to find a great place to cast a line so long as you’re willing to do a little walking.
Best Time to Fish the Green River
As is the case with all the state-supported waters, the hatchery sections of the Green River are going to be closed during March. Other than that, fishing is open year-round in other sections. Although waters can fluctuate because of the dam, you’ll generally find the same seasonal considerations in this river as the rest of the state.
As usual, spring is popular because of the hatches and all of the aquatic insects that attract the trout. The waters remain cool but the food is plentiful, so the fish are plentiful. Summer fishing can be good near the lake where the cool water discharge keeps the river from getting too warm.
In the fall, you’ll find plenty of great fly fishing opportunities as the brown trout are out to spawn, the weather is cooling, and the days are growing cloudier and darker by the minute. Speaking of which, the trout in this stream have a fair amount of cover, but you may still want to consider blending in a bit if you don’t fish during a time of day that’s easier to hide.
Best Flies for Green River
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for the Green River:
- Yellow Sally (#12 - 16)
- Yellow Humpy (#10 - 18)
- Parachute Sulphur (#14 - 18)
- Parachute Adams (#12 - 22)
- Light Cahill (#10 - 18)
- Elk Hair Caddis (#8 - 16)
- Yellows Stimulator (#8 - 14)
- Chernobyl Ant (#8 - 12)
- Griffith's Gnat (#16 - 24)
- Pheasant Tail (#12 - 20)
- BH Hare's Ear (#12 - 20)
- Rainbow Warrior (#14 - 22)
- Pat's Rubber Legs (#4 - 12)
- Golden Stonefly (#6 - 10)
- Tellico Nymph (#12 - 18)
- Zebra Midge (#16 - 22)
- WD40 (#16-20)
- Y2K Egg (#12 - 16)
- BH Wooly Bugger (#2 - 6)
- Sculpzilla (#4)
Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere. Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)
A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Green River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Below are recommendations for essential gear to make the most of your time on the water.
Quality rod, reel, line and rod tube at a reasonable price. Backed by Orvis 25-yr guarantee, a brand you can trust.
High performance nylon leader, great for fishing Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers.
Excellent knot strength, stretch and suppleness make this the finest nylon tippet. 3-pack of the sizes you'll need the most.
Heavy duty, waterproof, yet breathable. If you are tough on waders, these are for you. Backed by Simms Wader Warranty. If they leak, they got your back.
Most durable, yet comfortable, boot on the market. Excellent foot and ankle support. Great for rocky rivers. Lightweight and designed for all-day wear.
Sweet pack with ample storage. Unique harness system reduces neck strain. Sleek tapered face improves visibility - you can see your feet when wading!
Durable and lightweight. The carbon fiber frame floats. Hooks don't get stuck in the rubber mesh bag . Extra length makes it easier to net fish. Simply the best nets on the market.
Tough, waterproof and priced right. Hold 900+ flies in slotted foam. If you need more storage - you have too many flies!
Simple, sharp nippers at great price. Clip on retractor keeps this must have gear at your fingertips.
Strong with a fine tip. Perfect for removing split shot and hooks. Simply the best fishing pliers.
The 580 Glass polarized lenses are super clear and somehow relaxing on the eyes. Game changer.
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Green River Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Green River fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:
The state of North Carolina requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.
You can purchase a North Carolina state fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Trip Planning Tips
Hendersonville is the nearest major town to the Green River, which is located near the state line that is shared with South Carolina. Those coming into the area will find access via I-26 and Highway 76. That includes plenty of lodging and dining along the way.
You will need to rent a car to access the Green River if you’re not driving in. Plenty of locals come to the river for a weekend getaway, thanks to its convenient access and remote-but-still-close location.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in North Carolina
Feature image by GR