View Full Version : Sapphire Valley area fishing ???

John Mathews
06-24-2012, 02:33 PM
August, I'm off with the family for a well needed vacation to the Sapphire Valley. We'll be staying at Fairway Forest. While over the last 13 years I have become a Salt Life kinda fisherman I did grow up and spent many years chasing trout and smallies. I'm planning one trip into Panthertown Valley.....any suggestions for the best brook trout stream to fish there?

While I am mostly a catch and release kinda guy I do keep a fish or two from time to time and put my culinary talents to good use...any suggestions on the best stream/river in the area(30 miles) to put a few keeper trout on the table?

I noticed there are a number of lakes in the area. Has anyone caught any Pike or Muskie out of any of these lakes?

Love catching smallies, is the Tusk the only game for smallies in the area?

Last but not least, fly and ultra light lure suggestions please.

Many thanks in advance,


06-24-2012, 07:17 PM
Where is this place located in the park?

06-25-2012, 04:43 PM

I had a house for many years in this area, but I hesitated to respond because no great suggestions for you came to mind. In August, things are getting tough for fly fishing mountain streams. I love the Cashiers/ Toxaway area. It's scenic, but great easy access fly fishing opportunities are just not numerous. Best activities here include hiking, shopping, eating at fancy restaurants, and sipping your favorite beverage on the back porch.

You asked about Panthertown. It's listed on the NC fishing trail, though I often wonder why. I've hiked and messed around in this valley at least thirty times. I've never seen anyone catch a fish, though I've seen a few fishermen. Two small streams converge to make the headwaters of the Tuck river. The stream has a sandy bottom, as does the whole valley. It's called an upland pine bog. The bog gives the water a brown tea color. The only structure to the river is given by large rock shelves that make waterfalls and swirly holes, and fallen logs.

Our family has always enjoyed hiking in Panthertown, and picknicking at Granny Burrell Falls. It's a great place to spend a hot August afternoon. If you caught a brook trout here, it would be 5 inches or less. It's easy to get turned around in Panthertown. Slickrock expeditions sells a great detailed hiking map of the valley. You can buy one on-line. I wouldn't go far in the valley without a good map. There will be other tourists hiking and hanging out at the popular pools and falls like schoolhouse falls. If you want an ultimate expedition, you could try to bushwhack into the Devil's Elbow gorge. No trail here. Thick rhodo and sheer rock walls. I've never done it. Check out a good topo map and see if you have the heart.

My best thought on Panthertown would be to take the family for a hike, and bring a fly rod along. Have lunch and swim, and if you caught a fish or two, so much the better. 3 weight 8 foot rod would fit the bill here or any stream in this area. Small parachute adams or yellow caddis with a tiny bead head dropper are all the flies you'd need.

You asked about pike and musky. No reliable populations here. Yes, your best bet for smallmouth is the Tuck. Several guides are running float trips here, including Eugene Shuler who has an advertised special. Best fishing lakes, including stocked trout lakes, are all private.

Other area rivers include Chattooga, Whitewater, Toxaway, Horsepasture, et. al. but August is a tough month. You should ask at the local fly shop in Cashiers, Brookings. I hope they give you better suggestions.

John Mathews
06-25-2012, 11:21 PM
Slip Stream,

Thanks so much for all the info. Do you know much about the lakes in the area, Glenvill, Toxaway, Sapphire or Fairfield?

Sounds like I may have to make a drive over to the Cherokee area or at least to Dillsboro. I'm planning on taking my canoe for the lake. Maybe I'll float the Tuck too.

Again, Thanks,


06-26-2012, 08:28 AM

Toxaway is private. Fairfield and Sapphire are resort lakes and require possession of an amenity card to use. Glenville has public access and has bream and bass. It's also a water ski lake so you'd have to get out early and get away from the public landings. Water is crystal clear so light line would be in order.

Before I went to the trouble to haul my canoe, I'd call the folks at Brookings. The guy you want to speak with is Matt Canter. They are good people.

One more area you might want to investigate is the Gorges State park. It's the newest park in the state and boundaries the Toxaway river. Water pours over the dam from Lake Toxaway so it's warm. There are smallmouth here. Again, water will be low so it may be maximum effort, minimal reward. You could check the river flow right from the highway at the huge falls.

Best of luck and enjoy your vacation.

06-26-2012, 05:25 PM
Here is my two cents, below is a pic from delayed harvest opening day this year (a few weeks ago) on the Tuck. Easy access in Dillsboro, NC, four of us waded in and got our limit in just a few hours. I had to borrow my friend's net to land this bow (aprox 14 incher on 4WT), he was using a spinner and later got the biggest fish of the trip, we will never let him fish with us again! Later we had beers and wings in Sylva, and of course a big fish fry that night, we waste nothing even the dog gets a cut. If you notice you will see other people all up and down the stream on opening day on the Tuck, good luck and have fun!


06-30-2012, 04:10 PM
Nice trout! What fly did it hit?

07-01-2012, 01:46 AM
That was on a beadhead with some extra split shot, thanks for asking. I just got in a while ago after hitting thunderhead just past bridge, from 5:30 to 7pm. Hot as blazes and not much luck, but was suprised to fill some cool breezes funneling down the creek in this 100 plus heat. Than I hit Middle prong till about 8pm, hit a small bow (anchovy size) on an ant (LRO fly fishing report tip) with a lucky drift. Not quite skunked today but nice to trip down memory lane with this Tuck trip pic, still I was on the stream today and grateful for every minute. Good luck to all!