View Full Version : Nantahala Salmon

12-05-2006, 07:43 PM
Does anyone know anything these fish. I have seen pictures,but those are dated. If anyone has info,rumor or other wise I would like to here it.

12-06-2006, 09:33 AM
I assume you are referring to the lake run rainbows from Fontana Lake that enter into the Nantahala River.?

12-06-2006, 07:16 PM
Hey Ruggerfly thanks for the reply, but I am Sure the photos are most surely Salmon. NO Question. Thanks Again,Lynn.

Byron Begley
12-06-2006, 07:23 PM

I don't think many people know about the salmon run and if they do they may not be willing to talk about it. I know very little about it. Talk to Joe Hatton or Zack Mathews. And, when you figure it out, lets go fishing for them. I think they are Kokonee (check spelling).


12-07-2006, 09:49 AM
If Byron is correct (the salmon are Kokonee in the Nantahala), then I do not know about it. Although, I have fished for these salmon out west, and they are the land locked variety. I would also be interested if you found out any additional info.


12-07-2006, 07:52 PM
Thanks Byron, I don't know Zach but I Can talk to Joe. I also E- Mailed some dude in North Carolina T.U. commision or something like that. I let you Know what I find out, maybe just a shot in the dark. One thing I did find out Are they are Kokonee,whatever that means. Found that on line last night. THanks for taking the time,Lynn

12-08-2006, 05:36 PM
From what I know they are Kokanee and they run in October. They run out of Nantahala Lake, not Fontana. The problem is that that part of the river flows almost exclusively through private property and they guard it pretty thoroughly. I have heard that the Standing Indian campground does have some frontage on the creek and that you might find them there. A big one would be 21", but they sure look like a sockeye, big gnarly kype!
I have not fished for them, myself this is second hand info.

Byron Begley
12-08-2006, 05:43 PM
Someone told me that they didn't make it to the campground this year. I can't remember who said that. I hear so many stories working in a fly shop that I can't keep them all straight.


12-08-2006, 05:46 PM
I feel famous! Are you talking about the Salmon or the fisherman (not making it to the campground)?

Byron Begley
12-08-2006, 07:56 PM
John you are famous! I was talking about the salmon. The story I remember was that a ranger or person who works at the campground said that the salmon run didn't make it that far up this year like they had in past years. This is all second hand and I can't remember the source. I've only known a handful of people who have mentioned this over the years. I've never even been there.


12-09-2006, 12:18 AM
this whole nantahala salmon thing may be some closely guarded secret, but according to this oct. 3rd 2006 press release, this man has established the NC state record for kokanee salmon at 9.2 ounces, 11.5 inches. the link also has a picture. I guess its still bigger than the average GSMNP trout.


12-09-2006, 12:21 AM
here's the link


12-09-2006, 09:02 PM
Hey TTAS67,
Man thanks for the Page. I'm going there right now. If I can ever do anything for you,let me know. Thanks Again,Lynn

12-10-2006, 02:04 AM
yeah, I'd like a new hardy featherweight reel ;D

12-11-2006, 05:11 PM
There is a link from possibly the early 90's out there which shows a 21" beauty taken from the upper Nan. If I can find it, I will post it.
Are you specifically interested in Salmon or just the Lake Run fish, there are dependable runs of Lake Run fish (you may be well aware of this) out of Santeetlah lake and I am told Fontana, Chilhowee and Calderwood though I cannot speak to the Fontana fish first hand.

12-11-2006, 09:14 PM
Hey TTAS67 forget about the Hardy, how about some flys that will make those Clinch fish go nuts. They'll see these things and just jump on the bank. THAT's THE TRUTH don't laugh.

12-11-2006, 09:19 PM
Jswitow, Hey man that may be the picture I saw before. I dont know. Thanks though because I'm still gathering Info and I am always interested in new fish. THanks again, Lynn

12-12-2006, 12:59 AM
I could go for some flies. those fish need something to get them going.

12-20-2006, 09:46 AM
Man I have been hearing about them dang salmon since I moved here. *I was thinking like 20" plus fish running up the streams. *I must say I'm a little let down, however I guess it would be cool to catch a salmon in NC. *Anyone got any more pics?

12-23-2006, 09:59 AM
from what I understand there are 20"ers. the article is about the man establishing the record for salmon in NC. In other words, there was no record, so even a 2" fish would have set the record.

01-11-2007, 11:57 AM
I'll let you in on what I've learned in four seasons now attempting to fish for these fish.

North Carolina Dept. of Wildlife Resources stocked kokanee salmon, onchorynchus nerki, in Nantahala and a couple other lakes in western North Carolina in the 1950s or 1960s as forage fish for northern pike, which they also stocked. Those pike died, but the salmon hung on.

The kokes make a yearly run out of Nantahala into private water above the lake in the fall. The upper Nantahala watershed is approximately 6 miles long and the private water extends about 4 miles up it. The kokanee run has not left the private water in several years. At one time, the run was thick enough to cover the whole watershed, but a combination of increasing privatization (or just denying anglers' fishing rights) and an outfit called the Rainbow Springs Club has basically ended that.

There is currently no way to catch these fish unless you are invited to the Rainbow Springs Club or know someone who owns property further downriver. The whole river where they run is private, and in North Carolina that means no fishing, no wading, etc.

I actually did see the kokanee this year, and I'm the one who told Byron they didn't make it out of the private water (or one of the ones who told you that, Byron). I saw them because the Rainbow Springs Club called the police on me while I was standing on the public highway watching the water for salmon to come up. Unfortunately for them, I'm a charming guy, and I talked the nice police officer who came down to run me off into taking me up to the lodge and introducing me instead. They gave me the cold shoulder but did allow me to look at their fish, which had collected in a pool on the property. The kokanee I saw were way bigger than I expected - 20-24" long for the bucks and 14-16" long for the hens. A good portion of that was head-room, but the bucks probably weighed 4# or so.

I'm hoping that's a sign the run will improve in the coming years, maybe even enough to once again leave that private area, but unfortunately there's no real way to get to these fish legally at the present time. Also, I learned that it can be almost a four hour drive from Knoxville to that area due to the bad roads (you have to go down the Dragon). For me, that isn't worth it; I saw the fish, they exist, and that's enough. Unless I get a private invitation I won't be going back.


01-12-2007, 01:25 AM
well, that pretty much solves that. thanks for the info zach! man, I'd love to tear into them salmon with my 3wt.

02-08-2007, 06:58 PM
I've fished Standing Indian a few times since '83, one of my favorite places actually. Much prefer it to the water below the lake. Never heard of kokanee there though. Wonder how you fish for 'em?

Tennessee tried putting kokanee in one of the east tennessee lakes back in the 80's but my understanding is that it didn't take off.


02-09-2007, 05:13 AM
I've fished for them a few times now. I did catch one on a fly that was bigger than the state record. Mine was 17 inches a few years back. Didn't know I had a record or I would have submitted it. There has been a 27 incher a guy caught on a boat with my wifes dad. They were trolling and caught it.

Not all of them run up to Rainbow Springs Club, there are other tribs to the lake that they run. These are the places I have fished for them before. Wifes parents have a house on the lake so I can dock my bass boat there and the run over to the other small tribs to fish.

02-09-2007, 09:31 AM
You must live over in Western NC, seem to be alot of Shulers in that part of the world! I am glad to hear about the tribs. I had noted that there were several of them feeding that lake. I am going to be in Robbinsville(there is a game warden in Robbinsville with the same last name) this weekend and might take a ride over there around the lake just to have a look. I would guess that by now the run is long since past?
Thanks for the information, post a pic of that 17" fish if you can find it!

02-17-2007, 03:47 AM
I do live in WNC, Bryson City to be exact! And yes, Heath is my cousin! We are all very proud of him!

I will warn you guys if you just have to fish for these things. WATCH who's land you are on! The property lines are not very straight or clear for the newcomer. And you can be dang sure the landowners and game wardens know where the lines are. The folks on the upper Nanty are the fastest to call the law for trespassing that I have ever seen, anywhere
Don't believe me, try walking on the Rainbow Springs club and see how fast you get in trouble!! Most of the time you won't make it out of your car and even get to so see a fish. Their private security guys are that good.
They will even get after you for trying to park and look off the bridge on HWY 64 going over Chunky Gal!! Know of a fellow who got in trouble for that a few weeks ago! He was apparantly on the shoulder of the road which is state right of way but still Rainbow's property.

02-19-2007, 11:54 AM
I bet they are good at calling. Why is that? We're actually starting to see a little of that on Snowbird as well. Though luckily nobody owns massive stretches of the creek on both sides..........yet.

02-19-2007, 12:47 PM
" I bet they are good at calling. Why is that? "

Well, I usually try to put myself into their shoes when I think about people that have blocked off access to the general public....and most of the time I can't argue with them. If I was smart enough or lucky enough to own a nice stretch of trout stream, I don't imagine that I'd want folks fishing there either. Good fishing water isn't hard to find, but it probably wouldn't take more than a few times picking up John Q. Public's coke can, twinkie package or discarded leader wrapper for me to put up posted signs and gates.

For some reason, it seems alot of folks don't understand how people can want to keep their private property, private. But, if we put ourselves in their shoes - imagine we own the land and the good fishing creek - and imagine what the general public could do to such a place - it's not hard to see why folks are protective of what they've worked hard( or lucked up on) to secure for themselves and their family and friends.

But don't worry - when I work out that deal to buy Hazel Creek from the NPS, I'll only charge $100 a day to fish it, cause I like you guys. ;)

02-19-2007, 01:42 PM
I understand and respect the rights of private land ownership and always expect others to also. Unfortionately, I'm not one of the lucky individuals that owns or has unrestricted access to any of these areas.
I don't understand how any organization ( no matter how much money or local political power they have) can call the police on someone for looking at fish from a bridge which is on a Public right of way. (per Zach M. earlier post) I hate to think that anyone is that elitist and just plain mean to harass us. It makes me thankful to all the landowners who gave up their lands to preserve the GSMNP for everyones use.

02-19-2007, 06:49 PM
Not too much to say about the landowners or clubs. I would run off the people who wanted to keep all the fish they caught (as well as the litterers) I would put out a sign stating "no trespass without the owner's permission. See the owner at xxxx address". The person who violated that would get the call, and the person who littered would not be allowed to fish again. I don't find fly-fishing trash once or twice a season, don't know about the rest of you. I don't own a ranch with a famous river on it or even a small creek in the Smokies, (few people do) can't really say what I would say if I did. My parents had a farm with a 5 acre pond.......full of bass, catfish and bluegill. We let people fish until somone stole my little johnboat. Then we still let friends and the local church fish it twice a season, for catfish for their fishfry. The robber baron mentality still lives though, and those people feel it is their right to exclude others from their holdings. The ranch on the Henry's Fork was that way for many years, owned by the Harriman family (railroad builders) can you imagine how much of an impact the rails had on the settling of this country, staggering, they would have been akin to a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates of today. I might have felt privileged enough to have kept things for myself as well. Doubtful I will ever know. Luckily they did will the ranch to the people, with stipulations for how it would be managed. He enjoyed it for his lifetime, then passed it on for the good of fellow flyfisherman. He didn't have to do it, but I am glad he did.
This stuff is all a matter of opinion though. I will from time to time pay to fish a pig farm in Georgia(Blackhawk Farm is awesome for that matter!) or a Spring Creek out west.......... and hope that Ted Turner signs his ranch over to the state of Montana, with his passing from this life. Doesn't sound like the Rainbow Club will be doing that any time soon. Until 5 or 10 years ago that was really the back of beyond, few knew it was even there. No real skin off my back, there is plenty of water out there to fish.
So do you get a buzz from licking those trout or what?

Byron Begley
02-19-2007, 07:26 PM
I think I'll tell my story.

I bought two 5 acre lots near Townsend in the mid 80's. Running through the middle of one of the lots is a spring creek. It has always had a population of small wild rainbow trout. The water is 58 degrees year round. I decided to feed the fish even though I lived in Nashville. I installed two feeders controlled by timers that dispensed food into the creek. They would go off twice a day. Since I was here in Townsend at least once a month I could keep the feeders supplied with chow. The trout grew huge. Paula caught her first trout in the creek when we were dating and has fly fished ever since. TU chapters and FFF clubs would hold outings on the property. One fellow caught a 22" rainbow, the largest trout of his life. A Boy Scout troop would camp down there every year. I brought in PortaJohns for any group that wanted to enjoy the property. Everything was great. Locals would fish there but I didn't see any abuse. I eventually built a home, moved to Townsend and Paula and I got married and we live there now.

Then one of our neighbors put their house on the rental market. The abuse started. Tourists would walk down to our now posted creek and catch 15" to 24" rainbows and kill them. I sent the local police to the rental house one time to file charges for tresspassing. You could see these huge fish and the tourists couldn't resist. After several confrontations I decided to let the stream go back to it's natural small fishery and hopefully tourists wouldn't find it so appealing. Over the years friends and I installed Lunker Bunkers and did a lot of bank stabilization. Then I decided to stock brook trout. I got permission from TWRA which had to be approved by the National Park Service to stock them. I had 400 brook trout fingerlings flown in from Pennsylvania. Walter Babb and I stocked the fingerlings. The next day I went down to check everything out and I could smell chlorine. I drove upstream to a trout farm and found that the owner had used Chlorine to kill algae in one of his ponds. Of course it washed down into the creek and killed every fish in the stream including the brook trout. He told me he would do anything I wanted to get the stream back including raising brookies for me at no cost. I didn't turn him in. I should have. About a month later, a neighbor upstream breached a mill dam that had held back silt and gravel for 50 years. It completely filled the stream with gravel and silt. I talked to the Tennessee Department of Health and Environment about what happened. They suggested I file a complaint and they would file charges. Again, I didn't want to get on the wrong side of a neighbor. Over a period of years the gravel washed it's way down stream. But, I gave up. I don't like to go down there anymore. I probably haven't seen that stream in a year or more and it's only a two minute walk from my house. When I go down there, it makes me sick. When I go fishing in the Smokies it makes me feel good. There are a lot of awful things that occur when you own a trout stream. I've been offered 6 times what I paid for that lot and some day I may sell it with no regrets.


02-19-2007, 07:52 PM
What a shame? Despite our best efforts and intentions we can never control all the variables! I applaud you for your patience and gentlemanly ways. Sure would be nice to restore the stream to its original state?


02-19-2007, 09:42 PM
wow, what a story Byron. that's terrible.

Paula Begley
02-20-2007, 08:55 AM
I love that stream. It is really, really sad that we don't go down there anymore. We had big dreams for that place, even to the point of building a stream keepers "house" and making it available for customers to fish on. Maybe some day Byron will forget the disappointments that happened down there...and maybe I will too. The most sickening sight I have ever witnessed were the huge fish slowly dying in the chlorinated water...:(


02-20-2007, 11:38 AM
Thats terrible yall.

Seems you cant have anything for someone else trying to mess it up.
I'm not sore at land owners for posting their property, as I know first hand why this usually happens.
I owned a private stretch on Conley's Creek near Bryson City a few years back, and my wife and I always let folks fish it as long as they didnt trash it up.
I came home one afternoon to see a guy urinating in my front yard, on a tree next to the creek.
Of course that ended us allowing folks to fish on our property, signs were put up and registered with the courthouse.
About three weeks later, my dog woke us up about 12:30 at night raising the dickens. I looked out the window and saw the same guy walking down our driveway in a hurry. I went outside and he then ran.
I started out to where my dog kennel was to see if he tried to do something to our Lab, and I saw the tires flat on my wife's brand new sports car. The guy had cut two tires on it!
We quickly called the Sheriffs Dept and the guy was picked up right down the road from the house.
The first thing out of the guy's mouth when the deputies picked him up was, did they call me in for cutting their tires, because thats a lie, I didnt do it.
Nobody had even mentioned anything to him at that point about cutting her car's tires!
When they searched him he had a pocket knife and a small hand gun! I can only imagine what the gun was for!
The knife had black residue form her tires and tire dressing on the blade! We did file charges on him and he spent some time in jail. And the worst part was we had to pay for the tires out of our own pocket and never saw reimbursement for that expense. It was a little over 700 for two tires for that car!

So now when I see a no Trespassing Sign, I wonder what some jackarse did that ruined it for the rest of us!

02-20-2007, 01:33 PM

I can feel your pain and I have never seen nor ever will see that stream. It would be very difficult to visit there knowing the blood, sweat and tears that must have gone into it and seeing the devastion a moment of careless can bring.

Regards, gary <*))))><