Go fishin’ in Haywood County’s Mountain Heritage Trout Waters (July 4 is free-fishing day in N.C.)

If you’re planning a trip to Western North Carolina and looking for affordable things to do as well as experience activities that are indigenous to the area, trout fishing is a great option in Haywood County. A three-day license can be purchased for only $5 for fishing in designated “Mountain Heritage Trout Waters.”

Thanks to North Carolina’s Mountain Heritage Trout Waters program, in a cooperative effort with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, Waynesville and Maggie Valley are two of only eight WNC cities that are designated as a “Mountain Heritage Trout Water City.” The program’s purpose is to encourage trout fishing as a heritage tourism activity.

Each of the cities that are enrolled in the program provides public access to a trout stream that runs through or is adjacent to the city. For Waynesville, there’s a two-mile section of Richland Creek designated. For Maggie Valley, a three-mile section of Jonathan Creek is designated. Both creeks are hatchery-supported. Dozens of location accesses can be found along the creeks, and downloadable maps can be found by clicking here.

Trout water fishing licenses can be purchased at the Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce, Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, online at www.ncwildlife.org or by telephone Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 a.m. at 888-248-6834.

Anglers also receive a free one-time mini-tackle box containing assorted lures the first time they register in the program. In addition, if you forgot your rod and real, anglers can borrow a rod and reel free of charge for the day, which are provided at the Maggie Valley Chamber.

Fishing regulations for Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, such as daily creel limits, minimum size limits and lure restrictions, are established by the N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Richland Creek and Jonathan Creek’s designated trout water has the following regulations:

Open season from July 1 to last day of February
From 7am on the first Saturday in April until June 30
No bait or lure restriction
No size limit restriction
Seven (7) trout per day creel limit
To fish for trout in waters that are not designated as “Mountain Heritage Trout Waters,” anglers ages 16 and over must have a valid fishing license and a trout privilege license.

In addition to fishing, Haywood County offers lots of free and very affordable activities for visitors of all ages. For a complete list of activity options, visit

July 4 is Free Fishing Days in North Carolina

Everyone in North Carolina, residents and visitors alike, can enjoy a day of free fishing in any public body of water, from the mountain trout waters to the coast, without purchasing a fishing license or additional trout fishing privilege license. A list of over 500 fishing areas open to the public is available by clicking here.

Authorized by the N. C. General Assembly and started in 1994, North Carolina’s annual free fishing day always falls on July 4. The day was established to promote how much fun fishing can be along with the wide variety of fishing that North Carolina has to offer.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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