North Carolina is blessed with such a unique and varied terrain that makes it the envy of other east coast states. From the Atlantic waters in the east to the Appalachian Mountains in the west, there are endless nooks where lakes and rivers can exist amongst the geography of the Carolinas.
Some of the local’s favorite North Carolina Fishing Lakes are tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains, while others sit within a short distance of Raleigh.
Through this guide I am going to look at some of the most popular fishing lakes in North Carolina, where in the state you will find them and the species of fish that live among these beautiful North Carolina waters.
Table of Contents
Fishing Lakes in North Carolina
Stripers and Bream are often found in this part of the USA in addition to some of the best trout fishing that you will come across no matter where you are. Many of the lakes in North Carolina are man made from dams installed earlier in the 20th century, but regular fish stocking means that there is no shortage of catches.
From lesser known spots like Phelps Lake to the well known and well loved High Rock Lake, here are a few of my favorite North Carolina Fishing Lakes.
Badin Lake in North Carolina is quite a deep lake due to its positioning within the valley. It is surrounded by thick forests that are perfect for bird watching, fishing or just providing you with some much needed solitude. A wide variety of activities are available on and around the waters including boating, fishing, swimming, camping, and hiking. The Lake was formed in 1917 when the Yadkin River was dammed by the Narrows Dam to provide water for the local smelting plant. Badin Lake was named after Adrien Badin who founded the nearby town of Badin. The lake is 190 ft deep, 26 miles long and 3 miles wide and covers a very respectable 5,350 acres while providing 115 miles of shoreline for fishing.
Fish species caught here include largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and striped bass. Badin Lake is famous for it’s 60lb+ catfish and 20lb+ stripers!
Falls Lake located just an hours drive north of Raleigh was completed in 1981 by the damming of the Neuse River. The lake gets its name from the Falls of the Neuse, a set of rapids that used to flow through the river here before the dam was built. Falls lake a decent size coming in at 12,410 acres while being 28 miles in length.
The fishing is quite good in the lake due to the stocking programs run by the state of North Carolina. Largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill are all commonly reeled in by anglers.
Fontana Lake in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The scenery is spectacular, the wildlife is abundant, and the lake itself provides some of the best trout fishing in the East. Fontana Lake is 10,230 acres of water surrounded by 40,000 acres of wilderness. There are stunning vistas around every corner and plenty of coves and inlets where you can drop in a line and try your luck. The Appalachian Trail crosses over the Fontana Dam so keep your eye out for thru hikers and maybe cook them a trout or two if you’re feeling generous!
Besides trout the lake is home to plenty of smallmouth bass. There have also been record setting muskie and walleye pulled in at Fontana Lake, it really is a top spot worth getting your line wet at.
High Rock Lake
High Rock Lake in North Carolina is a man-made lake, created in 1963 by Duke Power Company. It is the largest lake in North Carolina, covering 32,000 acres. It’s 48 miles long and 12 miles wide. High Rock Lake is well-known for its excellent fishing, boating, and water sports. The lake is stocked with striped bass, crappie, catfish, walleye, and bream
Hiwassee Lake in North Carolina is one of the most beautiful lakes in the state. It is surrounded by the mountains and is 19,000 acres. Hiwassee Lake is 50 miles long and 3 miles wide. It has 270 miles of shoreline. Hiwassee Lake was created in 1940 when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built a dam on the Hiwassee River.
Many species of fish live in Hiwassee Lake including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, walleye, and striped bass. There are many marinas, boat rentals, and boat launches on Hiwassee Lake. Hiwassee Lake is popular with boaters, fishermen, and swimmers.
Jordan Lake in North Carolina is the second largest lake in the state, and the largest in the Piedmont region. The lake covers 13,000 acres and is 35 miles long. The lake is 1,300 feet deep in places. The lake is 8 miles wide at its widest point. The lake is fed by 11 creeks and 6 major rivers. The Yadkin River is the lake’s largest tributary. Other major tributaries include: Big Rock, Little River, Mayo, and New Hope Creeks.
Fish regularly caught at Jordan Lake include bass, crappie, catfish, and walleye. The lake is also popular with bird watchers, as the lake is home to bald eagles, osprey, great blue heron, and loons.
Lake Gaston is a man-made lake in North Carolina. It is between the cities of Raleigh, North Carolina and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. It is the largest lake in the state. The lake was created in 1963 by Duke Energy with the construction of the Cowans Ford Dam. Lake Gaston is 34 miles long and 1.5 miles wide at its widest point. The water level is 535 feet above sea level. Lake Gaston has 520 miles of shoreline. The deepest part of the lake is 90 feet.
Commonly caught fish in Lake Gaston include striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish.
Lake Hickory in North Carolina is 15,000 acres of water surrounded by 15,000 acres of forest. The lake is 50 miles long and 2 to 3 miles wide. Lake Hickory is 2 hours from Raleigh, 2 hours from Charlotte, 1 hour from Asheville and 1 hour from Greenville. Lake Hickory is a reservoir on the Catawba River. The lake was created by Duke Power in 1947 by impounding the Catawba River. Lake Hickory has 80 miles of shoreline and 15,000 acres of water.
Fishermen enjoy Lake Hickory for largemouth bass, striped bass, crappie, catfish, bream and shad. The lake is stocked with trout by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Lake James in North Carolina is 1,280 acres in size and has 15 miles of shoreline. Lake James is located about 25 miles from Asheville, North Carolina. Lake James is a man-made lake that was formed by Duke Power Company in 1963. Lake James is just 10 miles from its sister lake, Lake Rhodhiss.
Fish in Lake James include Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass, Crappie, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish, Catfish, and Walleye.
Lake Norman in North Carolina is a beautiful lake. It is the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. The lake is 32 miles long and 14 miles wide. Lake Norman is 3,500 acres. The lake has 520 miles of shoreline. Lake Norman is a man-made lake. It was created in 1963 by Duke Energy. Duke Energy created the lake by damming the Catawba River.
Anglers love Lake Norman. There are 80 species of fish in Lake Norman. The most sought after fish are striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and walleye.
Lake Wylie in North Carolina is a beautiful lake that is surrounded by many waterfront communities. The Lake Wylie area is a great place to buy a home. The Lake Wylie area has 3 waterfront communities with 1,000 miles of shoreline. The waterfront communities include Tega Cay, Belmont and Fort Mill.
Fishermen (and women) love Lake Wylie. Lake Wylie has 1,000 miles of shoreline and 50,000 acres of water.
You will find many different types of fish in Lake Wylie including bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, and sunfish.
Phelps Lake in North Carolina is an artificial lake that was created in 1966 by Duke Energy. The lake is 35 miles long and is 5,800 acres in size. The lake is 1,300 feet at its deepest point.
The lake is stocked with fish by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The lake is home to largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, redeye, striped, white, and hybrid bass, as well as crappie, catfish, walleye, and striped, white, and hybrid perch.
Santeetlah Lake in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the deepest lake in the park and one of the highest elevation lakes in the Eastern United States. The lake is located just inside the park’s border, about from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Appalachian Trail crosses the lake’s outlet. The lake’s name is derived from the Cherokee language word “Santeetlah,” which means “deer.”
Fish found in Lake Santeetlah include trout, bass, catfish, and bream.
North Carolina Lakes Fish Chart
You can find the main species of fish found in each of the North Carolina Fishing Lakes listed in the table below.
|North Carolina Lakes||Bass||Catfish||Crappie||Walleye||Trout||Panfish||Salmon||Stripers||Others|
|High Rock Lake||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
Map of North Carolina Fishing Lakes
The below map shows you where in the state of North Carolina you can find each lake.
The Last Cast
Whether you are a longtime local or just a short term visitor to North Carolina, the lakes won’t hold it against you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to show your kids the Great Smokies, or perhaps a solo stint in a cabin on the lake is in your future. Whatever the reason, North Carolina has all the lakes you need for some rest and relaxation or a fishing adventure with your buddies.
Which North Carolina lakes do you fish in when you get the chance?