People from all over the world come to our watershed for the outdoor opportunities.
Fishermen and women:
Do you know the Tuckasegee Slam? Can you recite the 15 hot fishing spots in Jackson County? Ever heard of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail?
Link here to go directly to the Fly Fishing Trail Map
For fishing adventures in Swain County, check out this page from the Swain Chamber.
The Qualla Boundary is the accepted name for the Cherokee Reservation, and a local permit is required for fishing. Several streams are stocked with trophy sized animals.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,115 miles of streams within its boundaries, and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States.
Water Levels for Anglers and Paddlers
Whether you are an angler or a kayaker, you need to know water levels in the Tuckasegee River to enjoy your sport.
Duke Energy releases water for the power generator located on the West Fork just above the confluence that forms the Tuckasegee River. This added water travels approximately 31 miles where it empties into Fontana Lake below Bryson City.
During the summer, releases are timed to yield high-water conditions at Dillsboro about mid-morning and low-water several miles downstream at the rafting take-out next to Barkers Creek.
On most days with no recent rain storms, boating down the river without added water from dam releases can be slow going, with numerous opportunities to get out and push your boat of the rocks.
East and West Fork of the Tuckasegee River – Annual Recreation Flow Schedule
On the other hand, high water is difficult for fishermen. During the summer, special days (usually Mondays) are set aside for low-water conditions for the benefit of anglers. But beware, if Duke Energy decides that the lakes are full or if it needs to make electricity, don’t count on standard release schedules.
It is best to check the Daily Schedule of Flows Arrival and Recession Times.
Real time Water Levels and Discharges from the USGS
The US Geological Survey operates four real-time stream gages and two automated rain gages in the Tuckasegee River basin. One is on the Oconaluftee River which drains most of the Qualla Boundary and town of Cherokee before it flows into the Tuckasegee River at Whittier.
If you compare the hydrographs, sites along the Tuckasegee show repeated pulses in river height (called stage) and flow (called discharge). In contrast, the hydrograph of the Oconaluftee River show pulses that respond only to rainfall events. There is one dam on the lower section of the Oconaluftee River but it does not make electricity and does not release pulses of water. Just make sure if you paddle into the small Luftee Lake behind the dam, that you get out before you have a terrible fall over the dam!
If you want to see a graph of rainfall as measured in Bryson City, click on the last link and then find the check box for “precipitation”, click on it, and then click “GO”
If you want to see the rainfall in Sylva, then use this link: RainGauge at Sylva
After your personal adventure on the Tuckasegee River, please consider visiting WATR online from time to time, or, better yet, please join us! We have many members who choose to live in distant places but who care for this great resource.