Wild Trout Waters (Big Horse Creek Ashe County, NC)

Wild Trout fly fishing for me is one of the most satisfying ways to fly fish. It requires both stealth, skill, and of course luck. I have never been one to match the hatch while fly fishing. For me I already know what flies will work and which ones will not. Maybe one day I will get to that point, and take a net with me to study what is in the water. I am not to that point yet. Let us get on with the story already.

The Wild Trout Waters of Big Horse Creek is about the only place to fish for wild trout in Ashe County. There are some more places I have found in the county, but for my sake and the fishes I am going to keep them a secret. The water for this section is the perfect climate for wild trout. It is what we call pocket water fishing. It has beautiful waterfalls with deep pools, and it is surrounded with a lot of cover. The fish have plenty of rocks, shade to stay cool, and other small sources of water flowing into the creek. This makes for a perfect climate for the wild trout. The deep pools contain mainly wild brown trout, however, I have caught several huge rainbows from this creek. The main trout you will be catching though is the wild rainbow trout.

Fly fishing wild trout waters during hatchery supported “season” is a great way to unwind from a stressful day. You go out on a nice sunny day alone or with friends just to be one with nature. Seeing flies hatch in front of you, hearing the sound of the waterfall, watching trout hit the top water, sneaking up to a hole and see a monster fish lurking in the depths, and getting to cast a few flies along the way. Even if you don’t catch a single fish visiting this creek, and taking in nature as a whole can be a very humbling experience.

While fishing this creek it would be ideal to use a dry fly with a nymph dropper. However, I like a challenge and only use a dry fly on this creek most of the time. I tend to catch 95% rainbow trout and 5% brown trout. The brown trout I have caught though are mainly 16 inch fish or greater. If you land one of these fish you have mastered the art of wild trout waters, or got extremely lucky. The rainbow trout tend to be all under 10 inches, but seeing them hit the top water on your fly will make up for them lacking the size. You can expect to catch a lot of fish if you can determine what they are hitting early on your trip, and not to spook the trout.  The amount of fish you will catch is anywhere from 20 trout to 50 trout on a really good day. So even with the negative stuff about the creek I am about to say it is still worth the trip to fish this place.

The main issue with this creek is worm and spinner fishers like to fish illegally here. You can find remains of worm cans, corn cans, treble hook packages, and tons of other trash. This takes away from your chances of landing a big brown. However, even if illegal fishers are landing these fish that doesn’t mean you wont be able to catch one. I used to find myself calling the game warden for a fishing violation every time I went up here. I never knew if they ended up doing anything about the calls I had made, but now I have just given up. I have accepted that people are always going to cheat, or find a short cut trying to land a big fish. I have embraced this as a new challenge. Fishing these holes after these wormers are done hoping to land a fish in front of them when they didn’t catch anything.

I tend to pick up trash along the way hoping the next fisher after me will do the same. If we aren’t keeping these creeks clean it could lead to even less available fishing spots in the county. In the next post I will go over some things that really bother me about fishing in general. Just please look after the streams while you fish no matter where you are. What we do now can have an impact on our trout streams later on in life.

5 thoughts on “Wild Trout Waters (Big Horse Creek Ashe County, NC)

  1. When you mention the Wild Trout Waters on Big Horse I am guessing you are referring to the catch and release only section north of the Hatchery Supported section up to the VA State line? I get so irritated when I see poachers harvesting trout in the Catch and Release waters and also the Delayed Harvest waters prior to June 1st opening date. I wish there were additional spot checks on these streams checking licenses and ensuring everyone is obeying the posted regulations. Great blog!!!


    1. Yeah that is what I am talking about. In an outdated map it refers to it as Wild Waters is why I still call it that. It bugs me too. I am always seeing people fish illegally. I used to call the Game Warden all the time, but I just don’t see any point anymore. With only 1 Game Warden its hard to be everywhere in the county at once. I have even seen nets be used on Helton. They would throw the net in, and the fish they caught they would put them in buckets. The Catch and Release section of Big Horse it littered with trash like worm cans and treble hooks. I wish they could do something more about it though. Thank you for reading the blog.


      1. I have never fished this area of Big Horse but I am now looking forward to checking it out. Is the best way to fish this section of Big Horse to walk the stream or are there areas to ‘park and fish’ the holes. Big Horse is one of my favorite streams but have never taken the time to explore this section of it so thanks for the tip!


      2. There are some parking spots just past the hatchery supported signs up big horse. The best way to fish it though is to walk the creek. You will have a chance to catch more fish anyways.


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