Catawba River tailrace
The Catawba River is a recovering tailrace that is showing great signs of success. Duke Energy has established a minimal flow for the trout below Lake James which is keeping the fish healthy. The minimal flow allows for a more stable water temperature and healthier insect life. This particular section of the Catawba is about 1.5 hours from Charlotte which makes it a great day trip.
Where to fish
The section of river we float is between the Bridgewater Dam and the Glen Alpine Watermill take out. This float is about 7 and a half miles and takes around 6-7 hours to float. You can float this section on your own in a kayak or canoe with 1 generator or no generating. I have listed the coordinates to the put in and take out below. You can type these in Google maps to get driving directions.
Put in ramp: 35.739309,-81.834699
Take out ramp: 35.743849,-81.772423
What to fish
There are around 15 shoals from the put in to the take out where the water speeds up and gets shallow. These are the stretches of river you can fish nymphs and dry flies. Generic patterns work pretty well like pheasant tails, San Juan worms, soft hackles and caddis. I use a lot of big nymphs like the Mega Prince or a stonefly with a smaller soft hackle behind it. There’s a lot of slow water between shoals where you need to use streamers. We use big articulated streamers in black, yellow, tan, and olive. Just about any streamer with good movement will produce big holdover browns. If you’re willing to break out the 8wt and throw big flies it can produce some great trout.
The Catawba River below Lake James is stocked with 10k brown trout. These trout are VERY aggressive and are a great fight. There are a few wild rainbows that have made it through the tough times on the Catawba that happen to be some of the prettiest rainbows I have seen. We have caught some largemouth at the mouth of Muddy Creek. Big carp and stripers are also spotted on occasion.
Duke Energy generating information
Flow schedule: http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/scheduled-flow-releases.asp
We have high hopes for the Catawba River and are excited to see its progress in becoming a premier trophy trout river. The Catawba River below Lake James is only an hour and a half from Charlotte so keep it in mind when deciding on your next fishing trip.