Fishing & Hunting

Outdoors enthusiasts enjoy trout fishing in mountain streams in Pisgah National Forest, bass fishing in the lakes formed by the Catawba River, and an abundance of wild turkey and deer in the forests of Caldwell County. Public hunting is available in the Buffalo Cove Gameland as well as in Pisgah National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service, in cooperation with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, manages both land and water for fish and wildlife in Wilson Creek. The Forest Service manages the habitat while the Commission manages populations along with hunting/fishing regulations. Before heading out on a hunting or fishing trip, it is highly recommended that you obtain and read the latest version of the hunting/fishing regulations for license information and localized rules.


Several areas are popular for fishing, including Wilson Creek, the Yadkin River, the John’s River, and the Catawba River. Below is information on the most accessible areas.

Wilson Creek

Streams within the upper Wilson Creek Area support a diversity of backcountry trout. Much of the best mountain streams are not accessible by car and require hiking through rugged terrain. Wilson Creek is noted for its steep gradient, which contributes to the abundance of dense forest slopes and stone flies.

The portion of Wilson Creek on National Forest lands in Avery County is considered catch and release with artificial lures only. From the Avery County line to Phillips Branch is classified as wild trout waters. In wild waters, each person may catch and keep four trout with a minimum size limit of seven inches. Lures are restricted to those with one single hook. From Phillips Branch to Brown Mountain Beach, about 6.5 miles is classified as hatchery-supported waters and is regularly stocked by the Wildlife Resources Commission. For more information, contact the US Forest Service at (828) 652-2144 or the Wilson Creek Visitor Center at (828) 759-0005.

Catawba River

Creating the southern border of Caldwell County are Lake Hickory and Lake Rhodhiss, both created by the Catawba River and the Rhodhiss and Oxford dams. Many species of fish can be found here including largemouth bass, striped bass, sunfish, suckers, crappie, and catfish and many more. Duke Energies provides boat access areas with links provided below.

Lake Hickory

• Map
• Boat Access Areas

Lake Rhodhiss

• Map
• Boat Access Areas

Additional Fishing Resources:

• Catawba River Lake Levels
• Wilson Creek Outfitters (Guided Fishing Trips)
• Purchase your Hunting & Fishing License Online
• Where to Buy Hunting & Fishing License


Over 49,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest land is available for hunting deer, bear, turkey, fox, rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, and grouse. In addition, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission manages around 5,630 acres of game land for hunting at the Buffalo Game Land in Buffalo Cove. Both Pisgah and the Buffalo Game Land are available for hunting six days a week, excluding Sundays. Check with the NC Wildlife Commission on specific hunting seasons.

Persons who plan to hunt, trap or fish on Wildlife Commission-managed game lands or public lands should obtain a current copy of the Regulations Digest and Special Hunt Opportunities at

Any person entering upon any game land for the purpose of hunting, trapping, or participating in dog training or field trail activities must have in their possession a game lands license in addition to the appropriate hunting or trapping licenses. For exceptions and more information, visit or call (888) 248-6834.

• Buffalo Game Land Map
• Pisgah National Forest Hunting Map
• Hunting Season
• NC Wildlife Hunting/Trapping Info
• Hunting/Trapping Regulations