Brown Trout

Illustration by Duane Raver
(Enlarge image)

Scientific Name: Salmo trutta

Classification:  Game Fish

Abundance: Found in the mountain region in the western part of the state (green area).



Brown trout (Photo: NCWRC)

Brown trout (Illustration: Duane Raver/NCWRC)


Stocking Trout in North Carolina (1:32)

Trout Fishing in North Carolina (6:49)

How and Why Sterile Trout are Stocked in North Carolina (6:49)

Additional Information

The Brown Trout is golden-brown to olive-brown with yellowish sides. Its back and sides have dark spots encircled with light yellow or white. Some Brown Trout also have orange or red spots on their sides. Native to Europe and western Asia, Brown Trout were introduced to North America in the late 1800s. Brown Trout are often reclusive, hanging out close to underwater structure, such as fallen trees and undercut banks. Larger specimens are often caught near dark and after rain storms that result in dingy water. Young Brown Trout feed on small aquatic and terrestrial insects. Adult Brown Trout usually reach larger sizes than Brook Trout or Rainbow Trout. As a result, they often consume larger food items, such as crayfish, mollusks and fish, including other trout.

Brook, Brown and Rainbow trout require cold, clean water and are therefore generally restricted to mountain streams and lakes. Those mountain waters that support trout and are open to public fishing are designated as “Public Mountain Trout Waters” by the Wildlife Resources Commission and are man­aged for public trout fishing. A significant number of trout fishing opportunities in western North Carolina are located on private property. These landowners have generously allowed public access for fish­ing. Please respect their property. Your cooperation is needed to protect fishing opportunities for future generations. The Commission conspicuously marks Public Mountain Trout Waters with regulation signs that indicate locations for public access. When anglers encounter “posted against trespass” signs along these designated sections on private lands, they should respect the property owner’s rights and choose another location along that stream to fish. Maps of trout water and their classifi­cations may be viewed at

The following fishing regulations are effective Aug. 1 of each year.

Inland Fishing Regulations
Regulatory authority between the Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries. Inland game fish regulations include Manner of Taking, Seasons and Using Trotlines and Set-hooks.


General Mountain Trout Regulations

Mountain Trout Regulations: Counties A-M

Mountain Trout Regulations: Counties N-Z


Fishing Tips:

Fishing dry flies, streamers, and nymphs that imitate natural foods works well. This method is especially popular in North Carolina’s many streams that support wild trout. Fishing baits, such as worms and corn, work well for hatcheryreared brown trout. Spin casting small spinners, spoons and crankbaits can be productive as well. Be sure to check the current trout fishing regulations on the type of lures allowed as well as the size limit and creel limit for a particular trout water before fishing.

Places to Fish: 

Check out the interactive Public Mountain Trout Waters map to find good places to catch trout. 


2020 - Public Mountain Trout Water angler survey: Exploring characteristics of recreational trout anglers and attitudes towards reduction of regulatory stream classifications (PDF)

2015 - Trout Anglers' Participation in and Opinions on Trout Fishing in North Carolina (PDF)

2015 North Carolina Landowners' Attitudes Toward Trout Fishing Access

2015 - Mountain Trout Fishing: Economic Impacts on and Contributions to North Carolina's Economy

2009 - The Economic Impact of Mountain Trout Fishing in N.C. (Full Report - PDF)

2009 - The Economic Impact of Mountain Trout Fishing in N.C. (Executive Summary - PDF)

2009 - The Economic Impacts of Mountain Trout Fishing in N.C. (Two-page Summary - PDF)


Summaries (One-page Fact Sheets)

2019 - Engaging North Carolina's Trout Anglers and other Stakeholders to Help Conserve Eastern Hellbenders (PDF)

2018 - Winter Trout Stocking in Community Fishing Program Ponds in Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties (PDF)

2018 - The Bridgewater Tailrace Brown Trout Fishery

2018 - Suitability of Stocked Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout for Trophy Management in Apalachia Reservoir (PDF)

2017 - Economic Impacts & Contributions of Mountain Trout Fishing to North Carolina's Economy (PDF)

2017 - Mountain Trout Fishing: Trout Angler Opinion Survey (PDF)

2017 - Mountain Trout Fishing: Understanding Landowners' Views (PDF)

2016 - Persistence and Movement of Stocked Trout in North Carolina Streams (PDF)

2015 - Use of Trail Cameras to Assess Angler Usage on Trout Streams (PDF)