Outdoorsman Carl Shane Kistel regularly shares inside tips on the best recreational activities in his home state of North Carolina. Below, he names some of the common sportfish native to the state, which fishermen can expect to find in rivers and lakes throughout the year.
Carl Shane Kistel is a nature enthusiast who has spent most his free time since childhood in the rugged natural landscapes of North Carolina. He’s scouted all the top recreational activities and frequently shares his insight with online readers. As a casual fisherman, he’s become familiar with the native fish in the lakes and rivers of his state and names some of the most common below.
“There are fish for every level of ability during the fishing seasons, from the smallest of brook trout to the largest of largemouth bass,” says Carl Shane Kistel. “It’s a great state for both novice fishers and seasoned professionals alike.”
The mountain streams and rocky rivers of North Carolina are dotted with ideal fishing spots that can be accessed mainly in the spring and summer months. Besides the freshwater options across the state, fans of sport fishing can head to the eastern coast which opens up onto the Atlantic for saltwater fish. But for those looking to stick to the freshwater lakes and rivers, Carl Shane Kistel shares some of the best fish to keep an eye out for.
Smaller and less feisty than other sportfish, brook trout are native to the eastern side of the United States. There are two strains of brook trout, which can both be found in the waters of North Carolina. The southern strain and the northern strain have similar appearances, but the southern is genetically unique and native to North Carolina.
Largemouth bass can be found across the state in lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams, but mostly in areas with structures they can hide under. This means water with standing timber, tree stumps, submerged vegetation and the like. You can also find Largemouth in old road beds and underwater drop-offs where they make their nests. Fishing enthusiasts will typically find high concentrations of largemouth bass in the native black-water rivers.
Hickory Shad are unique in that they are anadromous fish, which means that the majority of their lives is spent in the ocean. They come in to the freshwater bodies of the state only during the spring to spawn in the clear, running waters.
Muskellunge can be found in chilly rivers and lakes that provide cover like woody debris, vegetation, and rocks––similar to the Largemouth. They are predatory fish that prey on suckers, salamanders, and small mammals that are often evasive and a true challenge for fishing enthusiasts.
“There are a dozen or more native fish in North Carolina that can be fished for sport,” says Carl Shane Kistel, “and each have their own unique beauty and challenge. There’s definitely a fish for everyone here.”