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15 Best Fishing Lakes in North Carolina

Fishing is a popular recreation activity in North Carolina. The beautiful and clean water of the vast lakes provides an ideal place for people to fish. Before you go there, don’t forget to take your fishing license with you. 

a north carolina fishing lake

North Carolina has, in total, approximately 59 natural lakes. However, the eastern part of North Carolina has more freshwater lakes than the other regions. 

The water of lakes has different types of fish. You can find flounder, trout, bass, pike, or crappie. The fishing season depends on various factors, but generally, you can catch during the whole year. You can fish from the shore or with a boat, canoe, or kayak. 

North Carolina’s Lakes have fantastic views, scenery, and rich underwater life.

man fly fishing in a north carolina lake

Before going fishing, you should know where to go. Below you will find listed the top 15 best Carolina fishing lakes. 

Check them out, read more about every lake and decide which one you will visit in the future!

Top 15 North Carolina Fishing Lakes

  1. High Rock Lake
  2. Jordan Lake
  3. Lake Fontana
  4. Lake Norman
  5. Harris Lake
  6. Lake Chatuge
  7. Lake Glenville
  8. Lake James
  9. Lake Sutton
  10. Lake Waccamaw
  11. Badin Lake
  12. Blewett Falls Lake
  13. Catawba River Lakes
  14. Falls Lake
  15. Hickory Lake

1. High Rock Lake

High Rock Lake is known as the second largest lake, located in the central of North Caroline, in the counties of Davidson and Rowan.

High Rock Lake

This fantastic lake is built-in 1927. It covers around 15,180 acres and boasts 365 miles of shoreline. The maximum depth is 52 feet, and the average depth is about 16-17 feet. 

The High Rock Lake is not only rich in fish but also in wildlife and birds. You can fish different types of species like channel catfish, largemouth bass, white crappie, flathead catfish, etc. 

You can choose fishing between deep river point island, one bush or crappie, largemouth bass, and hybrid striper. 


2. Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake is in Chattam county, in the north-central part of North Carolina. It is built in the 1982s. 

Jordan Lake

This lake has a surface of 14.000-acre reservoir and a shoreline of 180 miles. The expansive shoreline offers fishing opportunities for boats, canoes, or fishing along the coastline.

The Jordan lake has a maximum depth of 140 feet and an average depth of about 14 feet. 

You can look at a wide variety of species to fish, such as channel catfish, white bass, black crappie, white crappie, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, and bluegill.

The water quality is not that good because of the trash, and it varies with depth. 


3. Lake Fontana

You can find Fontana Lake in Graham and Swain Countries, in the western part of North Carolina. It has a maximum depth of 440 feet and an average of 135 feet. That’s the deepest lake in North Carolina.

Lake Fontana

It has a surface of an 11,700-acre reservoir and 230 miles of shoreline. This lake offers a wide range of fishing opportunities. 

You can decide to fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass, brown and rainbow trow, bluegill, yellow perch, etc.

The shoreline has limited access to most of the lake, but you can find areas to fish from shore. Also, you have the opportunity to choose between fishing in kayak, canoe, or boat.


4. Lake Norman

Lake Norman is in Mooresville, in the north-central part of North Carolina, built-in 1964. It has a surface of 32,000 acres and a shoreline of 500 miles.

Lake Norman

This lake has a maximum depth of 110 feet and an average depth of 34 feet. You won’t only fish there but also choose from a wide variety of water sports.

If you go there, you can fish for different species: spotted bass, blue catfish, yellow perch, white bass, striped bass, flathead catfish, sauger, etc. 

The lake provides different areas to fish from, such as fishing from shore, a boat, canoe, or kayak. 


5. Harris Lake

Harris lake is located in New Hill, in the northeast part of North Carolina. It is a reservoir with a surface of 4,100 acres, 220 feet above sea level. 

Harris Lake

It has a shoreline of 140 miles. Harris lake is the source of cooling water for the Shearon Nuclear power plant.

The lake has a wide variety of bass, sunfish, crappie, northern pike, and white bass. You can find their bass with over 10 pounds and crappie with over 2 pounds.

The maximum depth is 57 feet, and the average depth is less than 20 feet. 

It has no boating, fishing, or camping services, so make sure to bring everything you need there.


6. Lake Chatuge

Chatuge Lake is a human-made reservoir by Chatuge Dam. He finished the construction of the lake in 1942. It is both in Georgia and in Clay County, North Carolina. 

Lake Chatuge

It has a surface of 3,500 acres in Georgia and 3,700 acres in Clay County. The lake has a maximum depth of 144 feet and an average depth of 30 feet. 

The shoreline length is 132 miles.

You can find numerous species on this lake, including hybrid striped bass, smallmouth, largemouth bass, walleye, black crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish.

There are available boat rentals, while you can fish from the shore also.


7. Lake Glenville

Lake Glenville is in Jackson County, in the southwest part of North Carolina. Its construction started in 1941, and until 2002 its name was Thorpe Reservoir. 

Lake Glenville

It is the highest lake with an altitude of over 3400 feet. Because of the height, no pollution can enter the lake. That’s why it has crystal clear and clean water. 

It has a surface area of 1,500 acres and a shoreline length of 26 miles. The lake’s maximum depth is more than 130 feet.

You can find crappie, trout, sunfish, catfish, and walleye in these waters. 

The most famous fishing activities are kayak and canoeing. Also, you can fish from the shore at different locations around the lake.


8. Lake James

Lake James is in Burke and McDowell Counties in the north-central part of North Carolina. It has a surface of 6800 acres with a shoreline length of more than 150 miles. The maximum depth is approximately 126 feet.

Lake James

You can choose from fishing for catfish, crappie, bass, northern pike, tiger muskie, and bluegill.

The favorite fish is bass, while crappie is for fry fish lovers. It has deep, clean, and cold water, making fish taste better. 

You can catch both kinds of bass during the spring season along the shore and by following along the river during the summer.

Enjoy the fantastic view and the activities you pick up from swimming, boating, or fishing in the crystal clear waters.


9. Lake Sutton

Sutton Lake is in southern Franklin County, South Carolina, and it has been constructed to provide cooling water for a steam-electric plant.

Lake Sutton

It has a surface of 1,100 acres and about 40 miles of shoreline. It has a 

You can fish for these types of fish: bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and redbreast sunfish. The fishing activity may be from the shore or a boat. 

Most anglers are interested in fishing for catfish, bass, crappie, and sunfish. 

The lake doesn’t have any service available. So make sure to take everything by yourself and if you need any fishing supplies, get them before arriving there. 


10. Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw is in Columbus County, in the southeast part of North Carolina. It has a surface of 8,900 acres and a shoreline length of 24 miles. The lake’s average depth is 7.5 feet.

Lake Waccamaw

Waccamaw is one of the unique lakes in the world. That’s because animal species are not elsewhere are present on the planet. 

It has clear waters and is rich in bass, catfish, sunfish, crappie, perch, bluegill, and pumpkinseed. 

There are alligators, which are 10 to 12 feet long. So be careful while fishing. 

You can view the phenomenon of Carolina Bays at the lake, which is a geological mystery in the eastern United States.


11. Badin Lake

Badin Lake is in the central part of North Caroline, built-in 1917. It has a surface of a 5,000-acre reservoir and a shortline of over 100 miles. 

Badin Lake

The shoreline offers you the opportunity to fish from the shore or a kayak, canoe, or boat.

It has a depth of over 180 feet. In contrast to the other lakes in the area, the Badin lakes’ water stays cooler in summer.

You can catch various fish: bass, sunfish, crappie, or catfish. The target of local anglers is bass, crappie, catfish, and bass which are some of the best to eat. 

Expect fishing you can do a lot of other activities: boating, hiking, hunting or camping.


12. Blewett Falls Lake

Blewett Falls Lake is a reservoir in the Anson and Richmond Counties of North Caroline. It has a surface area of 2,560 acres and 34 miles of shoreline.

Blewett Falls Lake

In typical weather, the water depth behind the dam is about 0-6 feet, while the depth of water in front of the dam is 15-30 feet.

You can fish largemouth and smallmouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, walleye, or black crappie. 

The anglers are more interested in bass, catfish, and crappie. The lake also has several white basses, walleye, and stripers. 

The shoreline has easy access to everyone; you can choose the fishing method you would like. 


13. Catawba River Lakes

Catawba river lakes consist of 14 dams, 11 big lakes, and many smaller lakes. It flows from Western North Carolina to South Caroline, where it turns into the Wateree River. 

Catawba River Lakes

The river is about 220 miles long, and it has an elevation of 223 feet. 

You can fish by float or drift boat in the river. The river is undeveloped in the Rock Hill area, so the shore is mostly unavailable.

The most popular fish that anglers catch are largemouth bass, channel, and blue catfish.

During the summertime, you can look for catfish, and during the springtime, you can catch largemouth bass with more than 9 pounds.  


14. Falls Lake

Falls Lake is a human-made reservoir in Wake, Durham, and Granville counties in North Carolina. The lake’s building began in 1978 and finished in 1981.

Falls Lake

It has a surface of 12,000 acres and a shoreline length of 175 miles. The water is crystal clear, so you get to see the fish in the water. The maximum depth is about 52 feet.

It has a wide range of bass, catfish, crappie, perch, and pickerel. The largemouth bass is by far the most popular among other species. 

There are public boats, rentals, and campsites to choose from, and enjoy your stay at this lake.


15. Hickory Lake

Hickory Lake is a human-made reservoir in the north-central part of North Carolina. It is 7,000 meters above sea level and is the second largest lake in South Carolina.

Hickory Lake

The maximum depth is 1200 feet, and its coastline length is 109 miles. It has a surface area of 4,200 acres.

You can fish largemouth bass, catfish, black or white crappie, bream, and bass from the clean water.

Anglers are primarily interested in bass, sunfish, and crappie. Locals prefer fishing for catfish. 

It is a must-visited fishing destination. Expect fishing; you can do other water activities such as swimming, canoeing, or boating. 

This lake stands out because of the crystal clear water, the natural shoreline, and the water level.


Final Thoughts

North Carolina has a lot of beautiful lakes where you can do your favorite water activities. Every lake has its unique environment, scenery, facilities, and underwater life.

What makes North Carolina’s lakes a must-visit? The lakes are a must-visit because of the clear waters, beautiful views, and various species to fish. Not only species but also from where to fish. You can fish from the shore, a boat, or a canoe.

Most of North Carolina’s lakes are great for fishing, but they’re not the only state!

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