Watauga River fishing access closes
by Anna Oakes
Because of landowner concerns, a popular
section of Watauga River downstream of Shulls Mill Road has closed to public fishing
Anglers no longer have access to the upper mile of
Delayed Harvest water running from Shulls Mill Road downstream to the parking area near the
intersection of N.C. 105 and Old Shulls Mill Road, according to a Sept. 28 news release from the
Wildlife Resources Commission.
Landowners have posted “no
trespassing” signs at all parking areas along the upper end of the Delayed Harvest water,
including the roadside pull-offs along Old Shulls Mill Road and the main parking area on N.C. 105
near the Old Shulls Mill Road intersection.
park in these areas will be towed,” the release stated.
commission will not stock the section with trout this fall, the release stated.
“Landowners in this section of the Watauga River have always supported
access for trout angling,” said Kin Hodges, a district fisheries biologist with the
commission. “But activities not related to fishing have recently escalated to the point that
the landowners felt they needed to close off all parking access.”
Hodges did not return a phone call and email request for additional information as of presstime.
The section of river, which includes an old dam, is also
a popular swimming hole. An article on a local real estate website listed the site among the
“top 10 swimming holes around Boone,” stating, “this popular spot is sure to
bring in rowdy crowds all summer long.”
In the release,
Hodges said commission staff continue to explore options to restore angler access to this highly
valued section of the Watauga River, but until then suggests anglers fish the lower part of this
stretch of Delayed Harvest water running downstream to the N.C. 105 bridge and an additional
section of water in Valle Crucis, which opened Oct. 1 under Delayed Harvest regulations and will
receive its allotted stockings this fall.
Other Delayed Harvest
trout fishing opportunities in the Watauga County area include two separate sections of water on
Elk Creek in western Wilkes County near the Watauga County border.
Loss of public access to trout waters on private lands has been an ongoing
problem for commission fisheries biologists, the release stated.
“Unfortunately, this scenario of losing fishing access to trout waters on private lands plays out all too frequently as the access provided by private landowners is used for purposes other than fishing,” Hodges said.