The Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina offers a unique “cast-and-blast” package in the spring. Streams that drain the eastern slope of the Great Smoky Mountains feature blue-ribbon fishing for rainbow and brown trout. And the towering hardwood ridges of the Nantahala forest are home to an abundant population of Eastern wild turkeys. Visitors here can pursue gobblers in the morning and cast for trout in the afternoon. “Turkey hunting in the Nantahala National Forest involves hiking along backcountry roads and trails and stopping and calling periodically to locate a bird,” says Mike Carraway, district wildlife biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Hunters who want more information or maps of the Nantahala forest should contact the U.S. Forest Service’s Cheoah Ranger Station in Robbinsville. Hunting licenses (six-day nonresident, big-game tag, game lands use permit) total $65. To buy licenses by credit card, call 888-248-6834.
One good headquarters for this hunting/fishing package is the Blue Boar Inn in Robbinsville. This bed-and-breakfast offers guided trout packages plus useful information on popular local fly patterns and access to area streams such as Santeetlah and Snowbird. A three-day fishing license and trout permit totals $25.