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Appalachian Trout Road Trip: Big Rivers to Skinny Water

Join Field & Stream Editor-at-Large T. Edward Nickens and his long-time fishing buddy Matt Maness as they fish their way through the ancient mountain range along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. This country is home to wilderness areas, national forests, frigid tailwaters, and some of the oldest streams in the world, including some of the finest small water trout fishing anywhere. These rivers are not easy to get to, but if you make the effort they will make your day.

Nikens drives six hours from the Carolina coast to meet Matt in the mountains near his home in Fosoe, North Carolina. Matt takes Eddie fishing on his driftboat on the Watauga River, a big, brawling tailwater that flows through eastern Tennessee. After a long day of fishing they drive to the Pisgah National Forest, camping overnight and then hiking in to wade one of Matt's favorite high-mountain streams in the morning, where they cast for the wild brown and rainbow trout that hide behind the smooth, mossy, ancient rocks and under the groves of mountain laurel high in the Appalachians.

But road trips like these aren’t just about the friends you travel with, the places you fish, or the fish you catch. They’re about the dives you find to eat at. The new fly shops where you find the right pattern to fish. They’re about staying ready for those serendipitous moments, because you never know what’s going to happen when you’re out on the road.

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