The North and Bald rivers, two of the Tellico’s largest feeders, are managed strictly as wild trout waters. Both streams contain a blend of wild rainbow and brown trout, plus brookies in their upper ends.
Rainbows predominate in the North River, but some brown trout grow to large sizes, according to Bart Carter, Region IV stream fisheries biologist for the TWRA. North River Road (Forest Service Road 217) parallels the river, providing very good access. The upper half of the stream is well suited for wading, Carter noted.
In recent years, TWRA has stocked some brook trout in the upper end of the North River. A handful of tributaries also contain wild brook trout. One feeder, Meadow Branch, deserves special note because it contains an introduced population of Northern-strain brook trout, which grow a little larger than the Southern-strain fish that are native to the region.
Bald River is best known for Bald River Falls, a major waterfall right off Tellico River Road, which attracts a lot of sightseers. Above the falls, the river pours through a four-mile-long gorge within the Bald River Gorge Wilderness, and all access is by a paralleling trail. The Gorge Section attracts a lot of day-hikers and backpackers but few serious fishermen. The lower end of the gorge is the steepest and most rugged section. Above the gorge, the river is relatively flat, and access is good, especially in the area around Holly Flats.