There are two lakes in Lake Toxaway Estates – Lake Cardinal and Lake Toxaway (“redbird” in Cherokee). Lake Cardinal is approximately 65 acres and Lake Toxaway is about 640 acres. They are typical of the very few high mountain lakes (Lake Toxaway 3,010’ elevation) which exist in these mountains. The water is pristine, drinkable quality, and so clear you can see 12’ or more. There are over 100 spring fed streams that supply the lake with water which originate in the pine, oak and hemlock forests of the seven mountains that surround the 5,000 acres of Lake Toxaway Estates.
The lakes contain largemouth and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, brook trout, walleye, bluegill, shellcrackers and catfish. These are all game fish and there are no rough fish in the lake. I have seen largemouth over 13 lbs. (the state record is just over 14 lbs). I have netted a walleye that weighed 8 lbs and was 30” long. Some of the bluegill and shellcrackers will exceed a pound and catfish have been seen that were over 20 lbs. I have seen trout over 2’ long. This is the best lake I have ever fished.
Some of the best fishing occurs in April when the water temperature reaches 55 degrees. It is not unusual to catch 20 to 25 fish in a couple of hours once the water warms to the mid-fifties. The best top water fishing I ever experienced was on June 7th when a property owner and I went out to try our luck. The water was like a mirror and after having no luck for a couple of hours we switched to top water and caught 20 largemouth bass between 8 and 9pm. The fish weighed between 1 ½ lbs and 3 ½ lbs.
There is a slight difference between Lake Toxaway and Lake Cardinal. Lake Cardinal has been stocked with brook trout and it has no walleyes. Biologists have told us Lake Toxaway is one of the finest reproducing walleye lakes in the southeast. Because these lakes are private and only for the use of the property owners, the fishing pressure is minimal.
There is a fishing committee that monitors the lake and works to improve the fishing each year. They take the Christmas trees, which the owners donate, and place them under docks and bundle them to be placed in the lake at various depths. These trees give cover to the small fish and provide them a nesting area. In addition, the fishing committee purchases one-half million minnows each year and puts them into the lake to enhance the food supply for the larger fish.
There are two points that make these lakes different from almost every lake in the southeast, (1) jet skis are not allowed and (2) the lake levels are constant. One of the perks that Carol and I provide our new property owners is a map showing the best places to fish, what lures to use and various methods of fishing that work for the different species.
Lake Toxaway is surrounded by State and National Forests and Parks. Bordering the 5000 acres of Lake Toxaway Estates is the 6,700 acre Panthertown Valley Wilderness Area, part of the Nantahala National Forest, the 7,500 acre Gorges State Park, and the Pisgah National Forest. More than 50% of Transylvania County is covered by our three parklands: Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest and Gorges State Park. All of these parklands are full of fly-fishing opportunities. Many of these are catch-and-release streams.
Written by Jerry Starr.
These are some of the local outfitters for fly-fishing:
Davidson River Outfitters: www.davidsonflyfishing.com
Headwater Outfitters www.headwatersoutfitters.com
Orvis (Cashiers) 828-743-3768
Highland Hiker www.highlandhiker.com