The Neuse River is one of North Carolina’s largest and best known rivers. Along the river’s traditional path, the Falls Lake reservoir receives water from the Eno and Flat rivers. Flowing from the Falls Lake reservoir dam, the Neuse flows approximately 248 miles before emptying into Pamlico Sound below the city of New Bern.

Upper Neuse River

Along its path, the Neuse River passes through a variety of environments. Near Goldsboro, the river has carved a 100 foot deep canyon. This unique geological formation can be explored at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, downriver from Goldsboro. Some sections of the Neuse River are muddy and shaded by overhanging trees. In other areas, the river passes thru cypress swamps.

The Neuse River sustains populations of largemouth bass, black crappie, sunfish, white perch, yellow perch, and catfish. The river is also visited by several anadromous fish species. In areas such as Pitch Kettle and Contentnea creeks, anglers catch hickory and American shad during their spring spawning migrations.

Much of the river provides spawning habitat for striped bass. Anglers report good fishing for stripers in spring and again during the fall as the fish move downriver towards Pamlico Sound.

Located within the Croatan National Forest, remote backwater habitats support populations of American alligator, bald eagles, and other animals.

Tidal Neuse River

The lower Neuse River offers outstanding saltwater fishing opportunities for red drum (redfish), speckled trout, striped bass, southern flounder, bluefish, croaker, spot, and other species. Striped bass fishing in the Neuse is best in the early spring and fall, especially around bridges and deep areas near New Bern. Occasionally, anglers report catching tarpon and sharks near the river’s mouth.

On the lower river, the Neuse River Recreation Area provides beach access for fishing. Other public recreation areas are located near the Minnesott Ferry terminal and at Flanners Beach south of New Bern. The city of New Bern provides a number of access points, including Lawson Creek Park, Union Point Park, and ramp facilities on both the Neuse and Trent rivers. The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission also maintains boat ramps at Upper Broad Creek, Dawson Creek, Oriental, Slocum Creek (Havelock) and Hancock Creek. In addition, private ramps and marinas are located on both sides of the lower Neuse River.

Related Information

North Carolina Freshwater Fishing

Pamlico Sound