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Tyler Legg
Charlotte, NC, United States
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Welcome to THFF.com! Kick your wading boots off and stick around for a while. You'll find content ranging from NC fishing reports, videos, pictures, fly fishing news from around the state/country/world, humor, and even some irrelevant, yet interesting posts.
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Friday, April 3, 2009
Fly Fishing in the Spring
by Tyler Legg
Fly fishing during the Spring time months can be spectacular. Still, it has it's challenges. With gradual warming temperatures, trout begin to move around. After a long and cold winter, trout are ready to start filling up on larger insects usually not available in the winter months. Here in the southeast, particularly North Carolina/Virginia/Tennessee/and N. Georgia, early March marks the emergence of the first major hatches of the year. The quill gordon's and the blue quills being the major hatches. Generically speaking, a trout stream needs to reach 50 degrees for at least 3 or more consecutive days before the quill gordon's start to really make a move to the surface. During a hatch, the insects are swimming from the bottom of the stream, riding with the current, while propelling themselves to the surface. Trout will take these helpless bugs with reckless abandon. When you start seeing quill gordon's on the water, tie on a quill gordon wet, let it sink to the bottom, and slowly inch it up to the surface when it nears your intended fish. This sometimes results in vicious strikes, so hang on.

As Spring rolls on, May brings with it a plethora of insect hatches. Hatches during the month of May include the Ephemerella Subvaria (Hendricksons), the Stenonema Vicarium or March Brown, and the Stenonema Ithaca (Lt. Cahill). Other hatches worth mentioning include the Gray Caddis, Gray Fox, Yellow Midges, Sulphurs, Black Caddis, Green Drakes, Giant Stone Flies (Pteronarcys), and the BWO's (which never seem to rest). If you look at a NC hatch chart, you will notice that May is the outlier in terms of how many insects hatch. Straying from aquatic insects, late Spring marks the beginning of terrestrial season. Hoppers, ants, beetles and eventually inchworms make their appearance in western North Carolina.

If there isn't a hatch occurring, the best thing to do is tie on a nymph such as a Pheasant Tail or a March Brown Nymph. The absence of a hatch doesn't necessarily mean that a hungry trout won't tackle a lone dry fly, it just means that you will have more consistency catching fish nymphing.

This winter has been exceptionally wet and snowy. I don't foresee extensive drought problems this year. Water levels should continue to flow fine throughout spring. This means less stressed trout due to low water and less spooky fish.

A few helpful tips for Spring-time fly fishing

  • Be aware of water levels. This time of year yields more rain, thus more water. Spring time in NC means severe thunderstorms. If you hear thunder or see lightning, stop fishing and wait for it the storm to pass. Often, thunderstorms that occur well upstream will send water downstream.
  • Fish the seams (where moving water meets slack water.) Trout wait in seams for passing food.

  • If the water is stained or muddy, use heavier tippet (2-5x depending on clarity of water).

  • 90% of a trout's diet consists of nymphs, so you are more likely to catch a trout on a nymph vs. a dry in most situations.

  • Try a new fly that the fish have not likely seen yet.

  • In high, stained water during and after spring rains, use big #4 Zonkers, Woolly Buggers, and Zoo Cougars.

  • Most rainbow trout spawn in the early Spring, so try using an egg pattern.

Spring in NC can be spectacular to say the least. Fishing is usually excellent with abundant hatches, warm temperatures, and plenty of hungry fish. Take advantage of the optimum weather conditions spring commonly offers.


chagua said...

Hi Tyler, how are you? Amazing pictures are these you have put in this post. Now I'm in Granada in my Easter holidays. I'll try to go back home to fish a bit because, yes, the season has just begun. On the other hand, the end of school year is very close so I have to work very hard to pass my exams to enter the university.
So I hope you to enjoy fishing and have fun.
Greetings. Fernando.

Tar Heel Fly Fishing said...


These pictures wouldn't be mine in a million years. I got them from Flickr and searching for spring time fly fishing images. Most of the pictures that I post are mine, but not these. If you click on the pics, you'll get the link to the site in the address bar.

Granada? You are a lucky guy. Are you visiting family or just on vacation? Have you done any deep sea fishing around the area?


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