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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.
Have a question, comment, fishing report, or a few suggestions regarding THFF or fly fishing in NC? Feel free to e-mail me at wncflyfishing@gmail.com
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Saturday, December 25, 2010
I'm a weather geek, so I've been tracking this storm for the past week and a half. 5 days ago, it looked like we could get slammed with historic snowfall. Then, things turned around and it looked like the low pressure would track off shore. Come yesterday, things changed. In a big way. The low is now going to hug the Carolina coastline. That means a hefty snowstorm is moving in to the Tar Heel State. Areas up along I-40 have been sitting under an intense band of snow this morning. Mt. Mitchell has 6", Robbinsville has 6" and Bryson City has 6" on the ground. More to come. That heavy snow is slowly pivoting into the Charlotte region as we head closer to this evening. 4-8" in Charlotte is possible. Locally higher. Conditions will rapidly deteriorate once the evening progresses.

Here's a few webcams up in the mountains/foothills of NC.

Fishing and traveling will be extremely treacherous today and tomorrow. A possible foot of snow and meandering mountain roads don't mix too well. Take it easy this weekend folks! Lastly, hope everyone is having a great Christmas!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Yesterday was one of the best days we've seen all month. We hit 61. It was a bit weird though, as I've become more accustomed to 30s for highs and lower teens for lows. More 30s for highs and teens for lows coming up though. The temps have not been the headlines though. The potential snowstorm here in the Carolinas on Christmas Day/Night has been watched closely by all. In the end, it looks like we won't see a big storm. Most areas will see 1-2" (maybe). .2" is all we need though to be counted as the third snowiest Christmas on record. Would be cool to see some snow. We'll see what happens. As Panther's head coach John Fox frequently says, "it is what it is." The mountains will likely see some hefty totals though, as upslope snows crank up. That should make for some fun fishing. Take it easy if you decide to fish around the NC/TN border. Conditions will deteriorate quickly once the snow starts to fall. The cold temps will definitely make fishing tough, but you should be able to find some fish. Nymphs are outfishing dries and will likely do so until we see a more prolonged warm spell (which could be next month). January might yield some decent BWO hatches, as the month looks to be warmer (or at least not as cold as this month). Until then, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Prince Nymphs, Hares Ear Nymphs, and most other generic nymphs should catch fish. Make sure you get that fly on the bottom, as the fish will be down deep. They won't move very much in order to grab your fly. Lighter tippet is best, given how clear the streams are right now.

I may not post here on the main blog until the new year. I should update every now and then over at my tying blog, as I'm hoping to get some much needed tying done.

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Friday, December 17, 2010
1. Lower 50s here in the Piedmont of NC. Believe it or not, the last time Charlotte reached 50 was back on the 3rd. Pretty impressive. We dropped to 10 (some reports of 9) here in the Charlotte area the other morning. These cold temperatures, combined with decent amounts of snow (some places saw upwards of 16"+ from the last storm) have really hampered the fishing. It's not impossible at all to catch fish, but it's much harder as opposed to spring. Asheville is sitting at 39 right now, so it's warmer, but not exactly shorts and flip flop weather. Brad Sprinkle (teachrtec over on the forum) shared some cold looking pictures of ice forming on one of the rivers he frequents. Hopefully the snow will give the folks up in the mountains a break. Last year was bad enough. While snow is good, we don't need too much snow.

2. Expect the fishing to be a little on the slow side. Nymphs are outfishing dries by a wide margin. Still, a few BWOs may be seen, but it's not a given. A small #18-24 BWO nymph should be the ticket. Also, #18-22 Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Copper Johns, Micro Mays, and the such should interest lethargic trout. The key to success is getting that nymph down to the bottom of the stream. Use enough slit shot to do so. If you're not receiving any strikes, or you're not hanging up on the bottom every now and then, add some more split shot. Another tough obstacle to work around is the clear water. Light tippet is a must in most places. DH trout shouldn't shy away from 5x or 6x, but fish on the Davidson will. 7x or lighter is best on the D. If you head out, good luck!

3. I should be posting more over on Carolina Fly Tying now that it's winter. Look for more posts soon.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Small wild fish are more appealing to me, but I do enjoy fishing trophy waters and sections of rivers that run through towns. I'll be marking one of those trophy waters off of my list though. Back on December 1st, the cost of an annual Catch & Release license for Cherokee was increased. Big time. Either the economy is pushing them to spike the price, or they're in the planning stages of another huge casino that demands millions. Let's hope it's not the latter. Anyways, the spike was huge. The reasonable $20 annual permit is now $75, not to mention the daily permit, which to my knowledge increased from $7 to $10. The first trip of the year would cost $85. Way over the top if you ask me. A lot of folks have already made the promise that they won't be fishing Cherokee anytime soon. Now, some say it's still a deal given the price of private trophy waters. The Davidson, Tuck, Nantahala, or even Wilson Creek hold similar fishing opportunities though. The crowds are usually the only difference, but minor crowds and free fishing sounds better than $85. What do you guys think? Over the top?

*Once I find the article, if there ever is one, I'll post it. I'm receiving this info via a credible forum and credible folks.*
Thursday, December 9, 2010
1. It has been downright cold here in NC! Charlotte shattered the previous record low of 14°, dropping to 12° Tuesday morning. The mountains were much colder. We are finally "warming up" though. Instead of low to mid 30s for highs, we have now rebounded into the lower 40s. The good news is, most areas are forecasted to reach the lower 50s this weekend, which will feel like spring. Temperatures here in NC have rivaled temperatures in Missoula, MT. Yeah, it's been that cold. Bad news is the cold is returning next week. Looks like it could be colder than what we saw this week. Snow cover from the Great Lakes region and possibly the Ohio Valley should help towards shooting some seriously cold air into the southeast.

2. I know a lot of you are trying to figure out why I talk about weather in a lot of my posts. It does seem irrelevant, given this is a fly fishing blog. Weather has so many contributing factors and always has an effect on fishing. For instance, during hot weather, trout, which are coldwater fish and need oxygenated water to survive, will seek out more favorable locations on the stream such as highly oxygenated riffles and plunge pools. Conversely, during the cold months trout will slow down, hang close to the bottom, and do their best to conserve energy. Trout and anglers alike have to adapt to such extremes. As anglers, we have to change our techniques if we want to have a successful day. Those changes might be as subtle as downgrading to a slightly smaller fly or as much as fishing lower waters instead of the colder, higher water. So, in the end, checking the weather before you head out the door to go fishing is always a good thing!

3. Fishing will slightly improve as temperatures rebound into the mid 40s to lower 50s, depending on where you are. Tomorrow looks like it will be the best day out of the week, with highs in the 40's and sunny skies.  The water will still be very cold and the fish will be lethargic and secretive. By Sunday, the weather goes downhill again. If you plan on fishing anywhere near the NC/TN border later Saturday afternoon through Tuesday of next week, keep a close eye on the weather. According to the weather guy, it looks like the mountains are in for a heck of an upslope snow event. A winter storm watch will likely be issued in the near future. 8-10" with localized totals of up to a foot are possible on favored northwest facing slopes. Much colder air will flood into the region as well. If you like fishing in cold and snowy conditions, this weekend will be perfect! Just don't forget to pack the snowshoes and the snow chains!

4. Nymphs have been the dominant patterns as of late. Not much hatching out there. You may see a few small BWOs or a few midges, but the fish likely won't key onto them as the hatches will likely be sparse. Keep those nymphs small (#16-24 "ish") and use enough splitshot to get them down to the bottom. With it being so cold, trout are not going to move much in order to grab a meal. You'll have to get the fly right in front of them. Good luck!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
It's been snowing in WNC for the bulk of the day. I noticed that areas around Greensboro received 2.4" of snow from the clipper system passing through. Not a big deal, but it will make the fishing interesting though. There's a larger story on the horizon: someone is about to leave the freezer door open for a good while. If you think the temperatures right now are cold, just wait until next week. The 7 day will make you shiver. Asheville's highs probably won't make it past the freezing mark until Wednesday. Lows will be in the teens for several nights. 14° Tuesday night. Nearby Mt. Mitchell (highest peak east of the Rockies) might make it above freezing on Friday. 18° is the high tomorrow. 6° is the low Monday night. You'll lose a leg if you wet wade. If you're from Montana and you're reading this, I know you're probably laughing by now! We don't see the magnitude of cold the intermountain west experiences, but it does get downright cold here in the Tar Heel State.

I would get used to the cold and snowy weather. Especially if you're in the mountains. December will be, well, cold and snowy. Being the weather geek I am, I think we still run the risk of seeing a decent snowstorm or icestorm outside of the mountains before December is over. Mid December (11-13 or so) looks interesting. A good snowstorm is what we need. They really help in terms of replenishing the water table and getting the rivers back up to normal for a prolonged period of time.

Dave Hise said he has been guiding all day. This is what they've been fishing in. They caught some nice fish though!

 If you plan on fishing this week, you'll definitely have to change your tactics. Fish slowly and do your best to get the fly as close to the fish as possible. With the water temps being cold (they'll continue to drop throughout the week) you'll have to get the fly on the bottom as well. Nymphs will outfish dries almost entirely. Of course you may entice a fish to eat a small Para BWO, but you'll have far more hookups with a nymph. I would try a heavily weighted stonefly nymph. Behind the stone, add a small dropper (a #16-20 Pheasant Tail Nymph should do the trick). Small streamers should also work. Retrieve them slowly to allow the lethargic fish to catch it. To read an in depth article about fishing in the cold, click here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Rain has arrived. In copious amounts that is. A strong cold front is advancing eastward, dumping rain on much of the southeast. In return, the rivers here in WNC are responding in a big way. Check out the stream levels here. The Davidson was at 992 cfs around 5:30 this evening. I just checked it again and the D is now at 2,410 cfs. The Davidson should be around 88 cfs or so. The D isn't the only river that has been spiking. The South Toe, which looked like this during my last trip to that area, is the complete opposite. Currently, the S. Toe is sitting at 2,580 cfs and quickly rising. Not the dry, 9cfs "river"  I saw back in late September. We still have a decent amount of rain that has yet to move in.

If you're planning on venturing out in an attempt to hook up with a large brown, be extremely careful! Fishing from the bank is best until the rivers look better. Wading right now is flat out dangerous. High, swift water will knock you off of your feet with ease. Not to mention potentially stained or muddy water, which can obstruct your view of the river bottom. I'd imagine the rivers will cool off in time for the weekend.

Early next week looks very interesting. We may be looking at a potential winter storm here in the Carolinas according to many sources. It's way too far out to nail down any specifics, but there's a chance. Allan Huffman, a meteorologist over in Raleigh, explains the possibilities here amidst confusing weather terms and weather talk. It could be a major snowstorm or it could be completely dry with sunny skies. With that being said, we need all of the precipitation we can get. Long range forecasters say that January through March looks somewhat dry. Next summer could be bad in terms of drought and low water. Just my 2 cents.

The Davidson just rose 460 cfs in 20 minutes. Now up to 2,860 cfs. Excuse me while I build an ark...
Sunday, November 28, 2010
It looks like some much needed rain is finally on its way. As most of you know, the streams here in western North Carolina are getting low. Not as low as we saw back in July, but low nonetheless. As it stands right now, it looks like a healthy dose of precipitation is on the way. Notice the small bullseye of 4.84" over the Davidson River/Transylvania County area. If that comes to fruition, get your 2x tippet and 6" long streamers ready! Could change, but according to the meteorologists, it looks to hold true.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
First off, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I just got back in town, after 3 days in Hillsville, VA. I apologize for the lack of posts over the past 7 days! I did get the opportunity to fish the pond I frequent before it freezes over though. Stayed for roughly 10 minutes. A stiff NW wind and falling temperatures made bass fishing almost impossible.

While not as cold as previously suggested by the forecasters, it's still a slap in the face given we were sitting in the upper 60's to low 70's in most places earlier in the week. The passing cold front has made for a cold and blustery day here in the Carolinas. Combine that with low water and you have some pretty tough fishing conditions. With that being said, it's still possible to have a successful day out on the water. You just have to change techniques. Check out the article in the last post for an in-depth look at fishing in in cold weather. Summer fishing and late fall/winter fishing are two completely different subjects. Winter fishing can

Right now, waiting for the water to warm up is a wise thing to do. Unlike in the summer, you don't have to be the early bird. Trout are less active around dawn right now, typically because the water is cold and the sun isn't strong enough to warm the water. From about 9AM on into the afternoon/evening hours, the fishing will be best. If a hatch occurs, likely to be midges or small BWOs, the fishing should noticeably pick up. Up until noon or so, nymphs will be more productive. A Pheasant Tail Nymph in about a #14-20, a Prince Nymph in about a #14-16, and most other generic nymphs should do the trick. If the fish are being fickle, switch to a smaller nymph. For example, if you're fishing a #14 Pheasant Tail Nymph (which can imitate a small brown stonefly nymph) and it's not bringing fish to your net, switch to a #16, 18, 20, 22, etc. Smaller sizes tend to force trout to "taste" or bump your fly in order to figure out what it is. Trout, especially rainbow trout, have an extraordinary sensory system, so that "taste" might be as small as a slight bump. Be ready to set your hook if your indicator or fly line makes any unnatural movements. As the day progresses, small dries, such as #16-22 Parachute Adams or #18-24 Para BWOs should work, but mainly in the afternoon. The Davidson River, which is about as technical as it gets here in North Carolina, will require the use of small midges (#22-30). A beadless red or black midge or small BWO pattern on a 12ft 6x-7x leader seems to work best. All in all, it's best to keep your flies small (or smaller than you would in the warmer months). Aquatic insects grow very slowly in the winter, due to the colder temperatures and usually less food as opposed to the summer. Stoneflies however can grow rather large. A #6-10 stonefly nymph will sometimes produce some nice fish this time of the year. Speaking of larger flies, streamers are still big producers. Make sure you have some Woolly Buggers, Zonkers, Clousers, and various other streamers on hand.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
It's time to bring the cold weather tactics back into play. After a long and hot summer, Old Man Winter will really make his presence known. Although next week's weather might have you thinking otherwise, the cold is coming. The cold air is already pouring into the Intermountain West. Cut Bank, Montana hit about -15 this morning. That cold, (While not nearly as cold as -15) will make its way into the Carolinas. It will be warmer, with highs reaching the upper 60s to low 70s in most places Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, Friday marks the beginning of a major pattern change. An arctic airmass is slowly traversing across the west and will likely hit the Carolinas with a chilly punch. Highs Friday will probably drop throughout the day as the front encroaches upon the southeast. After the front passes, the temps take a nose dive. According to the weather models, we go from almost 70° Tuesday and Wednesday to possibly mid to lower 30s for Charlotte next Saturday/Sunday. That's highs by the way. Lows could dip into the upper teens. The mountains will be even colder. If it turns out to be warmer, great! If this potential cold shot doesn't come to fruition, December looks to be cold.

So, we know the cold air is eventually coming. What does that mean for fishing here in North Carolina? It definitely means a change in tactics. Like humans, trout respond to temperature changes. If it's cold, trout are usually very sluggish and lethargic. They don't want to expend more energy than they're consuming. As a general rule, once the water temperatures hit about 50° and above, trout tend to become increasingly active. When water temps dip below about 50°, trout tend to become more and more lethargic. Throwing big dries into a deep pool might have worked like a charm throughout the summer, but probably won't produce much in cold weather. Of course that's not to say dry flies aren't effective in the dead of winter. It just simply means you're much more likely to catch more fish on nymphs than on dries most of the time.

4 tactics/tips to remember when fishing in cold weather:

1. Take it slow. Being the early bird out on the water won't really help. In the winter, it's always a good idea to allow the water to warm just a bit before fishing.

2. Use slow presentations. Ripping a streamer across a pool probably won't work when it's cold. Slow the retrieval down and let the fish have time to slowly get to your fly.

3. Other than giant stones, most aquatic insects are relatively small during the winter months. They grow very little when it's cold. So, using smaller flies will usually entice more fish. A smallish #16-22 BWO nymph will more often than not produce fish.

4. Keep and eye out for hatches. Blue Winged Olives, or BWOs are known for hatching on overcast, dreary winter days. They can turn an uneventful day of fishing into a great day. A midge hatch can also turn things around.

Fishing near springs or inflow tubes such as the one above can improve your success. They usually retain a constant temperature and provide a small, ice free area.

Dressing for the cold is important. Cold feet and legs from wading in icy cold water ruins a day out on the water. Extremities such as arms, legs, and fingers are subject to becoming dangerously cold without proper clothing. Here are some tips on keeping warm while fishing in the cold:

1. Dress in layers. That way, you can take off or put on layers as the temperatures change. A lot of folks prefer Under Armour or some type of moisture wicking fabric. Simms WaderWick crews are perfect as well. A heavier fleece jacket, is excellent over the wicking layer.

2. Loose fitting, moisture wicking socks. Loose fitting socks or any sock that doesn't constrict your feet and ankles is ideal. Blood has to reach your extremities in order to keep warm.

3. A base layer under your waders will keep your legs warm. Avoid cotton sweat pants or long-johns if you can. If you start sweating, the cotton will collect that sweat and you'll soon become cold.

4. A wading jacket will protect you from rain, snow and moisture. It will also protect against getting your clothes wet.

5. A warm hat and fingerless gloves (for tying knots) will also help immensely.

6. Carry a flint striker or a few matches. If you fall in the water on a bitter cold day far from the warmth of a building or your car, a fire can be constructed quickly to avoid hypothermia.

Don't let cold temperatures and a little snow stop you from heading out to the river!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If the video is slow to buffer and stops frequently, click the 720p (HD) button once. The video will then switch to 360p, which buffers faster.

The above video is a short fishing report that was composed by Ian and Charity Rutter of Townsend, Tennessee. Ian and his wife Charity own R & R Fly Fishing and are renowned for their expertise on fishing Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park and east Tennessee. Even though it isn't a fishing report for western North Carolina, Ian shares some helpful tips that hold true for most other trout streams here in the Southeast.

In the video, you'll see footage of a pair of spawning brown trout. While they look like they're fair game for an angler, they are best left alone right now. If you see two fish in shallow water, they're spawning. We would like to have more trout in the streams next year!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Now we watch the streams rise...
Friday, November 12, 2010
A spectacular weekend is unfolding in western North Carolina. Highs tomorrow will climb up into the 60's with sunny skies and a light breeze. Sunday will feature much of the same, with some clouds and maybe a few widely scattered showers in sporadic spots. All in all a great weekend.

With the great weather we're seeing, you can expect fishing to be fantastic. The Delayed Harvest waters, from Stone Mountain to the Nantahala are on fire. I've been seeing a lot of successful reports from folks. Big fish are being caught too. Lance Milks over at the Trailmarker blog caught this pig on a DH stream a few days ago. Brown trout aren't nearly as common as brookies and bows on DH waters here in NC. The state doesn't stock as many browns. So, when you catch a 24", 5 pound brown, it's definitely a sight to behold on DH waters. A 24" 5 pound brown caught anywhere is a sight to behold come to think of it. These hogs can be fooled (most of the time) by using Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Princes, San Juan Worms, Lightning Bugs, Stonefly Nymphs, large midge patterns (#14-16), parachute Adams/BWOs (#16-20), BWO Nymphs (#16-20), and most other relatively generic patterns. Check the "Recommended Flies" tab above for a more comprehensive list of suggested flies. As far as leaders go, it all depends on what water you're fishing. A 9ft 5x or 6x leader will be fine on most DH waters. A 12ft 6x-7x leader is best on the Davidson River due to the smart fish and the low, gin clear water. If you want to explore some wild water this weekend, a 9 ft 6x-7x leader (depending on size of the stream) should be fine. Stealth must be used to get close to wild fish. They are unbelievably spooky with the low water. Practice your bow and arrow and side arm casts. If obstructions behind you allow, try to stay as far away from the pool as you can and make a forward cast, delivering the fly from a distance. If you can see the fish, they probably already saw you and are diving under a rock. Allowing the fly to lightly land on the surface of the water with little to no fly line floating over the fish is the key to success. It takes some practice, but it should greatly improve your catch rate. If you are fishing calm, slack water, be extra cautious. Wild brookies or "specks" prefer calm, slack water, so they are extremely spooky.  Wild fishing is tough right now! Hang in there, spring usually brings with it higher water and better wild stream fishing.

If you head out this weekend have fun! Report back!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
THFF.com now has an affiliated blog! I just put the finishing touches on the brand new Carolina Fly Tying Blog. It's here that I will post most of the tying articles, pictures, tips, tricks, etc. I probably won't post as frequently as I do here at THFF, but I'll try to post as much as possible.

So, tell me what you think. Suggestions, comments, and questions are more than welcome!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
The WNC Fly Fishing Expo and a little fishing made for an excellent weekend. I left town yesterday morning bound for Asheville. As I packed the truck, our golden retriever knew we were leaving. The first time he sees the fishing gear being packed, he quickly becomes excited almost to point where he can't control himself. Once you say the words "By-by" he'll break through the storm door and race to the truck. "Not this time," I said, and he eventually calmed down and realized he couldn't tag along this time. His reaction to our arrival home was "Oh... yeah... you're home". "I'll just be over here if you need me".

Greeted yesterday AM by a sad retriever. Couldn't go fishing this time.
The expo went very well. I was fortunately able to meet and hang out with a good number of friends and fellow anglers. Brad Sprinkle, Randy Ratliff, Jule and Colin McDowell, and Frank Smith being a few of them. Brad Sprinkle (teachrtec over on the THFF Forum), who owns Trash Flies.com allowed me to tie at his table. If you've never watched Brad tie, you owe it to yourself. Brad has created some of the most creative and effective flies you'll ever see. Brad incorporates copper wires from electronic cords, wire insulators, foam from flip flops, and "trash" from household items. He calls his creations "Trash Flies". They're made from things the average tyer wouldn't think of using. It's truly amazing what you can use for fly tying.

Frank Smith, owner of Hunter Banks Fly Shop, asked Colin and I if we were able to possibly tie at a smaller tying class/small convention in March, so that event is quite possibly next on my list. Don't know many specifics though. Then, Troutfest 2011 in May.

So, without further ado, here's some pictures from this weekend...

A decent North Mills rainbow.

Glover McMurray's masterpiece. Creative as all get out.

The casting pond.

Brad Sprinkle's mouse pattern made from the foam off of a flip flop.

Saturday, November 6, 2010
Albeit it was cold, we still pressed on and opted to hit 2 rivers today. They didn't hit us back. The fishing was great despite cold temperatures and sporadic snow showers throughout the day. I met Jule McDowell and his son Colin at the Davidson River around noon. They both fished the North Mills that morning and mentioned that there are plenty of fish to be caught. Jule said they caught 20. He also added that the fish were feeding on BWOs in the middle of a snow shower, which tells you the stockers are starting to figure out how to be real trout. Speaking of real trout, the Davidson, which has to contain some of the smartest fish in the east, was fishing well. It was an unusual day though, as the fish on the Davidson were actively pursuing streamers, while the stockers on the North Mills seemed to prefer midges and tiny BWO nymphs. Usually it's the other way around. About 15 minutes into fishing the D, I hooked into a decent sized brookie. He chased down a small olive Zonker and inhaled it 5 feet from me. In the end, he threw the fly right when the net touched him. Colin and I agreed that it was a landed fish. We all received more strikes and misses than hook ups, but the D treated us relatively well. If you get a strike, it's a good day on the Davidson. If you've ever fished the D, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Around 3, we all decided that the North Mills would be a great place to finish the day. We were right. The afternoon was a little slow though. Colin and I didn't hook into fish immediately. It took a while to pinpoint the exact pool that the fish were congregating in. They haven't learned that it's okay to spread out on the river. After about 25 minutes we discovered the pool. Colin took off upstream in an attempt to catch a monster brookie he saw this morning and I took the pool with the congregating fish. My first fly was an egg pattern. I know, non-purist, but the stockers eat them like candy. Eggs are working well right now, as the browns and brookies are spawning. Fish will sit just downstream of the spawning fish and gorge on small eggs that get dislodged from the redd. To my surprise, the fish were not going to have anything to do with an egg pattern. After scratching my head, I tied on number two, a Hise's Hetero-genius Nymph. The fish approved of the HHGN. A trout may have a brain the size of a pea, but they can sure decide what fly they want and what fly they'll allow to pass them by. Overall a good day with some great folks.

I'm doing a little fly tying to round off a fantastic day. Preparing to head up to the WNC Fly Fishing Expo in the morning. Folks who attended today said that it was a great show. Looking forward to tomorrow. I will be tying from 12:30 until 4, so if you see a guy in an orange Simms hat speaking gibberish, say hello! Hope everyone who attends has a good time. See y'all tomorrow!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Webcam view atop Purchase Knob in the Smokies. Picture courtesy of the NPS. (it updates, so you'll have a better view during the day.

'Tis the season. Snow is starting to fall in the Smokies as I type. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for Swain, Madison, and Haywood counties in western NC and it looks like areas along the NC/TN border (mainly 3,500 ft+) will see generally 2-4" with isolated 6" snowfall accumulations. Peaks such as Mt. Leconte are possibly looking at as much as 7". What does snow have to do with fly fishing you ask? Snow is a welcome sight to see. As long as it isn't a crippling blizzard the mountains occasionally experience, it's a good thing. Unlike rain, snow usually sticks around for a while and then slowly melts, feeding water ever so slowly into the ground. The big story in most places will be the cold this weekend.

Despite cold and snow, the fishing shouldn't be too bad, but it won't be the best. Colder air is spilling into the area. Water temps will drop as the cold air settles in. Dust your waders off! Wet wading season is drawing to a close. So is terrestrial season. Any remaining terrestrials will be killed by the bitter temperatures rolling in from the north. You may see some tiny black ants though. Fishing will probably be a little slow in the morning, given the temps are projected to dive into the mid to low 20s. After the sun warms the water (by about 10 or 11) the fishing will likely pick up. Right now, it's best to fish nymphs in the morning and dries in the afternoon. A Pheasant Tail Nymph in about a #16-22 or a Tellico Nymph in about a #10-14 should produce fish as far as nymphs go. Para BWOs or Adams in #18-24 should work well for dries. Don't forget to chuck a streamer! The browns are aggressive and big. They'll chase down any potential threat (even a little streamer). Throw a Zonker or Woolly Bugger close to the bank and strip it in with short jerks and twitches. A good rhythm would be twitch, twitch, twitch, stop, twitch, twitch, twitch stop. Check the "recommended flies" tab at the top for a list of some more suggestions.

The WNC Fly Fishing Expo begins tomorrow at 9am. Judging by all of the talk I've been hearing, it looks like the show will be a hit. If you can, come on out and enjoy! Fly casting and fly tying demos, programs, vendors, clubs, and great food are just a few of the things that will be present at the expo. I'm leaving town in the morning, bound for the Davidson River. Fishing the D with some friends. I'll have a report probably tomorrow night when I get back to the hotel. We're crossing our fingers for a good day.

Just a note... If you are driving from Tennessee to get to the expo, Newfound Gap Rd. (US441) is closed due to the snow. I'm sure a lot of folks were hoping to take the scenic route via Newfound Gap Rd, but the snow won't allow. I-40 will be your best route. Don't hold back from coming. The snow is confined to the higher elevations. Asheville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Waynesville, etc will be fine. No worries at all. Snow showers are in the forecast but not much in the way of accumulations at elevations below 3,500 ft.

Hope to meet and talk with some of you guys Sunday. Looks to be a great weekend. If you are planning on attending, have fun! Now, back to packing and organizing the fly tying stuff...
Thursday, October 28, 2010
1. Thanks to a stalling cold front, the bulk of NC was replenished from the abnormally dry to moderate drought. Super cell thunderstorms roared across the Tennessee Valley and eventually into the Piedmont of North Carolina. An EF2 tornado was confirmed in the small town of Vale, NC unleashing 135 mph winds and destroying everything within its 3 mile path. Vale isn't too far from South Mountains State Park. Click here for some pictures of the damage. Haven't heard of any casualties. That's definitely good news. Folks were trapped under rubble as buildings collapsed. Tornadoes aside, the cold front was beneficial. It really helped the short term drought conditions. Behind the front, colder temperatures are encroaching. Most places will drop down into the lower 30's with higher elevations likely reaching the upper 20's. If you're heading out to the river, dress in layers, as mornings will be chilly and days will be in the mid 60's. Wet wading, while some anglers are wading wet, is probably not going to be necessary from here on out. Breathable waders will be far more comfortable.

2. The fishing here in western North Carolina is not bad at all. With DH season in full swing, water levels up (at least for now), and great weather, we're looking at some excellent conditions. If you're a wild waters kind of angler like yours truly, you'll discover that the wild waters are on fire. The wild brookies are decked out in bright orange and green, spotted with yellow and blue spots. You haven't lived until you've held a wild brook trout in your hands. The colors are beyond spectacular. It looks as if someone took 50 canisters of paint and randomly splashed the colors all over. The pictures above and below were taken in late September. High elevations (5,000 ft) allowed for the brookies to start displaying their colors a little early. Grab a map, a GPS, and your adventurous side and start searching for a blueline!

3. The higher water has given a some leeway on stealth and small tippet sizes. Stealth is still advised, but you don't necessarily have to use 7x and 8x tippet. 5x and 6x (4x should be fine on DH waters) is perfect. Fly selection is not nearly as important, unless of course you're fishing the Davidson. DH fish will take just about anything. They're probably growing a little weary of egg patterns in some places, but you should still catch fish on them. Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Princes, Lightning Bugs, Copper Johns, Giant Vinyl Rib Stones, San Juan Worms, Woolly Buggers, Slumpbusters, Parachute Adams, and even smaller #12-14 Stimulators will produce fish. DH waters are loaded with fish, so finding them shouldn't be too much of an issue.

4. Recently downloaded "Blogger Droid" onto my Droid phone. With that being said, I can now post from the river as long as signals cooperate. I'll likely use it next weekend at the expo. Should come in handy. Highly recommend it for any Android users out there.

So, if you're heading out to the water, have fun and enjoy it! You'll be glad you got out.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
As a great deal of anglers here in the state know, the WNC Fly Fishing Expo creeping closer (next weekend). It will be a fantastic show, incorporating many shops, businesses, fishing companies, and demonstrators combining to create one heck of a fly fishing show. For more info click here. My hat is off for the folks who are behind the show. Frank Smith, owner of Hunter Banks fly shop is in charge of the whole event.

If you look to the right of the post, you will see a poll. I'm interested in discovering what you would like to see tied at the show. I'm sticking with more in the way of simplistic patterns than 200 step, advanced flies. Adams, Pheasant Tails, Hares Ears, even the simplest of the simple such as the San Juan Worm. Even if you are not going to attend the expo, what would you have liked to see tied? Multiple votes are welcome, as I'll tie numerous flies throughout the afternoon.

A buddy of mine was planning on attending and tying with me that afternoon. The rising PGA star has a sizable golf tournament that weekend and he told me he had to cancel the trip. I may be tying solo. That's perfectly fine with me.

Looking forward to next weekend. Looks to be a load of fun.

Check back tomorrow PM. Should have an updated fishing report up. A decent amount of rain has fallen and the rivers are back up to normal and above normal.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The ongoing need for rain prevails. Red, orange, and burgundy colored dots on the USGS WaterWatch maps are continuing to overcome the green dots we briefly saw with the last bout of rain a few weeks ago.      

We've seen far worse in past years. Still, abnormally dry to moderate on the drought scale is not helping the rivers and streams. Kevin Howell, owner of Davidson River Outfitters, said that the Davidson is 16" below normal levels. The Big D is currently running at 28 cfs. Average is 100 cfs. Relief may be on the way though. According to the long range forecasts, storm tracks may start to crank back up again, throwing drought-busting storm systems at us. Cross your fingers. It won't be too long before more and more mountain communities begin to see snow. Usually by early-mid November the higher peaks (mainly facing the NW) will start to see increasing snow chances with the many northwest flow events we see. That will definitely help bring the water levels back up. Snow up high will eventually melt, seep into the small headwaters, and sooner or later the water will make its way to the rivers. Still, early snowfall usually doesn't amount too much here in North Carolina. Until then, stealth, long leaders, and light tippet are going to be a must.

Fishing here in the Carolinas is not too bad. Despite the low water, the temperatures are lower thus the trout are relatively happy. Fly selection is the last thing an angler should worry about right now. Long leaders, stealth, and light tippets are far more important. Stick with a 9ft or a 12ft leader and the lightest tippet you feel comfortable fishing. 6x should be fine in most situations. DH trout won't mind 5x. On waters that are a little more technical, such as the Davidson, 7x (dare I say 8x?) might be a better option. Especially if you're fishing the slow, long, gin clear pools up at the hatchery. If trees and fly nabbing rhododendron allow, false casting to the side will maintain a low profile and keep your shadow from hitting the fish. DH waters excluded, smaller flies are going to be better than larger flies. Heavy flies will splash upon hitting the water. 9 times out of 10 the fish will scatter in all directions. Unless you can lay the fly down in choppy water and then drift it into slower water, large beadhead nymphs won't be too productive. A standard nymph or a soft hackle should be the ticket. Try a #16-18 Pheasant Tail Nymph or a Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail Nymph. If you prefer to fish with a small indicator or even without one, you're in luck. While large Thingamabobbers are probably one of the best strike indicators invented to date, they won't do much good when fishing slow or shallow water, because of their tendency to 'plop' on the water's surface. Even if it's a light 'plop', trout can hear it even though the angler might not. Yarn indicators are probably your best bet. They land softly and cast well. As far as dries go, a small #16-20 Parachute Adams should entice fish. Streamers will also work, given the large browns are moving away from their daytime hiding spots and into the shallows. Cast a #10 Woolly Bugger 5 ft or so upstream of your targeted fish and allow it to drift close to him. If he wants it, he'll chase it down in an attempt to oust any intruders.

Wild waters are fishing well. Like all other waters, they're low and the fish are extremely spooky. You'll have to crawl, crouch, hide, and wade carefully. A yellow Stimulator or a small Green Weenie will catch fish all day. Stealth is much more important than fly selection.

If you do decide to head out, have fun!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Western NC Fly Fishing Expo is right around the corner. This year it's being held on November 6th and 7th at the WNC Agricultural Center (adjacent to the airport) in Fletcher, NC (just south of Asheville). Fly casting, fly tying, excellent Carolina BBQ, and rows of exhibitors are just a few of the many things the WNC Fly Fishing Expo has to offer. I'll be there that Sunday afternoon from 12 until about 3 or so as a fly tyer. I'll be doing demonstrations mainly revolving around tying simple to intermediate patterns. If you are going to be at the show and you are wanting to learn how to tie a certain pattern, or want to learn a specific technique, leave a comment or shoot me an email. A lot of tyers at expos tie according to what their audience wants to learn.

All in all, I'm looking forward to that weekend. Looks to be a lot of fun. Fishing on Saturday and tying/running around at the Expo on Sunday. Perfect weekend in my book. Hope everyone can make it! It will definitely be worth the trip.
Friday, October 8, 2010
We've been blessed with warmer days and abundant sunshine lately. When fantastic weather combines with DH waters that are on fire, the outcome results in some spectacular fishing...

The NCWRC has really gone above and beyond this year. Compared to last year, dramatically larger fish are
being caught in western NC DH waters. In addition to larger fish, fish counts are very high. The state dumped plenty of fish into western NC DH streams. It was almost as if the method of stocking was by helicopter and a helicopter bucket. 50+ fish days in a matter of hours are being reported by some. Right now, the fish are about as a dumb as Ernest P. Worrell on three bottles of Nyquil. Anything that remotely looks like trout food will usually be eaten. After being pressured a great deal, these fish will start to become increasingly stubborn. With that being said, the usual Prince Nymph, Pheasant Tail, Hares Ear, Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, or a Woolly Bugger (just to name a few) will catch fish all day. If you're not hanging up on the bottom, or better yet detecting strikes, add a split shot to your leader. Once you get to the right depth, you'll likely catch them left and right. As far as leaders go, stick with a 9ft. 6x is best used as a result of the water being so clear. Stealth is your best weapon. Although stockers are not nearly as spooky as wild fish, they still know to scurry when someone starts splashing through the water.

Wild waters aren't too bad. Like most everywhere else, they're low, but by now anglers and trout alike are pretty much used to it. It's not early fall without low water here in NC. Stealth is again going to be a crucial aspect when on a wild stream. These fish are unbelievably spooky. Once you spot them, they've spotted you. Crouch and crawl into position when approaching a likely looking pool. Standing or running right up to a pool will immediately send the fish swimming for their life. If you spook a pool, forget about fishing it for a while. Fish the next few pools and then come back to the pool and try again about 30 minutes later. 

Catch and Release streams such as the Davidson are fishing relatively well despite the low water. The water temperatures are just right for a trout's liking, so they're pretty happy. Light tippet and small midges are the ticket.

If you're venturing out onto the water this weekend, have fun! Tell us about your trip!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Mt. LeConte, located in Great Smoky Mountains Nat'l Park is the Park's third highest peak, behind the second highest, Mount Guyot and the highest, Clingman's Dome. The 6,593 ft peak received the most snow in October since 1979 - 3 inches. It won't be long (I'd say in the coming weeks) before other high peaks along the NC/TN border receive some snow. I'm a bit surprised Mt. Mitchell only received a trace. Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in eastern North America has seen snow in all 12 months of the year according to records. Matter of fact, Mt. Mitchell is sitting at 32.7° right now. All we need is some moisture. Snow is the best remedy for an ongoing drought. The ground isn't bombarded with liquid. Instead, the ground is slowly fed moisture as the snow melts.While the rain we received recently helped, it only does so much.

Both pictures courtesy of the High On LeConte blog

Delayed Harvest (DH) waters are looking great. I've been hearing of some excellent days out on the water. Just about any pattern will catch fish. It's early, the fish have been in the streams for only a few days and they've yet to accumulate any knowledge of patterns. Prince Nymphs, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Hare's Ears, Zug Bugs, San Juan Worms, Adams, an Elk Hair Caddis, or even a #10 Woolly Bugger, will catch fish. Stick with a longer leader (9ft) and relatively light tippet (5x-6x). Lighter tippet sinks faster than heavier tippet, so you'll have the added advantage of getting that fly down to their level quickly. 6x sinks at a much more rapid pace than 1x. It's a physics thing. If you get out on the water, tell us how you do in the comments section below the post!

Here's the Stocking updates below. The NCWRC updates the info here every Friday at noon during DH season. According to the NCWRC, the following streams are full of fish and are ready to go...

County Stream
Transylvania EAST FORK (DH)
Wilkes STONE MTN. CREEK (DH)                               
Friday, October 1, 2010
No more 90's for the rest of the year. Fall is finally making its presence, as the cooler air is really starting to encompass the eastern US. Mid to upper 50's for highs Monday in the Piedmont. Colder in the mountains and much colder in the higher elevations. In fact Boone probably won't make it out of the 40's Monday. It will definitely feel more like winter!

Delayed Harvest is officially open for the season. Delayed Harvest waters give anglers the opportunity to fish in rivers that generally don't take 4 hours to get to. They're also always full of fish, so you're almost guaranteed to at least see the fish your targeting. As of right now, I don't know what streams were stocked today. The NCWRC doesn't get around to stocking every mile of DH water in 24 hours. I would imagine the more popular streams such as Stone Mountain, Wilson Creek, Helton Creek, and South Mountain DH streams are stocked with plenty of brookies and bows (and a few browns). The amount of fish stocked was cut back a bit, as a result of the recent drought. The remaining fish that are not stocked will be stocked when the water levels are at a suitable level. Any DH waters that were not stocked today will be stocked in the next few days. If you do plan on heading out to a DH stream soon, most generic flies will catch fish all day. Princes, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Zug Bugs, Lightning Bugs, Hise's Hetero-Genius, Woolly Buggers, and #14 Adams, (just to name a few) will catch fish. A 9 ft 5x-6x leader will work best.

The higher elevation wild streams will fish well for a while. The much colder temperatures rolling in will likely slow the fish (and the angler) down a bit though. The brookies are in spawning mode right now. Especially at higher elevations. That means the males are extremely colorful. Brown trout are also in spawning mode. Big males are forming kyped jaws and are increasingly aggressive. Large streamers stripped in should entice them.

Waders will once again be needed soon, so dust them off and check for leaks! Fall is here and it looks like it will stay. I'm glad!

Lastly, I put together a short video comprised of a handful of shots I got on last Saturday's trip. With that being said, it's definitely not winning a Grammy anytime soon!

Wild Specks in the Backcountry from THFF Media on Vimeo.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 24, 2010) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will implement delayed-harvest regulations on 22 trout waters in 15 western North Carolina counties on Oct. 1. Before Oct. 1, hatchery-supported regulations apply to these waters.
Under delayed-harvest regulations, no trout can be harvested or possessed from these waters between Oct. 1, 2010, and one half-hour after sunset on June 3, 2011. No natural bait is allowed, and anglers can fish only with single-hook, artificial lures. An artificial lure is defined as a fishing lure that neither contains nor has been treated with any substance that attracts fish by the sense of taste or smell.
Continued drought conditions in western North Carolina may result in reducing the number of trout scheduled for stocking in delayed-harvest trout waters in October. Staff will be assessing all the delayed-harvest waters from now until Oct. 1 to determine if reduced stockings are necessary.
“All streams will receive stockings at the beginning of October; however, we may have to reduce the number of fish stocked because of the low water levels due to the drought,” said Kyle Briggs, fisheries program manager with the Commission. “If there are any reductions, those fish will be stocked as soon conditions improve.”

Delayed-harvest waters are:

Ashe County
Trout Lake
Helton Creek (Virginia state line to New River)
Burke County
Jacob Fork (Shinny Creek to lower South Mountains State Park boundary)
Caldwell County
Wilson Creek (game land portion below Lost Cove Creek to Phillips Branch)
Haywood County
West Fork Pigeon River (Queen Creek to the first game land boundary upstream of Lake Logan)
Henderson County
North Fork Mills River (game land portion below the Hendersonville watershed dam)
Jackson County
Tuckasegee River (N.C. 107 bridge at Love Field to the Dillsboro dam)
Macon County
Nantahala River (Whiteoak Creek to Nantahala hydropower discharge canal)
Madison County
Big Laurel Creek (N.C. 208 bridge to the U.S. 25-70 bridge)
Shelton Laurel Creek (N.C. 208 bridge at Belva to the confluence with Big Laurel Creek)
McDowell County
Curtis Creek (game land portion downstream of the U.S. Forest Service boundary at Deep Branch)
Mill Creek (U.S. 70 bridge to I-40 bridge — also classified as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, please refer to the Commission’s Regulations Digest for additional information)
Mitchell County
Cane Creek (N.C. 226 bridge to N.C. 80 bridge — also classified as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, please refer to the Commission’s Regulations Digest for additional information)
North Toe River (U.S. 19E bridge to N.C. 226 bridge — also classified as Mountain Heritage Trout Waters, please refer to the Commission’s Regulations Digest for additional information)
Polk County
Green River (Fishtop Falls Access Area to the confluence with Cove Creek)
Surry County
Mitchell River (0.6 mile upstream of the end of S.R. 1333 to the S.R. 1330 bridge below Kapps Mill Dam)
Transylvania County
East Fork French Broad River (Glady Fork to French Broad River)
Little River (confluence of Lake Dense to 100 yards downstream of Hooker Falls)
Watauga County
Watauga River (adjacent to intersection of S.R. 1557 and S.R. 1558 to N.C. 105 bridge and S.R. 1114 bridge to N.C. 194 bridge at Valle Crucis)
Wilkes County
East Prong Roaring River (mouth of Bullhead Creek downstream to Stone Mountain State Park boundary line)
Stone Mountain Creek (from falls at Alleghany County line to confluence with East Prong Roaring River and Bullhead Creek)
Reddies River (Town of North Wilkesboro water intake dam to confluence with Yadkin River)
For more information on delayed-harvest regulations, weekly stocking updates, or trout fishing maps, visit www.ncwildlife.org/fishing.  
Saturday, September 25, 2010

When the opportunity came for me to take off to the wild streams, I took it! I left early this morning bound for the wild streams. I was a little apprehensive about the impending cold front inching closer and closer though. Heavy rain and t'storms were forecasted for this afternoon in that area. Didn't want to get caught in the midst of a severe t'storm with a long hike ahead of me. The strong will for an adventure overcame my fears of being caught in a storm in the middle of nowhere.

Greeted by a refreshing slap in the face by long forgotten cool air, I began the day. The wild streams were extremely low. Haven't seen this particular stream this low before. Almost unreal. Seemed as if the brookies were migrating downstream in an attempt to find more water. The extreme headwaters were degraded to just a trickle. I found wild brookies in the main river, where wild rainbows were expected to be the main attraction. This drought has really hit us hard. With that being said, the fishing wasn't so bad. Stealth is the best weapon an angler can use on low, gin clear trout streams like these. Today was tough. If it wasn't for trout-tolerate air temperatures in the low 70's up there, I probably wouldn't have fished at all.

Fell short of an Appalachian Slam (1 brook, 1 brown, and 1 rainbow). Checked the first two off the list, but the most widespread trout in NC, the rainbow, eluded me on this trip.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story...
Clouds ahead of the cold front override the highest mountains in the eastern US, the Black Mtns.

The future...

Wild brookie caught well below the headwaters.
The South Toe at 9.7 cfs... Scary...

A South Toe wild brown.

The first t'storm in about a month (or more) ran me off the river early. I'm not bummed out about it at all. It was a welcome sight to see rain falling from the sky. More to come. Now we just sit back and watch the rivers rise instead of fall.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Let the water levels rise...
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Storms and showers are starting to pop in the western Carolinas and northeast Georgia. Doesn't look overly impressive on the radar right now though. They're growing and spreading out with time. Areas that don't receive rain today will more than likely see liquid falling from the sky this weekend as a strong cold front passes. Probably won't be enough to send dangerously low rivers back to normal. Large, slow moving storms is what we need. Still looking at the possibility of a moisture laden tropical system rolling through the Carolinas sometime early next month (give or take). May happen, may not. Still a long ways off, but at least there's a little hope for some serious precipitation. We need it as most of you know. It's going to take some serious precipitation to put a dent in the deficit. The water table needs to be replenished for long term affects. So, keep your fingers crossed that we'll see some much needed rain.

One of many computer models. This particular one, the GFS, suggests a large tropical system dumping inches of rain on us.
 On another note, Delayed Harvest is just days away. 8 days to be exact. In fact, some DH streams are already stocked. According to one of the forum members, the Watauga in Boone is now full of fish. Other streams may be stocked slightly earlier than October 1st. Not all, but a select few. Some may be stocked a few days after the 1st. I would still concentrate on the wild streams/catch and release waters until after October 1st. So start planning on your first DH excursion! Can't decide which one will start your season? Here's a top 5 list to get you started.

Grandad and I are heading out to the bluelines Saturday, so, the next post will hopefully be filled with fiery red brookies. I'm after an Appalachian Slam (wild brook, brown, and rainbow) all on the same river. So, we'll start at the headwaters of this particular watershed and work our way down to the middle section where the browns and rainbows reside. We'll see what comes of it!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Despite the 90 degree temperatures that are normally seen in mid July, fall is set to start Wednesday. Fall means streamers to us anglers. If a little much needed rain falls, we may have better conditions that are more conducive for streamer fishing. I like to toss my fly into rivers. Not puddles. Keep doing the rain dance I guess...

Here's a streamer I recently designed. Hope to use it in early November before the WNC Fly Fishing Expo. Looking forward to chucking large streamers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010
1.) We need rain. Every day that passes brings with it low humidity (a good thing), moderate temperatures (a good thing), but not a drop of rain (not a good thing). If it wasn't for slightly cooler temps (not many 90's in the mountains as of late), the trout would be dying left and right. Hot and extremely low water is a death sentence for trout. The 10 day doesn't offer much help. A 30% chance of "hit or miss" storms on Wednesday are in the forecast for some places, but they look to be highly sporadic and confined only to the mountains. The farther you are from the mountains, the less likely you are to see anything in the way of precip. Creeks here in our area (Cabarrus County) are drying up fast. Water that was once flowing is now stagnant puddles. Good news, (still uncertain, but at least it's being suggested) is that the weather models are starting to hint towards some big rain producing systems in the long range. We'll see. A good 2 day soaking is really what we need. To sum it all up, we need to try a different rain dance, The current one is clearly not working. Keep your fingers crossed!

The South Toe is by far the worst in WNC. It's just a trickle. Literally. 11 cfs. Average is 94 cfs.

2.) All of this low water is really making fishing a demanding task. Stealth cannot be emphasized enough.You'll likely spook some fish regardless of how stealthy you are. Stay low, approach pools with caution, and use your surroundings as tools. Shrubs, rocks, brush, trees, and the like can be used to the angler's advantage. Hiding behind them will lower the chance of fish spotting you. I'd even try the old "hide in a bush and run forward every time the fish isn't looking" technique! Long leaders in 6x-8x is best. I would go with a 12-15 foot leader, ending with 7x. Try your best to keep the fly line off of the water, by high sticking the rod. As far as flies go, fly selection isn't nearly as important as presentation and stealth. With that being said, I would still use smaller flies. Wary fish seem to grab a smaller fly versus a larger fly when the water gets this low. Since trout don't have hands, they have to taste a potential food source in order to figure out what it is. A tiny #26-32 midge would be a good choice. Especially on the Davidson. They'll be inclined to taste it. That will give you a chance to set the hook. Still, with fall right at the doorsteps, streamers are going to be effective. Especially in the deeper pools. Cast a Woolly Bugger, Zonker, Clouser, or any other streamer upstream. Let it sink and then retrieve it with short, but jerky strips. Sometimes dead drifting it works better. You'll have to experiment and be creative. Terrestrials are still in full force, so don't forget your terrestrial box! A Green Weenie is an excellent choice right now. Inchworms, ants, and beetles are great choices as well.

3.) I just realized it's the third anniversary of the blog (Well, back on September 8th). With high hopes, but with a somewhat hesitant attitude, I created THFF.com back in September of 2008. Here it is September of 2010 . Amazing. Cannot begin to thank all of the readers and fans of the blog. I've received countless emails, comments, and face to face thank yous from folks who enjoy reading the reports, articles, and shenanigans. It's nothing less than humbling.

So, one HUGE thank you to you guys! Looking forward to the coming years.
Friday, September 10, 2010
The hot, humid, Carolina summer is about to give way to gradually cooler weather and shorter days. Meteorologically it's dubbed the name fall. Amongst fly fisherman though, it's known as the beginning of some of the best trout fishing of the year. There is nothing quite like arriving streamside greeted by the cool, crisp, and refreshing autumn air that has eluded us for the past 5 months. Fall brings with it scenic vistas of bronze, orange, and red colored leaves that only add to the whole experience.

What makes fall such a fantastic season for fly fishing? 

When you combine comfortable temperatures, little to no crowds (especially during weekdays), and the opportunity to hook into true monsters, it's fairly self-evident. That 14 inch skinny brown trout you caught back in May that only required one hand to hold, is most likely a hooked jawed, red-spotted, 26" fish that takes two hands and a a pair of strong arms to hold up.

The behemoths show themselves...

Western NC guide Forrest Marshall holds up a huge fall brown.
Brown trout are the main target in the fall. They are widely known for their light-sensitive demeanor and nocturnal feeding habits. In the summer they are almost always found hiding beneath undercut banks, fallen trees, and the deepest pools of the river until the sun sets. Those are the darkest places on the river when the sun's rays are too much for them to bear. If you cast your fly close enough to his position, he might just lazily turn and eat your offering. He might just continue to be lazy and refuse everything you put in front of him. It all changes when the leaves start falling and the days get shorter. The once lethargic and secretive fish are now filling up on baitfish and other large food items in anticipation of the upcoming spawning season. Up until late November when spawning occurs, fish continuously search for food in order to stock up for the winter. They move from the deepest of pools to the shallow runs. Just like a mammal preparing for hibernation, they search for as much food as they can consume. Large food items, such as baitfish, are much more nutritious than tiny midges and provide fish with an excellent dose of protein. Minnows and baitfish are harder to catch than small mayflies, but the rewards are great for a large brown.

 What's all of this streamer talk?

An October stillwater rainbow.
Fall is one of the best times to fish for stillwater trout.
Most seasoned fly rodders think of streamers when fall rolls around. Streamers imitate a wide variety of baitfish that large browns are chasing. Anything from Zonkers to Clousers and Slumpbusters to Woolly Buggers will likely entice the wiliest of browns. To a lot of fly anglers, streamers, along with dries, are the most enjoyable way of catching trout. For one, large streamers are visible. Usually you can watch that fish pursue it and then watch the fly disappear as the fish engulfs it. Secondly, streamers can be bounced off of the bottom, stripped in, twitched, and the list goes on and on. You have the ability to be creative. Twitch, let it sink, twitch, twitch, let it sink, big twitch, 3 short twitches. It seems as if the more life you put into the streamer, the more enticing it is to hungry fish. On the other hand, dead drifting a streamer can be just as deadly. Streamers seem to always catch fish this time of the year. I think I came to the realization that fall trout really do go mad over baitfish when I had the opportunity to chase large, robust stillwater rainbows in October of 2006. Generally rainbows don't spawn in the fall, but rather in the spring. There are accounts of rainbows spawning in the fall, but it's not in their nature to do so. However, they do respond to the temperature changes and the transition from summer to fall. The rainbows I targeted that cool October afternoon were by far some of the most streamer hardy bows I've ever thrown my fly too. I was using Bunny Leaches that undulate and dance with any faint movement. It reminded me of flats fishing: the fish would cruise around in the shallows, intently watching for any potential meals and any slap of the fly or any wrong movement would send them fleeing for their lives. The low water of the summer carried over into the fall, so the water was relatively low and extremely gin clear. These baitfish hungry trout were stocking up for the upcoming winter and you could tell. They relentlessly chased anything that remotely looked like a baitfish. Numbers and size were both present in these fish. It's this kind of experience that leaves you craving for more. Fall fishing is addictive!

Tips to further improve your fall angling skills...

1.) Fish streamers if you can. Large trout are looking for baitfish and minnows. In most situations, large streamers work better than small streamers. Fish are looking for as much protein and nutrients as they can possible consume. Larger baitfish are targeted by large trout because they have more protein and nutrients than smaller fish. Remember, a trout can easily eat a fish that's half it's size. A #6 Zonker likely won't let you down.

2.) Fall trout tend to be much more aggressive. Flies that incorporate a fair amount of action will most likely catch the attention of many fish.

3.) Terrestrials continue to catch fish until the first frost hits. Until then, ants, beetles, inchworms, and hoppers fished from roughly mid morning until evening will produce fish. Avoid fishing dries/terrestrials in the morning, given the cooler temperatures. Wait until the sun's rays warm the water a little.

4.) While some anglers have shunned egg and worm patterns from fly fishing, calling them nontraditional and not true flies, you should highly consider using them. Especially eggs. Fish that are not spawning will congregate just downstream of the spawning fish. They will gorge on misplaced eggs until spawning season is over. A simple yellow egg pattern will work extremely well. Fish them close to the bottom.

5.) You'll need a camera, a net capable of landing brown trout that could swallow a child, and a persistent attitude. The latter is important. As long as you keep at it, you'll likely head home with a grin from ear to ear.

So it's time to dust off your long forgotten pair of waders, check your streamer box, and plan your next trip. Fall is just around the corner. I don't know about you, but I'm ready!

One of many Delayed Harvest streams in the state.

A pool full of eager fish waiting anxiously for passing insects.

The brook trout and brown trout display their most vibrant colors of the year in the Fall.

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