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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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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.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Glancing at the 10 day forecast just makes you cringe. Other than a few slim chances for some widely scattered storms, we look to be out of luck. Trout streams (especially the wild streams) are dropping each day. On a positive note, we're finally starting to make that transition to cooler temperatures. Instead of lower 90's, we're looking at mainly lower 80's/Upper 70's (slightly varying depending on your location). If you have ventured up into the higher elevations, you may have noticed that some of the trees are starting to respond to the shorter days. Fall is right around the corner.

Using light tippet and stealth are the two most important things you can do right now. Trout (especially wild fish) are extremely nervous and spooky as a result of the low water. Fly choice isn't nearly as important as stealth and presentation. Most fish should readily rise to an Elk Hair Caddis, Stimulator, Parachute Adams and of course terrestrials. Pheasant Tails, Hares Ears, Prince Nymphs, Lightning Bugs, and Green Weenies should bring fish to your net. Approach pools with a plan. Look for potential targets. Scout out any tail movements from a fish and make your first cast count. If the first try spooks the fish, it's game over for a while. It's technical fishing to the max right now. Wild waters and catch and release waters will give way to more choices though. Delayed Harvest waters pick back up on October 1st. Less than a month from now. Bring it on! Stone Mountain streams, South Mountain streams, Wilson Creek, Mitchell River (just name a few) will be filled with fish (and anxious fisherman) soon. With that being said, not all streams will be stocked on October 1st. The NCWRC can't stock each and every DH stream in 1 day. Check the stocking schedule/numbers of fish being stocked here.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Hurricane Earl came close to the NC Outer Banks. I watched the radar as Earl whirled past the small and vulnerable barrier islands. Boat owners, marinas, and guides were scrambling to get their boats out of the way of Earl's wrath. In the end, Earl was not as bad as some anticipated. Flooding and beach erosion were probably the worst out of Earl's many threats. I, like many, was fearing for the worst, but of course hoping for the best. Brian Horsley, who is a fly fishing guide based out of Nags Head, said all is well on the OBX. Just a little damp.

I asked Brian if I could post a handful of his incredible shots before and after Earl. Big thanks to Mr. Horsley for allowing me to share them

Calm before the storm...

Gaston is our next concern. It's trying to form way out in the Atlantic. Maybe we can squeeze by with a weak Tropical Depression hitting the coast and moving inland. We don't need another Hurricane Earl, just a good rain laden storm system! The trout streams are getting low! On second thought, -12 degree temperatures and 3 feet of snow sounds really good right now...

On another note, this weekend will be fantastic. A cold front (or a "cooler than average front") is moving through east Tennessee, almost reaching the western Carolinas. It will give way to some fantastic fishing this Labor Day Weekend. The highest of elevations, particularly Mt. Mitchell, will experience some very cool to almost chilly temperatures. Mid to upper 50's for highs on Mt. Mitchell, dipping down into the mid to upper 40's tomorrow night. The brookies are gradually getting more and more colorful in anticipation of spawning season. Most mountain counties will see 40's for lows and 60's for highs. Fall is right around the corner! Dust off your waders, tie some of your favorite fall streamers, and get ready!

THFF Readers

Stocking Schedule Changes!

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