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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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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Above is the best fly fishing film I've seen since A River Runs Through It. Period. Worth every 47 minutes. Anglers and non anglers alike, this film will captivate you. Check it out...

Doesn't get much better than that...

Welcome to the Southeast. Bitter cold one day, sun and unusual warmth the next. We've seen it all this winter. Snow, ice, rain, single digit temps (negatives in the mountains), and now temperatures in the mid to upper 60s. We're sitting at 70 here in Kannapolis. I, along with many others, don't know how to react to this brief, but very much welcomed warm spell. This winter is going down in the books as the coldest winter Charlotte has experienced in 69 years. Temps in the 60s is a welcome sight. Especially this year. Now, because it's short lived, you won't see Quill Gordons and Blue Quills hatching. In past years a warm second half of February triggered premature spring hatches. Hopefully that won't happen this year. It very well could though. Meteorologists are now advertising the idea of a warm (or not as cold) February here in the Southeast. We'll see what happens. Still, it takes a serious warm spell to warm the water enough for the first major hatches of the year to occur. Usually a water temperature of about 50 degrees is the magical number. Time will tell...

Despite the warm weather, snow and ice can still be found in the higher elevations. It has become compacted from all of the past snow and ice and will take a while to melt. Regardless, the warm weather this weekend has produced some of the best fishing we've seen in a long time. If you managed to get out this weekend, tell us how you did in the comment section below or over on the forum!

Enjoy the remainder of this heat wave! We'll be back down to normal tomorrow.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The weather here in NC has been nothing short of insane. The mountains have been all over the board. From half a foot of snow, to sunny skies, to a Cat 3 hurricane wind gust, and now warmer not as cold weather for the weekend. I'm sure you guys are still glued to the "Cat 3 hurricane strength wind gust." I was as well. Grandfather Mountain, which is known for it's extreme weather, recorded a new highest wind gust yesterday at 4:58 PM. Shattering the old record of 106.95mph, was the new record of 114.7mph. Even a powerful, wind-slicing double haul into 114mph headwinds would end in a "casting fail."

Unless you possess a fly rod to this caliber (discovered after recently finding this blog), you wouldn't stand a chance! Casting duck and beaver flies made to scale has never been easier!

No fictional 20wt fly rods needed anytime soon. That's a relief. The forecast calls for some "not as cold" temperatures this weekend. Especially Saturday. If at all possible, high tail it to the river ASAP! If time simply will not allow, as is the case for me, don't fret. I'm sure we'll see more days such as what is forecasted this weekend. At least I hope...

Fishing here in WNC will be improving incrementally starting tomorrow. The NWS forecast for Transylvania County, home to the widely known Davidson River, is mid 50s Saturday with sunny skies. Not bad at all. It looks like the winds will be a a little on the breezy side, but you needn't worry about 114mph winds. Unless you're fishing a popular C&R stream such as the Davidson, fly selection isn't a big deal. Just about any darker colored nymph, such as a Pheasant Tail, Prince, BWO Nymph,  and black or brown Stonefly Nymphs (just to name a few) should work. It wouldn't hurt to tie on a smaller #14-18 soft hackle or even a San Juan Worm behind a larger nymph. It doubles your chances and allows the fish to pick and choose. Along with nymphs, streamers are worthy of trying. Big fish rarely pass up a protein rich minnow, sculpin, or small trout. This is especially true when it's cold. Unlike streamer fishing in the summer and fall, it's highly unlikely for a trout to quickly move out of its feeding lane to grab a morsel (or your fly) in the winter. Allowing the fly to sink to the bottom is the key to success this time of the year. You want your fly to reach the fish. Most of which are holding down deep. There's some limited, but good news for any of fellow dry fly gurus. If you enjoy fishing for rising fish, you may see a few over the course of this weekend. Definitely not a  guarantee, but if a black stonefly or black caddis hatch occurs, keep your eyes peeled for a few risers. Still, 9 times out of ten nymphs will be much more productive. Lighter tippet is best, given the clear water.

If you head out this weekend, have fun and catch some fish! We would love to hear the report over on the forum, or in the comment section below.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some of you guys may have seen Thomas' work. If you haven't I recommend doing so! Thomas founded Carolina Fly last year and ever since, his flies have been the talk of the town bass pond. He's produced some of the most incredible poppers I've ever seen in my life (and I've seen a lot of poppers in my lifetime). He has an uncanny ability to produce poppers that leave you feeling guilty for fishing them!

Here's some of his work. All photos snapped by Thomas Harvey.

Fish approve 100%...
Now that you're probably drooling and gasping for breath, here's Thomas' Facebook page where you can contact Thomas and view the rest of his collection. Word of caution, more drooling will ensue..

Click the picture for a larger view.

The mountains and foothills will likely see some pretty decent amounts of snow with a storm system moving late Tuesday into early Thursday. Looks like mostly a soaking rain here in the Piedmont with some snow towards the end not out of the question. This year, we've seen more snow than rain. Actually, here in Charlotte, we've seen almost all snow so far this winter. Not many rainstorms. February and March (maybe April in the mountains) will likely hold more snow. The more precipitation we can rack up now, the better off we are come spring, summer, and fall. Streams typically start getting low in June unless we see persistent rain. Snowmelt will keep the rivers in good shape for awhile, but after that we start relying on thunderstorms and showers for the most part to keep the rivers from drying up.

With the snow, rain, and cold conditions, fishing will be tough. Especially the wild streams. The Davidson, Tuck, Stone Mountain, Wilson Creek, Mitchell River, and the east Tennessee tailwaters (just to name a few) are fishing the best. Most DH waters are fishing the best. Stocked trout respond to cold temps much better than wild trout do. Tucker Horne and Paul Bourcq, both members of the NC Fly Fishing Team, posted over on the THFF Facebook page. Tucker said the South Holston (SoHo) in east TN was fishing well. Paul said the Nantahala and the SoHo are fishing well. He added that olive has been the color of choice for him lately.

Catching fish will be somewhat of a task. Unlike a trout's behavior in the summer, they are sluggish and will not move very far to grab a morsel of food (or your fly in this case). If you are not getting to the bottom (either hanging up every now and then, or catching fish), add another split shot on. I recently read an article written by WNC guide Than Axtell. In the article, he says this:

Years ago, I was creeping up the gorge on an overcast spring day when I looked over my shoulder and saw a camouflaged man fishing about three pools behind me. His rod was bent from the weight of a nice trout that somehow had eluded my presentations. I fished a couple more pools with little success, while camo guy continued to slay trout in the water I'd just fished. Finally, I stopped and waited for him to catch up. "Looks like you've got the magic fly," I yelled to him over the white water. "What are you fishing with?"

He looked at the stonefly dangling from my tippet. "Same thing as you," he said, grinning. "You know, sometimes the difference between an average fisherman and a great fisherman is just one split shot."

Sometimes we tend to think only certain flies work and trout will not have anything to do with other patterns. While this is true on heavily pressured waters, or during certain times of the year, trout are generally opportunistic feeders. If it looks edible and ultimately acts like food, they'll attempt to eat it. The key to catching fish is the presentation. It's like human food. If a sandwich is moldy and reeks with an unpleasant stench, most people would pass it up in an instant. If you can get that fly to look as natural as possible, you shouldn't have any problems catching fish. Generic patterns such as a Pheasant Tail Nymph, Hares Ear, or Prince, should catch plenty. Click on the "Fly Fishing NC" tab at the top. Click on "Recommended Flies". That list, while not complete, will give you a general idea. Again, as long as your presentation is ideal, fly selection becomes less important.

I'm hitting the tying bench! I've got some fly orders to fill and ship to Casters Fly Shop tomorrow. With the cold, rainy, and possibly snowy conditions approaching, I'll be at the bench constantly. If I produce a worth while fur ball, I'll post if over at CFT. If you've been out on the water, we would love to hear the report!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I posted a few of my most recent patterns over on CFT. Another impending snowstorm (or rainstorm, depending on what forecast you believe) is threatening the western Carolinas next week. For us tyers, snow usually means more tying. I'm thinking more fly tying is going to be the theme for awhile.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse surrounded by a blanket of snow.

Fishing is pretty much nonexistent over on the coast. Well, technically fishing is usually not the best this time of the year anyways out there. 4" of snow is already on the ground around the northern side of Morehead City. The western Carolinas are next on Old Man Winter's snowy list. Once again. At least it's looking like mostly snow and not ice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011
Catch and release... You're doing it wrong. Photo courtesy JH Miller.

Oregon Inlet is known for it's excellent fishing, both for recreational purposes and for commercial purposes. Now, the beautiful inlet is now a graveyard, as thousands of striped bass float lifelessly just offshore of Oregon Inlet. Charter captains have reported miles upon miles of dead striped bass. Commercial fisherman are thought to be the culprit. Apparently the trawlers caught a net full of fish, realized they caught too many, and threw the dead fish back in order to sustain their 50 fish limit. Most of the fish thrown back were evidently dead or dying. Too read the articles and updated info, click here.

“The NC Division of Marine Fisheries is investigating reports of numerous dead striped bass floating in the ocean waters in northern Dare County areas.

The estimates of the numbers of dead fish have ranged from in the hundreds to in the thousands. The division is trying to determine the actual extent and cause of this event. However, the fish appear to be discards from fishing activity.
There was extensive commercial and recreational striped bass fishing in these waters over the holiday weekend. Both commercial and recreational fisheries have had issues with discards of striped bass in the past. However, this is the first time in several years that striped bass have migrated this close to the shore. 

The commercial striped bass trawl fishery is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. Thursday. The division will evaluate the effort and landings in this fishery to determine if quota remains and if the fishery should reopen. The division will also consider if alternative management measures could be used to prevent future discard mortality.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I thought Al said the earth was warming. At this rate, we'll be turning nomadic, constructing igloos, and hunting caribou before you know it. This winter has been harsh in western NC. The winter was harsh last year. It was harsh two winters ago as well. The mountains, while they receive decent amounts of snow from late fall into early spring, have been the big winners thus far. If I'm not mistaken, snow started falling in late October in the higher elevations along the NC/TN border. By late November, snow was relatively wide spread in the high country. Upslope snow has been tremendous this year. With that being said, a welcome, but temporary relief has arrived for today. Especially outside of the mountains. Here in the Piedmont, we're sitting in the mid 50s. Most mountain communities have been in the mid to upper 40s. Not bad given the persistent cold we've experienced over the past 3 months. Not interior Alaska cold, but cold enough. If it makes you feel any better, Fairbanks, AK is sitting at a toasty -33°F. No fly fishing up there right now! Enjoy the weather right now. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a significant icestorm is on the horizon early next week for the Piedmont of NC. The meteorologists are already mentioning it. Nowhere near a lock, but that would certainly hamper any plans of getting out to fish if it were to happen. Snow is much easier to drive on. Ice is everything but easy to drive on. Keep an eye on the forecast. It very well could come to fruition. It could also disappear and we see sunshine. Let's hope for the latter.

Fishing is still slow, despite the sudden rise in air temperatures. It will take a prolonged period of warm temps to bring the water temps up. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon. If cabin fever is really setting in, try fishing DH waters. Wilson Creek, Stone Mountain, Mitchell River, Nantahala, the Tuck, and the rest of the popular DH waters are fishing much better than the wild streams are. In order to catch fish, make sure you're nymph gets down to the bottom of the river. Trout are responding to the cold water by staying down deep and moving slowly. A larger nymph or streamer with a smaller nymph such as a soft hackle, Copper John, or Pheasant Tail Nymph is an ideal setup right now. The heavier nymph, or the point fly, will get the smaller nymph, or the lead fly, down to the bottom. The larger fly will usually attracts the fish. A lot of times the fish will settle for the smaller fly instead. Dries are of very little use right now. Nymphs are outfishing them by a wide margin. In the winter, trout that are hunkered down in a deep pool don't want to rocket to the surface, expending a sizable amount of energy. It's simply not worth doing so just to sip a small adult insect (or dry fly), when there are plenty of nymphs close to the river bottom.

Hang in there, spring is not too far away - okay, spring is more than 2 months away, but doesn't it make you feel better knowing spring has to come? Eventually? I recommend writing "Spring is not too far away" 1,000 times. Heals cabin fever.  All jokes aside, there's a better way to get through the long winter. Currently, Outdoor Blogger Network and Montana Fly Company have teamed up to present fly tyers a rare opportunity. It's likely a once in a lifetime opportunity. How does becoming the next paid fly designer for MFC sound? Yeah, sounds pretty sweet. If you've created a bug that is the talk of the town under the water's surface, this contest might be for you. Check out the qualifications and info here. If you do enter the contest, good luck! I'm planning on participating. Should be a lot of fun.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Fellow blogger Owl Jones is creative as all get out. I'm still laughing over his hilarious list of 6 Ways to Catch More Trout. Check it out!
The snow (well, more along the lines of 6" of solid ice) is slowly melting away. Slowly is the key word. We've already exceeded our average snowfall for the year. The cold has been relentless as well. According to one of the meteorologists in Charlotte, we're heading down the road towards the coldest winter in 69 years. For skiers, this is great news. Beech Mountain is already at 101.2" of snow for the season. Average for an entire season is 80" up there. They could easily triple the annual averages easily. For anglers, these are uninviting stats. Rivers are frozen, wild streams are described as very hit and miss, and overall the fishing is pretty lousy. Still, judging by the forecast, this weekend should host somewhat better fishing. Temps will flirt with the 50 degree mark in the southern WNC mountains (Asheville area) making for more enjoyable fishing conditions. The water temps will be very cold, so the fish will still be lethargic and down deep. It will take a week of warm temps in the 60s with full sunshine to warm the water up considerably. As of now, that likely won't happen anytime soon. DH waters are fishing well, as they always do in the midst of winter. Stockers don't mind the cold, unlike their wild counterparts currently encased in ice. Well known DH waters such as Stone Mountain, Wilson Creek, South Mountains, Mitchell River, and the Tuck, are going to be your best choice. There a plenty of fish to be caught and there are some rather large fish as well. Especially on Wilson Creek, the Nantahala, and the Tuck, which tend to hold some of the largest fish. Those fish are going to be down in deep, slow moving pools, so your best bet would be dredging nymphs on the bottom of the river. A perfect setup would be a #10 Woolly Bugger with a #16 Copper John, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Prince, or a small nymph of your choice. These fish shouldn't be too fickle, but of course they've been exposed to hundreds of flies and hundreds of tactics thus far, so trying a new pattern or a different technique can improve your catch rate. You can find a more comprehensive list of flies at the top of the blog. Hover your mouse over "Fly Fishing WNC". A drop down menu will appear. Click on "Recommended Flies" and you'll see a list of recommended patterns for the western NC mountains. It's not a complete list, but it's structured to point anglers in the right direction. During the winter, that list doesn't change much. #18-24 BWOs and #18-30 midges are a common theme. With that being said, the list explodes in March and April. By May, the list is overwhelming.  I don't know about you, but I can't wait until spring and summer gets here. Until then, enjoy an excellent short film by fellow wild trout enthusiast Parker Smith below. Click on "A Workweek's Requiem" to view the video in HD. Here's to an early spring!

A Workweek's Requiem from Parker Smith on Vimeo.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The new THFF.com is here! Still trying work out some details and fix a few things, but overall the whole template is in place. Feedback is very much appreciated! Leave a comment below or shoot me an email. Contact me ASAP if something isn't working. I'll do my best to fix it.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Looking to upgrade the blog. Purchased a web design program called Artisteer that's kept me busy on this cold, wintry day (in which the snow and ice has yet to melt). Still ironing out the little problems I've been coming across, so hoping to get it up and running sooner or later. If the blog is jumbled up, doesn't load at all, or is acting weird, I'm experimenting! We'll see if I can upload the new template without any problems.
Monday, January 10, 2011
This winter was suppose to be warmer and less snowier than average here in the Carolinas. Far from that this go around. I think we made Old Man Winter mad. He struck again with heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures. The Christmas snowstorm was big, but this one is bigger. Especially for the southern mountains, folks along and near the TN/NC border, and the southern Piedmont of NC. Charlotte was walloped, with reports of over a half a foot in southern parts and 8" in some places. I've been shoveling for a portion of today. Counties to our west were in on the snow as well. There were some pretty high numbers in the mountains. Rosman, just south of Brevard, received 6" and Robbinsville received 9" according to the NWS. Here's an interactive storm report map for anyone interested in snow totals. Click on a snowflake and it will tell you the snow totals.

If cabin fever is eating you alive, good luck out on the streams. Slow fishing would be an understatement. Check road conditions before heading out. The northern Piedmont and Foothills should be fine. Roads are going to be slick in a lot of places though.

DH waters will be fishing fairly well, as they always do during cold and snow. Stockers tend to shake off the cold and snow as opposed to their wild counterparts. Most wild waters are going to be frozen solid. This week will be cold. Very cold.As long as you can bare the cold, ice, and snow, you should get into some fish at Stone Mountain, Wilson Creek, Mills River, and the rest of the DH waters. Prince Nymphs, Hares Ears, small #16-18 Black Stonefly Nymphs, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, and most other generic nymphs should work. The key is to get that fly down on the bottom whether you have extra weight on your fly, or by adding split shot. Fish are going to be down deep and they move far to grab a passing fly.

Fly tying, rigging reels, tying knots, cleaning gear, and mapping out new locations are going to be the better options. I love the snow and cold, but I'm ready for a break for a week. The snow isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's going to stick around until the weekend. Be safe!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Posted more pictures and detailed recipes for the realistic patterns over at Carolina Fly Tying. Included the most recent pattern, a Golden Stonefly Adult. Stay tuned for more!
Monday, January 3, 2011
I received some realistic fly tying materials from the fly shop and finally got around to using them. A more in depth post, complete with recipes and more pictures will be posted over on Carolina Fly Tying soon. Here's the results:

Realistic Stonefly Nymph

Cranefly Larvae

Sunday, January 2, 2011
Cabin fever had me urging to get on the water. Whether or not the streams were frozen over, I took off on Wednesday. My initial plan was to head up to the Parkway and fish a wild brookie stream I frequent that sits about 5,000 ft ASL. The Parkway wasn't bad. Snow from last weekend's snowstorm was shoved to the side of the road. Other than some sporadic ice that stubbornly sits on the roads well after the storm hits, conditions were looking good. I expected some snow on the side road that led down to the stream, but didn't expect it to be completely impassable. I was wrong. A foot or more of snow with drifts of more greeted me. 4x4 wouldn't stand a chance. Any wrong turn or slip would send the truck tumbling down the side of the mountain. The trip up the mountain wasn't a complete disappointment though. I managed to snap some photos of the surrounding Black Mountains covered in snow. Now, I wasn't fully expecting to catch fish on this trip. I had some hope, but conditions were not in my favor. The bulk of the South Toe was covered in thick sheets of ice and the fish were pretty much non existent. Didn't see a single fish. An ice auger and snow shoes were almost as important as a fly rod and a box of flies. This was the same section that I caught this wild and vibrantly colored brown trout. Looking forward to consistently warmer weather for sure. Below are a few pictures from the trip. No fish pictures this time.

So, I'll continue to tie. Speck fever is really setting in though...

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