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Tyler Legg
Charlotte, NC, United States
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Welcome to THFF.com! Kick your wading boots off and stick around for a while. You'll find content ranging from NC fishing reports, videos, pictures, fly fishing news from around the state/country/world, humor, and even some irrelevant, yet interesting posts.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It was a late July day. The heat and humidity so prevalent in the Carolinas was briefly left behind for a cool escape into western NC's high mountains. Wading in this tiny, yet refreshing high elevation stream has never felt so good.

Countless folks venture to the western parts of the Tar Heel State in search of adventures, flora, fauna, a day of hiking, or a day of sightseeing. All of which are plentiful around here. As an angler, fishing opportunities are nothing short of plentiful.  If you're looking for an escape from the ambient sounds of cars zooming across roads, people enjoying a refreshing swim, or rafters meandering their way across chutes and whitewater, fishing the countless miles of wild streams WNC has to offer might just be what you're looking for.

Here in western North Carolina, there's no shortage of wild streams; they're everywhere. Not to mention the unclassified streams that the NCWRC doesn't manage. I'll be honest though. Don't be surprised if you leave a stream that was perceived to be an excellent one, empty-handed. Some anglers swear up and down the fish have either been poached out or are simply not present. On some streams, this is the case. There are streams that don't hold trout, but there are plenty that do.

Wild trout will test you. In most cases, they're easy to catch, only after you've done everything right before the first cast and continue to do everything right when the fly hits the water. Big water, such as the Tuckasegee River, boasts plenty of deeper water, masked by adjacent faster water, in which trout can comfortably hold without a worry in the world. At the bottom of a deep pool, a fat, happy trout is too deep for an osprey to swoop down and claim them as lunch. Sure these fish can be spooky at times, but compared to their wild counterparts they're nowhere near spooky most of the time. Wild trout don't remain self sustainable from being lazy and unaware of their surroundings.

Here are some tips aimed to increase you catch rate on the small streams:

1) Wear drab colored clothing. A bright orange t-shirt will almost always spook the fish entirely. Given trout are equipped with color vision, they can see differences in colors within their environment. They don't see bright orange figures (the angler) roaming around on a daily basis, so their first instinct upon laying eyes on such bright colors is to bolt for cover. Wearing natural colored clothing (ie green, brown, tan, etc) blends in with the surroundings, thus keeping their minds on food and not quickly searching for a hiding place.

2) Clothing isn't the only thing an angler must pay attention to on the wild waters. Stealth is a must. Have you ever seen a heron wading on the flats along the coast? While hunting for shrimp, fish, and other small creatures, they wade with extreme caution. As anglers, we must wade with extreme caution. Splashing, creating wakes, and bumping rocks with your feet almost always results in spooked fish. Trout are very sensitive and will usually respond to noises we think are insignificant (such as a bit of splashing). Anglers fishing a wild trout stream for the first time are sometimes baffled at the "lack" of fish in the stream. The fish are more than likely present, but have been spooked by a bright shirt or clumsy wading.

3) Approach pools and fishy looking water carefully. Immediately upon laying eyes on some good looking water, plan out your approach. Make note of any ways to avoid spooking the fish. A downed tree to hide behind, a large boulder just downstream of the pool, or even some overhanging brush are examples of such. Use them to hide yourself from the trout.

4) Make delicate casts and pick your line up off of the water smoothly and quietly. Smacking your line on the water and ripping it off won't do you any good. If you can, allow your leader and fly to remain in the water while keeping your fly line off of the water. Doing so will decrease the chances of a spooked fish. As far as leaders and tippet sizes go, 8x isn't necessary. The smallest I would go is 6x. 4x and 5x is usually a perfect size. Wild fish are rarely leader so you can up the size of your tippet.

5) Don't kill yourself over fly patterns. Wild fish are rarely, if ever, picky. They're solely opportunistic feeders and will eat anything that remotely looks like food. In their swift environment, taking too long to decide will leave them without a meal. As long as it acts like food, they take it as food. For wild waters, choose your dry flies based on buoyancy, visibility, and attraction. A fly that stays afloat and is highly visible will almost always be a fish catcher. A bright Green Weenie or flashy Lightning Bug is an ideal selection for your nymph. An attractor pattern is not intended to imitate a specific insect (such as a March Brown or Isonychia). Basically, the trout don't recognize them as a familiar food source, but see them as food nonetheless. Perfect flies that are bouyant, highly visible, and are attractors include, but are not limited to, the Royal Wulff, Tennessee Wulff, Parachute Madam X, Chernobyl Ant, Humpy, Trude, Turk's Tarantula, and the Stimulator.

6) Don't fish a pool or run for an extended period of time. Move to the next one after you've made a few casts. On these streams, if you're going to hook up with a fish, it's more likely to be on your first cast. Especially with dries.

7) Don't be afraid to use a longer rod. A lot of small stream anglers use short rods. 6' rods being pretty common. Don't hesitate to use a 7 foot or even an 8 foot rod. Doing so will allow you to mend and control your line easier.

8) When fishing a pool or run, first cast to the tailout or end of the pool/run closest to you. Cast your fly upstream in increments until you finally cast the fly to the head of the pool. If you were to cast the fly to the head of the pool first, you run the risk of spooking the pool out. This way, the chances of you catching more fish out of one pool drastically increase.

Lastly, have fun! Wild waters can offer anglers with plenty of solitude, adventure, beautiful scenery, and if you play your cards right, plenty of wild, extremely colorful trout.


blake said...

Great how to guide for wild trout and small streams

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