By Jeremy EdgeSpring has sprung, and as summer approaches, anglers might begin to see their local trout streams getting too warm, too low, and not to mention too crowded due to the influx of summer traffic, aka “tube hatch.” Because of this, anglers tend to seek alternate species to pursue in the anticipation of warmer months ahead. Opportunity knocks with warm water fish like bass, bluegill, carp, and gar, all of which offer rewarding experiences in many ways. From your local lake or river, to even a farm pond, there is a good chance that there are at least a few species you may find.The Author with a Smallmouth BassI grew up fishing for Largemouth Bass in the lakes of Alabama and Georgia, and then found my love for Smallmouth Bass by exploring local rivers along the way. It wasn’t until I moved to Western North Carolina that for the first time in my life, I had lakes and rivers within 45 minutes to an hour of Asheville that provided me with access to numerous species; and better yet, that access wasn’t limited. Oftentimes, when people think of bass fishing, they think of spin rods, glitter bass boats and Evinrude 250s….that’s cool, but most folks either only have enough time to wade, or they don’t have any friends with a bass boat. The problem is, a lot of these rivers can’t accommodate the launch of a Bass Tracker anyway, but they are easily accessible to waders, rafts or kayaks. My advice is, make friends with someone who owns a bass boat…you’ll thank me later.The truth of course, is that you don’t need a spin rod or a motor boat to find and catch warm water fish, including bass. If you’d like to try your hand at catching one of these beauties with a fly rod, then you may be wondering what to bring with you. Depending on your fly selection and the type of fish you’re after, I would recommend either a 7wt or 8wt rod with a floating line, but having a spare spool of sink-tip line is not a bad idea, also. In your box, flies should range from baitfish, crawfish, and hellgrammite, to frog patterns. Poppers in all sizes can make for a fun day if the fish are hitting top water. Leaders should range from 7 to 9 feet, and between 10 and 15 lbs. On your feet, wading socks can allow you wear wading boots if preferred, but in warmer temperatures, sandals/water shoes are adequate and may be more comfortable.If you are interested in learning more about Fly Fishing for Bass, then please contact us at Brown Trout Fly Fishing, and book a Bass float trip on the French Broad, Pigeon, or Tuckasegee Rivers.
Brown Trout Blog
Watauga River Brown Trout Love Caddis Larvae
The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch is probably just a little over a month away. If you’ve nymph fished with us, undoubtably you’ve ripped your flies off a bottom snag only to find you were merely hung on a cased caddis. Our caddis build their houses with leaves and sticks and form a square based long pyramid. The larva inside is a bright green grub-like animal with black legs and head. These guys are usually found in the riffles and tail-outs from the Doe River down to Boone Lake. Usually they hatch the third week in April, but warmer weather will create an early emergence. They are pretty reliably out when the dogwoods start blooming in the mountains. The nymphs are large, size 10-14 and the adults are barely smaller. We get them swinging pupae and fishing dry dropper whenever the hatch isn’t actively bringing fish up. These bugs get so thick you could choke on them, and are the first decent sized insect of the year, so we find large trout feeding on adults.
This year conditions are shaping up to be perfect. Watauga Lake is pretty low, so we shouldn’t have high flows during the hatch. Last year we had low flows as well and the caddis were able to reproduce at levels not seen in almost a decade. The river bottom is full of caddis right now. Hitting the hatch is pretty hard to do, as it only lasts a couple of weeks, but the mid April timeframe is looking likely right now. We still have some openings mid April, so give us a call. 803-431-9437
Many non fly fishing spouses or family members want to purchase the perfect fly fishing gift for their trout crazed significant other, but lack the confidence in their own fly fishing knowledge to select the perfect gift. The one thing every angler can use is more time on the water and less time dealing with their own tangles. If you buy a half day or full day guided fly fishing gift certificate from us you don’t have to worry about what gear your angler already has. If they don’t have gear we can provide anything they need free. We can always show them a new technique, a new fishing location near Asheville, or simply make their day on the water easier by handling preparation and detangling for them. Just pick a fly fishing trip from either our wade trips page or our float trips page and you can pay by calling us 803-431-9437 or pay two %50 deposits online to be paid in full. We will then email you a gift certificate for the trip you want. As always if you have any questions please email or call and we will be happy to help you figure out which trip might be best. For an additional $20 we will mail you a hat with a printed gift certificate so you have something neat to wrap! All the gift recipient will have to do is call us to schedule their trip.
Mark White from ORVIS Greenville with a NC Rainbow
Why do wooly buggers work? There are several answers with two being the short over arching responses. The most obvious is that the wooly bugger imitates baitfish/stoneflies/hellgrammites/leeches, etcetera. The less obvious pertains more specifically to stocked fish. They eat the wooly bugger because they don’t k now what it is, and the only way they can investigate it is to bite it. Either way there is a time and place for wooly buggers and often when nothing else works I can put on a wooly bugger and light fish up. For those interested in the reasons they work so well Ill explain below.
The first reason the fish are so interested in buggers is that in any color they move through the water in the many ways baitfish do. You can’t fish them wrong. Dead drift, strip fast, strip long and slow, swing, dangle downstream, you cant fish them wrong as long as they are in the water. In addition to minnows when you dead drift them they look like all the insects mentioned above provided the size and color matches what the fish are seeing.
The second reason they work so well is that stocked fish fresh from the hatchery tanks have never seen something moving above them and through curiosity can’t stay away from a wooly bugger swinging overt their head. They have no hands right? So biting the fly is the only way to learn more about it. By the time they figure it out its too late. You got them. Once stocked fish have been in the river for a while they develop a form of PTSD and learned form of distrust of all things dead drifted. They get pounded by all flies and get to appoint where they have seen fewer things swung than dead drifted. Nothing swings better than a wooly bugger.
Im not saying the wooly bugger is the best fly by any means. If you fish it exclusively you will catch fish and some days you will catch the most. My point is I always have a few in olive, black, and white in my box and make sure to to try them at some point during the day. Especially as a day saver type fly when nothing else seems to work.
If you don’t have some order a couple in each color here. Tie them on with some 3x tippet and let them rip.
I had fished the FB in weeks past and knew what I had to do and where to hopefully find fish. I wasn’t on the water twenty minutes before I had my first carp and I was off and rolling…or so I thought.
6/26, 7/24, 7/31, 8/14
Each angler receives a ½ day guided float trip, plus a ½ day unguided wade fishing excursion accompanied by ORVIS Fishing Manger or Brown Trout representative. Lunch and Drinks included.
8:00 Meet on the Watauga River, location TBD
$150 per angler
Lodging, TN fishing license, fishing equipment(waders required), and transportation are not included. Call for lodging suggestions in close proximity to the Watauga. If you would like to stay in Asheville www.browntroutflyfishing.com has a full list of recommended places to stay. Travel from Asheville to the Watauga River takes 1 hour and 10 minutes. Payment must be made in full at the time of booking and is non-refundable. Call Brown Hobson at Brown Trout Fly Fishing to book your trip. 803-431-9437
Suggested Flies and Terminal Tackle are
Rainbow Warrior size 18-20
Flash Back Pheasant Tail size 16-20
Size 12 Girdle Bug
Zebra Midges 18-22
Size 14 Elk Hair Caddis
Size 16 Parachute Adams
Size 18 Tailwater Sow Bug
9′ 4x leader
4,5,6 x tippet
Yarn Strike Indicators or small thingamabobbers
Split Shot Assortment
Fly Floatant both gel and powder
boots – boots with studs can’t be worn in boats but are great in the river. Felt is fine both places. If yo have studs have soem kind of alternate footwear for the boat.
Our Partners at ORVIS Asheville area offering their FREE fly tying 101 program again every Saturday from January 16 – February 27 9am – 11am. Come to learn the tools, techniques and steps for tying a few patterns that are our favorite for catching North Carolina trout. Click the link below to visit their page and sign up online.
You can also call them 828-687-0301 for details.
Asheville, North Carolina has become a hot spot for Bachelor and Bachelorete Parties. Asheville has some of the best food in the South East, More Craft Breweries per capita than any city in the country, and impeccable access to the outdoors. You come for a long weekend getaway and want to cruise the South Slope Brewery District and hang out at Catawba Brewing Company in the afternoon and grub at Doc Chey’s Noodle House for dinner, but what are you going to do before lunch? Go Fishing. Brown Trout Fly Fishing hosts many bachelor and bachelorette groups every year and we have found it is a very fun activity for both serious anglers and never evers. All gear is included and you don’t need anything except a fishing license. Our guides will take your group to a river near Asheville and provide all the instruction your crew will need to enjoy fly fishing and catch trout. Call or email us for details. 803-431-9437 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Watauga River tailwater flows from Wilbur Reservoir near Siam TN to Boone Lake near Johnson City. The majority of the water that feeds the Watauga is held in Watauga Lake, but just below Watauga Dam is a second smaller lake called Wilbur. Make sure when you check TVA river flows you look at Wilbur Reservoir not Watauga. The river is approximately 17 miles long from Wilbur Dam to Boone Lake and flows through many different sections and townships. Travel time from Asheville, NC is approximately 1 hour
The Upper Section – runs from the Dam to Hunter Bridge. The first half of the river is mostly on private land and is very gorge like. Huge limestone cliffs dominate the sides of the river until the river gets down to Siam. From Siam to Hunter the river is mostly large shallow riffles with deep slow pools between them. The bug life up here is mostly midges, small mayflies, and scuds. Midges hatch year round and BWOs hatch most commonly from Oct-April. This section is the most likely to stay clear if we see big rains. The upper has the highest fish numbers on the whole river.
The Middle Section – runs from Hunter Bridge to the TWRA access at Blevins Rd. The first half of this stretch has many shallow riffles and smaller runs. Once you pass through Elizabethton the river narrows and gets deeper. There are many big ledges separating slow deep pools and even one small waterfall that must be navigated by boat operators. Bugs here are larger than the upper, but many midges are still found along with bwos, sulphurs, caddis, and craneflies. As you move through the middle fish numbers decrease slightly, but average size goes up.
The Trophy Section – runs from Blevins rd to Persinger Bridge in the town of Watauga, TN. This is the stretch of river that receives the most angling pressure, but it has the largest concentration of big fish. Special regulations forbid the use of bait or scented artificial and anglers can only keep two fish per day of at least 14” in length. This allows many more fish to grow to larger sizes. Insects here are midges, bwos, sulphurs, many different caddis, craneflies, and assorted other mayflies. There is no public wade access except at the beginning and end of this stretch.
The Lower Section – runs from Persinger Bridge into Boone Lake. The most popular take out is at the River Stone Campground and your shuttle driver can arrange for you to use that access. It does require an extra fee. This stretch has some of the coolest riffles on the river and several long flats that are great for picking off feeding fish on dries. Bugs here are the same as the trophy section.
The Watauga River flow changes dramatically due to releases from Wilbur Dam. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the TVA has a recreational flow schedule they follow. Basically Monday-Saturday there will be no water until noon or so and then they will generate power and release water for rafters. The TVA usually does not release water on Sundays during the summer. The rest of the year the TVA can generate power whenever they want. Check Wilbur Dam for projected releases and always be ready to get out quickly if an unplanned release occurs. The river is not really wadeable during a water release and you should plan to float it.
Tracy Haynes – 423-342-8145
- Waders- because the water is cold
- Felt Bottom Boots or Rubber with Studs the rocks are very slick (No Studs in Boats)
- Wading Staff
- 9’ and 10’ 4 and 5 weight rods
- 3x-6x tippet. Fluor when nymphing Mono for dries
- Zebra Midges of all sorts, sizes, and colors
- Pheasant tail nymphs
- San Juan Worms
- CDC comparadun baetis and Sulphur
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Beetles and Flying Ants
- Wooly Buggers
- Tiny Parachute Adams
Call Brown Trout Fly Fishing LLC to Book your Trip 803-431-9437
By Brown Hobson
NC Small Stream Trout Caught on a Squirmy Worm
The worm fly has led a strained existence. On one side of the spectrum exist dry fly purists won’t fish it and look down their noses at it. In the middle ground are anglers who will fish whatever flies imitate food the trout are currently feeding on at the time. And on the far side are fly anglers who have had great days fishing worms and can’t seem to start the day without one. I reside somewhere in the middle. The reason I fly fish for trout is primarily to solve the puzzle of what are the fish taking now. If trout are eating worms I will tie one on. If they are eating eggs I will fish one of those on too, but that is a different story. I fly fish primarily in the South East for trout and we have lots of rain. When rain falls the ground becomes saturated and worms crawl to the surface because the soil pores no longer have enough oxygen to sustain them. Once the worms emerge the unlucky victims close to water are carried away into the stream flow and trout now have a crazy protein rich food source to gorge on. I have always caught fish on worms during or after rains, but I had never seen a trout eat a natural for obvious reasons (my vision isn’t good enough to see worms under water). This September I was fly fishing Flat Creek in Wyoming with my father in law. It is usually dry fly heaven. The weather was cold and rainy so we couldn’t fish dry flies. We decided to fish streamers since our dries wouldn’t float. My last trout of the day was beautiful 18” cutthroat. As I was removing my streamer from his mouth he vomited enough worms to fill an 8 ounce cup. Point proved. This guy had eaten an entire days worth of food in a few hours. I am really surprised he still wanted to eat my streamer.
Rain is not the only time to fish the worm. It is the only time trout are seeing worms in the water column, but this summer on the Watauga River we had two months of super low clear water and little to no insect life. If there is nothing in the water for trout to eat during periods of high metabolic activity I have found they eat random big flies because they are hungry. This summer on a clear hot day when I saw no bug or fish activity I tied on a squirmy worm out of desperation and my modest expectations were shattered. Trout both wild and stocked commenced to chew through my worm collection with a vigor. For a month and a half I experienced a fantastic worm bite. I believe this happened because trout hadn’t seen them since the spring and in the absence of food they ate my flies with insane optimism.
Any of us whose fly fishing journey have known since our pond days that fish eat worms. I believe you should fish whatever way you want. I have no agenda, but to help people catch fish. If you want to fish dries exclusively, no problem. More fish will eat the worm for me. If you are interested in fishing any item on the trout’s list of food items, then throw some worms in your box. They will get eaten!