The upper section, from SR 1219 to the NC 226 bridge, falls under the North Carolina's hatchery supported program, with the lower section from the NC 226 bridge to the NC 80 bridge being classified a delayed-harvest section. Both sections are currently open and have a 7-fish creel limit with no size restrictions.
Dickie Buchanan of Bandana said he prefers the upper section right now, even though the lower part offers much easier access, with a parking place in the middle of Bakersville right on the stream's banks. This, Buchanan reasons, means far more fishing pressure on the lower section fish. He also said the inaccessibility of the upper section gives those fish a better chance to grow bigger.
"Most folks don't even fish the upper section because there are very few cleared spots along these banks," he said. "They just wait a little longer for the lower section's season to open. That gives these upper section trout some peace and quiet and time to grow."
While most of the trout here aren't exactly trophies - the average size is 12 to 14 inches - Buchanan said 18-inch fish are not at all uncommon, and he catches his share of trout over 20 inches. While many anglers fish from shore with spinners and live worms, Buchanan takes a different approach that allows him to see things differently.
"I wade right down the middle of the stream," said Buchanan, "and look under the banks. You'll see maybe eight or 10 trout in a line facing upstream. I'll load a panfish hook with a hunk of red wiggler and pitch it to the lead trout. I try not to use more than one BB weight, but sometimes you have to depending on the current. The lead trout -he'll go for the worm. If he gets it, he's mine. If he misses it, he'll move to the back of the line. Then there's another lead trout. It's really an amazing thing to see. Usually, three of these fish at the most will bite. They all get lockjaw pretty quick, and then I'll wade downstream, looking for the next group of trout."
Buchanan said nothing is more important when fishing this way than eyesight. Quality polarized sun glasses help a lot, but anglers also need to take the time to really look closely. Buchanan said the ripples in the water make it easy to miss seeing nice fish. "Sometimes I'll see one group, look away for a second, then it'll take me two or three minutes to find them again," he said.This type of sight fishing for trout won't impress many fly-fishermen, but it'll put big fish in your creel and a nice sizzle in your frying pan.