Head for the Mountains


Public campgrounds can put you within walking distance of some of North Carolina’s best trout waters. Home away from home
561 Views - Posted: June 11 at 9:00 am

Throughout the mountains, public campgrounds are found in national parks, national forests and state parks, many of them located on trout streams or lakes. With very few exceptions, they’re well-maintained, clean, convenient and accessible. Standard amenities include flush toilets, freshwater outlets, pads for tents, picnic tables, fire rings — some with grills — and posts to hang lanterns. Some of the larger campgrounds even have hot-water showers. You can camp in a tent, a camper or an RV. Larger campgrounds have hook-ups for water and electricity.

Mike Kesselring fishes Rough Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A fly in the ointment
256 Views - Posted: May 11 at 9:00 am

Mike Kesselring of Bryson City has, by his count, 7,500 trout flies, a collection that includes dry flies, wet flies, nymphs, streamers and terrestrials that he has accumulated over 25 years, and, he said, “The only flies I’ve ever tied were at the end of a tippet.”

Trout are raised in hatcheries and stocked in hopes that they’ll wind up on an angler’s dinner table. April is new beginning
278 Views - Posted: April 13 at 9:00 am

I’m old enough to remember when the trout season on hatchery-supported streams closed in the fall and remained closed until the first Saturday in April. That was before I began fishing wild trout streams, so opening day was a special event. A group of us, mostly newspaper types, would open the fishing season on Santeetlah Creek in Graham County, staying in a 100-year-old, mice-infested cabin on upper Santeetlah. We would arrive late Friday afternoon and spend the evening drinking vintage bourbon, playing nickel-dime poker and telling fish stories.

This beautiful brown trout was caught in Hazel Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has more than 1,000 miles of trout streams. A trout angler’s paradise
515 Views - Posted: March 12 at 9:00 am

It is possible to fish a different trout stream every day for a year and cover only a fraction of the streams in western North Carolina. Trout country runs from Surry County in the northwest to Cherokee County in the far west and includes three distinct fisheries: streams regulated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, streams regulated by the U.S. Park Service and streams regulated by the eastern band of Cherokee Indians.

The author supervises his granddaughter on a trip to the Tuckasegee River upstream from the delayed-harvest section. Don’t miss the other Tuck
694 Views - Posted: February 12 at 9:00 am

On just about any day, fair weather or not, the delayed-harvest section of the Tuckasegee River in Jackson County is crowded with trout fishers, either wading or floating the stream. This 4.5-mile stretch of water is the queen of delayed-harvest waters. In the spring, in March to April and again in October and November, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stocks 49,000 rainbow, brook and brown trout.  Fishing guides love this section because they can almost guarantee that their clients will catch trout — a lot of trout.  

Tying flies to replace ones you’ve lost or simply adding new patterns is a great task for too-cold-to-fish days. Don’t waste the winter
699 Views - Posted: January 12 at 9:00 am

January and February usually are the harshest months, with cold, ice and snow, but the sun shines frequently enough, even in the dead of winter, to provide pleasant fishing respites from the cold. On those gloomy days when you can’t go fishing, take a little time to prepare for the times when you can. Being prepared often can make the difference in an enjoyable fishing outing or a frustrating one.

Drifting a nymph through deep holes is an accepted way to catch sluggish trout hanging along the bottom. Slow down and go deep
644 Views - Posted: December 11, 2014 at 9:00 am

Spring is undoubtedly the ideal trout-fishing season, but trout fishing in the winter also has its merits. What most winter anglers discover is that they catch fewer, but larger, fish. The keys to successful winter fishing are to use a slow hand and fish with more nymphs and fewer dry flies. 

Brook and brown trout are fall spawners, especially in smaller streams. It’s prime time for trout
685 Views - Posted: November 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

November can be a tough time for fly-fishing with all the new leaf fall in the streams. Consider snagged leaves on retrieves as a normal, if not annoying, part of the normal fishing day. Plus, November’s weather can be erratic — warm and sunny one day, cold and rainy the next.

Big trout like this brown will often hit a spinner when nothing else works. Put a new spin on trout
797 Views - Posted: October 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

Spinner fishing is an effective alternative to fly fishing when trout aren’t rising to a dry-fly pattern or hitting nymphs. A spinner often will elicit a strike even when trout aren’t hitting live bait.

It doesn’t take a nice brown trout for a fisherman to call a fishing trip a success. A matter of perspective
656 Views - Posted: September 11, 2014 at 9:00 am

We follow the stream where we can, fishing deep pools and smooth runs in water so clear we can see every detail of the streambed. Brightly colored leaves swirl in the eddies and gather in thick carpet like clumps in the deepest sections of water. On almost every cast, the lure snags a leaf or two, and when the current grabs the leaf and tugs, it feels, for a brief moment, like a hooked trout.

Night crawlers and other large worms are great live baits for mountain trout in streams where live bait is legal. Live-bait options abound
1198 Views - Posted: August 12, 2014 at 9:00 am

I grew up fishing with live bait, catching trout in the upper reaches of  Paddy Creek in western Burke County and bream in the large pools in the lower sections, using fat red worms collected from cow patties in the pastures near my home.

Popular terrestrials, left to right: San Juan Worm, Black Ant, Japanese Beetle, Inchworm, Letort Cricket,, Chernobyl Ant, Ladybug, Joe’s Hopper and Jack Cabe Hopper. Summer: terrestrial time
1115 Views - Posted: July 14, 2014 at 9:00 am

In the summer, when insect hatches are sparse, trout depend more on what falls into the water than what hatches in it. Terrestrials, or land-based insects, make up the bulk of a trout’s diet from early summer until first frost. Terrestrials include various beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, worms, bees, ants, cicadas, fireflies, damselflies, crane flies and just about any other insect that flies crawls or hops. If it’s an insect that a trout will eat, fly shops will have dozens of different patterns that imitate them, both floating and sinking versions.