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    Bigger streams or lake tributaries are great places to find larger brown trout in winter.

    Go to nymphs in winter

    Although spring is undoubtedly the ideal season to fish for mountain trout, winter fishing also has its merits. What most discover is that they catch fewer, but larger, fish. The downside of winter fishing, particularly during the bitter cold of January and February, is that the fishing can test an angler’s mettle and patience.

    December 19, 2016 at 9:00am
    Productive fly patterns for late fall and early winter include (top, left to right) bead-head Prince, bead-head Pheastant Tail, bead-head Hare’s Ear,   (bottom, left to right): brown Caddis, parachute Adams, parachute Blue-Winged Olive.

    Cool weather is welcome

    After a record dry and hot summer, fall has arrived in the mountains, bringing cooler weather and, hopefully, improved trout-fishing conditions.

    November 19, 2016 at 9:00am
    Ronnie Setzer is a self-taught fly-tier, but he recommends anglers who want to learn the craft start by taking a course or two.

    How to tie your own trout flies

    Seeing a trout rise to a fly is always a thrill, no matter how often you fish. Having a trout rise to a fly you’ve tied yourself is a greater thrill.

    Tying flies is an art, a craft and a science, the concocting of feathers, fur, thread, yarn and other material to produce a fly that looks enough like an insect to make a trout think it’s the real thing.

    October 19, 2016 at 9:00am
    Flowing for 52 miles through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, the Chattooga is one of the nation’s Top 100 trout streams.

    The Chattooga beckons

    One of the five largest and longest free-flowing rivers in the Southeast, the Chattooga begins its 52-mile journey below Whiteside Mountain in Jackson County near Cashiers, N.C., flowing south and entering the Nantahala National forest below Cashiers Lake. After leaving North Carolina, the river forms the border between South Carolina and Georgia, flanked by the Sumter National Forest in South Carolina and the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, offering a variety of trout fishing experiences before entering Lake Tugalo in northeastern Georgia.

    Designated as a National Wild and Scenic River in 1974 and rated as one of the top 100 trout streams in the nation by Trout Unlimited, the Chattooga is regulated as wild trout waters, delayed-harvest waters and general waters, according to the section being fished.

    September 19, 2016 at 9:00am
    Low water conditions have plagued fishermen on the Tuckasegee River most of the summer.

    Hot + dry = tough fishing

    A successful trout-fishing outing during hot and dry summer conditions depends on three factors: when you fish, where you fish and how you fish.

    August 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    Fried, baked or grilled, trout are easy to prepare and easy to cook.

    Make a meal of trout

    To keep or not to keep a trout is sometimes a question and sometimes a dilemma.

     Conservation-based groups such as Trout Unlimited are militant in their approach to trout fishing: release, never keep. As a long-time member of Trout Unlimited, I appreciate its diligence in preserving trout and untiring work to improve trout habitat. I just don’t embrace the strict catch-and-release policy.

    July 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    The upper section of the Oconaluftee River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers some beautiful scenery.

    From stem to stern - Three days, three distinct Oconaluftee fisheries

    The Oconaluftee River is widely considered one of the top trout streams in North Carolina’s mountains, offering a mix of wild rainbow trout and a smaller population of brown trout in its upper reaches and large stocked trout in the lower section. It is also a rarity in that is has three distinct fisheries.

    June 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    Trout stocked in Cherokee Reservation Enterprise Waters are raised on the reservation.

    Sample Cherokee waters for trout fishing

    Cherokee Reservation Enterprise Waters are well known as some of the best catch-and-keep trout fisheries in North Carolina’s mountains, offering generous creel limits and heavily stocked streams. 

    May 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    Didymo, aka rock snot, is a destructive, invasive algae that has showed up in several trout streams in western North Carolina.

    Beware of rock snot - Unwanted algae shows up in WNC streams

    Something nasty this way comes — to paraphrase novelist Ray Bradbury — an alga called “rock snot” that creates carpet-like mats on stream bottoms, smothering aquatic organisms that trout and other fish depend on for sustenance.

    April 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    Spring is a great time to catch a trout dinner in North Carolina’s mountain  streams.

    Spring trout are hard to beat

    Beginning around the middle of March and continuing through May, brown, rainbow, and brook trout become active and hungry, and mountain anglers enjoy some of the best trout fishing of the year.

    March 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    Kephart Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a challenge for any fly fisher when the water is at full stage.

    A fisher’s primer on flies

    Fishers have been fooling trout into taking artificial flies since the days of ancient Macedonia — and probably much longer — and that practice has changed very little in the intervening years.

    February 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    A trout fisherman casts a fly on the delayed-harvest section of the Tuckaseegee River in Jackson County.

    Don’t you dare delay - Delayed-harvest is a winter angler’s dream

    If you want to catch good numbers of trout in the winter, head for a delayed-harvest stream. These streams are heavily stocked in October and November, and fishing remains good throughout the cold months. Streams are stocked again for the spring season beginning in March, and some stockings continue through early summer.

    January 12, 2016 at 9:00am
    Big brown trout are common on Deep Creek, and there’s little fishing pressure in fall and winter.

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park's best streams for fishing

    If you like getting away from the crowds, enjoy beautiful surroundings and don’t mind working for your trout, consider heading for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on your next trip to the western end of the state. The park has some great streams, and the best ones are on the North Carolina side.

    December 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    In the winter, concentrate on drifting nymphs through the deeper, slower parts of a pool.

    Fish with slower presentation during cold spells

    In the winter, when steams are icy cold and hatches are fewer, trout feed more below the surface than above. The action may be slower and less exciting than dry-fly fishing, but the quality of the fish usually is just as good. Fish have to eat regardless of the weather or stream conditions.

    November 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    Tributary creeks are good spots to look for spawning brown and brook trout in the fall.

    If it’s brown, it’s down

    In early October, fall arrives in the mountains with the first dull-red coloring of sourwood, dogwood, and sumac leaves. By the middle of the month, the mountains are ablaze with color, and according to forecasts, this fall promises to be a spectacular color season. 

    October 12, 2015 at 9:00am
    Dropper flies can be dynamite on heavily pressured trout waters.

    Drop a dropper on trout

    Droppers give fly fishers the advantage of fishing a dry fly and a nymph at the same time, an especially effective measure when it’s not obvious how trout are feeding. The dry fly floats on the surface, and the nymph dangles in the water beneath it. The dry fly also functions as a strike indicator and makes less of a splash than commercial or homemade strike indicators. 

    September 14, 2015 at 9:00am