We specialize in guiding and teaching fly fishing for trout and smallmouth in Western North Carolina & East Tennessee.
Brown Trout Blog
Asheville Area Fly Fishing September 12 2019
Davidson River Fly Fishing Report
The Davidson river has been up and down the last couple weeks. We have had some really good days and some really tough days. Jeremy had a client catch one of the biggest browns we have caught on the NC side in a few months last week. The water levels are the lowest they have been all year but because of all the rain we have had in the last year the flows are right on track for the historical average, so not too bad. This morning was actually really good numbers wise. You never know which side of the Davidson river you are going to get this time of year. She can be a little bi polar. Terrestrials are still the best producers for us but fish are getting tired of the same old same old. We are looking forward to the temperature break next Wedneday. For now try to fish in the am only. Fish are pretty stressed with this 90 degree heat.
Watauga River and South Holston River Fly Fishing Report
The Watauga has been getting pretty good this week. The end of august was a little tough but things are changing. We are getting caddis, midges, and blue wings hatching early am. That has the fishing pre noon staying pretty strong. Afternoons are still slowing down but not completely. We are getting really good flows out of Wilbur dam and the TVA isn’t generating until 4 PM so we get low water all day up top.
The South Holston has been fishing well. Worms, Scuds, and mayflies have been best. Not much dry fly fishing to report but nymphing has been good. For whatever reason the fish haven’t been super spooky which is nice. Water has been low and that can make the fish hard to get close to. Not so lately. There is still some terrestrial fishing available.
Asheville Area Fly Fishing Report 8/13/19
Asheville Area Fishing Report 8/13/19
Fly Fishing Report for Asheville, Western North Carolina and East Tennessee
Davidson River Fly Fishing Report
The Davidson has fished ok this week. We’ve been catching fish this week both at the Davidson River Fish Hatchery and down between Avery creek and looking glass. We have also had some luck up Looking Glass Creek. Nymphing and Dry Dropper have been best. We have done some streamer fishing but it has only yielded limited success. Terrestrial Dry flies and Stimulators are still the best searching patterns for the dry dropper and pretty standard nymphs 14-18 have been the best droppers. On the mornings it rains we have pretty good hatches of craneflies, caddis, and some small baetis mayflies. That makes selecting a dropper a moving target but the fish haven’t been super fussy. All the fish we are catching are eating willingly, but you have to search for them. Its kind of weird. When you find one it will eat on the first or second cast often. Then you might go two holes before you see another fish. Then it will eat on the first cast.
Watauga River Fly Fishing Report
The Watauga has been fishing well. All of the water above the Doe river has been productive on low water. The high water fishing wasn’t great last week but is turning on. The first brooder dump has occurred so there are lots of big hatchery rainbows running around the upper end. Midges and baetis still dominate the drift, but were catching quite a few fish on terrestrial dry flies. The lower end of the Watauga is producing nice fish but is getting warm in the afternoon. The striper bite has been really good the last week or two. Lots of meat has been going in the cooler and many trout lives have been saved. Keep up the good fight killing the stripers.
Asheville area Fly Fishing Report July 22 2019
The Davidson river has been fishing really well the last week. Flows are outstanding and are holding at about 100cfs. That is a great summer flow. There is a big rain predicted this evening but who knows how widespread it might or might not be. That may affect river flows for a day or two, but assuming it doesn’t terrestrials are game on right now. Beetles, Ants, Crickets, and inchworms are everywhere. There are also plenty of mayfly nymphs drifting around right now. Some of our favorite patterns this week have been green mops, chubby chernobyls, frenchies, black beetles, and of course little midges for up around the hatchery. Worst case scenario I think this rain may put us in high water mode for a few days then summer fishing will resume. If water gets high break out your streamers and bang the banks.
The Watauga fished really well last week. The upper was really good. It is getting pretty crowded because of the low flows on the soho and the muddy water mid week from the doe, but it handled it well. The lower river is still really good early and is producing some really nice fish. Afternoons can be slow down there but the lower half of the river is all about grinding out a dozen or so really nice fish not numbers. On the upper midges and baetis still dominate the food chain. Small black and olive midges fished behind an attractor have been good deep. Dry dropper with assorted midges and frenchies has been good too. The beetle fishing has been strong in the slower spots. We will have to keep an eye on how much water comes into Watauga Lake during the next few days. WE may see more high water if the lake jumps.
Asheville Area Fly Fishing Report July 15 2019
Asheville Area Fly Fishing Report for Western North Carolina July 15 2019
The rain has been falling at just the right pace the last few weeks. We find fly fishing the day after a summer rain to be great and that’s what we’ve been seeing. Fresh water adds oxygen and drops water temps. Fish have been active both at the hatchery and down on the catch and release section. No great hatches to speak of lately. We have been getting fish on terrestrials and really small stuff. As usual midges are all over the hatchery section. The really small stuff has been producing well up there. Fish early in the day to avoid warm water and tubers. After 12:00 things start to get a little crazy out there. Catch your fish, buy some Dolly’s ice cream and head home.
The Watauga has been pretty good this week. The upper end has been good in the mornings and afternoons. Probably best in am. Down low has definitely been best in the mornings. Afternoons last week were really hot. We got a nice 300cfs bump in flows a couple days ago but the river is back down. Bring your 6x it is really clear. We have been seeing baetis and midges hatching. Terrestrials are definitely on the menu as well. Expect the water to come up between 3 and 5 depending on how low down you go.
Asheville Area Fly Fishing Report June 19 2019
Pisgah National Forest Stream Report
The Davidson has fished ok this week. Water has been pretty flashy with the big rains we’ve had. The flow is above 300cfs right now and is continuing to fall. It is definitely fishable but not easy wading. Lots of trout have moved to the edge water, and are in perfect lies for dry dropper rigs. The big deep holes can also be fished deep and heavy. We are starting to see some big stones like 8s and 10s goldens and chocolates. BWO’s early in the day and some cahills in the afternoons. As the water drops the fish should turn back onto the dry flies early in the day. Our weather has some chance of afternoon rain in the forecast but we don’t see any big storms on the horizon. We expect the water to fall on all the Pisgah National Forest streams but may have some small bumps here and there.
The Brook Trout streams should be great the next few days as the water falls out. Yellow and Royal colored dry flies should be steady producers. As always you can drop a nymph off them if you aren’t picking up fish. That just makes the tight casting a little more difficult.
Tennessee Tailwater Report
The Sulphur Hatch on the South Holston has not been as strong on 1100CFS as it was on 2200. The dry fly fishing is still decent in the afternoons but not at level 10,000 like it was last week. The nice thing about 1100 cfs is the lower SOHO is a great option as well as the top. That is a great flow to pick apart riffle runs on the lower half. Dry Dropper is a great searching method. There are enough bugs moving to keep fish suspended.
The Watauga is still running high but only during the day. Today the TVA is running water from 8am until tomorrow and maybe indefinitely. It was off last night but we don’t know why or if It will happen again. Water flows above 2,000 cfs are forecasted for the next few days. That should produce solid nymphing and dry dropper fishing. The dry fly fishing hasn’t been great on those flows. Streamers have been pretty good on cloudy days.
Types of Trout We catch on our Fly Fishing Trips: Both around Asheville and East Tennessee
Western North Carolina and the tailwaters of East Tennessee have three main species of trout and a fourth kicker trout that is more of a unicorn. Within the three species there are several subspecies and I’ll describe them below and separate them geographically.
Asheville/Western North Carolina Trout Species
We have all three species of trout in our mountain streams around Asheville: Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout. The brook trout is our only native trout and they are found primarily at the very tops of the watersheds we fish. They are of the Southern Appalachian strain and there is a great video about their restoration linked here Those native fish are wild as well and are stream born and self-sustaining at this point. We also have wild rainbow and brown trout at lower elevations. They are also stream born now but were stocked here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. There is a great book about the history of rainbow trout stocking An Entirely Synthetic Fish, linked here. Those wild rainbow and brown trout live at elevations slightly lower than the brook trout. The wild populations don’t exist well together. The brown trout and rainbow trout are too aggressive to co exist with the brook trout. You can catch all three species in a day, but you have to catch the rainbows and browns and then hike up a few miles to find your brook. It’s a pretty cool time.
We also have stocked trout populations of all three trout around Asheville too. The most popular streams to find them are the Delayed Harvest Streams we often guide on during the fall, winter and spring. These three stocked populations are stocked in sizes ranging from 6 inches to 20 inches. Most fish fall in the 8-12 inch range. These fish are raised in the Bobby Setzer Hatchery on the Davidson River. They are sterile fish and can’t reproduce. That protects both our native and wild trout genetics from dilution from hatchery fish genes.
Tennessee Tailwater Trout Species: Watauga and South Holston Rivers
There are currently no brook trout in either the Watauga and South Holston. They are too far down the river system to have the native brook trout and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency hasn’t stocked them in over a decade. There are lots of wild brown trout and that is what these rivers are known for. There are also many rainbow trout both stocked and wild. All the wild trout spawn in the main channel and a few of the tributaries of the Watauga. The rainbow trout stocked in both rivers come from the Dale Hollow federal trout hatchery and the Erwin federal hatchery. The stockers are primarily 6-12 inches when stocked. The TWRA does stock fingerlings occasionally. The Erwin hatchery also stocks their brood trout from August to January as they finish their egg harvests. Those fish are usually 16-22 inches long. There area FEW Lake Trout(Salvelinus namaycush) in both rivers, mostly right below the dams. The fish live in the lakes above the tailwaters and a few scoot through and over the dams and live to tell the tale. I have had clients catch two lake trout in 10 years so that tells you how few there are in the rivers. I have personally caught many lake trout while fishing the reservoirs so they are there.
Asheville Area Fly Fishing Report June 10 2019
Asheville, North Carolina Fly Fishing Report June 10 2019
By Brown Trout Fly Fishing
Davidson River/ other “Sky Island” Streams
We got a lot of rain this weekend in most drainages. Fortunately, Asheville didn’t get nearly the rain our friends to the North received. The Davidson River is a little high today but should be great tomorrow. Today would be a good day to throw streamers out there if you are a good wader. The North/West side of the Blue Ridge didn’t get nearly as much rain and is already fishable today. The pigeon system looks nice. We actually needed some rain to boost flows. The next few days should be really nice. On the Davidson Inchworms and Green Moth Larvae, Yellow Sallies, and caddis still dominate the bug life. There are some drakes around and terrestrials are becoming a good bet as well. Our fly of the week is the yellow stimulator size 12-14. It’s a great fly this time of year. As with last week don’t overlook the shallow edge water. Deep holes are good with weight but many fish slide to the side when flows come up.
Watauga River/South Holston River Report
All rain that fell on the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains is washing into the Watauga and South Holston lakes. The TVA has cranked the dams open today and will increase flows to around 3,000 tomorrow. That kills the wading opportunities but floating should be still productive especially after a couple days. The fish need a day or two to adjust to the flows. We don’t know what this will do to the Sulphur hatches that have been occurring on both rivers, but nymphing and dry dropper should stay really productive. The streamer bite should pick up with the high water. This time of year fish really key in on bugs but high water makes it much easier to get a fish to “slip up” and eat a streamer pattern. Could be a fun time for that even though its out of season. Cloudy days are usually better for that but you really never know when that fish of a lifetime will get angry and make a mistake. Flows are going to be high for a while.
Asheville, North Carolina and Watauga/South Holston Fishing Report June 7 2019
Asheville Fishing Report June 7 2019
After three weeks of no rain we are getting some this weekend. Probably a lot. The fishing has been pretty good during the low water. This was the first time the water has been low enough for the fish to see anglers in months so they were a little spooky in spots. June 1 was “Bloody Saturday”. All our delayed harvest rivers switched to hatchery supported regulations and are now catch and kill 7 fish any size no bait restrictions. We have switched to the Davidson river and have been doing pretty well there. Mixing our trips with a little campground action, some time in the catch and release section, and a little hatchery time too. You’ve got to be flexible on the Davidson as you never know how the fish will respond in each area. There are inchworms around, but the fish haven’t been super responsive yet. We are getting fish on yellow sally dries, and various droppers under them. Some of our delayed harvest streams are getting stocked post the mass killing on opening day. We will transition some trips to those as the state gets more fish in them. We are also moving out into the headwaters and chasing some of our native brook trout. Fun time of year in NC but definitely one of transition. This rain will give all our NC streams a good boost of water and we expect next week to be pretty great. Well check in after the rain finishes falling. We will probably see some streams push to flood stage for a day or two.
Watauga/South Holston Fishing Report June 7 2019
Flows have been great on the Watauga and South Holston lately. The Watauga has been running on its usually summer recreation schedule. Water is low until 12PM or 1PM and then high until roughly 6PM. Both high water and low water have been good. There are still some sporadic Sulphur hatches down low below Elizabethton, but the sulphurs are still strong in the afternoons between stony creek and the Hwy 400 bridge. The Doe river has been low until the recent rain so fish have been a little spooky. Id say the next few days we get post rain will be epic. The fish usually feed without reservation during the fall after a big storm. Stained water keeps them from being spooky and bugs hatch well during water level drops. Well check in next week with that intel.
The South Holston has been fishing well. Tricky but producing nice fish. It hasn’t been super beginner friendly on the low flows but long casts and good drifts get rewarded. The TVA cranked the dam up to 1400 today. Id say a day or two of that will have fish crazy fired up. Sulphurs are on the upper half of the river now. They should respond well to the 1400cfs flow. We don’t know how long they will run that flow but I’d say the next handful of days. This weekend will be wet but river conditions are looking good for a rain event. Well check in Monday or Tuesday with a fishing forecast.
Winter Fishing Tips from Russ Miller
We are starting to transition from winter fishing to spring fishing, but with snow in the forecast we have a few more cold fishing days left. Hopefully Western North Carolina fly anglers will find this helpful next year also. Asheville and Pisgah National Forest can be very similar to the Rocky Mountain west during the cold months. You can expect to find big fish in slower water and a lot fewer people. If you want quality trout of quantity winter is a great season to fly fish. Just bring warm layers and a thermos of coffee. Fish deep and slow. Looks like Russ has a worm tied on. Be sure to fish worms, eggs, mops, big hares ears and stones.
Save The Brook Trout in the Smokies Video
Freshwaters Illustrated and The Little Tennessee Native Fish Conservation Area put together this great video about The park services work on Brook Trout Restoration. Great Read about one of our favorite species. The Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. We are blessed to have tons of the fish around the Asheville area in most all of the Pisgah National Forest Streams.