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FLY FISHING IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 24, 2012

BRYCE ON OUR CHANGING WORLD

– Beware of hatchery fed trout.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have been fortunate over the years to fish in a variety of locations throughout the country. You may remember me discussing my passion in “Fly Fishing at St. Timothy’s.” The last few years though I have primarily been concentrating on the streams in the picturesque mountains of western North Carolina or as it is better known down south as the “Florida Riviera.” While northern tourists come to Florida during the winter, Floridians tend to gravitate to the Carolinas and Tennessee for their getaways.

Unlike Florida which is an extremely flat state, North Carolinians build their homes in mountainous terrain that only a billy goat can navigate. Instead of placing their houses on level terra firma, the locals have a propensity for building them in the most awkward places possible. Driveways have steep inclines with twists and turns that would probably stump Harry Houdini. Despite this, during the summer months the foliage is in full bloom, a variety of butterflies start their mating ritual, soft breezes blow through wooden front porches, and the melodic sound of nearby mountain streams can be heard just about everywhere.

The streams themselves are shaded with cool, clear mountain water providing refuge for our adversary, the rainbow trout. In a way, they remind me of the streams in Connecticut where I grew up and would swim, fish, and make rock dams in the streams. The water was crystal clear and the cool waters felt delicious on a hot day. The rocks in the stream can be treacherous, so you are always mindful of wearing appropriate boots or water shoes to avoid slipping. In my case, I have some old mountain boots I like to wear with wool socks to keep me warm. They have served me well over the past twenty years, but this time I found they tended to weigh me down as I trudged in and out of streams. Frankly, I felt like I was wearing ten pound wingtips. I think it’s finally time to trade up to something lighter and more comfortable.

Some fly fishermen consider the sport an art form. As for me, I am there to fish, not to paint. True, I love to be out in the wild with my rod and reel, a good cigar, and no phones, but I tend to be more pragmatic about it. Fly fishing requires you to become a traveling salesman. If the customer doesn’t like your product, you have to either keep moving along and knock on another door or change the product on display. In less than sixty seconds I can determine if the fishing spot holds any potential. If it doesn’t, I move along or change my fly. Others can take what seems like an eternity to make up their mind; they may be persistent but rarely are they rewarded.

Although I have had success in the mountains in the past, on a recent visit I came up empty. So much so, I started to believe the North Carolina fish hatcheries had somehow trained the fish to ignore flies and, in a way, I was right. My friends and I heard the state hatcheries department had released some trout upstream from us and we eventually stumbled upon a half dozen of them in the clear waters. We then set about catching them as quietly as possible. One by one, we gently floated our flies just a few inches above their heads. They evidently were not impressed and ignored our advances. We then tried a variety of different flies, but to no avail. Becoming desperate, we started to try other methods to catch them, including spinners, plugs, a hook and worm, even a piece of beef jerky. Time and again, the result was the same: Nada. I would have even tried a small piece of Spam had it been available but I am certain it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, they just let it pass indifferently under their noses.

Later that evening, we came upon a native whom we explained our dilemma to. He was not surprised by our failure and even seemed to relish in our frustration. He then went on to explain how the state feeds the hatchlings which consisted of small pellets containing a tiny white grub or worm that emerges upon hitting the water. Frankly, we didn’t stand a chance. It was like stalking our prey with filet mignon when they had been weaned on Captain Crunch. Fortunately, we changed tactics and moved elsewhere, but it took us awhile to improve our disposition.

For three days, I clomped around the streams of western North Carolina, wearing clunky footwear and a fishing vest loaded with enough gear to equip a small RV. I am my own worst enemy in this regard. Between the slippery rocks in the stream, heavy equipment, and a growing case of arthritis, I discovered I was no longer as spry as I once was. Now and then, I would just stop and enjoy the calming and therapeutic effect of the cool waters which refreshed me. It was only on the last day of my trip did I shed myself of the gear, the ancient boots, and began to enjoy fishing again. “Simplify” was my mantra for the day which produced beneficial results. Instead of worrying about hatchery-fed fish, I concentrated on the basics. Like Willy Loman, I just knocked on a lot of doors and kept moving along enjoying the great outdoors.

North Carolina is a wonderful place to fish, you just have to be a little smarter than your adversary.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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PROVOCATION & THE OWS TAMPA – Tampa welcomes Occupy Wall Street to the RNC.


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12 Responses to “FLY FISHING IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An O.B. of Macon, Georgia wrote…

    “On one of your trips north, try Cooper Creek State Park in Georgia. Just north of Dalonega on route 60, you will find the same mountain streams and solitude. Although having only one leg, I do not get out in the streams anymore. But when I did, that was grand place to catch you limit every day. I enjoyed the fellowship around the campfire in the evening almost as much as did the fishing. Today friends tell me nothing much has changed.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    A T.L. of Oak Ridge, North Carolina wrote…

    “Great article Tim. It’s easy to tell you that you’ve captured the essence of mountain fly-fishing. And you, as with all us fisherman, probably realize that the word “skunk” is not only a noun. The last couple years I’ve taken my passion even farther. More times than not, I have been hiking into more remote streams in search of 6-inch brookies and wild ‘bows. I’ve come full-circle: from fishing, to catching fish, to catching lots of fish, to catching BIG fish, to just fishing.

    Hope all is well with you and yours down in Palm Harbor. Keep up the good writing – I enjoy reading your stuff. And try felt soled wading boots if you haven’t already. (I’m thinking you have). Mountain goat-like footing in slick streams!”

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    An S.G. of Emmett, Idaho wrote…

    “Great story…I love North Carolina as I lived there before moving to Ohio. Fly fishing is still on my bucket list!”

    Like

  4. Tim Bryce said

    A P.M. of Palm Harbor, Florida wrote…

    “We are currently in Western North Carolina (Maggie Valley) with highs in the mid to upper 70’s and lows in the upper 50’s. This is heaven on earth!!! I really enjoyed reading this article pertaining to the hatchlings being fed. In our neighborhood, here in Maggie, the locals have told my husband and I that there is a “picnic bear” that has been lurking around feeding on bird feeder seed and whatever else a neighbor may have left outside for the purpose of feeding our” wild turkeys”.. I wish these people would stop feeding wildlife. The bears love corn husks as well as do the turkeys!! Duh!!! Anyway, I usually hike this mountain daily where we have a house, but am now cautious, very much so, since this bear has zero fear of man!! I say we leave nature and its wild creatures alone and preserve the healthy fear of man that this bear once knew.On a lighter note, I love this place… All is sublime..”

    Like

  5. Tim Bryce said

    A K.E. of Sacramento, California wrote…

    “I haven’t gone fishing in so long! Great write!”

    Like

  6. Tim Bryce said

    An M.S. of Ohio wrote…

    “I love to fish. I haven’t gone in years. But have been with a few friends that I watched fish.”

    Like

  7. Tim Bryce said

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “I don’t fish, but this sounds so relaxing and peaceful. Feeding those hatchlings sounds like a case of upsetting the balance of nature…not to mention the fishermen!”

    Like

  8. Tim Bryce said

    A C.A. of Louisiana wrote…

    “Fishing is good for the soul. Great post, thanks for sharing.”

    Like

  9. Davic Catton said

    I live in Murphy, can’t get much farther western NC then that. Stocked streams can be a bit pains taking. If you get the chance try the lower end of the Nottely. Natives live there and still live of the nature foods.

    Like

  10. Tim Bryce said

    An R.R. of Denver, Colorado wrote…

    ” I think we all carry too much stuff (equipment) when we fish and hardly use any of it. Age is doing all of us in. Thanks for a great article. “

    Like

  11. Tim Bryce said

    A K.W. of Bryson City, North Carolina wrote…

    “Thanks so much for sharing this, Tim, and I hope you had a great time while here in the mountains!”

    Like

  12. shipjim said

    I just went thru all this in Southern Colorado. Limited success, wading in sandals with a virtually usless net but seeing some of the most beautiful country to fish in ever on the Conejos river.
    I did see fish, in some guy’s ice chest, they were 21″ but alas his.

    Like

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