Punxsutawney Phil said Spring would be here early. Of course we all hope he is correct and the weather patterns seem to indicate the groundhogs accuracy. Spring fly fishing in the Great Smokies is incredibly dynamic. No trout fishery is quite the same this time of the year. Below are a few tips to ensure a great trip to the Southern Highlands.
Make sure you understand the weather. Many times the new weather apps for smart phones will indicate snow in the forecast as a strong low pressure moves through the region. Often the valley’s will see snow showers all day but the snow never lays. With that said the very next day the high temperature may reach the 60s to low 70s. Spring is a wether roller coster so be prepared for everything mother nature has to throw at us. Layered clothing is best.
Above 3,000 feet the water is still cold. The tailraces such as the Tuckaseegee will be fishing great. Elevation 1,700 - 2,000 feet. Those day time temps heating the water up get the fish very active, not to mention the stockings that take place between Bryson City and the Jackson County sections. But the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is another story. Low elevation creeks such as Nolan, Deep Creek, Bradleys Fork and Straight Fork will see hatches kicking off all day. However the upper elevation creeks such as Lynn Camp Prong, Kephart Prong, Upper Oconoluftee, Upper Deep Creek or anything above 3,000 feet will not be as productive until later warm March days or April into May.
Expect the Crowds. We have all been in those situations where “this guy walks right up beside me and starts fishing MY hole” or “This fella just walked right through my hole” or “He caught my fish” and the inevitable “That drift boat just floated right though where I was fishing”. Delayed Harvest fishing is very fun, and many anglers know about it therefore it will be crowded. Keep in mind the river is public and no single person can posses a “spot” or “hole”. Everyone is there for the same reason you are. Have fun with it! If you are not catching anything but the guy 20 yards away is...you need to humble yourself and start talking to the person about what they are doing right. And if you are the person netting fish after fish...don’t be prideful. Help grow the sport and produce more informed and educated anglers.
Pick a Skill to Improve on. Delayed Harvest is a great time to focus your skills to improve on certain tactics. The competitive side of the sport has certainly grown interest in European Style Nymphing and the newest book from George Daniel “Stripset” gives fly fishers a few things to work on. Western North Carolina trout streams serve those tactics well. At least you can try some things that may be new and have some fun netting fish while you grow.
Have Fun! The most important advice I could give you is a “no-brainer”. Just have fun! Give us a call or swing by the shop and we will do our best to help make sure that happens.
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