Summer Fly Fishing Tips

It’s hot. It’s humid. Spring has passed. Summer is here in full force as July bleeds into August. For the mountain angler, this time of year can be a challenge.

Fly-fishing options, abundant in April, May and early June, are limited. However, this doesn’t mean you have to stay home until cooler temperatures descend upon Western North Carolina.

Below are a handful of tips to help beat the heat with the long rod.

Fish Early or Late

Any fly fisherman worth his or her weight in split shot knows trout like cold water. Prime water temperatures call for 52-62 degrees. When July hits, the window for that range shrinks substantially once the morning sun peeks above the trees.

Ideally, you need to be on the water at first light, approximately 6:15, 6:30. Sure, you can arrive at 8 a.m., but depending on the temperatures the night before, the fishing might be over by 10.

Once the water temperature reaches 67 degrees, your catch rate decreases dramatically. Plus, trout struggle to survive when temperatures approach 70.

If you do catch fish in warmer water, it’s important to release the fish quickly. Use heavier tippet to land your quarry efficiently and handle the fish as little as possible, so it can be revived. Warm water is hard enough on trout. There’s no need to make it more stressful with extended photo sessions.

Fish a Tailwater

Tailwater fisheries typically draw water from the bottom of a lake. Hence, the water temperatures stay colder longer. We have one viable summer option --- the lower Nantahala River in Wesser, which is just outside of Bryson City.

The Tuckaseegee, which runs through Sylva and Bryson City, is also a tailwater. But the water in the Tuck doesn’t stay as cold as the Nantahala, which is more shaded and fed by an underground pipe.

One warning about fishing any tailwater: You need to check the daily release schedule. Duke Energy manages the Nantahala and Tuckaseegee. Fishing during the releases, can be dangerous. It’s best, for safety reas