Where Should I Fish?
Before I set out on any fishing adventure, I struggle when it comes to deciding on a location. It’s not for the lack of public water in the area but rather, the countless options! Jackson County alone has over 2,000 miles of trout streams, and combined with our neighbor to the west, Swain County, that’s over 4,000 miles of cold, clear trout streams to explore.
If you are new to fishing in the area, I suggest checking out https://NCWildlife.org for information on fishing regulations. There is an interactive map where users can find every public trout stream in the state and the associated rules for each one.
Interactive fishing map of North Carolina-
The first thing I typically consider is the weather. Past, present, and future. It helps knowing the weather pattern over the last few days when trying to understand feeding patterns of fish. For instance, it’s a beautiful day today but I know it had been raining all week, so I would focus my attention on smaller streams that aren’t affected by rainfall as drastically. Knowing the weather forecast for a particular day is important for determining the best time of day to fish, especially in months with big temperature swings (winter/summer). We try to give trout a break during the summer so take an afternoon siesta when it gets hot and then get back to fishing a couple hours before sundown for best results.
The next important criteria I look at when deciding where to fish is my watch. The difference between a few hours of fishing time and a full day of fishing sets the tone for how much time I spend on the trail and where I park the truck to make the most of my time. If I know I have the entire day to fish and explore, then I am more likely to park further from the water and spend more time hiking in and getting away from crowds. When I’m on a time crunch I typically look for streams that I can park alongside with room to walk up or downstream. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers great fishing opportunities for both full day and overnight backcountry trips but also allows visitors to drive and park along some of the streams which makes for easy front country access when time is limited.
Now that my options are narrowed down, I like to think about what style of fishing I want to work on. My favorite style is rigging a bead head nymph about 18” underneath a dry fly. This method has served me well as a “fish finder” across most Western North Carolina streams. This rig works great in pocket water, pools, and riffles of all sorts. If I wanted to fish a streamer or a single dry fly all day then I would spend a little more time factoring in water levels and clarity. The die hard streamer fisherman and the single dry fly fisherman are going to have greatly differing opinions on the perfect water type, and we won’t dive into that discussion today.
Fishing the Tuckaseegee River- because this is a tail water, it is important to check the water level and release schedule before heading to the river. The tips mentioned above will be more useful on naturally flowing streams. For more info on streamflow levels and dam release schedules check out https://tuckflyshop.com/streamflow
Whether you are getting on the water for just an hour or for the entire day, I hope these tips help you narrow down the options for your next trip!
We are always available for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can stop by the shop or give us a call at (828) 488-3333 for any questions.