Spring Fishing in Full Swing

It’s finally here; the long-awaited spring fishing. Delayed Harvest waters are freshly stocked and fishing better than ever with the perfect spring weather we’ve been having lately here in the Highcountry. Now is a great time to get out and hone in on any skills you may have become rusty with over the winter as these freshly stocked fish tend to be more willing to eat in the first few weeks of being in the river. Once arriving at the river, look for deeper runs where it looks as though fish would be stacked up, and more than likely they will be right there! Throwing double nymph rigs tends to be the way to go; fishing a larger attractor pattern as your lead fly, such as a Pats Rubber Leg or larger prince nymph with a smaller midge or emerger pattern below that (zebra midges, soft hackles, splitcase BWO) can be very effective. 

That being said, this time of year can be some of the best wild-water fishing we will see with the opportunity to find some bigger browns in smaller water. When fishing skinnier water, often times you will want to avoid big, clunky strike indicators and instead fish a dry/ dropper where your dry fly doubles as your strike indicator. Bulkier dries such as stimulators and elk hair caddis are perfect for these situations as they are buoyant enough to use with beaded nymphs or midges paired with smaller split shots. Fishing and emerged pattern such as a soft hackle or sparkle pupa can be a great way to get a sense of if the fish are eating actual dry flies, or if they are eating bugs that are just beginning to emerge into adulthood. 

As always, for more specialized local knowledge and tips on patterns to fish, be sure to stop by the shop and talk with our knowledgeable staff members! 

Tight lines y’all!

Delayed Harvest Around the Corner!

With March 1st less than a week away, it’s time to stock up (no pun intended) on all the DH necessities! Our local delayed harvest sections at Valle Crucis and the Watauga Gorge will be stocked on the first of the month. For the rest of the stocking dates, search “nc delayed harvest stocking dates 2019” and click on the NC Wildlife page.  

As far as bugs, be sure your box is full of DH go-to flies such as egg patterns, squirmy worms, prince nymphs, copper johns and pheasant tails. For those pickier fish, also be sure to bring along some BWO nymphs and emergers as we are still seeing occasional hatches on those warmer days. 

We also want to go over some basic fishing etiquette as these sections can often get fairly crowded; especially the first week or two after it’s been stocked. While everyone has the right to get out and fish, do your best to avoid fishing directly on top of ofther fishermen/ fisherwomen. This is known as low-holing or high-holing. Not only is this the polite thing to do, but it also avoids any issues with tangling lines, which no one wants to deal with during their time on the water. Though everyone will have their favorite spots and holes, believe us when we say that they put plenty of fish in the water for everyone to catch! Just grab a spot of open water and work it thoroughly and you will more than likely find some fish. 

That being said, if you are set on fishing a specific spot and someone is already there, your best bet is to either ask if they mind if you fish above or below them (assuming there is ample space), or ask them if you can fish that spot after they are finished. 

With that in mind, now we can go over what you’ll need in your pack before you head out to wear those fish out. Here’s our list of what we consider the necessities:

-A variety of nymphs and midges

-Strike indicators 

-Split shots 


-Line nippers

-Floatant (for dry flies and yarn indicators)

-Hat and sunglasses (preferably polarized)

-Boots and waders 

-Warm socks and layers of clothing

-Valid NC fishing license with trout permission

-Net (you’ll want it for that next big catch!)

As always, if you have any other questions about specific flies or recommendations on the different types of products listed above, just swing by the shop and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions! Until next time, tight lines y’all!

Spring Teaser in the Highcountry

For the past few days it’s been hard to believe it’s still February with temperatures climbing into the high 60s and even low 70s. Hopefully you were able to get out and take advantage of this warmth on the river like I was as it did not disappoint! Not only did this drastic rise in temperature get the fish eating, but there were also even some BWO (Blue Winged Olive) hatches coming off making for great opportunities to fish dry flies!

Smaller midges and nymphs have been the ticket of late, particularly baetis patterns in sizes 16-20. Fishing these below an emerger pattern like a soft hackle or sparkle pupa have been very effective, especially on those warmer winter days. However, be sure to bring plenty of splitshots as this time of year fish will be tight to the bottom in deeper pools and runs.

Delayed harvest waters also continue to produce fish, though they do tend to be a bit pickier as winter goes on. Zebra midges, small stone flies and caddis are good for enticing those pickier winter bites. Be sure to wear plenty of layers and the warmest socks you have as water temperatures are extremely low this time of year. Just don’t let that keep you from getting out there and finding your next great fish story!

Cold Hands + Big Fish

Though not everyone is willing to brave the chilling fall weather to fish, those who are can often be rewarded for doing so. Yesterday, guide Joe Kostura and I decided to do so, and boy did it pay dividends. Upon pulling up to the boat ramp in the morning, we were already seeing dozens of fish feeding up top on midges left and right. This was encouraging as we could definitely feel the chill in the air. Between seeing all of this early activity and knowing that we are moving into spawning season, we knew it was going to be a good day.

Almost immediately, we hooked into the first fish of the day. Nothing to write home about, but a beautiful wild rainbow. After about a dozen rainbows between 6-10 inches, we finally got into the first big fish of the day, an 18 inch brooder that put up a great fight! A couple quick pics followed by a safe release and we were back in action. So far, the key had been egg patterns and midges. After landing several more rainbows and a few browns, finally a big, mean, old brown is on the line that we were eventually able to get in the bot. The day had officially been made! 20 inches of thick, juicy, Watauga River butta! This fish had some beautiful fall colors and was exactly what we were searching for. A few photos later, we got him back in the water to hopefully make another future anglers day!

All in all, the fall fishing is seriously heating up on the tailwaters with the fish getting ready to spawn, and hungrier than ever. We highly recommend giving us a call to book your trip to get out while the gettin’ is good!



Delayed Harvest in the Highcountry

With the cooler temperatures and the local waters freshly stocked, the local fishing has really heated up here in the Highcountry! Local delayed harvest waters can be very productive this time of year and will only continue to improve as they begin stocking them again in the beginning of November! Productive patterns in these waters this time of year tend to be nymphs and midges, as the cooler weather greatly reduces the number of hatches we see on the surface.

Zug bugs, prince nymphs and pheasant tails are all great go to nymphs, as well zebra midges in colors such as black, purple and olive. However, on warmer afternoons, do be on the lookout for the occasional midges or Blue Winged Olive coming off as this can really get those fish moving. (Also, don’t forget your squrimy worms!!)

Additionally, be sure to have split shots along with you since water levels will begin to rise as temperatures drop and we will see less and less ground water being absorbed from our streams. This means you may need a little extra weight to help get your flies down into the strike zone.

Finally, always be sure to wear warm enough clothing, especially when wading on colder days, and use caution when wading in deeper, faster currents to help avoid any dangerous situation.

As always, have fun out there, and tight lines!

Fall Fishing in the Highcountry

The fishing has only been getting better over the past few weeks as fall is finally starting to kick in around the Highcountry. The spike in rainfall and drop in temperatures can only mean it’ll get better in the coming days. Cooler water is starting to get the fish moving more and the discoloration left from all the rain should lead to takes from even some of the more finicky fish. It’s also finally that time of year where you can dust off that streamer rod and break out the wooly buggers and sculpzillas as we are definitely starting to see some more aggressive strikes, especially over on the East Tennessee tailwaters of both the South Holston and Watauga. Specifically on high water on an overcast and/ or rainy day, this can be a very effective tactic to move some massive fish. It may not always get you big numbers, but after chucking streamers for hours in the rain earlier this week, I was rewarded with the fish of a lifetime; a 24.5 inch brown. It may be a lot of work, but sticking with streamers in the right conditions can certainly pay dividends.

If that’s not cutting it, deep nymph rigs with an attractor fly and a dropper midge below that can also induce a lot of takes from pickier wild browns and rainbows. On lower water, fishing a hopper dropper can also be a great tactic this year. Fishing two nymphs below a bulky foam hopper pattern is always a fan favorite, and who doesn’t like seeing a trophy trout come up and sip and giant terrestrial pattern? So be sure to stop by and pick up all the necessities, whether it’s for the local delayed harvest waters, the the tailwaters in Tennessee. We’ve got it all.

Bugs of choice:

Chubby Chernobyls


Prince Nymphs

Zebra Midges


Wooly Buggers



Squirmy Worm

Pheasant Tails

Boone Local Fishing Report

With the Delayed Harvest waters freshly stocked once again, the fishing locally has been as good as it gets! Valle Crucis is yet again loaded with hungry trout that can be caught fishing smaller nymphs and midgets dropped below an attractor such as squirmy worms or Pats Rubber Legs. On warmer days, dry droppers can also be equally as effective and can help prevent spooking more finicky fish. Additionally, the Hatchery Supported sections are now officially open again and will stay that way until the last day in February.

The tail waters down in Tennessee are also fishing exceptionally and still heating up as we approach the much-anticipated caddis hatch. Trips are filling up quickly for spring so be sure to give us a call to get yours booked today!