On April 7 the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission opened over 1,000 miles of hatchery supported waters to the public. Though I am personally a huge proponent of catch and release, I understand the temptation to put a tasty trout on the dinner table from time to time. There are several hatchery supported streams right here in Transylvania County. The Davidson River below Avery creek is the most heavily stocked stretch of river in the state and designated hatchery supported. The West Fork of the French Broad, accessed via Silverstein Rd. from highway 64, offers beautiful scenery and more solitude than often crowded Davidson. Also, don’t forget about the main stem of the French Broad. Because public access is limited to a handful of areas (Champion Park in Rosman, Lyons Mountain Rd off Old Rosman highway, Island Ford Rd at public takeout) I recommend fishing from a boat. Floating from Champion Park to Lyons Mountain (3 miles) or Island Ford (10 miles) offers great scenery and quality fishing. We offer trips daily on this section that include all paddling gear and transportation. We also provide a shuttle service if you have the gear but need a ride.
Last Sunday I had a friend visiting from out of town and he had a hankering to eat some trout for dinner. At this point I would like to reiterate I am a HUGE proponent of catch and release, but I also pride myself in being a good host. We loaded a canoe with fishing gear and stocked a cooler with a few refreshing beverages. The day was mostly overcast but warm and I was excited to paddle the French Broad for the first time this spring after a long cold winter. I was also excited to try out some new streamer patterns that I’ve been tying. I like fishing streamers on this stretch because in addition to the aggressive brown and rainbow trout, there is always a chance of hooking up large or smallmouth bass. As we maneuvered down the flat water and navigated the shallow shoals we looked for downed logs and undercut banks, classic features targeted when fishing streamers. Fly selection included variations of slumpbusters, sculpin bunnys, woolly buggers, and zonkers.
I let my buddy fish first while I navigated the canoe. His first fish came quickly and was a perfect candidate to end up on a dinner plate – a 12 inch rainbow. On the extremely rare occasion I plan on keeping fish I maintain strict guidelines. I only keep rainbows and usually in the 10-12 inch range, never bigger. We pulled over and switched positions and before long I had a nice 14 inch brown in the net. After admiring the beautiful fish I released it back into the river. We continued downstream, switching positions after each fish and frequently pulling over to fish from the bank. We let several fish go before I plucked a 10 inch rainbow from nice pocket behind a boulder. I threw it in the cooler I helped myself to one of those refreshing beverages I mentioned earlier.
After cleaning our quarry and loading the canoe on top of the car we headed back to my house. There are hundreds of ways to prepare trout. On Sunday night we heated some oil in a cast iron pan, sprinkled Cajun seasoning inside and out, and fried them to perfection. A squeeze of fresh lemon at the end and some homemade potato salad rounded out our meal.
If you happen to get that hankering for fresh trout I recommend checking out the hatchery supported streams in the area. For more information including stocking schedules go to ncwildlife.org.