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Fishing Report 1/5/2018
Well folks, after a very mild start to the winter, Jack Frost has made his presence known here in Western North Carolina. To say it’s been cold is an understatement. It has been downright frigid out there. Most of you have probably been more preoccupied with staying warm than worrying about what the fish are eating. There is more ice in the river than I can recall seeing. However, it looks like we may escape the grasp of this arctic blast next week, with daytime highs forecast in the mid-40s to 50 degree range. For you poor souls tormented by lack of fishing opportunity, you will have a chance to thaw out your gear and get back on the river.
North Fork French Broad
This time of year the North Fork can always be a little unpredictable but given the recent temperatures it is safe to assume the bite will be slow until we have a string of warmer days. Long story short, if you would like to view some of the prettiest scenery around, the North Fork is a great option. If you’re looking for the best opportunity to find some willing fish, you may want to look elsewhere.
Like pretty much any local stream, the Davidson is currently choked with a lot of ice which makes fishing nearly impossible at best. Areas free of ice are riffles, where fish are unlikely to be holding during the dead of winter. Once some of the ice melts off next week, look for fish in the tailouts of pools or other areas of slow moving water. Under these conditions, presentation is key. Don’t be afraid to fish a 15 foot leader with 7X tippet. Focus on delicate presentations to avoid spooking fish. Bring a well stocked midge box and a whole lot of patience to find any degree of success. If you land a fish or 2, consider it a good day.
Even the lowest elevation small streams do not hold much promise at this point. If for some reason, you do find yourself fishing one, fish nymphs under a palsa or New Zealand strike indicator. Your best bet is probably to put the 2 or 3 weight rod away until we experience some lasting warmer weather.
Delayed harvest streams probably hold your best chance at catching fish next week when it warms up enough to melt some of the ice. Drift nymphs methodically through the best looking runs and focus on delicate presentations with a good drift. We have entered the time of year when stockers are every bit as tough to catch as the wildest of fish. Very small hare’s ears or pheasant tail variations or blue winged olive nymphs or midges should be your best producers.