Water levels have finally dropped to fishable levels region wide and occasional afternoon storms have kept water temps cooler than average for this time of year. Even so, the forecast is warming up and bigger bodies of water have been fishing much better early in the morning or very late in the evening. If you’re limited to fishing midday, stick to small streams and look for a good terrestrial bite everywhere.
North Fork of the French Broad
The North Fork is at a great level for both dry/dropper and nymph fishing and water temps have been staying in the low to mid 60s. For dry or die fanatics, tie on a yellow chubby Chernobyl or big yellow stimulator and expect some eats. For the less “purists” mentality, tack on a little pheasant tail, inchworm, or even girdle bug to entice fish feeding just below the surface. Keep in mind if fishing deep runs, load on the split shot to get a couple of nymphs down quickly. Your best shot at a big fish usually happens at the head of these very deep runs and plunge pools.
The Davidson has been steadily holding at a very nice level of around 150 c.f.s. Look for a good early morning bite on ants and beetles. As the morning progresses look for inchworms dropping from overhanging limbs. The Davidson gets busy this time of year so remember to exercise good etiquette, especially on the crowded hatchery stretch. If everybody plays nice, there should be plenty of water for everybody.
Small stream fishing is at its best right now. Great water levels make for an easier approach to ultra spooky fish. If you are searching for the coveted Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, poke around on some of the high elevation streams off the Blue Ridge Parkway. A good starting point is parking at Graveyard Fields and fishing upstream. Most of the fish are small but eager to take a dry fly and absolutely beautiful.
Smallmouth fishing on the French Broad looks to be at least a couple of weeks out. If you are in need of a smallmouth fix, keep your eye on the Tuckasegee River release schedule. Days when they are releasing out of the East or West Fork, but not both, will bring favorable water levels for floating from Barker’s Creek access to Whittier. If they are only releasing from the West Fork, expect good clarity. Poppers or baitfish and crayfish patterns are good options for fly fishers. If you are casting spinning rods, best bait options depend on water clarity. In dirty water conditions try spinner baits. As the water gets clearer try crankbaits and in clear water, soft plastics.