There’s just something about finding fish in unknown territory. We are very fortunate in Western North Carolina to have diversity of not only fish, but the places they call home as well. You can find plenty of trout in the larger rivers such as the French Broad and It’s Forks, Davidson River and the Tuckaseegee to name a few. Most folks are surprised though when you mention the fish living and thriving in super tiny creeks. The old saying goes “trout don’t live in ugly places”, and it couldn’t be more true. Most times, the hike, views and beautiful wild fish are worth the work and anticipation.
If you want to get out of the busy streams and find something of your own, here are the basic items you will need:
Rod and Reel Selection can be a big deal here. If you are planning on hiking in to a blue line (I’ll hit on this later) don’t pack your 9’ 6wt. Instead, throw a 7’ 2/3wt in your pack and hit the woods. Not only will it make casting much easier but when you hook up on the fish the fight will be that much more fun on a lighter set-up.
Fly Selection can be fairly simple. If you’re hiking a good ways in to a creek, odds are it probably doesn’t get fished too often. These fish aren’t “educated” and should be eager to eat most bugs that drift to them. Bushy dry flies are my go to. If that’s not working, a girdle bug with a flashy nymph will almost always do the trick. Don’t stress too much about having a ton of different flies to choose from, just make sure you don’t spook the fish before you get to them!
Get a map! Pretty obvious, but no one wants to get lost out there. Do some planning and figure out where you want to go, approximately how long it should take you to get in and out and maybe even have a multi-day plan if you are planning on hiking in deep. As mentioned earlier, blue lining can be adventurous. We have SO many creeks in WNC, you can literally choose a blue line (creek) and hike to it and more than likely find fish. Always let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you back by. We have some beautiful country here, but it’s rugged and cell reception is nonexistent for the most part.