with Guide Hannah Myers
Winter in Western North Carolina is always an interesting time of year. Some years we have mostly semi-warm temperatures, while other years we stay snowed in next to a fire until Spring rolls around. So far this year we have experienced a good bit of both. We had our first “snow storm” early in December with accumulations of snow anywhere from 10-24” depending on location! Shortly after that snow melted, we basked in the sun with days temping out around 65 degrees. It’s hard to get acclimated to winter weather when it comes and goes so frequently! I for one enjoy the warmer day…but how does all of this affect fishing?
We get a lot of questions about fishing small creeks this time of year. Is it worth my time? Do the fish eat? Any bugs out?…YES! While it might not be as easy as throwing out a squirmy wormy to an eager stocker, it is still very much worth your time to be on the stream during these months. Some of my favorite memories on the stream have taken place on brutally cold days. The Delayed Harvest water looks like a ghost town and high elevation creeks more than likely haven’t seen a soul in weeks. This is a perfect time to get out on a warm day to enjoy the sun, learn the stream in its current condition and you will probably have the place to yourself to explore!
The key to fishing small creeks any time of year is fishing every single piece of water. I can’t express that enough. Don’t walk through water that you haven’t drifted a fly through. I have missed so many opportunities by getting in a hurry trying to move upstream to a nice-looking pool, and accidentally flush fish out on the way up. Wild fish aren’t programmed like hatchery fish. The stream has been their home since day 1. They will hold anywhere and everywhere that they want to. This is an excellent time to hone in on your water reading skills and even test put fly presentation in awkward scenarios (overhanging branches, slim creek width, etc.).
Iv included a couple pictures of flies that I would recommend on small creeks this time of year, I have a solid amount of confidence in these patterns. I normally run these patterns as a double nymph rig. Make sure your flies are getting deep enough so have some split shot available. Test them out and let me know if they worked for you!
From Largest to Smallest:
- Black Girdle Bug
- Brown Worm
- Guides Choice Hares Ear
- Dirty Bird
- Tailwater Tiny
- Zebra Midge