Well, I'm back from my annual pilgrimage to Western North Carolina to visit friends, fish and take a short break from The Everglades.
To compare the two, it's like night and day, from the lowlands to the highlands. I first visit my old friend from Vermont, Brian Brace an accomplished and fellow furniture maker friend who has his shop in Black Mountain, NC. I use this town as my home base and fish the surrounding areas from here. After a couple of years of visiting the area I know a couple of local guides and others who fish the area and learn what I can from them and where I should fish.
I still consider myself somewhat of a novice fishing these creeks and small rivers but my success rate gets better each year I come back. Having really no clue on what flys to use when I arrive I stop at the local fly shop in Black Mountain, One Fly Outfitters to have them set me up with a selection to use.
Over the course of a couple of weeks I fished seven different creeks, a couple of these twice and it was pretty challenging I must say. I was told when I arrived it was after the "delayed harvest time" which means apparently the creeks were basically fished out from all the local fisherman catching all the recently stocked fish which, really didn't matter to me because I would be fishing mostly in the upper sections higher in the mountains.
I fished hard thru some rough country. I hiked and bushwhacked up and threw many of these creeks where in many places were surrounded or overgrown by Rhododendron and other underbrush and trees. A good thing is I never came upon any bears or snakes which are fairly common in the area.
The fish are mostly native brook trout in these places and can tend (or seem) to be scarce. Most are not very big fish which never grow big because of this environment and the average fish was around 3 to 5 inches. It's very challenging fishing. Just about any catch here was a time for celebration.
The Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountain areas of North Carolina is stunning to say the least and if you have never been to this part of the country it's certainly a place to visit and check out. The fish I caught were just a bonus to being here and I look forward to return again next year.
My largest Brookie around 10"
A nice Brown Trout
My go to setup on most of these trips this year was a 5wt 7'6" TFO Professional Series II rod with a Lamson reel. The line was Royal Wulff "Ambush" series which was awesome for it's ease of roll casting. I had a short tapered leader with a tippet either 4X or 5X,
and I used a variety of dry and terrestrial flys.