We are entering my favorite time of year for personal fishing in WNC. The crowds are gone and fish are still actively feeding, especially through the heart of the day. Currently, water levels are favorable area wide. Taking into account these frigid mornings, don’t be afraid to sleep in a little. The best bite window will be between about 10 and 3. I recommend a thermos with a warm beverage to sip on throughout the day while taking breaks in a warm vehicle.
North Fork French Broad
The North Fork is still cranking at an elevated level, making for good nymph and streamer fishing. Fish big stonefly nymphs with BWO, caddis larva, or even midge imitations dropped below. If you’re searching for a monster, post-spawn browns might be hungry for a meaty streamer in the next couple of weeks, especially during high water. As always, be careful wading in the gorge during high water events. Feel free to call the shop or stop in for real time water level info.
East Fork French Broad
The East Fork has been fishing great but does require a little more tact than it did a few weeks ago. Leave the worms, eggs, and mops behind and substitute soft hackles and natural looking nymphs size 16-20. BWO dries should also induce some takes when fish are suspended in slow water looking for naturals. Don’t be shy about downsizing to 6X and smaller bugs if the bite seems slow.
The Davidson is currently holding at a great level but still requires light tippet, long leaders, and good presentations to bring some degree of success. Beatis nymphs, small caddis larva and pupa, and midges hold the best chances for subsurface success. Look for fish rising to BWO’s or very small caddis in the middle of the day, especially on warmer, cloudy days. The spawn is nearly done, but look out for spawning browns if you’re wading through the tailout of a pool or riffle. If you see fish paired up on a red, leave ’em be!
Cold temps have fish in high elevation streams settling in for a long winter’s nap. Lower elevation wild creeks have still been fishing productively but leave the bushy dries in the box and tie on a couple of nymphs for best results. Flashy pheasant tails or small stones should get their attention.