You’ve heard of it: Delayed Harvest. What and where is it?
Delayed Harvest (or abbreviated: DH) streams have officially been open for two weeks now in North Carolina. Delayed Harvest means just that, a delayed harvest season. These streams are stocked once a month by the state starting in October and ending in May. You must only fish with single hook, artificial lures or flies. No treble hooks, scented baits or nightcrawlers here. It is also 100% catch and release. After the first of June, these streams return to Hatchery Supported regulations. At this point, you can use different baits and lures, you can also harvest 7 fish a day.
Fishing can be great in these streams soon after stocking. These fish can be naïve for the first little bit before they smarten up to your fishing tactics. This is a great time to hone in on your fly fishing skills, or try your hand at it if you are a complete newbie. With plenty of opportunities to set and land fish, a day on DH water can be a great learning resource or just a relaxing day on the river. With that being said, these rivers can become quite crowded on the weekend, sometimes even throughout the week.
Flies to keep in your delayed harvest box will be fairly basic and simple. After stocking, trout will feed mostly on eggs, worms, wooly buggers, girdle bugs and all things flashy. When the fish start to veer away from your eggs and overly flashy nymphs, try to transition over to basic nymph patterns such as hares ears, girdle bugs, pheasant tails, prince nymphs, chubby chernobyls and parachute adams. Of course over time the fish will start to notice when your fly choice doesn’t match what is actually hatching. You’ll have to step your game up then and match the hatch!
Don’t forget there are plenty of other streams to fish this time of year as well. This is my favorite time of year to get out and explore wild creeks. The Fall colors are bright and vibrant, soak it up while it lasts!