Brad Harvey: Escape the heat with fly rod in hand

August 3, 2013 

For anglers, there’s no better way to beat then heat than by taking a trip into the mountains of North Carolina.

With its cooler air temperatures and frigid creek waters, a visit this time of year can be almost therapeutic to those of us that have been spending time in the harsh humidity of the Piedmont.

One of the biggest problems that I always had was finding the right place to go that would provide me plenty of opportunities with fish while not crowding me with the many bait fishermen who work the streams as well.

There is a major difference between bait fishermen and those who choose to feed their addiction with the use of the long rod.

Bait fishing is, simply put, a lazier way of going about the task. When trout fishing, bait fisherman pick a spot near pools in hopes they hold fish, and they may sit there for hours while waiting for a trout to find their offering appetizing enough to take a bite.

On the other hand, fly fishermen take a more scientific approach by learning all they can about the fish they’re chasing, the food those fish are eating and the creeks they’re living in.

Many a bait fisherman has given me a cross look as I’ve turned over rocks to inspect the insect larvae living underneath. After all, to him I’m wasting time when I should have bait soaking in the water.

Instead, I see opportunity in finding out what the next potential insect hatch will be, what they might be munching now and matching my flies accordingly.

Of course, you have to know what a “McDonald’s for trout” looks like. The lee side of rocks within a creek is one such place, and provides a fish the opportunity to escape the current and rest easily as potential meals are washed past.

When that buggy “Big Mac” of sorts does arrive, he’ll dart out, suck it in and return to his resting spot. It’s hard for a bait fisherman and fly fisherman to co-exist when one needs to work more water and the other wants to sit on what may be the best spot along the river.

In many states, including North Carolina, some streams are designated “fly fishing only” water. This helps to a large degree but can sometimes result in a stretch that is then covered up with fly rods if enough places don’t hold the designation.

You can make the decision to put forth a little more effort and find new spots that are a bit out of the way and see much less pressure.

When I was coming along, this was a pretty tough task for someone who doesn’t live there and have days to search.

Today, it’s a different story. The Internet can be an incredible tool for finding new locations to try, and a wealth of information can be found on one of the many message boards on the subject.

State and local governments have taken notice and now provide plenty of maps, details and, of course, advertising to try to get you to come to their area.

With the fairly recent creation of Western North Carolina’s Fly Fishing Trail, the first of its kind in the nation, anglers are directed to 15 prime spots in Jackson County for catching rainbow, brook and brown trout along portions of four rivers: the Tuckasegee, Chatooga, Whitewater and Horsepasture.

This is some of the best water among the Smoky Mountains and has produced two state-record rainbows in The Tarheel State.

If you’re a fly angler, give it a try. Detailed maps can be found at www.flyfishingtrail.com. If you’ve never given a fly rod a try and would like to see what it’s all about, I suggest getting in touch with Don Yager at Jesse Brown’s Outdoors: 704-556-0020. I can promise you; this is one habit you’ll never regret picking up.

Brad Harvey of Clover is a freelance writer.

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