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Summer Trout Fishing in WNC

Our busiest time of the year for our guided trips is the Summer. Most people are taking vacations to the beautiful high country of western NC during the summer to escape the heat of the lower elevations. We may not get 'hot' up here, but we still get hot enough to be harmful to trout. Trout are a cold water fish and thrive in colder water, that's why they are abundant in our neck of the woods. You can't find trout just anywhere, so they have become a popular fish to target for visitors when they are in the high country. If you are visiting the area and are wanting to fish for trout, there are a few things to consider.

First, and foremost...

What is the stream temperature? Again, trout thrive in cold water. If the stream temperature is 65 degrees or higher, don't fish for trout in it. If you plan on catch and release, the stress on the trout of catching it, handling it and releasing it, will most likely be fatal to that fish. Flat out, don't trout fish in water above 65 degrees. (Now, this mostly applies to 'wild' streams. If you are meat fishing and going after stockers, then have at it...if you can find them.) If we have a prolonged heatwave, and little rain, it doesn't take long for the streams to warm up. Some years, we may not even get to that point, but most years we do have periods when our water temps can get above the threshold to safely trout fish. There are a few ways to find 'safe' waters to fish. 1.) Go higher up. If you are checking temps at 3000' and they are above 65 degrees, go to streams higher up in elevation. Check them at 4000'. 2.) Get closer to the source. If you know a stream is spring fed, get closer to where the stream originates. The temperature of the water coming out of the spring is at its coldest, closest to the source. The longer the water is exposed to the outside temperature and the sun, the warmer it will be. Also, if you know a stream at a lower elevation has a spring feeding into it, fish where the spring comes in. 3.) Shade. Find streams that are heavily shaded. The sun beating down on the stream, warms up the water and all of the structure on the riverbed, which in turn, warms up the water even more. Don't forget to fish when the outside temperature is at its lowest...first thing in the morning!

Now that you have found a safe stream to fish, how do you catch them? In the dead of summer, we do not have a lot of bugs 'hatching.' That doesn't mean the fish aren't eating, it just means its harder to figure out what they are eating. When the water is low and clear, one of the safest bets is to go small. Midges and other small nymphs will usually get the job done. Fish these nymphs under a parachute adams, stimulator, or a terrestrial (hopper, beetle, ant, etc.). If you go small, go small on your tippet too. 6X is your friend this time of year. Spend a little extra money and get fluorocarbon. It is stronger, thinner and less visible to the fish in the water.

One safe bet to catch fish, during the summer heat, is fish a tailwater. We have two tailwaters close to the Boone area. The Watauga and the South Holston. These rivers are dam fed with water that comes from the bottom of two deep lakes. This water stays cold all summer. Of course, there is always an exception to the rule, but generally, the water stays well below 65 degrees. Be aware of the water release schedule on any tailwater. You don't want to be caught in the middle of the river when the water rises. There are low water and high water fishing opportunities all summer, but if they are generating, you will most likely want to be fishing from a boat. Here is a link to the TVA for the release schedule on some of our tailwaters. https://www.tva.com/environment/lake-levels There is also an app you can download to your phone, so you always have the info hand.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about fishing during these warmer months. The fish are there, you just have to be careful and conscious when fishing them.

Book a trip and we'll do all the work for you. All you need to do is catch them!


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Fish Stories

Greg had fished with us a few times before and on this cold November day he caught this big boy right on a mudline from another stream that was flowing into the Watauga. The fight included multiple jumps and a dart into a downed tree...but we got him!