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Blue Ridge Parkway

Fishing for Wild Trout in Western North Carolina ~ By Rich Witt

Trout fishing season is in full swing! Many trout fishing enthusiasts in Western North Carolina experience almost as much excitement for trout fishing this time of year as the Lewis and Clark expedition did upon seeing the Pacific Ocean after two years crossing the continent:

Meriwether Lewis wrote: “Oh the Joy!”

The leaves are on the trees, the Rhododendrons are in bloom, the wildflowers are at their peak and yes the trout are rising everywhere.The aquatic insect hatches have reached there peak as well with Light Cahill and Sulphur Mayflies, Olive Caddisflies, Little Yellow Sally Stoneflies, and the large and elusive Eastern Green Drake all hatching as you read.  What a great time to go spin or fly fishing in the Asheville, North Carolina area.

There are many streams to choose from to fish for trout in Western North Carolina. For those familiar with fly fishing in the Asheville, North Carolina area, there are over 3000 miles of trout streams within an hour radius including; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee Trophy Waters, and the Pisgah National Forest.  These locations are just a few this area has to offer to catch the three species of trout found in the Eastern United States.

Brook Trout, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout are abundant in this part of the country. Brook Trout or “Specs” as they are referred to locally, are the only trout truly native to North Carolina. Brown Trout were introduced in the mid 1800’s from Germany and Scotland and Rainbow Trout were introduced in the early 1900’s from the west coast of the United States. Brook trout are found in higher elevations usually above 3000 feet. Browns and Rainbows share the remaining waters lower in elevation.

The equipment used to fish for these beautifully colored fish could be a very light spinning rod outfit with Rooster Tails and Mepps spinning lures or the preferred method of fly fishing with dry flies, nymphs and streamers. I suggest an 8’6” to 9’ five weight fly rod outfit for general waters but would use a smaller three weight rod for the Brook Trout.Waders and wading boots are a necessity for fall, winter and spring but for the summer months wet wading (wearing wading sandals and quick dry pants) is a wonderful way to fish and keeps you cool in the warm weather.  Curtis Wright Outfitters can help you with your gear selection…just give us a call.

The flies have fun and interesting names like Boss Hog, Skinny Nelson, Royal Stimulator, White Zonker, Wooly Bugger etc… Dry Flies are meant to float on top of the water to simulate adult flies, Nymphs are made to fish underneath the surface to represent the juvenile flies and Streamers are used under the surface as well to emulate minnows and leeches. The local Southern Appalachian patterns have some interesting names as well. These patterns, in my opinion, are some of the most beautiful flies in the world. The Yallerhammer and Tellico Nymph are two of the most popular flies from this area. Other flies such as Charlie Whomper, Pink Lady, Thunderhead, Hazel Creek are also popular to name just a few.  These and many other flies are offered at any of our 3 shops in the Asheville area.

Personally I like to fish away from the roads into the backcountry although there are many streams and rivers easily accessible from the road. I like the places the rivers and streams lead me as I fish them upstream towards the headwaters. The best part of trout fishing for me is where the fish live. Waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife are abundant in the backcountry.After focusing all day on flies and fish I’ll stop for a break and suddenly realize that I am in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. All my troubles vanish. This is my release. “Oh the Joy!”

Rich Witt works as a fly fishing guide for Curtis Wright Outfitters and is also the manager of the fly shop at #5 All Souls Crescent in Biltmore Village in Asheville, North Carolina.

Curtis Wright Outfitters offers guided fly fishing wade and float trips as well as fly fishing and fly tying classes.

For more information feel free to contact Rich at 828.274.3471, visit our web site at,  or stop in the shop for a visit.

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