- Tyler Legg
- Charlotte, NC, United States
by Tyler Legg
As Spring rolls on, May brings with it a plethora of insect hatches. Hatches during the month of May include the Ephemerella Subvaria (Hendricksons), the Stenonema Vicarium or March Brown, and the Stenonema Ithaca (Lt. Cahill). Other hatches worth mentioning include the Gray Caddis, Gray Fox, Yellow Midges, Sulphurs, Black Caddis, Green Drakes, Giant Stone Flies (Pteronarcys), and the BWO's (which never seem to rest). If you look at a NC hatch chart, you will notice that May is the outlier in terms of how many insects hatch. Straying from aquatic insects, late Spring marks the beginning of terrestrial season. Hoppers, ants, beetles and eventually inchworms make their appearance in western North Carolina.
If there isn't a hatch occurring, the best thing to do is tie on a nymph such as a Pheasant Tail or a March Brown Nymph. The absence of a hatch doesn't necessarily mean that a hungry trout won't tackle a lone dry fly, it just means that you will have more consistency catching fish nymphing.
This winter has been exceptionally wet and snowy. I don't foresee extensive drought problems this year. Water levels should continue to flow fine throughout spring. This means less stressed trout due to low water and less spooky fish.
A few helpful tips for Spring-time fly fishing
- Be aware of water levels. This time of year yields more rain, thus more water. Spring time in NC means severe thunderstorms. If you hear thunder or see lightning, stop fishing and wait for it the storm to pass. Often, thunderstorms that occur well upstream will send water downstream.
- Fish the seams (where moving water meets slack water.) Trout wait in seams for passing food.
- If the water is stained or muddy, use heavier tippet (2-5x depending on clarity of water).
- 90% of a trout's diet consists of nymphs, so you are more likely to catch a trout on a nymph vs. a dry in most situations.
- Try a new fly that the fish have not likely seen yet.
- In high, stained water during and after spring rains, use big #4 Zonkers, Woolly Buggers, and Zoo Cougars.
- Most rainbow trout spawn in the early Spring, so try using an egg pattern.
Spring in NC can be spectacular to say the least. Fishing is usually excellent with abundant hatches, warm temperatures, and plenty of hungry fish. Take advantage of the optimum weather conditions spring commonly offers.
Temperatures will be up and down throughout the week in WNC. Unfortunately, so will rain/snow/ice. You'll probably run into more snow Tuesday through Wednesday, but it doesn't look like it will be a big deal. Tomorrow and Monday will be nice if you don't mind some fresh, cold air. Take it easy and get an update on roadway conditions in the mountains if you plan on venturing out to a trout stream. Temps won't be bad, in the lower 30's around Boone and in the upper 30's around Asheville/Brevard with light winds. Water levels will be high and slightly off color in some places, so you should get away with switching to slightly heavier tippet. Be careful when you're wading right now, streams and rivers could be swift following all of the snow and rain. The fish are going to be slow, so as always in the winter, make sure you get your fly in front of their nose, or they're probably going to ignore it. Check the updated "recommended flies" for the month of February to your left to get an idea of what's working.
The new forum is starting to take off. We're eventually going to start an online fly tying contest on the board. It's a great place for new tyers to gain tips and pointers on fly tying. Check out the forum here if you haven't already. We would love to see you over there.
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