Archives for October 2014
Have you ever watched a television program, a commercial, or a movie that showed people using a fly rod? The sport has always had an air of difficulty & elitism while promoting the peaceful activity of pursuing fish on a fly rod. The romantic landscapes, repetitive movement, and Zen-like calm before the charge of adrenaline and a fish on the line… it elicits an, “I want to do that!” reaction in many of us. If that sounds like you, then this is the perfect time of year to test the waters. Here’s why:
In 1992, the state of North Carolina instituted a sub-set category within the Hatchery Supported regulations, called Delayed Harvest. Delayed Harvest now includes 33 different rivers, streams & lakes in western North Carolina that are stocked by the state for recreational fishing only. Recreational fishing in regards to, “You must put the fish back after catching them.” Also, called “Catch & Release.”
These fish (brown, rainbow & brook trout) are put in hundreds at a time between October 1st & the 1st Saturday in June. They are all sterile, therefore they won’t be reproducing & very in size from 8 inches to some brood fish that can surpass 20 inches.
So why is this important to us? The answer lies in some of the streams that are stocked under the Delayed Harvest program. These are streams that state biologists deem as unsuitable to trout year round. Namely because a trout’s gill system demands cold water & many of these streams have water that becomes too warm during the summer months. Many of the streams are close to the Charlotte area & are easy to get to for part-time anglers. Streams such as: Jacob Fork in South Mountain State Park (1 ½ hours from Charlotte), the Mitchell River (1 ¾ hours), near Dobson & the East Fork of the Roaring River in Stone Mountain State Park (1 ¾ hours) are some of the closest Delayed Harvest streams to Charlotte.
Besides for convenience of access to these streams is the number of fish that have been stocked & their behavior. The state puts in hundreds at a time during each monthly stocking & they are soon ready to eat. This makes very happy anglers of both veterans & newcomers to the sport of fly fishing!
For veterans, it’s simply good to get out, continually honing your skills. For newcomers, it’s an opportunity to learn more sport, gain confidence by catching fish & eliminating some of the intimidation that the sport seems to emanate.
A few bits of advice when heading to a Delayed Harvest stream:
The first week usually means green Wooley Boogers. At Jesse Brown’s, our Beadheaded Olive Wooley Boogers work great. They’re a larger, streamer pattern that moves some water getting a newly acclimated fish’s attention.
- The second week brings about larger, generic patterns. Come in and see us at Jesse Brown’s & we’ll show you what a Bead head Pheasant Tail, a Hare’s Ear & BH Prince Nymph are. They all week as these dumb fish start to become smarter.
- The third & fourth week after a stocking mean that these fish are now eating and paying attention to what Mother Nature is feeding them. They know that they don’t like eating the things that hurt their lip & they do like the insects that are plentiful on the stream.
- Presentation means more than anything. Trout (natural or stocked) eat food that comes to them via the conveyer belt of the river. We need to make the flies that we are being used look natural when they are travelling. No dragging along, no pulling on the line excessively. Just let it drift as a small leaf might.
- More important than anything is if you’ve ever had an interest in getting into the sport of the fly fishing, now is the time & you’re living in the place. If you have any questions, need directions or advice on equipment then start a relationship with your fly shop (did I say, Jesse Brown’s?).
These professionals don’t just want you to buy something. They’re looking for a relationship with you that lasts a lifetime. Just like the North Carolina Delayed Harvest waters help you start in a sport that will last a lifetime.
Bill Bartee owns Jesse Browns, Inc. A Charlotte, NC-based retailer with a specialty in fly fishing. Bill is also as host of WBT radio’s, Carolina Outdoors (1110 AM/ 99.3 FM)
One of the continual bits of advice we share on the WBT Carolina Outdoors program, is whenever you’re planning a trip, adventure or excursion the most important thing to do is prepare. However, talking about it and doing it are two different things.
My son Lawrence & I had planned to go on a trip with his Webelo Den on a camping trip to Bear Den Family Campground. We learned of it a few months ago which enables plenty of time to prepare. The only negative is procrastination. Work, other obligations & family events pop up and the next thing you know the trip is here. For us it’s a one night trip. We’re getting up early on Saturday and begin the 2+ hour trek up to the beautiful, Blue Ridge Parkway.
The trip may include some hikes, throwing the football & maybe even some fishing.
I go through my check list:
2 Sleeping Bags=Check
Stove & Fuel=Check
Dinner & Breafast=Check
Fishing vest, reel, flies=Check
We get to this private campground just after 11 a.m. on Saturday. Clouds are threatening but we get our tent up nice a dryly in the group camping section. Then down comes the rain. It rains off and on but with the help of a few tarps we are able to enjoy good food and fellowship. Then the rain breaks and some short hikes and ball toss during Saturday afternoon. We talk about the delayed harvest streams in NC being stocked a few weeks before and the opportunity that provides to anglers that want to take up fly fishing. Lawrence is getting excited. Next, a good dinner, ‘smores & friendly spooky tales around the campfire. So far, it’s a successful trip. One that I was thoroughly prepared for.
Saturday night the tent is pounded by hours of steady rain. Our Kelty family tent does great and Lawrence & I sleep well. Thinking about the fish that we’ll hopefully still get to catch the next day.
Of course, a night of rain means a morning of packing up wet stuff. Lawrence and I pack up, eat breakfast and head for a stream that’s on our way home. Stone Mountain State Park has an easy to reach Delayed Harvest Stream (Catch and release Oct-June & artificial lures only), Jacob Fork.
We both have our polarized sunglasses allowing us to see the fish in the water. They’re piled in this flowing stream, eating bugs in the water that has risen just enough to be healthy with the rain from the night before. We hustle back to our car. My vest is on, the fly box is full. I get Lawrence in his waders & asking him to lace up his wading boots while I get the rod all rigged up.
The rod? Check?
I immediately start looking all over my car. I take out the wet tent. I take out the food. I’m beginning to get desperate.
What’s worse than telling a ten-year old boy that we can’t go fishing? Especially a boy that has three sisters & was ready for some “man” time, fishing with his dad. I’m not sure but thankfully we still ended up having a great time.
Stone Mountain not only has Jacob Fork for trout fishing. It also has the High Shoals Falls Loop which include a beautiful, 80-foot waterfall. The investment to get there is about a mile but it includes an elevation gain of just over 1200 feet so it can make you feel as if you really did something.
Lawrence and I enjoyed the hike. It wasn’t too strenuous and we were able to move along at a leisure pace. There are interpretive signs along the way so we could learn about the different wildlife and habitat that we were passing. Due to the rain the traffic at the park & on the trails was minimal. A father and son whose minds were on fishing just an hour before were now enjoying the exertion of working up to the top of the falls.
This is where the rain had done us a favor. The water volume had increased the size of the falls & we were able to enjoy the beauty of the cascade from the viewing station and then from the bridge crossing above the falls.
The return portion of the loop moved us away from the water and allowed us a meandering hike through the woods. We descended down meeting back up with the stream, then back to the parking lot and our car.
We almost had forgotten about the “fishing trip” until we reached home and I found the fishing rods leaning against the wall in the garage. Right beside where all the other gear had been. Wow! I just left it.
I think a fitting title of the next WBT radio show could be, “How to make lemonade out of lemons?”
Bill Bartee is the owner of Jesse Brown’s, Inc., Charlotte’s Official Outfitter for fall, & host of the Carolina Outdoors program on WBT (1110 AM-99.3 FM)
We know you love us, so why keep a good thing under wraps? VOTE NOW for Jesse Brown’s in the 2014 Endurance Magazine Best Of North Carolina poll! We promise it’ll only take a minute. Voting ends October 15, so go on ahead and do it now!