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)