For those really into North Carolina trout fishing, October is usually the best time of the year.
Mornings are cool, afternoons are warm and the scenery, with leaves in their fall colors, is beautiful.
This is also the time of year when brown trout spawn, meaning they will be far more aggressive in feeding. A lot of anglers catch the biggest trout of their lives during the fall season.
Right now, stream fishing is a bit on the challenging side due to dry conditions being experienced throughout western North Carolina. One of my good friends, a really outstanding fisherman, tells me the low, clear water has made it difficult to get trout to strike any of his flies. That’s what I say when I’m not catching anything, too.
The Piedmont and all areas west, including Wilkes County, are currently designated as being in abnormally dry conditions. This includes the Smoky Mountains National Park, which lies both in Tennessee and North Carolina.
Trout streams in the two states always tend to be on the clear side, but those in the Smokies are really gin clear. On any day, hiding behind large rocks and trees and keeping a low profile is absolutely necessary because trout can see movement from a long way off.
Making longer casts is preferable, and putting the fly or spinner in the right spot is absolutely essential. This is even more the case when the drought causes low water levels.
My wife and I found this out a couple of weeks ago when we were fishing in and around Cherokee. The streams in the national park were full of trout, but it was hard getting to a place where the fish wouldn’t be spooked by our movement.
We fished Straight Fork, which is a major tributary of the famous Raven Fork. I had never seen the water so low or the temperatures so warm this time of year.
I’m afraid this is our “new normal,” as folks like to say. Some people also like to say they don’t believe in global warming. That’s like believing our planet isn’t round or that water isn’t wet.
I do remember one time a number of years ago when I took the time to sneak off to fish the extreme headwater of Wilson Creek in Avery County. It’s an area where the creek consists of three small forks making their way down a steep mountainside before merging to form the upstream portion of Wilson.
I parked at a bridge where I always park and walked on a tiny path downstream several hundred yards. On a good day, this part of Wilson Creek is small, consisting of one plunge pool after another cascading down the slope.
On this particular day, the creek was really low and clear as crystal, as the area was going through a drought. Positioning myself nearly on my knees, I had to literally cast two pools above my position to even have a prayer of catching a trout.
Despite these impediments, I caught one fat, wild rainbow trout after another that afternoon. The small fish all leapt and fought with everything they had.
What appeared to be a challenging, if not impossible, situation turned into one of those picture postcard memories. Life is like that in many of its aspects.