Watauga County

Watauga River

Like my mentor and fishing buddy Sam Long, I have a warm spot in my heart for the Watauga River. This is where he learned to flyfish, and it's the first place I went flyfishing for trout without someone telling me where to cast... :-) I sure was proud of that 12" brown I caught on a Tellico...of course, when I looked and saw he had only one eye, I realized that my feat of deceit wasn't quite as great as I first thought.

Anyway, the Watauga River along NC105 affords some nice, easily accessible fishing. That's one problem, but in 1995, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission made several miles of this stream "delayed harvest", meaning that it's stocked and open to fishing from March through May, but you can't keep fish until June. Makes for some nice fishing to a bunch of eager fish. This can be a nice way to get your season started. Also, there are some holdover fish...I've stepped on some nice ones, but I've never caught any really large fish out of the Watauga. However, the access and new regulations make it worth a look.

Boone's Fork

Boone's Fork is an interesting story in contrasts...

This stream is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Price Park. The Parkway crosses a dam on Boone's Fork, and below this dam the stream offers several miles of catch & release fishing for a trout population that tends toward browns, I think...at least that's what I've caught there. For example, I was there in late June of 1995 and the water temperature was 64F, and it was a relatively cool June. The water comes over the top of the dam and is warmed substantially as a result of its time in the lake. The water in this section can be cloudy due to rain runoff or dark from tannic acid in the leaves falling into the lake. I've seen surface activity on this stream, but I really think that nymphing might be the best way to go. On my June 1995 trip, the water was pretty murky, and visibility was probably about 2 feet. I picked up a couple of nice browns, however, fishing bead head nymphs. Strong, brightly-colored stream-bred fish. There's a lot of water here, and you can find a section without other fishermen, although you may run into quite a lot of hiking traffic on the access trail that parallels the stream for about a mile below the parking area/picnic ground. The biggest fish we've caught out of Boone's Fork was about 14", but I'm sure the big pools hold some big browns...

Above the lake, the stream crosses the Parkway again (on a September 1997 trip I caught a nice 10" rainbow from a pool right under the Parkway bridge!) and here the character of the stream is radically different. On the same June 1995 trip as described above, the water was a chilly 52F and was crystal clear. The stream cascades through a beautiful boulder-strewn bed with many deep plunge pools. My partner Sam and I caught a number of small fish (5"-9") that agressively hit Stimulators and Parachute Adams. These fish, though small, were acrobatic and very spunky, and incredibly brightly hued. This is not a place for "big fish" stories, but it was a fantastic place to enjoy flyfishing...

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Last updated 02-January-1998