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May: The Magic Month for North Carolina Fly Fishing

If you’ll be doing some North Carolina fly fishing, this “May” be your month.

As both an avid fly fisherman and a professional fly fishing instructor and guide, I anxiously await the advent of the first warm weather of the year which usually occurs in April here in western North Carolina.

In fact, my first sign that the best fly fishing of the year is just around the corner is when the perennial flowers around my house burst forth their beds and the Dogwood tree in my front yard blooms.

Shortly after that, I inevitably start seeing bees, beetles, ants, and black flies and later on, caterpillars as the buds on the larger trees open. As soon as this long anticipated change in the weather occurs each spring, I start to feel an irresistible urge to don my waders, take up my fly rod, and venture forth to a local steam to pit my wits against one of nature’s most challenging game fish; wild mountain trout.

During the month of May here in western North Carolina, the water temperature in our backcountry streams stays relatively cool but begins to warm with daytime highs often in the low- to mid-seventies.

Therefore, there is plenty of dissolved oxygen in the water to enable the trout to feed and a surprising number of aquatic insect hatches also happen at that temperature this time of year.

In fact, I recently guided two clients into the middle section of my favorite stream and had what was quite possibly the best day I have ever had! Admittedly, the place that I took them is little-known and seldom fished because it requires a 1.2 mile hike down the mountain into a steep gorge and once you are there, the creek is relatively small with rugged terrain and a lot of pocket water.

But, my clients specifically expressed interest in fishing with dry flies and that section of that particular stream just happens to be perfect for it.

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Upon arriving at the stream, I gave one client a Light Cahill and the other one an Elk Hair Caddis and proceeded to explain to them the difference between sheltering lies, feeding lies, and prime lies. We also talked about the difference between brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout habitat, and then I set them to fishing.

Over the course of the rest of the day, they actually caught so many browns and rainbows that I literally lost count. We reckoned it to be between 20 and 25 wild trout between the two of them, not to mention all of the ones that they missed!

So, if you love both excellent fly fishing and beautiful scenery, then you should visit us here in western North Carolina and, as always, please feel free to post your suggestions and comments about this article below.

May: The Magic Month for North Carolina Fly Fishing