Scott Cunningham

About Scott Cunningham

17 year Veteran guide with a passion for top water bite especially smallmouth bass! Guide / Manager at Wilson Creek Outfitters in Morganton, NC

Double Boat Trip

Several times per year we get a request for a two boat trip (4 anglers). Chad and I really enjoy these trips because of the ribbing from one boat to another. Last month we did a two boat trip for clients that have fished with us a few times before. As usual we loaded my raft on the upper rack on our double trailer and headed out.

Swivel seats, lean bars & anchor systems

Dad and the daughter floated with me, while Mom and son were in Chad’s boat.  We found clear water and also found some nice smallies on top water.  All four anglers caught fish, one of them, I won’t mention names :-) forgot that you set the hook BEFORE you let out a scream, hoot or yell!  Everyone seemed to have a very good time, I know I really enjoyed the day on the river.

Riverside Picnic!

On their trip last year we had three boats on the water but it was a total wash out…. rained from the time we met and continued to after we took the boats out of the water.  Was surprised when they booked another trip.  No rain this year, absolutely perfect weather with high’s in the low 80′s, partially cloudy and no wind!

Looking upstream from our lunch spot

We flip flopped the lead several times during the float.  It is always fun to watch Chad work the oars and put his clients on fish!  This float has several nice Class II drops to keep the rower on their toes.  Drops that are just enough to get a little splash to keep the front angler cool and ready for their next cast.

We have three custom oar frame Aire rafts ready to get your group on the water!  If you want to book a multiple boat trip drop me a line at and we’ll out the details.

Back in the hills!

Just getting back in from a week with my family in N. Myrtle Beach. WOW it was crowded and I didn’t cast a line all week. We had a great time but is sure was nice to see the mountains as I was driving up 321 towards Hickory!

Arrived home to realize my grass was TALL and the local rivers need my attention! Grass mowed today on the river with a great guy tomorrow, looking forward to putting a Louisianan onto some smallies!!

For the record the Le Grand Cirque in Myrtle Beach was damn entertaining!  Wasn’t so sure as my wife bought tickets but I was very impressed.  Of course watching my daughter laugh was a big part of the entertainment for me.  Back to fishing….  the Ripley’s Aquarium was not so impressive to me or my daughter.

Chad covered my guide trips last week and looks like the trout fishing on the Catawba Tailrace continues to hold strong through the summer months.  Here’s Thomas with a Catawba brown…

Great seeing a young angler this HAPPY!!

Walt and I added a few new trip options to our Guide Trip Line Up before I left town….

1/2 and full wade trips on a private section of the Linville River
These trips allow our guests to chase the big boys in a private setting.
Trips are offered June through November
1/2 day wade trips on our exclusive access area of the Catawba Tailrace
We have leased access to an incredible section of the Catawba Tailrace.  This allows our guests to fish a section of the river very few anglers get to fish.  Solitude is the name of the game here, and did I mention big brown trout???  10 minute drive from our shop to the river, spend less time riding in a car and more time fishing!

I’m glad to be back in the hills and looking forward to getting on the water ASAP!  Guiding schedule for August / September is filling up quickly, several re-schedules from our wet last few weeks.  Tailrace is fishing solid and the smallie rivers are in great shape, now is a great time to get out and enjoy this incredible area.

Oh yea we have 4 more days on our latest coupon offering at ezflyfish Just remember to add tippet12 in the coupon box during check out to save 12% bumped to 18%!! Remember all remaining Rio, C&F, Sage and Redington products are on SALE!

Western NC Fishing Report

Well it’s mid July and the weather has been crazy here in western NC.  From 90+ degree weather and then a solid week of rain to follow.  Looks like the weather is beginning to straighten out and the great fishing will follow.  Before the rains of last week the fishing was very good to great!  From the Catawba tailrace for trout to the local warm water rivers for smallmouth bass the catching has been “solid” to say the least.

Catawba tailrace……  during minimum flows (140 cfs) the nymph bite has been ON!  Black stone flies (sz 10) trailed by a pheasant tail (sz 14-16) has been a great “goto” rig.  From the eddy below mid river boulders to the deep run below the riffles the trout are very willing to eat your fly!  These fish are so use to the higher flows they tend to hang in areas that provide shelter with or without generation.  During generation (1500 cfs) the streamer bite has been very good and should only get better.  Our Catawba Buggers have been very effective for trout and here’s a nice striper I caught while streamer fishing a few weeks back…  btw we were trout fishing with 9ft 5weights.

Striper on the Catawba BuggerSmallmouth Bass on the fly report….  the smallies have been hammering the top water poppers whenever the water has 2 or more feet of visibility.  Size 4 and 6′s, plopped down and drifted have been the ticket.

Don’t forget about our newest trips in our line up….  Exclusive Access Area and Private Trophy Stream trips!

Private Water PiggyWe still have a few dates available for August, book your trip as soon as possible to assure your date is open.  Here’s a quick link for your convenience. 

Incredible Top Water Smallie Action

With the USGS gauge showing the river running at just over 1000 cfs I knew today was going to be a good day.  Then checking the weather and seeing the high of 75 and chance of thundershowers……  the “stars were aligning”!!!  It’s not too often the conditions are this perfect and I’m not working so I was really excited this morning while getting ready for the trip.  Loaded the cooler with some fried chicken, a few sprites and 8 Yuenglings I was ready.  Met my buddy and fellow guide Chad Stevens and his girlfriend at his house, apparently Chad was excited too because the boat was already hooked up to his Tahoe.

Arrived at the river around 9am after getting our shuttle service set up with put in and take out locations.  We quickly loaded the boat and hit the river….  Didn’t take long and we were into smallies on a top water popper to beat all.  In fact we only threw top water poppers all day long.  White was our color of choice and the smallies seemed to like them also.

What a way to start the day!!!!!!!!   It was “ON” to say the least.  Over the next 8 miles that we floated all three of us sore mouthed many smallies and some of them pushing 18+ inches.


From slow sips to hammering the poppers we had all types of hits but every fish had one thing in common….  they were in the slower water.  The river is usually much lower this time of year and it’s been muddy most of the winter / spring so with the clear water and the river level dropping rapidly the smallies were holding tight to cover that created slack water downstream.   Days like this just don’t come around often enough.  But when they do it sure is nice to be on the water with good friends and fishermen.  Chad and I have been filling our guiding calendar but still have several dates for smallmouth trips available.  If you want to see what these smallies on top water poppers is all about, click here for booking details.


FYI we were fishing 9ft 6wt flyrods with 7-1/2ft 1X leaders.  We were throwing size 4 white popping bugs.

Thanks for reading and keep following our blog for more smallie pics and info.  Chad and I both have 13ft Aire rafts with custom oar frames installed.  Swivel seats, anchor system and coolers on board make these boats very comfortable to fish from.  Our boats can handle up to 2 anglers and 1 guide, so trips with 3 or more anglers require a second and or third boat.   BTW we saw 3 people fishing while floating 8 miles of river.  Not sure this can be done on many rivers throughout the US!

Big rainbows too

Fished the Catawba today with a great client from Hendersonville.  At the put inSaw that Duke Power was running 2 generators so we opted for a lower float to give us more time before the generation caught up with us.  Landed a nice brown in the first riffle we fished, but then the catching slowed a bit.  Picked up a fish or two here and there but nothing consistent.

The water color was perfect with the minimum flow generators supplying about 150 cfs.    Most of our fish came to hand on the bh black stone fly size 10.  Also caught a few on clients version of a split back rubber leg stone fly.

Then while working a great riffle that has produced many great browns over the years client hooked up with a very nice and healthy rainbow.  Very strange since this river is almost exclusive brown trout.

Overall a great day on the water with a very knowledgeable angler.  To book your trip on the Catawba tailrace click here


Rainy week… means great fishing is around the corner!

It’s been a rainy couple of days here in Morganton, had to re-schedule two trips this week.  Catawba was high and muddy this morning and we’ve had rain most of the day.

Wilson Creek had a nice flow to it this past weekend when Chad and I were doing a group trip.  The section we fished was full of fish and our clients had a blast.  But with this rain it’s on the rise!  Should be a little “tea” colored by Saturday but Thursday and Friday’s fishing might be a little tough.  BTW “tea” colored water at WC is a good thing!  Here’s the USGS gauge for the John’s River downstream of Wilson Creek.

I’m booked Saturday and don’t fish on Mother’s Day, but Chad is open for Saturday if you wanna get into them!  We have a few opening next week and with the rain moving out it looks to be good conditions.

Let us know if you wanna get into some brownies on the Catawba or into some bows, browns and brooks on Wilson Creek!

Wild Troutin!

Had an incredible day with a great client on a Wild trout stream today.  We landed more fish that I have fingers and toes to count so I would say we wore em out.  All brown trout, all on top water flies!!!

Great Coloring

Jim wanted to try out him new 7’6″ 3wt rod he just picked up last week so we headed into those hills.  Did I mention he put a new limited edition Ross Evolution Brown Trout reel on this new rod??  What a sweet set up for chasing blue line brown trout on dry flies.

Slide on a rock early today and busted up my shim pretty good but this didn’t slow the hot fishing.  Several holes produced 3 or 4 fish, if you hit “the spot” they would crush the dry.

Did run into a water snake that did not want to get in the water, in fact saw 4 water snakes but this one was stubborn and didn’t want to move.  Guess he was enjoying the sun shine and watching the march brown hatching from every hole.


The backcountry lunch was chicken salad on flat bread, gorgonzola potato salad and seedless grapes. Why does everything taste better when you are outdoors??

We stopped for lunch but was quickly back into fishing and catching.  Not sure who was hungrier the fish or me??

One of those incredible days on the water with a great client!  For your info most of our fish came to hand on Parachute March Browns in size 12-14, we also caught fish on brown Elk Hair Caddis in size 14.



Talked fishin then went fishin!

Walt and I spent Saturday at the Foothills Conservancy’s Wine Festival at Catawba Meadows Park in Morganton.  What a great venue to hold a festival like this.  We had a great time talking to old friends, meeting new friends and listening to the great music.  The Harris Brothers are awesome!!  The weather was perfect, a little cool in the morning, overcast most of the day and then as we packed up the sun broke through. Lots of talkin about fishin!!

Our booth getting set up

Spent Sunday floating with Chad.  We decided to take advantage of the higher flows and floated a stretch of a river we have never floated before.  The river is regulated as Hatchery Supported so we knew we would see others fishing. 

Just let me tell you we’ll never do this float again.  The fishing was slow….  but having to portage or carry over two low water bridges was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Also has another low bridge that we could barely fit under.

Damn these low water bridges

Managed a mixed bag of fish….  brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, bream, redeye bass and suckers.  For the record I didn’t catch any suckers!! So it wasn’t a bad float, the scenery was worth the work.  Check out this waterfall 20-30 feet from the river we were fishing.

The scenery along this stretch was well worth the effort we put into it.  We fished streamers all day.  Black buggers and the articulated leeches seemed to be the top producers of the day.

Busy, productive week

I’ve been on the water 5 of the last 6 days and enjoyed nearly every minute of it.  From floating the Catawba on Monday with Craig and Dale to ending the week on the Tuck with Ted, it’s been a good week.

Craig and Dale were lots of fun to fish with on Monday.  We laughed and had a good time all day long and caught some nice fish to top it off.  Had recreation flow to start the day and then around 2 pm the 1 wheel generation caught up with us and we switched over to the Catawba Buggers.

Craig with a Catawba River brown - yep it took a Catawba Bugger!

Gerry and I spent the day on Wilson Creek early in the week and boy was it windy!  It was so windy…..  well I’ll leave the jokes alone and stick to the fishing.  We did well flopping (really couldn’t cast with all the wind) a wooly bugger over and working it downstream.

Lots of fun on Wilson Creek

Did a little back country fishing with Jim on Wednesday.  Lots of fun but tough on my legs and I’m sure he was a bit sore also…..  at least I hope I was the only one a little sore.  Our Wilson Creek Caddis and Stimulators did the trick.

Sometimes you gotta work for the fun!

Due to a re-schedule I had Thursday off so I worked in the shop and got ready for my Friday and Saturday trips.  Headed out early Friday for the trek across western NC to Dillsboro to pick up my client at the Dillsboro Inn Bed and Breakfast.  Ted and I floated the afternoon back towards the old dam at Dillsboro.  Waited until 12:30 to put in since the generation arrived at Webster around 12:15.  Caught several fish on ….. yep you guessed it the Catawba Bugger.  Wade fished for a half day with Ted this morning and the fishing was a bit tougher.  Still managed a few fish but was hoping for more.

Red Sox and Patriots fan..... I still let him in the boat, getting easy in my old age.

Overall a great week on the water but I need to sit down at the vise and stock my boxes back up. Blew up the bladder in my raft floor but have it out and ready to ship to Idaho to be repaired.  Luckily had access to a spare bladder so my boat is back ready to fish.

Few openings remain for this week, give us a call or book on-line as soon as possible to secure your date.

40th Aniversery Weekend

Spent the last two days on the water with a wonderful couple celebrating their 40 anniversary here in the mountains. It was a pleasure getting to spend time on the water with such wonderful people.

We covered the basics on Wilson Creek, dialed in their casting and caught some fish! Btw was checked by the Game Warden which was good to see since more enforcement means less poaching.

Floated the Catawba tailrace the second day and caught many brown trout. Dead drifting big black stones was the trick for sure. Caught a fish on the first cast of the day and continued to catch fish all day long. Action slowed a bit once the cloud cover burned off around 1pm but as the sun dropped behind the hills the fishing picked up.

Really seemed like they had a great trip, learned to fly fish, ate at Yiannis Friday night, Churchills on Saturday night and stayed a the Inn at Glen Alpine for the weekend. Trying to do all I can to help the local economy! Check this pic I snapped of the Inn at Glen Alpine.