August Happenings at WCO!

WOW it’s mid August and the local streams / rivers are FULL of water???? Call it El Nino or whatever you will but we’ll take it. While most of the country is battling drought conditions, our streams are full and we’re chasing everything that will eat a fly!  From trout to bass to catfish to carp many incredible opportunities are waiting for the fly.

With heavy rains of course sometimes the streams/river get cloudy or worse MUDDY!.  Part of the challenge is finding where the rains have fallen and just how much.  Thought we would share a few links that we keep a close eye on …. NOAA Automated Flood Warning System which is updated every fifteen minutes and local USGS River Gauges are also a big help.   These links should help you determine where the rain fell, just how much and what effect it has on the local streams.  Remember sometime you need to forget about hitting your favorite stream and fish the water that provides the best opportunity to get your rod bent.

“Trash” fish to many…  but carp eating dry flies are hard to resist.

Here in Morganton, NC we are very fortunate in that we always (well nearly always) have clear water to fish.  Of course sometime you must change the species you are going after but that is part of the challenge and that’s one of the reason many of us enjoy throwing the fly so much…. the Challenge!!  To many fly flingers the number of species on the fly is a major part of the challenge.  In fact Lefty’s newest book,  101 Fish – A Fly Fisher’s Life List is pretty much Lefty’s 101 fish stories about his most memorable fly caught fish.  So chasing other species on the fly is not a sin….  how many species have you caught on the fly?

Clear water after a big storm can be very rewarding!!

Found this beautiful rainbow in a gin clear stream the day after a huge front / rain storm moved through.  Of course if we told you where we would have to shoot you! :-)   Hope you understand.  Of course you can always head up higher in the hills to find clear water. But as we all know head water streams require a unique level of patience and not to mention the hard work to get from hole to hole.  “Bluelines” as they are commonly called very seldom get dirty but sure can get swift.

Sometime our only option to fish moving water is local tailraces below dams.  Typically tailraces stay clear unless something crazy is going on in the lake.  So next time the rain messes up your plans to go fishing, don’t give in to spouse pressure and stay home GO FISHING!!  We are not responsible for any harm this post may cause you! :-)

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!

Top Water Smallmouth Bass and Trout Too On The Fly!!

The catch and release portion of Delayed Harvest over until October, which means it’s time to chase smallies with top water poppers!  The season is getting started with a BANG!  Here’s a nice “double” from last weekend…..

Lots of healthy 12″ fish crushing the popper and the occasional bigger fish also.  Here’s our guide Chad Stevens with a nice smallie from last weekend.  These hard fighting river smallies are a blast on the fly rod.

Our guiding calendar is filling quickly so if you want to experience the thrill of chasing river smallies on the fly book your trip today!

We recommend 9ft 6wt fly rods with a good stiff 7-1/2ft 2 or 3x leader to battle these fish.  Our recommendation for poppers is fairly simple…  size 4 and 6 poppers in white, black and chartreuse is a great start.  Here’s a link to our great popper selection.

We’re also booking trips on the Catawba River tailrace below Lake James for trout on the fly.  The recreational flows being released from the dam are perfect for a great mix of dry fly and nymph action.  From beginners to life time anglers the Catawba tailrace offers something for everyone.

Here’s a nice rainbow (mostly a brown trout fishery but the occasional bow mixed in) from a recent trip.  This bow was a nice surprise since 99% of the fish we catch on the Catawba tailrace are brown trout.  With the limited access to this river it’s very tough to wade fish.  This is where our oar frame rigged rafts come into play.  These rigs are the perfect vessel for navigating the shallow riffles along the way.  With swivel seats in the front and rear, loaded cooler on board and anchor system as well as dry bags for your extra gear these boats provide a very comfortable way to access the river.

Here’s a picture of one of our rafts at the put in….

So as you can see we have some great options.  From trout to smallies, from Morganton throughout the mountains of western North Carolina our guests are sure to have a great day of fishing.