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! :-)

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. 

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.


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


Conditions are getting better and better….

With all the rain we have had over the past two weeks the streams and rivers are finally getting back into great shape.  Wilson Creek is getting gin clear and fishing incredibly!  Keep in mind the delayed harvest is about to change over to catch and keep but we have two more weeks of the stream being stacked and packed with trout.

Another nice DH fish

Another nice DH trout

It’s been a great DH season with several days of our guests catching over 50 trout.  Kind of sad to see it change over to catch and keep but this also marks the beginning of top water smallie action.

Catawba River tailrace below Lake James is finally getting back into shape after the multiple days of 2 plus inches of rain.  The browns are aggressively feeding on black stone flies and every minnow in sight.  Find pods of baitfish and you’ll find feeding trout within a few feet.  During low water (recreational flows) we’ve had some good days using Elk Hair Caddis dry flies and beadhead early black stones.  Once the generation starts it’s been all streamer action.  Here’s a link to Duke Energy’s site for generation info.

Smallmouth bass are starting to hammer top water poppers and this is just the beginning.  If you haven’t experienced top water river smallies you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Top Water Smallies!!!!

We are now booking trips for the 2012 smallie top water action.  Click here for booking info!

From browns to whites!

With the dogwood trees in bloom along the river, the Catawba tailrace not only looks nice it’s been fishing very “nice” also. The upper stretch from the dam to Muddy creek is closed to fishing until April 7th since it’s Hatchery Supported but the rest of the river has been fishing well. From the dam at Lake James to nearly Lake Rhodhiss we have been getting great reports from our guides, clients and friends.

The browns in the Special Regulations section have been very active and growing fatter by the day. With all the new grass sprouting up in the riffles that use to be dry at no generation looks like the mighty Catawba tailrace is on a good path.

The caddis hatch is all but over from what we have seen but several March Browns beginning to appear. Wish the caddis hatch would have lasted longer this year but it was good while it was here.

Early black stones have been working well and trailing a smaller pheasant tail seems to be a very good combination. During generation and in the lower stretches throwing the Catawba bugger has been the most productive technique for us.

The white bass run is going strong right now and should continue for a few weeks. White and olive clousers as well as the Catawba bugger in olive have been doing well for us.

Have a great day and remember….. it’s spring, time to go fishin!!!!!!

Streamer fishin… sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t!

Another good couple days on the Catawba this week.  Lots of hungry fish!!  The Caddis Hatch is tapering off but the fish are still looking for caddis to eat.  Late afternoon generation so far this week has provided some great days at minimum flow.

Brownie willing to eat

Lots of fish willing eat a well presented caddis  in the slow water.  In the riffle water the Catawba Bugger has been very productive, but in the slower pools the browns just want to lick it but not eat it.  So in the slower water we’ve been doing very well with big black beadhead stone flies, big like size 10!!

Streamer fishing can be a challenge, lots of casting and some tangles here and there.

In fact had a streamer hit the rod during a cast today and then on the next cast BOOM!  Another broken rod :-(   Thank goodness for a factory warranty.

Here’s a view the brownies are getting very use to seeing.
Tight lines, see ya on the river!

Book your trip today…..  here’s a quick link.

Catawba River tailrace Caddis Hatch

Bridgewater Hydro

View of Bridgewater Hydro from on top of the dam

Well it’s that time of year……  Caddis Hatch time on the Catawba River tailrace!! Lots of bugs on the river but really inconsistent flows.  I’ll try to get some good pictures of the bugs but it’s tough to get them to stand still and say “cheese”.  In fact my 6 year old listens better than these bugs!


Noticed the Duke Power site said no generation for today, so I stopped by the tailrace on the way to work and caught a few fish but really just caught the urge to go back as soon as possible.  Well that meant as soon as the shop closed at 4pm I was heading back.  So I spent the day watching the clock and at 4 I was already in my waders and out the door.

Good ol Ross reel

Drove straight there as fast as possible, of course I followed all posted speed limits! ;-)   With the dam being less than 10 miles from the shop, this has become one of my afternoon activities.  Stopped my truck, strung up my rod and was heading to the river as fast as possible.  Saw a few caddis flying around this morning but this afternoon was a different story.

CADDIS EVERYWHERE!!  Check out this video of the caddis crawling up my waders. 

Was able to get the browns to eat my dry fly!!  In fact, landed 18 browns and 12 of them on the DRY!! In February to beat all.  Our Wilson Creek Caddis in size 14 is a bit light colored for these Caddis but the fish did not seem to mind.

66 degrees at 5:18pm gotta love NC!!


As soon as things were getting good Duke Power decided to turn the wheels and mess up my afternoon delight.  An incredible February afternoon.

This hatch should only continue to get bigger over the next few weeks.  In years past I’ve seen the caddis flies so thick you would suck them in with every breath.  Hopefully we’ll get another huge hatch of them this year.

Here’s a quick video show the boat launch area without generation and then with 1 wheel running 1500cfs. 

We only have a few days open for guide trips over the next two weeks so if you want to experience an incredible caddis hatch right here in NC better book your trip soon.

Remember all guided trips are on sale for the month February.  Book in Feb for any date this year and save.  Here’s a quick link for you….