By resident guide and “fish whisperer” Ken Kastorff
Spring is my favorite angling time of the year here in the southeast. All of the delayed harvest streams are stocked from March through May. Rivers like the Upper Nantahala, Tuckaseege and Snowbird Creek will give anglers the opportunity to enjoy some of the best early season trout fishing found anywhere.
March also heralds in scheduled releases on the Nantahala River. That means it’s time to get back out and float this eight mile, beautiful river that boasts some of the best non-stop fishing action in the United States. While fishing the Nantahala is more challenging than the delayed harvest streams, it is considered one of the best trout streams found in our area. The cold water coming from the bottom of Lake Nantahala makes this the premier late spring, summer and fall option for both wading – and particularly floating, for great quality Browns and Rainbows, as well as Brooks.
This is a great time to catch fish on streamers, dry flies and nymphs. Wooly Buggers, girdle bugs, prince nymphs, egg patterns along with dry flies like black caddis, light cahill, quill gorden, blue wing olives, just about anything will work on these streams.
Other opportunities include general fishing – which opens up again the first Saturday in April. Fontana Lake will start filling up with the spring rains. Those rains will herald in the spring lake runs of steelhead, white bass, rainbow and brown trout, musky and walleye. It is not unusual to catch several different species on one trip. I have had some great days catching more than 60 steelhead exclusively on dry flies. I have never found dry fly fishing anywhere else that comes close to the action you can find in late spring afternoon at any of the tributaries coming into Lake Fontana.
So the hardest thing about spring fishing in the mountains is getting enough time off from work to enjoy all the options. There are days when we will fish a delayed harvest stream from early morning into the afternoon and then head to a lake tributary for some great early evening dry fly fishing. You can hardly go wrong at this time of the year scheduling a day of fly fishing.