Fall Feeding Frenzy, on the Fly by David Forkner
Transylvania Times, Sept. 2016
For most folks in the south, autumn means shorter days, pumpkin patches, crisp evenings and falling leaves. For me fall means one thing, fishing. While many leaf lookers head to the Parkway for breathtaking vistas, I head straight for the water.
Transylvania County, known as the land of waterfalls, has over 250 falls and receives over 90 inches of rain annually. This aquatic abundance makes for a pescadorian paradise and offers a cornucopia of streams and rivers to explore. The area’s year round fishing reaches its pinnacle as kids return to school and water temps fall below tubing tolerances.
During the summer, water temperatures rise and force fish to become more sedentary while seeking cooler deep holes and hard to find cover. This makes fishing difficult and even dangerous for the overheated, underfed summer trout. Subsequently fish are less likely to work for a meal, limiting their feeding to what happens to float by rather than chasing a bait fish.
With fall’s arrival, water temperatures drop into the 50-60 degree range and trout become more active. Specifically during fall, brown trout become hyper aggressive as they migrate to their chosen spawning grounds. It is during this time that 5” fuzzy streamers replace dainty size 24 micro bugs. Streamers are typically designed to imitate a baitfish or other larger aquatic animals as opposed to a more traditional fly that mimics an aquatic bug. There’s something incredible about watching a frenzied trout chase down a giant articulated streamer, like a lion taking down a wildebeest.
Though fall is the driest time of year here in Transylvania County, there are still plenty of opportunities to fish rising waters. During and just after a fall shower is truly when trout lose their minds, behaving more like piranha, attacking anything that moves in the stained cool autumn waters.
Confluences and the base of waterfalls are great places to start your search for hungry fall fish. When in doubt, refer to your local fly shop for fly selection and expert advice to optimize your chances of landing a behemoth fall brown. The two fall patterns I never leave home without, are Flymen Fishing Companies Skulpin Bunny and an assorted variety of egg patterns.
I will typically start with streamers, as I said there’s not much more exciting in the world of fly fishing than watching a crazed salmonid crush several inches of feather and deer hair. If streamers aren’t getting it done or I really need to get down deep, I will switch over to a combination of a larger weighted bug, like a stonefly, trailed by an egg pattern. Depending on current and water depth I will often use split shot between the two flies allowing them to get down deep while maintaining the egg’s ability to freely float near the bottom.
For those more inclined to glass rods and finesse rather than striping ill tempered flies the size of small chickens, there are several Caddis and Blue Winged Olive hatches. As fall transitions into winter, especially during times of low clear water, dry flies can be a highly effective means of tricking trout.
Regardless of your experience level or preferred fishing technique, fall fishing in Transylvania County is not to be missed.