Delayed Harvest is an amazing time for new anglers to get out on the water. All the fish are stocked and usually stack up in certain holes which can new anglers gain experience because repetition is key.
We pride ourselves in keeping the shop stocked with products at different price points because money shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. A quality 5wt is a good rod as it can handle trout and also some warm water bass trips. Most DH fishing will be indicator nymphing or using small streamers. A 4wt is also a good set up and it can be used for smaller, wild streams.
Fly selection for DH streams has several phases but to keep things concise we will break it down into initial stocking or beginning of the season and post stocking or mid to late season.
The first two weeks after a trout has been stocked is its most vulnerable time to be caught. Flies like mops, squirmy worms, and eggs will catch lots of fish. Flashy nymphs like Blue Assassins, Lightening Bugs, or flash back pheasant tails also work well. Trout will gather in large holes that resembles water speeds of the hatchery so exploring to find the fish is critical. A good way to find which hole the fish are in is to throw a small streamer like a wooly booger. Your goal isn’t to catch fish but to watch for strikes or flashes. Once you find them switch to a nymph rig. Deep holes will be the primary spots fish stack up. It’s not until later in the season that fish will spread out into pocket water and smaller riffle runs.
After a magical two weeks it’s time to get to the real fishing. The bulk of DH season is in the cold months so bug activity is low. Knowing this means our fly patterns need to be general or attractor patterns. Nymphs like pheasant tails, rainbow warriors, Pat’s rubber legs, Holy Grail, or Walt’s worm. Soft hackles in any pattern are great since they give off buggy movements that entice trout. After fish are caught a few times they become much more picky about presentation, so a drag free drift and tidy mends are critical. Fish will also start holding in smaller runs and pocket water. Come late winter or early spring fish will move into shallow runs for bug hatches. Blue Wing Olives will start to hatch late February and early March. We have noticed North Carolina streams seem to have better bug hatches but the Toccoa or Chattooga DH still have plenty of bugs.
- Don’t stop at the first pull off you see. DH streams get an unbelievable amount of pressure so be smart about where you start.
- The big runs have fish but they’ve been fished hard especially if you aren’t the first one on the water that day.
- Secondary runs and pocket water will provide much greater success.
- If the runs you’re fishing are shallow, don’t hesitate to use a hopper dropper or swing small streamers.
- Euro nymphing is an effective tool for quick pocket water that gets flies deep very quickly. This technique requires a special rod and line. Ask about it the next time you visit us!
- Keep a fly box with general patterns that imitate many bug species. Mayflies and stoneflies will make up the bulk of anglers box.
Happy fishing and stay warm out there! The shop is stocked with all new layers for your winter adventures.