After a long winter, anglers are giddy to get outside and back to fishing. March is a volatile month when it can feel like summer Monday thru Thursday then a cold front blows in to make it feel like winter for the weekend. A good general rule to follow when planning a trip in the spring is look for three consecutive days of nice weather. Nice weather this time of year is daytime highs in the upper 50’s/low 60’s with nighttime lows not getting below freezing.
The bug world starts to come alive again in the spring. Midges dominate the winter season as they’re a hardy yet boring aquatic critter to fly anglers. Midges don’t go away after winter so it’s important to keep some size 18-22 Griffith’s Gnats because they’re a safe bet if you see fish rising on a seemingly invisible hatch. On a more upbeat note caddis and mayflies join the party in March. The Toccoa tailwater is famous for it’s black caddis hatch and BWOs will show up on warm, cloudy days in Chattahoochee River sections like Jone’s Bridge. Stoneflies are the odd man out as black winter stoneflies are done for the year and the sporadic Golden stones still need a few more months. This time of year highlights the need for classic, do it all patterns. We all have our favorites like Walt’s worm, pheasant tail, Pat’s Rubber Legs, hare’s ear, RS2s, parachute Adams, zebra midge and so on. Make sure to have a few of these with a soft hackle. Soft hackles represent the emerger stage really well and look much “buggier” when they’re in the water. Pick up a few different sizes to cover your bases and you’ll be good to go. It doesn’t hurt to carry some specific patterns if you’re looking to cover a caddis or mayfly hatch. Luckily in the southeast our fish aren’t as choosey as their western relatives. You can return to a hopper dropper style of fishing towards the later part of the month since warmer water temps will have the fish willing to move a little farther. Attractor patterns like Rainbow Warriors, Prine Nymph, Sexy Walt’s Worm, and Frenchies do very well dropped off a dry.
Delayed harvest streams in both Georgia and North Carolina really start to heat up in March with great bug hatches. We have to give the edge to North Carolina DH streams for the hatches. The Nantahala and Tuck have some great mid-day BWO hatches with caddis mixed in. The Toccoa DH outside of Blue Ridge also has good bug life. The only snag with DH streams this time of year is that they get blown out by heavy spring rains. Wild streams will start to come alive and fish will move out of their deep winter runs. Start in lower elevation watersheds and as the weather warms up you can head higher. Trying to fish brookies off the Blue Ridge Parkway early season wouldn’t be worth the trip but fishing streams in Union, Fannin, or Rabun counties would be more rewarding. Speaking of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it typically doesn’t open up till early April since ice and snow is an issue.
Spring ushers in camping season with cool nights and comfortable days. Camping is a great excuse to go a little farther north and really explore areas that are a 2+ hour drive one way. Brevard, NC is a great jumping off point. Brevard has the famous Davidson that runs through town and all its Pisgah National Forest treasures. It’s near the start of the three forks of the French Broad, too. The North Fork of the French Broad is the most remote of the forks. We only recommend this water for physically fit individuals with good wading experience because this section is both remote and demanding. Asheville is another good area to start a trip. It has easy access to miles of Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. A sleeper river that we don’t see getting much attention is the Green River which is south of Asheville. It’s in a deep canyon that’s similar to the Nantahala. They do release on the Green for kayakers so be aware and check the schedule.
Along with trout water warming up all the neighborhood and farm ponds around the Metro area start warming up as well. While a trout trip might have to wait for the weekend or cost you a vacation day an afternoon of bass fishing can be had after work. A 5wt or 6wt with a crawfish or wooly booger stripped near fallen trees will usually get a bend on your rod. Since most ponds aren’t managed well don’t expect to catch giants but since bass spawn in the spring you might get lucky and land a big, pre-spawn female. Bluegill and Black Crappie are common pond fish that inhabit many of the same waters as bass. The Big Creek Greenway has plenty of public access if you like moving water. Sunfish and small largemouth are the dominant species here.
Spring Gear Essentials
Hatch 4 Plus Gen 2 Finatic – The workhorse reel that makes any 5wt combo feel perfect
Patagonia Early Rise Snap Shirt – Perfect layer to knock the chill off a cool spring morning without being obnoxiously bulky
Patagonia Early Rise Snap Shirt(Women’s) – Just like the men’s shirt but comes with a hood and better pockets. You know it’s good when the guys are jealous.
Echo Carbon XL – Hardly a “budget” rod with its balanced feel and easy loading. Affordable for the new and courious fly angler. Available in sizes from 3-6wt.
Sage Spectrum C – A workhorse reel in an aesthetic package that’s at a great price point.
As always, come by the shop or give us a call for more recommendations on gear, locations, or fly patterns. We love serving you!