Davidson River Outfitters - Stream Report

Stream Report

November 8, 2017

Overview: This November finds Western North Carolina trout anglers with an abundance of water, and more fishing opportunities than they have had for the last several years.  While some of our recent rainfall has made for too much water just after the event, overall stream conditions have been much improved.  With temperatures forecast to fall back into their normal range, anglers can expect Brown Trout to begin moving to spawn and aquatic insect activity to be on the rise.

Davidson River: The Davidson is holding at a great flow for fishing all sections.  While the main Davidson is still gin clear, and as tricky as ever, the upper reaches are fishing exceptionally well for anglers who are sure of foot and have the stamina for aggressive pocket water fishing.  For those who do like the challenge, the Main Davidson has been offering some excellent sight fishing opportunities over the last few weeks, but anglers should keep in mind that there are no guarantees beyond pleasant scenery when it comes to fishing this stretch.

The best shot for catching them with both ease of access, and lack of wading, is at the Fish Hatchery.  This stretch is showing marked improvement with the additional water, and for those who like fishing tiny flies on tippets in the sub 7x range, the fishing may be somewhat reminiscent of years gone by.  Finally, November is a great time to see big Browns moving in the larger pools on the Davidson, but anglers should keep in mind that fish that are actively spawning should be left alone and simply observed rather than harassed.

Wild Trout: Wild trout fishing is still good, and should continue to be until winter sets in.  Lower elevation streams like Bradley Creek, South Mills River, and the North Fork of the French Broad are all excellent places to explore in late fall.  While nymphing is the predominant tactic for fishing these streams, anglers may be pleasantly surprised to find fish willing to rise to dry flies during the warmth of mid day.  Small caddis, small baetis, and small winter stoneflies should all be on the menu in the months to come, with the emphasis on small.

Delayed Harvest:  Our area Delayed Harvest streams are currently undergoing their second fall stocking, and should continue to fish well throughout the month.  Higher streamflows allow newly stocked fish to spread out into a variety of holding water, thus making for less “shooting fish in a barrel”, and more sustainable fishing into winter.

Fly Patterns: Elk Hair Caddis 16-18, Black Stimulator 16-20, Griffith’s Gnat 18-22, Peacock Soft Hackle 16-20, Olive Hare’s Ear 16-18, Pheasant Tail 16-20, Trip Saver 10-12, Tungsten Death Metal 16-18, Devil Jig 14-16, Squirmito 12-16, Micro Spawn 10-12, Zebra Midge 20-22, Tube Midge 20-22, Red Hot Midge 22-24, Barr’s Emerger 20-22 

Avery's Creek

Avery's Creek is a small but vital stream to life on the Davidson. Early Spring finds Avery's flow above normal but very fishable. When winter rains push the Davidson up and out of banks many large fish will hold in the small water of Avery's Creek. Staying here until low water flow forces them out into the main river again. Also in spring Rainbows spawn in its pea size gravel. Then in fall Browns do the same. Don't overlook this small tributary of the Davidson. This steam is classified Wild Trout and has no closed season.

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Courthouse Creek

Courthouse Creek is the headwaters of the French Broad river. Its beginnings are under the Devils Courthouse on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Always clear and cold this small stream is brimming with Browns and Rainbows in the 6"to 10" range. Although small in comparison to many of the area streams it will produce more fish on the fly than many larger streams. Although the fish may be smaller they add a great challenge to even the best angler. Most of the stream is open and easy to cast on. The stream has several small waterfalls on it and many deep pools six to eight feet deep. This stream is classified Wild Trout and has no closed season.

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Davidson River

[Davidson River fishing] The Davidson River is ranked as one of Trout Unlimited's top 100 trout streams in North America and is our "home water". Located in North Transylvania the stream is a fly fisherman's dream. Large pools abound as well as long runs with pockets and eddies with large trout 18" to 24" cruising its waters. The water runs crystal clear even during the rains of spring. Much like a spring creek it must be fished with light tippet. 6X to 8X is desirable in 9' to 12' lengths. Though the river can get quite crowded, there are many areas on the river where one can find solitude if he or she looks. This stream is classified Catch and Release Fly Fishing Only.

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Looking Glass Creek

Only the flow of this stream is vital to the Davidson. Looking Glass Falls are located about one half mile above the conflux of the Davidson and Looking Glass. Therefore spawning on Looking Glass is prevented. The stream is a clear jewel. At times it is forty to fifty feet wide and other times barely ten feet wide. It winds and crosses under the highway several times as in flows from under the Blue Ridge Parkway.This stream is brimming with trout in the 11" to 14" range. Trout Unlimited is presently doing a feeding program to improve the size ofthe trout in this stream. This crystal clear jewel is classified Wild Trout with no closed season.

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East Fork of the French Broad

The East Fork is one of the four tributaries of the French Broad. While there are many private stretches, there is also enough easily reached water to make the East Fork a desirable location. This stream is classified as Delayed Harvest.

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North Mills River

North Mills heads up in Northwestern Henderson County and is part of the City of Hendersonville's water supply. Coming out of the reservoir North Mills begins its journey to the French Broad. The stream meanders through laurels hemlocks and evergreens. Cool in winter it begins to heat up in early June due to the reservoir at it head. This stream runs clear and clears fast after rain due to the settling in the reservoir. Not deep or wide it allows for easy wading and some overhead casting but generally it is considered tight fishing. This stream is classified Delayed Harvest and has no closed season, but has different regulations during the season.

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South Mills River

South Mills begins in Northern Transylvania and flows about 15 mile before going into Henderson County. The upper end of South Mills is near the Blue Ridge Parkway and flows down the mountain through laurel and evergreens. Several small water falls and deep pools allow for fish to have ample oxygen during hot summer days. This stream has been on Trout Unlimited Top 100. The stream has a healthy population of native browns and rainbows. It has a fire road running it entire length to Henderson County. The lower end of the river has horse back riding trails and can be muddied often as equestrians cross the stream. This stream is classified Wild Trout and has no closed season.

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West Fork of the French Broad

Located in Haywood County, the West Fork of the French Broad River begins along the Blue Ridge parkway. The tannic colored water falls rather quickly and picks up volume from a small stream flowing from Little Sam's Mountain as well as numerous springs along the way. Near the upper end, mostly brook trout will be caught with a few browns mixed in. As the stream descends the mountain, browns become more and more prevalent. Large boulders and rocks make for interesting fishing. This stream will remind you of fishing a small western trout stream with its fir tree canopy up near the parkway. This stream is Hatchery Supported and has a closed season from the 1st day of March until the 1st Saturday in April.

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French Broad

The French Broad begins under Devil's Courthouse, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Transylvania County NC. From there, the river flows generally northeasterly through the Appalachian Mountains for 213 miles, eventually joining with the Holston River in Tennessee to form the Tennessee River .

The French Broad is one of the most diverse fisheries in the world. The head waters of the river in Transylvania County are home to Brown Brook and Rainbow Trout with a few of the small streams containing true, Southern Strain Brook Trout. From the town of Rosman to the city of Brevard, the river is mixed with Trout, Smallmouth and Largemouth bass, and Muskellunge as well as Panfish and Course fish. From the City of Brevard to the Asheville Regional Airport, the river is mainly a Muskellunge fishery with a few Bass and Panfish mixed in. From the Airport area North to the confluence with the Holston the river is home to a world-class Smallmouth Bass fishery, along with Stripers, Walleye, Largemouth, Kentucky Spotted Bass, Blue and Channel Catfish, White Drum and countless other species.

The difficulty in fishing the French Broad is that the river from Brevard, all the way to Lake Douglas in TN can be muddy for days or weeks at a time, from rainfall that may occur 100 miles upstream. From the Barnard NC area north to Hot Springs, the river flows through a large gorge that contains up to class 4 whitewater rapids and should not be navigated by the inexperienced white water rower. However, the river from Brevard to Barnard is a gentle slow moving river that can be navigated by even the greenest of rower's.

Unfortunately, wading access is fairly limited on the main French Broad. The best wading access is located along River Road between Asheville and the hamlet of Alexander NC.

For the best fly fishing, the river needs to have at least 24” of visibility, for those that are using conventional tackle you only need about 10 inches of visibility to have a great day on the water.

Click for Streamflow data


The Watauga River is considered one of the top ranked tailwaters in the Southeast. Located in Eastern Tennessee, its cold clear water and endless limestone ledges make a great habitat for brook, brown, and rainbow trout. The river begins below the Wilbur Dam and flows west into Sullivan County where it reaches Boone Lake.

Fishing on the Watauga is great the entire year. This river is undoubtedly known for its 5 miles of “Trophy Trout Water” which is a special regulated section only accessible by boat. Other areas of the river are accessible by utilizing public access points however, water releases from both dam structures often affects the water levels as well as the clarity of the water with little warning.

Springtime hatches of sulphurs, black caddis, and crane flies make this time of year the most productive, although trout are willing to eat throughout the summer months with terrestrial's imitations becoming the most successful patterns used. Autumn provides the next best time of year to fish the Watauga because the weather and discharges are usually very stable and dependable. Blue Winged Olives, Caddis, and little Black Stoneflies are the most popular flies for the season but don't rule out a big lifelike streamer to bring out the big boy!

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The Tuckaseegee River is noted as the best tailwater is North Carolina. Formed from the confluence of the East and West Fork, the cold water discharges from each Dam provides suitable habitat for brook, brown, and rainbow trout through most of the year. The most notable section of the Tuck is the Delayed Harvest section from the Hwy 107 Bridge west to the town of Dillsboro. This special regulated section of river holds more fish per mile than any other river in the state during full stocking but the best fishing usually occurs from October 1st through the first Saturday in June.

Access to the Tuckaseegee is along N. River Road at any gravel pull off along the river. This large body of water is great for wading and is wide open for casting however, daily generation schedules fluctuate the water levels beyond safe wading. During generation, floating in a drift boat or raft is the best option.

Typical Delayed Harvest patterns such as San Juan Worms, Eggs, and flashy bead head nymphs are go to patterns for producing fish while caddis nymphs and small streamers always produce larger fish.

Click for Streamflow data
Click for Generation Report


Insects Fly Pattern Hook Sz.
Adults Dries/Emergers  
Blue Wing Olive Mayflies Parchute BWO, Thorax Dun 18-24
Midges(Cream, Olive, Black) Parachute Adams, Midge 18-24
Micro Caddis (Black, Gray) Elk Hair Caddis 18-20
Dark Stones Clipped Caddis 18-22
Nymphs/Larva Nymphs  
Blue Olive Mayflies Olive Hare's Ear, Olive P.T. 16-20
March Brown Mayflies BH Pheasant Tail 16-20
American Grannom Caddis Peeking Caddis 14-18
Rockworm Caddis Super Pupa 16-20
Midges(Cream, Black, Olive) RS-2, WD-40 18-24
Dark Stones Copper John(Blk, Copper) 16-18
Baitfish/Big Food Streamers  
Sculpins Near-Nuff Sculpin 4-8
Dace Zonker (White, Blk) 6-12
Crayfish Wooly Bugger(Blk, Olive, Brn) 4-10
Creek Chubs Double Bunny(Brn, Tan, White) 2-6


Insects Fly Pattern Hook Sz.
Adults Dries/Emergers  
March Brown Mayflies March Brown Standard/Parachute 12-14
Blue Quill Mayflies Parchute Adams, Thorax Dun 14-18
Red Quill Mayflies Quill Gordon 14-18
Cahill Mayflies Lt. Cahill, Sparkle Dun 12-18
Green Drakes Green Drake, Coffin Fly 8-12
Yellow Drakes Coffin Fly, Cut Wing Drake 8-12
Caddis Elk Hair Caddis 12-18
Dark Stone Clipped Caddis 12-18
Yellow Sally Stones Yellow Sally 16-18
Golden Stones Stimulator 12-18
Midge(Olive, Gray) Midge 20-24
Nymphs/Larva Nymphs  
March Brown Mayflies Hare's Ear 12-16
Blue Quill Mayflies BH Pheasant Tail 14-18
Green Drake Mayflies Fox Squirrel Nymph 10-14
Caddis Super Pupa 14-18
Golden Stones Kevin's Stone 8-12
Yellow Sally Stones Copper John 16-18
Baitfish/Big Food Streamers  
Sculpins Woolhead Sculpin, Olive Zonker 4-10
Dace White Zonker, Sparkle Minnow 6-12
Crayfish Near Nuff Crayfish 2-6
Creek Chubss Wooly Bugger Brown 2-8


Insect Fly Pattern Hook Sz.
Adults Dries  
Golden Stones Stimulator 12-16
Yellow Sally Stones Yellow Sally, Clipped Caddis 16-18
Grasshoppers Dave's Hopper, Club Sandwich 8-14
Crane Flies Hackle Stacker Cranefly 12-18
Camel Crickets Gorilla Hopper 10-14
Beetles Disco Beetle, Bark Beetle 8-10
Ants Transparant, Fur Ant 12-18
Midges Parachute Adams, Midge 18-24
Nymphs/Larva Nymphs  
Golden Stones Kevin's Stonefly 8-12
Yellow Sally Stones Copper John 16-18
Inch Worms Inch Worm, Chart. San Juan 10-12
Midges WD-40, Disco Midge, RS-2 18-26
Baitfish/Big Food Streamers  
Sculpins Slumpbuster 10-12
Creek Chubs Double Bunny 2-8
Dace Zonkers 6-12
Crayfish Near-Nuff Crayfish 4-6
Damsel Fly Nymphs Wooly Bugger 6-10