Davidson River Outfitters - Stream Report

Stream Report

April 16, 2018

April fishing has been super solid across Western North Carolina.  Quality hatches of both mayflies and caddis flies have been reported in multiple drainages, and the "catching" has been out weighing the "fishing".  Recent rains have bumped streamflows up for the coming week, and will hopefully keep them near median flow.  With more rain in the forecast for next weekend, trout fishing should continue to be good into May.



Davidson River:  The Davidson has been offering some fine dry fly fishing in recent weeks.  Hendricksons, Cahills, and a variety of Quill mayflies have been spotted, and caddis flies have been bouncing almost daily.  There has also been some limited stonefly activity, as bridges and logs have been covered in shucks.  As usual, light tippet and long leaders are the norm, even with added water and extra insects.  As a bonus, the Hatchery Supported section of the Davidson is now open to fishing, offering fly anglers another stretch to explore.  While this section does face pressure from an army of bait chuckers, there is some good fly water to be found, and a surprising number of fish.


Delayed Harvest:  Delayed  Harvest streams are fishing well, and are experiencing similar hatches to the Davidson.  While weekends have been somewhat crowded, mid week anglers will find plenty of room to fish.  As more insects continue to hatch, and the fish face more pressure, anglers should be prepared to fish more technical fly patterns and scale down on tippet sizing.  As Spring marches onward, and warmer days bring out more enthusiasts, be sure to be courteous, park respectfully, and keep the fishing fun.



Wild Trout:  Wild trout fishing is good and getting better.  As water temperatures begin to rise, more backcountry streams are beginning to come alive.  While all of our wild trout streams experience insect hatches, anglers will find that the fish care more about the drift than the type of fly that is drifted.  Late April is one of the best times of the year to explore the Southern Appalachian woods.  The ground is covered in a wide variety of wild flowers, and the green of the new leaves brings life back to the forest.  We are happy to share places to explore, so don't hesitate to come by the shop when planning your backcountry adventure.



Fly Patterns:  Dark Hendrickson 14-16, Light Hendrickson 14-16Light Cahill 14-18March Brown 12-14Quill Gordon 16-18, Red Quill 14-18, Elk Hair Caddis 12-16Pheasant Tail 14-18, Hare's Ear 12-16, Prince Nymph 14-18Bill's Provider 10-12, Sheep Fly 10-12, Yuba Pupa 14-18, Girdle Bug 10-12

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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.

Click for Streamflow data

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!

Click for Streamflow data


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