Summer’s recurring rains have shortened fishing time at trout streams and the New River in northwestern N.C., but float trips can be productive and, with good weather for a couple of days, anglers can have fun with smallmouth bass and trout.
“I’ve been on the New River a couple times recently between the rains,” said Marty Shaffner of Elkin’s Tri-State Angler Service. “Fishing’s been good, and people have been catching their.”
Anglers mostly are using soft plastics such as tube jigs and small lizards in dark colors – green pumpkin and black have been productive – and fishing them on the bottom on small Carolina rigs.
“We occasionally throw small crankbaits, too,” he said.
When Shaffner (336-957-4630) isn’t fishing the New, he’s been taking clients to wild-trout streams.
“Delayed-harvest streams are still open for fishing, but the fish are scarce because most of them have been caught already,” Shaffner said. “I like the smaller wild-trout streams. They’ll get clear a day after a rain.”
Very productive have been tandem rigs, a fly and a dropper, such as a Yellow Stimulator and a Beadhead Pheasant dropper.
“The pattern isn’t as important as being stealthy when you wade upstream and cast,” he said.
Wild-trout streams are open year-round and allow four fish per day per angler of at least seven inches long, caught only on single-hook, artificial lures.
“The main difference now is streams are at spring levels because of all the rain we’ve had recently,” said Shaffner, who fishes a lot on the upper portion of Big Horse Creek in Ashe County, a catch-and-release stream, and at Garden and Widow creeks in Stone Mountain State Park.
“Big Horse is probably the best right now, but you can catch rainbows, browns and brook at all three (streams),” Shaffner said. “Garden and Widow flow into the East Prong Roaring River and have trails beside both of them.”
Most trout are 5- to 7-inch rainbows and browns, but some will reach 12 inches.
“Basin Creek in the Longbottom section of DaltonPark, just past Stone Mountain, has plenty of rainbows, but they’re small,” he said.
A typical float trip on the New will cover four to five miles and last six to eight hours.
“Certain spots will hold more fish, so we anchor up and fish, then move to another place,” Shaffner said.
If the water is clear, he may ask anglers to cast topwater lures such as a Pop-R, Tiny Torpedo or walk-the-dog lures (Sammys, Zara Spook Juniors) while moving from one hot spot to another.