Although many people think of winter as a downtime for fishing, North Carolina trout fishermen know the cold months offer excellent opportunities in mountain rivers and streams. At least that’s the case on the Davidson River and its tributaries near Brevard.

“Lately it’s been a pretty good time for trout fishing,” said John Rich of Davidson River Outfitters in Pisgah Forest (828-877-4181). “Trout fishing has been good for most species, except when the water temperature drops below 40 degrees. And we’re expecting two days of warm rain that will bring up the water temperature even faster than air temps.”

Rich and other guides spend a lot of time on the Davidson River, which is stocked by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission from March through September with trout reared at the nearby Pisgah Forest Hatchery. These stocked fish may range in sizes from 6-inch brookies to 26-inch rainbows and browns.

“When the (Commission) flushes out their fish food tanks at the hatchery, the 18- to 22-inch trout stock up like cordwood (below the hatchery),” Rich said.

In winter, anglers who match the hatch need to use tiny nymphs, which are common. Midges live in the water, hatch quickly, swim to the surface and fly away.

“When you see a small cloud, a tornado of insects flying around, that’s midges,” Rich said.

Double-nymph rigs are the best terminal tackle right now, he said. Dark gray, chocolate or brown-olive are good colors.

“That’s your go-to combination,” Rich said, “particularly in winter when there’s not a lot of terrestrial patterns. Most people use two fly sizes to represent a midge – a soft hackle or pheasant tail.”

Most of the midges aren’t weighted because they have tiny Nos. 4 or 6 hooks, and anglers put a 1/32-ounce split shot on the leader to get the lures to the bottom where trout hang out.

“You might use a BB shot if there’s a lot of water (flow),” said Rich, who prefers 5-weight rods in 8½- to 9-foot lengths casting floating lines are the preferred tackle.

“Avery Creek and Looking Glass Creek are good places to try these fly patterns (along with) the river,” Rich said.

Upstream from Avery Creek, only artificial flies may be used, and fishing is catch-and-release only. But Avery, Grogan and Looking Glass creeks are classified as “wild trout” waters so anglers may use flies or single-hook lures with a 7-inch minimum size and four trout per day may be kept.

The Davidson River to Avery and Looking Glass creeks is an artificial flies/catch-and-release stream.