March fly fishing means dealing with cold weather

fly fishing
Trout fishing this month means downsizing your flies and enjoying time on the water. (Picture by L. Woodrow Ross)

Fly fishing the lazy man’s way

Don’t let the March chill keep you off the trout streams. This can be one of the most enjoyable times of the year. It is a time of more leisurely fishing, after the sun has warmed the water and activated the desire of the fish to feed. This is “lazy man’s fishing.” Sleep in, catch a second cup of coffee and then enjoy a great day on the water.

The location where we live is not near a lot of trout streams. We are, however, within reasonable driving distance to some great fishing. After the closing of the closest fly shop in Greenville, SC, I was delighted when Dodson Fishing Company opened a shop in Travelers Rest, SC. They are about 15 minutes from my location and have a full-service shop.

In addition to stocking the latest and best in equipment and flies, they offer classes in fly tying, casting and provide a wealth of information to the novice, as well as the seasoned fly fisherman. Drew Malone – Store Manager and guide, Steve Grose or Jeff Furman will be there to help you answer any question you may have about fly fishing.

John Conits is the owner of Hare’s Ear Fly Fishing and works with Dodson to plan trips for fly fishermen looking for guide service or to help them find productive water. He has five guides working with him and specializes in finding wild trout and smallmouth bass that will offer a challenge to the fisherman. Hare’s Ear focuses on wild trout fishing in the Pisgah Forest streams, but he also books trips into east Tennessee, on the South Holston River.

John guides on many of the rivers that are familiar to me. These include the Davidson, French Broad, South and North Mills Rivers and the Green River. John is conscientious and has great respect for these rivers and strives to protect the resource. Hare’s Ear Fly Fishing offers half day and full day wade trips and only full day float trips.

If you are interested in excellent service, contact Hare’s Ear Fly Fishing or Dodson Fishing Company and you will not be disappointed.

Pisgah Forest

Pisgah Forest is a treasure of the North Carolina fly fishing waters and incorporates more than five hundred miles of fishable trout water. In 2014, trout fishing contributed more than $338 million to North Carolina’s economy. It is home to native brookies as well as rainbows and brown trout. One of the most famous streams is the Davidson and it produces fish up to 30 inches. They are, however, very educated. As former fly shop owner Bill Penland used to say, “They know the name of every fly pattern, and can probably tell you who tied it!”

The Davidson River has its share of big trout, but they are educated fish, so make careful presentations.

If you are one of the brave souls that will be on the water in this coldest part of the year, you will need to target mid-day as the best time to fish. This will allow the water to warm up and trigger activity. Plan on using small flies in the range of size 18 to 22.

Good choices for the season are blue wing olives, midges, soft hackle pheasant tail, Adams, golden stone, elk hair caddis and light Cahill. Some streamers may be successful, and it is always good to have a few terrestrials in your box


If you enjoy fishing in North Carolina on one of the 23 delayed harvest streams, they were last stocked in November, and the next stocking will be in March. We enjoy these streams and have had excellent success on the North Fork Mills River and the East Fork French Broad River with fish averaging around 10 inches, but occasionally up to 18 inches.

Basic Tips to Remember

  • If the fish are “looking” but rejecting your fly, go smaller by a size or two. Often, that is the ticket to success.
  • Don’t dwell in one area too long. If the fish are not responding, move on to another spot.
  • Dry fly fishing is great, but remember, subsurface flies are usually more successful and the fish are usually bigger.
  • Sometimes a dry fly with a dropper of a bead head nymph is the solution to getting the cranky fish to cooperate.
  • It is good to practice “catch and release” and to observe some fundamentals such as using barbless hooks, releasing fish while in the water or at least wetting your hands if you pick it up for a photo. Land fish as fast as possible to avoid stress and revive fish by holding in current, facing upstream.

Lazy Fishing

Fly anglers should approach March fishing with a different attitude. This is the time of year to sleep in, drink an extra cup of coffee, and expect the fish to be lazier than they will be in a month or two.

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