Mountain trout in December

Trout fishing is hot in cold weather

North Carolina’s mountain streams provide great fishing action in December, according to fishing guide Matt Evans of The Catawba Angler (828-460-2390).

“It’s an overlooked month to trout fish. The crowds have dwindled and the fishing is just as good if not better than it was in the fall,” Evans said.

Evans guides out of Old Fort, NC in McDowell County, but fishes in many other parts of western North Carolina. Conditions change quickly depending on weather and other factors, so he stays prepared to hit different rivers and streams. The Catawba River is one of his most reliable.

This month, Evans said trout are keyed in on blue wing olives, midges and early black stones. What size you use depends on the water temperatures, which range from the upper 30s to lower 50s.

“If the water is hovering at 40 degrees, you want to downsize your flies. Trout won’t be chasing a bunch, and will be eating smaller offerings,” he said.

With the water usually crystal clear this month, he said it’s also time to break out the 6x and 7x tippets for more subtle presentations.

“We’re throwing small flies, sizes 16 to 22, and you need a small diameter tippet to get them down,” he said.

Long leaders are also key. On his float trips down the Catawba, he uses 12-foot leaders. Shorter leaders, he said, just don’t cut it.

“One of my favorite offerings this time of year is running a heavy point fly like a stone or an egg pattern, then have some sort of blue wing olive emerger pattern two feet above it. This set up has proven itself year over year on NC trout waters,” he said.

Evans also likes using a fly called the Trusty Rusty this month. It represents a spent mayfly, with its normally upright wings flat to the water.

“The best patterns are going to be tied in gray because that is the color of blue wing olives,” he said.

Sleeping in is no problem this month. Evans said the best fishing will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is when the water temperature is generally warmest this time of year.

Being comfortable on the river is an important part of enjoying the fishing, said Evans. He suggests fishing in layers.

“It’s better to have more clothes on than not have enough. A ski cap or tobaggan is priceless on cold, windy days,” he said.

For anglers not interested in catching numbers of trout as much as they are catching truly big fish, Evans said streamers are good options this month.

About Brian Cope 2359 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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