Upper Davidson River
Fly Fishing This Fall In Transylvania County  
An Insider’s Guide
As a destination celebrated for its rivers, streams and spectacular waterfalls, it should come as no surprise that Brevard and Transylvania County are a not-so-secret mecca for fly fishing. Anglers come from all over the world to enjoy some of the best fly-fishing around in waterways brimming with rainbow trout, brown trout, native brook trout, and the opportunity to catch all three. Local pros call it a “Triple Crown” – when you catch one of each in one trip.

Insiders know that autumn is an A+ season for catching fish, especially trout. "Fall is one of the best times of the year for fishing in our region,” says Kevin Howell of Davison River Outfitters. 

“As the water cools, the fish begin to feed heavily in anticipation of winter. Cooler weather and football season mean fewer people in the streams, and this combination offers some of the best fishing of the entire year."

Before you set out, you’ll want to get both your fishing game and gear up to snuff. Consider taking a casting class and stock up on flies and line. Check your waders for leaks. Transylvania waters can be cold. Davidson River Outfitters and Headwaters Outfitters each offer classes, gear, guided trips, and plenty of critical information as you plan your adventure. 

The wide variety of waterways in Transylvania County means that you can catch trout almost anywhere, no matter how large or small the stream, and maintain a safe amount of social distance.

“There are a variety of waters for anglers to explore, all with a backdrop of vibrant colorful foliage,” says Jessica Whitmire of Headwaters Outfitters. “Delayed Harvest rivers offer quick access to hungry stocked trout, a great place for beginners to hone their skills and enjoy easier wading opportunities. While wild trout streams can be active and fish well in fall months, brown and brook trout spawn this time of year, so anglers should be educated on how to avoid disturbing spawning trout. These streams are also located in more remote, less accessible areas where it can be difficult to cast through falling leaves. Depending on river conditions and air temperatures, anglers can also target other species such as smallmouth bass and musky.”

Locals like the three forks of the Upper French Broad River. The East Fork is a Delayed Harvest stream, stocked for part of the season. Both the East and West Forks are easily accessible from parking with very short hikes in. The North Fork can be exciting, but it is truly only for the most adventurous. The waters are located in a gorge. The hike in and out can be challenging.

The Davidson River and its tributaries also offer fantastic fishing with plenty of easy access. The Davidson River can get busy, though, so it’s advised that anglers should go early or late. 

Also recommended are Looking Glass Creek in Pisgah National Forest, the Little River in DuPont State Recreational Forest, and Cathy’s Creek off highway 64 just outside Brevard. 

Headwaters Outfitters and Davidson River Outfitters offer guided trips to many of these locations and have access to private waters. These trips can be a great way for beginners to get a feel for fly fishing and the lay of the land, without having to invest in a lot of gear on their first trip. They also guarantee that you’ll catch something, even if it is your first time out. 

It’s always a good idea to fish with a friend. Wear boots, bring waders, polarized sunglasses and a hat. If you’re bringing gear, you’ll need a rod and reel, flies and a net. Certain flies work better in some seasons than others. Check with your favorite fly shop to learn what will work best for your trip or year-round. And when you're out on the water, don't forget to pack out your trash, and pick up any that you see. Let's all work together to Leave It Better

No matter where you go, you can expect an amazing time. Says Whitmire, “The French Broad River watershed, which includes the popular Davidson River, makes Transylvania County not only one of the most scenic places to fly fish in the fall but offers something for everyone."

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Read the previous Field Notes here

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