Fish The Davidson River: Consistently named as one of Trout Unlimited’s “Top 100 Trout Streams in America,” the Davidson is a very productive freestone river that supports many trophy-class fish over 20 inches. About 14 miles of the river, from its headwaters to Avery Creek, are managed under catch-and-release, fly-fishing only regulations. The lower mile is hatchery supported. The Davidson’s upper reaches, including such major tributaries as Cove Creek and Daniel Ridge Creek, are small and tight, with wild rainbows averaging 7 inches. But the river widens and deepens as it gets below the Pisgah Fish Hatchery, creating long, smooth runs and glassy pools, interspersed with some pocket water. This is where the bruisers lurk, but they are extremely hard to catch due to heavy fishing pressure and gin-clear water.
West Fork of the French Broad: The West Fork is a sleeper stream that produces some of our biggest browns each year, yet it is overshadowed by its more heavily stocked cousin to the east. The state stocks only 1,500 trout upstream of the Silversteen Bridge, located on State Road 1312, which parallels the river for several miles. Access is difficult to the Forest Service portion of the river, which is located in a narrow, mostly trail-less gorge between Flat Creek and the bridge. Effluent from several trout farms in the West Fork’s headwaters make this a fecund stream with lots of bugs; sections of the river are known for their profuse, if unpredictable, hatches of burrowing mayflies. Hatchery supported regulations apply, which means the West Fork is closed to fishing in March.
North Fork of the French Broad: Headwaters Outfitters’ home river is also one of the best around. The North Fork is a wide-open stream well suited for fly fishing. Like its sister to the west, the North Fork runs through a deep, rocky gorge, plunging over several major waterfalls on its way to the mainstem of the French Broad near our shop. Several unmarked trails lead into the gorge from Hwy. 215, but they are not for the faint of heart. Likewise, wading can be sketchy at higher water levels. The river’s fast runs and dark holes are home to browns and rainbows averaging 10 inches, but many quality fish are taken by bait fishermen and skilled fly anglers each year. Heavy stonefly nymphs and streamers are effective year-round. Above Macedonia Church Road, the river bisects private land in Balsam Grove and is heavily posted. The North Fork is regulated as Wild Natural Bait, allowing the harvest of four fish per day.
Little River: Located in DuPont State Forest in eastern Transylvania County, the Little River is the most recent stream in our area to be designated Delayed Harvest (which is catch-and-release from October through May.) In season, the state stocks 3,425 fish along just 1.8 miles of river between Lake Dense and Hooker Falls, making for a dense fish population. Despite its name, the Little River is fairly wide and open throughout, and is easily accessed via the Hooker Falls Road and High Falls Trail. Deep-nymphing the plunge pools below the falls is usually productive, but there several long pools and runs below the Staton Road bridge for dry fly fans.
Avery Creek: Avery Creek is a small tributary of the Davidson near Brevard that is a critical spawning ground for rainbows and browns. It is classified as a Wild Trout stream, which has no closed season and allows a limited amount of harvest (though we recommend you practice catch-and-release, due to heavy fishing pressure along the stream.) Access is via the Pisgah Horse Stables road and the 3.2-mile Avery Creek Trail. Avery fishes best in the spring and summer, especially when the Davidson is high and stained from rains. Resident fish are generally 7 to 9 inches long, but wild and colorful. Fish a short 3- or 4-weight rod, bring some attractor dries and explore parts of the stream off the beaten path.