With the Delayed Harvest waters freshly stocked once again, the fishing locally has been as good as it gets! Valle Crucis is yet again loaded with hungry trout that can be caught fishing smaller nymphs and midgets dropped below an attractor such as squirmy worms or Pats Rubber Legs. On warmer days, dry droppers can also be equally as effective and can help prevent spooking more finicky fish. Additionally, the Hatchery Supported sections are now officially open again and will stay that way until the last day in February.

The tail waters down in Tennessee are also fishing exceptionally and still heating up as we approach the much-anticipated caddis hatch. Trips are filling up quickly for spring so be sure to give us a call to get yours booked today!

It’s been a few weeks since the Delayed Harvest sections here in the Highcountry were stocked again for spring, and they are fishing exceptionally well. Size 16-20 nymphs dropped below a larger attractor (egg patterns, squirmy worm, etc.) have been very productive. On warmer days, you can also watch for fish rising. If you do see them, dry droppers are always a good go to for those conditions. When fishing dry droppers, throwing bulkier dry flies such as stimulators and elk hair caddis can be effective as they are more buoyant and make it easier to tell when a strike is occurring.

They will also be stocking all of the Delayed Harvest waters again in the beginning of April. For a complete list of the dates they will be stocking each river you can go to http://www.ncwildlife.org/Portals/0/Fishing/documents/Delayed-Harvest-Trout-Waters-Stocking-Dates-Map.pdf . Additionally, all Hatchery Supported sections will be opening up again on Saturday, April 7th. So get your rods ready and come on by the shop to stock up on any gear you may need for the upcoming season!




It’s hard to believe it’s actually still February with temperatures here in the Highcountry getting into the low 70s this week. That being said, it’s a fisherman’s dream come true! Yesterday there were reports of large hatches of BWOs making for some (much-anticipated) phenomenal dry fly action so be sure to keep an eye out for any hatches when out on the water. That being said, if you don’t want to fully commit to fishing dry flies, a dry dropper setup can be a very successful setup to fish this time of year.

With all this warm weather lately, all of the local rivers have been fishing well. Valle Crucis is still going strong, as well as the Toe and the New river. The delayed harvest sections should also be restocked in the coming weeks so get your gear ready for some great spring fishing. And if you have any questions about local spots and hot patterns to fish, stop on by the shop and we’ll be glad to give you some local knowledge!


Lots of rain in the High Country and Boone area the last few days. Good news for the local streams and tailwaters alike since we definitely need it for our great spring fishing coming up! Local streams have returned to normal levels after the weekends rains, add that to the fact that we will be having spring-like temperatures in the forecast for the 10 days or so makes it a perfect time to shake off the winter doldrums!

South Holston and Watauga River 

The “sluicing” continues on the South Holston River. The flows have been steady, making it possible to comfortably float the entire river. These flows may change in the coming days putting us into “high water” mode due to the rain our area has received. This only means our rigs will require a little more weight to get the flies down due to the volume of water. The fishing, however, should remain outstanding.   The closed, spawning sections are now open and we are now able to fish the entire river. The spawn has wound down, and the egg bite is starting to transition back into a more “seasonal” diet consisting of blue wings, scuds and ever present midges.

The Watauga River has fished pretty well overall over the course of the last few weeks, but due to the inconsistent flows out of Wilbur Dam, it has maybe been a little less consistent than it’s sister river to the north. Blue Wings, midges and a smattering of scuds have been the go to bugs. Caddis are right around the corner, however, and the fish will be beginning their spring purge on caddis larvae soon!

What we are looking forward to?

Caddis! If you have not heard or read before, the caddis hatch on the Watauga River is a sight to behold. Starting around the middle of April and typically lasting until the first or second week in May, anglers will have the opportunity to experience one of the Easts greatest hatches. If you anticipate a fly fishing trip around the Boone area this spring, make it a point to take a float trip with us for a great event, and even better fishing!

Sulphurs! The sulphur hatch is also quickly approaching. Both the South Holston as well as the Watauga River will host them in beginning in May and June.



A great brown from a recent float trip down the South Holston River

Solid Watauga River brown trout

Watauga River brown trout


The ice is gone and the cold weather may be behind us for the time being. We now have mild temperatures and water! Now is a great time to knock the dust off that fly rod and come venture to the High Country for some late winter fly fishing.  Spring-like temperatures should have them fishing great for the foreseeable future.  Outside of this past weekend’s massive rains, our creeks have been running clear with moderate flows. The Delayed Harvest sections around Spruce Pine and Boone, NC still have plenty of fish  and are fishing very well for February. Wild water should also start to pick up for those who want to do a little walking. The heavy rains also may have washed out a lot of “private” water fish so be ready for a “big” surprise.

Let us be a part of your next trip to the High Country and Boone area. Whether it is a float trip down the fantastic South Holston or Watauga River, or you are coming up to enjoy the miles and miles of fantastic, public trout water just minutes from our fly shop, we can make it happen here  at Highland Outfitters.

Give us a call: 828-733-2181

Highland Outfitters Team

People often fail to recognize how much thought and effort goes into making a good first cast when fly fishing. The following will share some of the tricks and tips which I’ve picked up along the way.

What to tie on?

There are a few different strategies which can be used to figure out what fly to use when first arriving at the river. One of which is the simply look around you and see if there are any bugs flying around near the water. Now you may not always be able to tell exactly what insects you see, but if you can at least tell the approximate size and color of the bug, do your best to find the fly in your box that comes closest to matching that profile. Another useful trick is the step into the water and look underneath a few of the rocks in the river as there will almost always be several different insects hiding there. Once you’ve figured out what bugs are in the water, again do your best to match them with a size and pattern in your fly box.

Don’t Spook the Fish!

Trout tend to be especially skittish fish, which means one must approach the river with a lot of caution in order to keep the fish from swimming for cover or shutting down feeding. One thing that can help prevent this is doing your best to avoid casting any shadows over the water as a trout’s only real predatory threats are birds and other animals such as bears and raccoons, all of which can be detected by the shadows they cast. Always try to keep the sun in front of you, and try to crouch when necessary to stay out of the fishes line of sight. Additionally, do your best to cast in front of the fish and avoid landing your fly directly above where the fish is holding, as doing so can scare them off.

Setting the Hook

This can often be one of the most difficult parts of fly fishing. The most important thing to remember is to set the hook DOWNSTREAM! More times than not, a trout is going to take your fly in an upstream direction, meaning if you attempt to set the hook upstream, you will likely pull your fly right out of its mouth and the fish will probably get spooked and leave the area. However, if you set the hook downstream of the fish, you give yourself the best chance of lodging that hook into the fishes mouth, giving you the best chance of landing it!

Finally, a bit of a break from the arctic chill which felt like it was here forever! With the slight rise in temperatures here in the Highcountry, this makes for a great time to get out and do some fishing in one of our many local wild and stocked trout streams. Delayed Harvest waters are still going strong and now that they aren’t frozen solid, those fish will want to eat!

However, the water temps are still going to be slow, meaning the fish will be lethargic and really need to be enticed in order to strike. Fishing attractors such as egg patterns and squirmy worms will help get their attention. These patterns can then be trailed by a smaller nymph or midge (Pheasant Tails, Zebra Midges, Baetis, etc.) can be very effective tactics to find the winter bites. In some cases you may need to literally drift your fly into the fishes mouth to get them to feed.

As always, when heading out during the winter be sure to bundle up and use caution when wading. Bringing a warm hat and gloves, as well as wearing a warm pair of pants and socks under your waders is key. If you don’t have a good pair of fishing gloves or wading socks, come on by and we’ll get you all geared up for the cold and ready to catch some fish!



As we eagerly await the arrival of springtime fishing here in the highcountry, it can be a frustrating time of year to be a fisherman. With the local rivers and streams finally starting to thaw out after the deep freeze we were under for the past couple weeks, I’m sure everyone is itching to get back on the water (I know I was). However, these frozen weeks don’t have to go to complete waste, as this makes for the perfect ti me to organize your fishing gear and fly tying materials. It’s also a great time to clean your waders and boots and help us in preventing the spread of whirling disease in our local waters.

To do so, first rinse them thoroughly. You can then wash them with a mixture of water and either powdered laundry detergent, or dish soap, using a 5% solution mixture. That is 1 cup of either detergent or dish soap, per gallon of water. Then be sure to let them air dry completely for at least 48 hours. Make sure to let them dry completely and do not store them while moist as this can lead to mold or mildew growth.

As for the fishing, now that the waters aren’t frozen solid, there are plenty of trout to be caught here in the Highcountry! On my first trip out since the rivers thawed out, zebra midges and small pheasant tails nymphs saw a lot of success when dropped below a size 10 salmon egg pattern. Additionally, our float trips down on the Tennessee tailwaters are doing exceptionally well with some great brown trout action. Don’t let a little cold weather keep you from getting out and catching the fish of a lifetime!