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!