|Guide Alex Bell hooked up with a Tuckasegee River trout.|
Four miles of the Tuckasegee, near Dillsboro, N.C., are part of North Carolina's extremely popular Delayed Harvest trout program. DH waters get heavy stocking every fall and spring, and only catch-and-release fishing with single-hook artificial lures is permitted from Oct. 1 through the first Saturday in June. For anglers who don't mind using single-hook artificials and putting back the fish they catch, the cool-weather fishing tends to be good on all of these streams.
The Tuck is one of my personal favorites of the DH streams because it is a large trout stream that offers quite bit of room to fish for casting and allows for a variety of approaches. It's also at my end of the mountains, so to speak, and is much more practical to visit than several other DH streams. Of course, in November, Georgia's DH waters will be freshly stocked and under similar regulations, creating other opportunities closer to home. That's a different story, though.
Fly-fishing is by far the most popular way to fish most DH waters -- including the Tuckasegee -- and can be fun and very effective. In fact, this river has good shoal habitat and is fairly fertile and supports more hatches than most Appalachian trout rivers. I tend to spend more of my trout time with a spinning rod in hand, fishing a marabou Road Runner, soft-plastic offering (scentless) or a crankbait or jerkbait rigged with a single hook.
The Tuckasegee River also is an important part of the Western North Carolina Fly-Fishing Trail, which highlights 15 fine trout destinations through a cool website the offers great information and opportunities to interact. If you've not yet checked out the trail website, it's warrants a look and will likely give you ideas about some new streams to try.
A final cool thing aspect of the Tuckasegee, which I only recently learned about, is that much of the DH section falls under the special designation of Mountain Heritage Trout Waters. This cooperative effort between the NCWRC and local governments promotes trout fishing as a tourism activity in and around cooperating cities that provide public access by allowing residents or non resident to fish with only a $5 3-day Mountain Heritage Trout Waters License. (A regular NC fishing license and trout permit also work.) These waters have distinctive boundaries that are not the same as the DH boundaries and licenses are not available through regular license outlets, so visit the NCWRC's Mountain Heritage Trout Waters page to learn details.
To learn about guided trips on the Tuckasegee, visit www.abfish.org.