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Home Instruction/Guide Service The Best Time To Fish With Us

The best time to trout fish in western North Carolina

  The Best Time of Year to Fish With Us 

 Picture of Wlison Creek




     The single most important environmental factor that affects a tout's feeding behavior is water temperature.  The reason that this is so important is because trout breath oxygen just like humans and thus they need a steady supply of oxygen in order to survive. However, since trout live in water and water is made from a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, you may wonder how could a trout possibly run out of oxygen? Well, the answer to that question is that a trout's gills are not designed to extract oxygen from the water molecules themselves but instead they extract dissolved oxygen from the water which consists of free roaming oxygen atoms that are not bonded to a hydrogen atom. However, in any given amount of water, there is a limited amount of dissolved oxygen and that amount is determined by the temperature of the water. For instance, the colder the water is, the more dissolved oxygen it can hold and the warmer the water is, the less dissolved oxygen it can hold. In addition to controlling dissolved oxygen content, the temperature of the water also effects a trout's metabolism such that when the water temperature is extremely cold (mid-thirties), trout tend to enter a catatonic state similar to that of hibernation in which their metabolic rate slows drastically and thus they require very little food. On the other hand, when the water temperature is extremely high (mid-seventies), then the trout's metabolic rate increases drastically and thus they require more oxygen than usual. However, since warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen than cooler water, trout start to suffocate when the water warms to around seventy degrees. Consequently, the best times of year to fish for trout here in western North Carolina are the Spring, Fall, and Winter months when the water temperature is between 45° and 65°. 



***Please note: Both our backcountry walk/wade guided trips and our fly fishing lessons are available year round. However, Hatchery Supported and Delayed Harvest waters are closed from March 1st, 2011 to April 2nd, 2011 for re-stocking. Thus all instructional trips must be booked prior to or after these dates.




March, April, May-


     The peak fishing season here in western North Carolina starts in March and continues through May. During this time, the water temperature starts to warm due to longer days in which the sun rises at a higher angle in the sky. Thus, the solar heating of the water during the day increases the trout's metabolism and causes them to feed actively while the cold nights replenish the dissolved oxygen content of the water.



June, July, August-

     In June, we enter the dog days of summer here in western North Carolina. Consequently, due to the hot days and warm nights, the dissolved oxygen content of the water diminishes drastically and although the trout are willing to feed actively during this period, the lack of oxygen tends to limit their ability to do so. Thus, when trout fishing during these months, migrate to higher elevations and fish in small lakes or look for heavily shaded streams where the trout are more likely to be feeding actively.



September, October, November-


     Once again, we have a peak trout fishing period here in western North Carolina during the Fall months of September, October, and November. During this time, the days start to grow shorter and the angle of the sun is a little lower in the sky so the days are cooler than in the summer months. Thus, the water temperature cools a bit which increases the availability of dissolved oxygen in the water which in turn allows for increased feeding activity.



December, January, February-


     During the winter months here in western North Carolina, the short days combined with the low angle of the sun in the sky cools the water temperature drastically and thus slows the trout's metabolic rate; causing them to feed less often. However, since the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water is drastically increased during the winter months, trout will often feed actively on slightly warmer, sunny days. Thus, fly fishing for trout in the winter months here is often far more productive that fishing for them during the summer months.







Bill Bernhardt

Instructor & Guide

Harper Creek Fly Fishing Company





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