Please don’t get me wrong I love trout. I love big trout, small trout, stocked trout, and wild trout. Guiding folks for our colorful trout here in the mountains has been a full time job for me for over twenty years now and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
There is however another species of fish that lives up here in the hills of North Georgia that drives me bonkers. When I’m not on the river with folks I love chasing carp on the fly rod. There I said it it’s out in the open now, I’m a closet carper. The golden ghost or its cousins inhabit almost every river, lake and mud hole in North America. Disdained by most everyone the lowly carp can put your twenty- inch brown to shame in the wary, cunning, and plain out aggravating category. As one of the greats of fly fishing once said “fly fishing for carp is a lot like fly fishing for bonefish but harder”.
Stalking common carp on the mud flats in some of our mountain lakes is so close to being equivalent to the saltwater flats for redfish sometimes you have to look up at the surrounding mountains to tell the difference. Wading or poling up on a flat on Lake Nottely or Lake Chatuge in the heat of summer one should watch for muds or puffs or cloudy water surrounded by clear water. Almost without fail if you look hard enough you’ll see old bugle lips going about his business picking up nymphs, crayfish or vegetation. A spot on careful presentation within the sight window of the feeding fish is extremely important. He has to notice your fly and get excited enough to stop what he’s doing and come eat your fly. Some days a carp will move three feet and pounce on your offering and other days you’ll swear he’s blind and that’s the aggravating part!
Flies that mountain lake carp seem to like are Brown Wooly Buggers, Rubber Legged Dragons in Black, Olive, or Brown and Swimming Nymphs all in about size 8 or 10. A five or six weight fly rod will suffice for the regular standard five pounders, but you may have to go a bit heavier if you find some double digit fish tailing for dinner. A nine foot 3x leader is usually sufficient and is small enough to get by with if the water is gin clear which the case on my home lake of Chatuge is often. A strip set is in order if he takes it and get ready to see the backing on your reel on his first run. Get used to it, if you decide to chase the golden ghost on our awesome Georgia mountain lakes! Come by Southern Highroads Outfitters in beautiful Blairsville, Ga. or give us a call at 706-781-1414 for the latest information on fly fishing in North Georgia.
Come to Southern Highroads Outfitters on Saturday, Jan. 9th between noon and 4:30pm for a free afternoon of fly tying traditional North Country style soft hackle flies.
Bob Kern, fly tying instructor and member of the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild, will begin at noon starting a brief history of North Country soft hackles also known as spiders. He will explain the different types of hackle and materials used to tie these flies. Technique and historical references will also be discussed. Then, the clinic will progress to tying various patterns.
Bring your own fly tying equipment and materials or you are welcome to use our shop equipment if needed.
Tyers of all levels of experience are invited. You can participate or observe the day. There is plenty of seating in our classroom.
Come learn about tying some of the most effective flies on the river. We look forward to seeing you there!
Larry Culpepper will be teaching a beginner’s fly tying class here at Southern Highroads Outfitters starting this month. After years of fly tying instruction, Larry has designed a class to help folks become better at fly tying. This class is great for newbies or folks wanting to become more proficient in tying. You will gain a wealth of knowledge in the art of tying flies.
Here is Larry’s bio:
Larry Culpepper, a native of the area has been tying flies since he was a teenager. In the early 90’s Larry was a production tier for fly shops in Chattanooga and Atlanta, specializing in the flies of the North Georgia area such as the “Thunderhead”, “Forked Tail” and the “Sand Leach”. Larry has also been a fly tying instructor for the famed John C. Campbell Folk School for many years and has developed special teaching techniques that has proven very successful in developing the skills needed to tie flies that catch fish.
All equipment and materials are provided. The starting time is 6pm at the fly shop here in Blairsville and will end about 8pm each session. The total cost for the class is $150 at the time of booking no refunds. The Class is limited to 5 students. Our dates for the 6 session beginners fly tying class is as follows:
Class 1 Monday Nov. 16th
Class 2 Thursday Nov. 19th
Class 3 Monday Nov. 23rd
Class 4 Monday Nov. 30th
Class 5 Thursday Dec. 3rd
Class 6 Monday Dec. 7th
Please give us a call at 706-781-1414 to reserve your space.
Here is your October Fishing Report – The rivers and streams of North Georgia and North Carolina have gotten some much needed rainfall this month. The wild freestone streams are really firing up with active trout smashing Large Brown Elk Hair Caddis and Stimulators. A dropper added to your high riding dry such as a size 16 Pheasant Tail or Prince nymph will get results from surface shy larger fish this fall. Nymph fishers will find Rubber Legged Stones in Black or Brown to be a staple fly to dredge the bottom of fast runs for chunky fish. Streamer tossing folks will find browns getting frisky chasing baitfish while fattening up for the spawn in November. Big Sculpin Patterns and Rubber Legged Wooly Buggers will pull some beasts from the depths of our local Toccoa Tailwater and the Delayed Harvest section of the Tuckaseegee River on our float trips. The Nantahala River and Fires Creek Delayed Harvest is a great place to get someone hooked on fly fishing with fantastic wade trip opportunities. Fly patterns need not be complicated. Egg patterns and San Juan worms will rock their world on these streams. Get out and enjoy the fall fishing here in the mountains!
Toccoa Trout Fest – A Benefit for the Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited on Saturday, June 13th at 6pm located at North Georgia Ford on Highway 515 in Blue Ridge, Georgia. An annual fundraiser featuring a BBQ dinner, silent auction, and music to support community-based charitable efforts.
We wanted to help get the word out about the Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited annual fundraiser on June 13th! Southern Highroads Outfitters is donating a Tenkara USA Rhodo rod, Zen furled tenkara line, tenkara flies, and tenkara line holder so make it to the Toccoa Trout Fest for your chance to win this Tenkara outfit!
For more information about the Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited visit their website here: Blue Ridge Mountain Trout Unlimited
Fishing report for April – We have had several recent wade and float trips on the Upper Toccoa River in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Trout have been found scattered throughout the river. Trout stockings have been resumed on local rivers. Typical “junk food” flies have been successful. Squirmy worms, wooly buggers, y2ks, and egg patterns.
Delayed harvest regulations are still in effect so make sure to follow those regulations until May 14th in Georgia. Cody, our local DNR law enforcement officer and other law enforcement have been working hard checking fishing licenses and catching poachers along the delayed harvest. Fortunately, state and federal hatcheries have loaded local streams with tons of trout. You have many streams now to choose from if you wish to take some fish home to fry.
Morning bass fishing shows have returned and picked up on television. Fishing on Georgia’s lakes and ponds has been waking up especially for those folks that like to catch fish on a fly rod. Visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for a plethora of information regarding these reservoirs. You can click here to get started.
Lake Trahlyta at Vogel State Park and Lake Winfield Scott are well stocked if your looking to take kids fishing from the bank or venturing out in a canoe or kayak. We recently saw a bald eagle while kayaking on Lake Winfield Scott.
We carry several maps and informative books about fishing local streams here at SHO.
Already getting fishing reports of insane numbers of fish in the North Carolina delayed harvest streams. Most streams were restocked this week. Our guide, David Hulsey, is currently having a 100 fish day float trip on the Tuckaseegee River. It’s nice to have those days when your shoulder hurts to lift when you get home from a day on the water. Delayed harvest regulations on certain North Carolina streams lasts until June 5th.
This coming Monday, April 13th, David and I will be giving a presentation on fishing the Toccoa River and a few other streams in North Georgia for the Georgia Women Fly Fishers at Delkwood Grill. We will also be selling the new Toccoa River book by Steve Hudson.
For more information about this meeting you can visit their website or click here.
See ya on the river or lake….somewhere fishing!
Thru hikers- Eileen, Woodrow, David, & Lindsay stopped by Southern Highroads Outfitters to rest and refuel while on their quest to tackle the Appalachian Trail. It was fun to share their enthusiasm for what lies ahead. We wish them the best and safe journeys.
Two epic fishing days on the Tuckasegee River in North Carolina. We boated at least 40 trout per boat each day.
Awesome fishing will continue through May. The Tuckasegee River or also called the Tuck is a North Carolina delayed harvest river stocked with brook, rainbow and brown trout.
Give us a call @ 706-781-1414 to book your float trip! Days are filling up fast!
For information about our Tuckasegee River float trips visit our fly fishing guide services page.
I had a great day guiding Jeff on the Toccoa River Delayed Harvest on Thursday. We did a full day float and landed the Appalachian slam plus one nice smallmouth bass.
Flies of the day were olive wooly bugger with a red squirmy worm dropper and a y2k bug with a soft hackle pheasant tail dropper.
I used plenty of split shot to get the rig down close to the bottom where the fish were hanging out due to cold water temperatures. Trout were not moving far for the take so presentation had to be spot on. Visit us at Southern Highroads Outfitters for information on fishing or a guided trip on the Toccoa River Delayed Harvest.
See you on the river! David Hulsey
One of today’s hottest trends in the sport of fly fishing has ancient roots in the mountains of Japan. Hundreds of years ago, the art of Tenkara was used to help feed many villages with small, colorful trout from the clear tumbling streams in the Japanese high country. The word Tenkara as far we can tell means “from heaven or from the skies” which is surely meant for the gentle way the Kebari fly or “feathered needle” lightly settles to the streams’ surface.
Tenkara fly fishing is minimalist fishing with only a rod, a line and a fly involved. The rods are telescopic and pack down to little over a foot long, making them perfect for the backpacking angler. There are several models that when extended they can range from about 8 feet up to 14 feet. The furled line is attached with a simple girth hitch to a short piece of line at the tip of the rod to what is called a lillian. This type of set up makes removing or adding the furled line fast and simple. Your furled line is about the length of your Tenkara rod that you are using. At the end of the line, you attach a piece of 5X tippet about 3 to 4 feet long. A fly is then tied to the tippet and you’re ready to fish.
Fly selection can be regular dry flies and nymphs or can be traditional Tenkara flies, which are called Kebari flies. Kebari flies resemble reverse soft hackles with the hackle pulled out over the eye of the hook. In fact, a lot of hard-core Tenkara fishermen will use only one fly pattern and concentrate on presentation of the fly instead of relying on a box full of flies and a vest full of tackle. As a result, the angler can fish fast and light without the distraction of a truckload of junk to carry around.
Casting a Tenkara rod is very similar to a regular fly rod without a lot of the hassle. Having no reel and having the line tied to the tip of the rod makes casting, hooking and landing a trout very intuitive. After just a few minutes even a beginning fly fisher can be pretty effective. Most of the line is held up off the water during the drift so this eliminates most of the drag, which is the evil demon that haunts a beginning fly caster.
The Appalachian high country is perfectly suited to Tenkara fishing so much so that Tenkara USA, which is the leader in equipment, has designed a rod specifically to fish here in the hills we call home. The Rhodo “get it rhododendron” is an ultra light rod made for our eastern trout streams. It is a pure joy to fish with, every fish feels like a tiger on the end of the line.
The Delayed Harvest streams here in Georgia and North Carolina are awesome places to practice your newfound Tenkara techniques. Other small streams like Noontootla Creek, Rock Creek and Coopers Creek are also on my hit list when in season. The Smokies are also heaven for the Tenkara fisher. Come by Southern Highroads Outfitters to see and cast the full line of Tenkara USA’s products or call us at 706-781-1414 to book a Tenkara trip. And, who knows you may fall back in love with the pure simplicity of fly fishing again.
by Capt. David Hulsey, IFFF Master Certified Casting Instructor