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Learning to Fly Fish in the NC Smokies

I finally learned to fly fish. Well, at least the basics of fly fishing.  If you follow our blog, you know that I am an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking and exploring, but I know very little about fly fishing.  After my previous blog several weeks ago that included a spring fly fishing report, I told our local fly fishing contact, Aaron Motley at Hunter Banks,  how much I loved these reports but wished I actually understood them.  So Aaron was kind enough to offer to take me out on the river to show me the ropes.  Boy, was I was excited!

Last week, Aaron and I headed up the west fork of the Pigeon River just above Lake Logan on Hwy 215.  This area is part of the Cold Mountain Game Lands which at this particular time of year offers catch and release fishing. This is a popular area for fly fishing because while we were first ones there that morning, it didn’t take long for others to join us.  Aaron gave me a run down of the area and that he would be teaching me the basics of casting and other necessary techniques like mending and setting the hook when I felt a strike.

After we suited up in our waders and headed down to the creek, we realized we had made a major mistake.   I didn’t have a fishing license (this is where I slapped my forehead in the utter disbelief that I was that silly to forgotten a fishing license). How could I make plans to go fly fishing and NOT have bought a license?! I was not going to tell all of you about my embarrassing mistake, but thought it would be a good example to use to remind you that you are required to have a North Carolina fishing license if you plan to do any type of fishing on inland or coastal waters, even if you are with an outfitter.  There are different variations of licenses based upon the type of activity, length of license, residency and age.  To learn more and to buy a license, visit www.ncwildlife.org.

So after we called in a fishing license for me, we were ready to get down to business.  After a rundown of the different types of flies and how to set up the rod, I was ready.  I will go ahead say this: fly fishing looks a lot easier when a professional guide is doing it than when you are a first timer.  Aaron made it look so flawless and simple.  My first few casts were terrible and I felt like I was going to get my line caught on everything around me.  But after some trial and errors, I was well on my way.  One of the things I loved the most about fly fishing was the strategy behind it.  I grew up spin fishing with my dad in our pond and on local rivers, but quickly grew bored and was more concerned about climbing trees or swimming in the river.  Fly fishing involves constant movement and strategy to catch a fish; you don’t just cast and wait for your bobber to get a tug like spin fishing.  While this was only my first time and I am extremely novice in my skills, I can see why this is such an enjoyable sport.  There is a thrill in perfecting your technique and understanding the flow of the river and finding the right way to float your fly.  There is a lot to remember too.  Mending the line, which is a method used after the line is on the water to achieve a drag free float took me a while to get right.  I also would get a bit over excited when I felt tension on the line from a fish and didn’t set my hook very well.  I hooked a total of three fish and only brought in one.  But that was all I needed to get hooked.  I landed a beautiful rainbow trout that was my pride and joy of the day.  It was such an incredible feeling and was a wonderful experience!  I can’t wait to give it another try.

If you are interested in learning the basics of fly fishing like I did or if you are experienced and just want to cast your line with a fun and professional local outfitter, check out Hunter Banks in Waynesville.   Check out their main website www.hunterbanks.com or visit their Facebook page: Hunter Banks – Waynesville.

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