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Where might one go to find a top rated trout stream: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, or perhaps Pennsylvania, or New York?
What about Transylvania County in western North Carolina. Trout Unlimited rates the Tarheel's very own Davidson River as one of the top 100 wild trout streams in the United States.
I know more than a few that might disagree with this assessment of the Davidson's trout angling virtues.
Over-rated, over-fished, and over-crowded are adjectives they would say are better suited to the Davidson.
In my opinion, the Davidson River offers some exceptional fly fishing opportunities. This opinion is empirical, with only my personal experience to rely upon.
There are several "wild" trout streams within a short drive from the Davidson where one's surety of more trout for a day's angling would have little doubt. Typical North Carolina mountain wild trout: stunted growth, over size mouth, and an eager willingness to jump on almost anything that falls into the stream.
If your idea of fly fishing for trout is drifting a Humppie through the riffles, then more days than not, you will go home from the Davidson disappointed. Most of the Davidson is "catch & release, fly fish only". Almost all the river is within sight of either a hardtop or gravel road. The trout in this river get fished hard.
Deep slow pools are common on the Davidson downstream of the hatchery. Refuses that the trout use to escape extremes in weather and excessive angling pressure.
Because the trout in the Davidson are seldom, if ever, very evenly distributed throughout it's length; I doubt that an accurate survey of the population is possible. If such a survey was possible, I would venture to guess that if the total number of pounds of trout in this river was divide by it's length; that this number for the Davidson might possibly compute to more pounds per mile than any other stream in North Carolina (not counting delayed harvest streams at peak stock levels).
There is natural reproduction in most of the upper sections of the Davidson, as well as in Avery Creek. Additionally, the catch and release section of the river receives recruitment from the put and take area in the lower river, and from escapees of the hatchery. During daily cleaning of the pens, trout often escape through the drains.
If you are looking for solitude you best bets are either midwinter or early spring weekdays. The area close to the hatchery is often crowded on weekends throughout the coldest months of the year. However, an accomplished midge fisherman fishing this section can catch a dozen or more trout almost any day of the year.
On the Davidson, which often runs "gin clear", I have found that a good presentation on a long leader is more critical that what fly you select. Stream conditions and hatch reports are available from any of the fly shops in Asheville/Hendersonville area, and from those in Brevard.
The Pisgah Forest Fish Hatchery is open to the public and well worth the time to stroll through the hatchery area. Feeding time is a must if you have any young anglers in your group. In the wildlife center they have regularly scheduled presentations of interest to the angler and outdoorsman.
The Forest Service has a nice campground with waterfront sites on the Davidson. There is also primitive camping allowed in many areas of the National Forest. If you are looking for a diversion other than fishing, the view from Looking Glass Rock and also John Rock are both worth the hike.
Driving directions are easy. Two miles north of Brevard is the intersection of US 64/276 and NC 280. Take 276 west which parallels the Davidson River up to the junction with Looking Glass Creek. To stay with the Davidson turn left on Forest Service Road 475 which leads to the hatchery.
Because the Davidson River is so easily accessed along almost it's entire length you will often encounter anglers of all skill levels and experience. You may also encounter anglers who's "stream etiquette" might not be on the same level as yours. Try to keep in mind that the river is there for everyone to enjoy, not just for the "experienced fly angler." A kind words and a brief explanation, as opposed to curt condemnation might better serve the future.
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