August fly fishing: Trout, smallies, carp

Published 8:53 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

Believe it or not, there are good opportunities to catch fish in the heat of August. And fish on the fly rod can be a bonus.

Carp are biting now, according to Heath Cartee of Curtis Wright Outfitters in Saluda. (photo submitted)

I spent a little time talking with Heath Cartee of Curtis Wright Outfitters in Saluda. I felt like I was in an advanced level fly fishing course. Heath had and shared a wealth of information in a short amount of time. The only bad thing was my pen would not write fast enough.
Heath told me if you are going trout fishing this time of year, go early. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Anyway, fishing early, from daylight – 10 a.m., as long as it’s in accordance with the local rules on the waters you are fishing, is the way to go.
Warm water is stressful on trout as it is on most other fish in our area, so fishing during the coolest time of the day and being very careful to handle the fish properly with the least amount of stress is very important.
Think high elevations. Waters originating from the higher mountains in WNC will have cooler water. Springs flowing from peaks such as Mt. Mitchell, Black Balsam, or any one of many more reaching 5,500-6,000-plus feet in elevation are good places to target.
Think terrestrials. This time of year, critters that are not normally found in water – such as ants or my favorite, the inch worm –  are excellent choices.
Heath also told me the best target this time of year on the fly rod is river smallies.
“If you catch a smallmouth on a fly rod you just might forget about a trout,” he said.
I strongly concurred with Heath. I probably just lost points with the trout fishermen and women out there but I already have two strikes against me for mentioning using Power Bait for kids to catch stockers.
The French Broad River is probably tops for smallmouth in our area. But there are many good choices, such as the Little Tennessee, Nantahala, Nolichucky, New and our very own Broad River.
“Use anything top water,” Heath told me. “Cicadas are a very good pattern right now, things green with rubber legs, fished on top.”
Smallmouth bass are my favorite fish. They can go from over the top aggressive one minute, to virtually impossible to catch the next. Put them in river currents, get them to hit a top water lure, and that’s tops in my book.
The Curtis Wright guide pulled one out of the hat on me when he told me carp are biting.
I confess I have never fished for carp on a fly rod. Heath described it as “good practice for saltwater flats fishing.”
He said to use a #8 Hare’s ear, or anything that resembles a small crawfish.
“Fish flats,” the knowledgeable guide told me.
I asked him if he recommended any lakes for carp, and he told me, “All lakes have carp flats.” This is true. And our very own Lake Adger does as well.
Carp get a bad rap, I guess. They are not glamorous, have negative effects on most spawning sport fish, but you have to admit they are pulling machines. They have the horsepower to take the best equipment to the limits.
They also are very wary. Most of the time, light line, a quiet approach and patience are required to land one.
A shout out to the lowly carp.
Rob McComas is a licensed North Carolina fishing guide on Lake Lure  and Lake Jocassee in S.C.  He has been a guide for 11 years and fishing for more than 30. McComas lives with his wife, Amanda, in Sunny View and runs Robs Guide Service. He can be reached at

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