Fly Fishing,    Planning,    Insider,    Lodging, Meals, and Fun,    Perfect Fishing Days

Secrets and Anticipation of Fall Trout Fishing

8/29/2017 5 minutes

If you’re any thing like me, you start getting excited at the first cold front in September and want to jump into fall fishing mode, when it’s really still the dog days of summer playing dog tricks on you. In this article we are going to discuss fall trout patterns, hatches present, gear tricks, and fly fishing techniques for free-flowing and tailwater rivers.

It’s hard to choose between the fall duties of raking/blowing leaves and planting trees over trout fishing, but autumn only comes once a year, so those new maple trees and shrubs can wait in the pot one more day. This is the time of year when rivers are less populated and fisherman dominate the river banks. You will be surprised in some places where you had to stand in line with a ticket in June, July and August, now you’re the first one to the river and you can throw that invisible ticket away.

Hatches and When To Use Them

Trout will feed on dries and on nymphs for the entire month of October and November. The diptera midge is a very popular wet fly to use when a cold front comes through. If you find yourself wearing gloves and a toboggan, a diptera midge can warm you up. While there are many variations of midges, try to go small. Sizes that are most commonly found in our river systems in autumn will be #18 – #22. Midges will be productive all month long and can be the determining factor between catching that spooky trout. Don’t cheat with a #16… take the time to thread your 7x through that tiny hole.

You’ve been waiting for it… types of dries and how to pattern. Dry flies will come in several variations. Small olive mayflies and really small olive mayflies. Small olives are the most abundant mayflies in the months of September, October and November. Olives in size #18 – #24 are most common. Don’t try to get away with the #16 olives! Fishing the smaller variations makes all the difference when spooky trout are in shallow runs. I’ve seen trout turn away a #18 and then go for a #22 olive too many times. The best dry fly bite will be from noon to late afternoon on colder days and all day on warmer fall mornings. These sizes also apply to fishing the fall caddis hatch. Orange and dark green caddis can be found hatching throughout the day, typically during late afternoons and evenings. Caddis in a size #18 or #20 are typically a safe size to use when this hatch comes off. Trout will feed on these all evening and will be very aggressive in the taking.

Fly Fishing Gear – Leader Sizes and Tippet?

Don’t be fooled with the sound of rising trout and head to the river with your short leader and knotted tippet. These fish have seen it all during the summer months and with the clear fall water and high oxygen levels in the water they can see your leader… unless of course you use 6x or 7x for dries and 7x fluro for nymphs. Using one or two sizes smaller in leader can give you the edge other anglers don’t have. You are also better off with a 12ft leader instead of the common 9ft, other anglers have been using all summer long.

Leaves and Debris? Just Twitch It…

No it’s not a Taylor Swift song… The leaves falling in the river can be a pain but knowing how to keep that dropper just short enough and twitch your dry just right will make all the difference. Twitching an elk hair caddis or sulphur just once during the drift will help trout determine if it’s fallen debris or an actual bug. Don’t get carried away with this technique, as too much action can turn trout away.


As the weeks of autumn fly by, there will be more leaves in the river bed and keeping your tungsten bead head off the bottom is going to be critical for success. First, gauge the river’s depth. Secondly tie your dropper rig 3-4 inches shorter than you would tie it in the summer. Take into consideration how fast the run is and if there is any undercurrent in the plunge pool your are fishing. This may take a couple times to get it right but when you do there won’t be any more hang-ups.

Read More Big Fall Fishing

Check fall conditions on the Watauga River Fishing Report
Culturally inclined and well preserved, Asheville is surrounded by majestic mountains, lush national forest lands and scores of fresh water rivers and streams. Long recognized for ... moreits art-deco architecture, performing arts and numerous music festivals, this mid-size city of about 84,000 has also become well known for its abundant trout fishing and is frequently referred to as the Trout Capital of the South.


And, you don’t have to go far to fish! The Davidson River, named after an early settler to the area and voted one of the top 100 trout streams in America by Trout Unlimited members, runs right alongside town. Less than an hour’s drive easily gets you to the Tuckasegee River. The South Fork Holston River (SoHo) considered one of the finest tailwater trout fisheries east of the Mississippi, and the Watuga River, also highly regarded, can be reached in 2 hours or less. By some estimates, there are over 4000 miles of public waters within driving distance of Asheville.

Rivers like the Davidson are most popular during the spring and fall months although year round fishing is permitted in tailwaters. During the hot summer months you may find yourself competing with tubers, kayakers, canoeists, swimmers and people just enjoying a waterside picnic.

Steeped in history and surrounded by natural wonders, Asheville offers a wide variety of options to those not choosing to fish. These include:

The Biltmore Estate, the largest single family home in the US

Asheville Art Museum

Black Mountain Golf Course

Beer City Bicycles

Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians

Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Appalachian Trail

There are several options for traveling to Asheville, including:

Fly into Charlotte’s Douglas International Airport and drive for about 2 hours

Fly into Piedmont Triad International Airport (serving Winston Salem, Greensboro and High Point) and drive for approximately 2 hours

Fly into Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport and drive for approximately 2 hours
Fishing Waters
The headwaters of the 78.5 mile long Watauga, begin at Peak Mountain in North Carolina on the western slope of the Eastern Continental Divide, and end at its confluence with the South ... moreFork of the Holston River. This trout filled tributary of the Holston is a mere 1 hour, scenic drive from Asheville.

Managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) the Watauga, like most rivers in the watershed, is affected by dams, water releases and reservoirs. The Watauga Dam created the 6,430 acre Watauga Lake. Three miles further down river, are the much smaller Wilbur Dam and Lake, used during the summer to release water back into the river. The 20 mile tailwater from Wilbur Dam to Boone lake is the most prized trout fishing part of the river.

Like other tailwaters in the region, the temperature remains between 50 to 55 degrees most of the year, providing great habitat for trout. The Tennessee Valley Resource Authority (TVRA) stocks the tailwater with rainbows, brooks and browns alongside a small population of wild trout. Most fish are in the 12 inch range although much larger fish are there to be caught. Estimates range from 2,000 to 5,000 fish per mile.

Depending on water releases the river can be waded although it’s advisable to get a TVA discharge schedule before entering the water. Wading access can be limited since property holders own the riverbed and can deny entry. The water may be fished at any time from a small boat, although due to shallow pools, you may want to keep one generator running if you use a drift boat. The river is composed of a few fast runs and long sections of rifles but large, long pools can also be found.
Game Fish Opportunities:
/ Angler
1 - 3 anglers
8 hours
Enjoy a private, guided fly fishing trip wading in one of the most beautiful rivers and streams in the backyard of Asheville's mountains. Our professional guides assist you as you ... morewade for trophy trout and wild trout on the Watauga River in North Carolina. Our trips include all fishing equipment, waders, boots and more.
Founded in 2012, SAA Guide Service is Asheville’s Premier Fly Fishing Guide Service and Asheville’s Original Bass Fishing Outfitter. Our fishing guides specialize in smallmouth bass, ... morerainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout and wild trout in WNC’s river systems. We are a licensed and insured fishing guide outfitter and all of our guides are CPR and First Aid certified.

Rivers We Fish:
Watauga River
South Holsten River
Nolichucky River
Tuckasegee River
French Broad River

Smallmouth Bass
Asheville's Premier Fly Fishing Guide Service. 25+ years of fly fishing experience; guiding Asheville and Western North Carolina for trophy trout and smallmouth bass! Leaders in Asheville ... moreFly Fishing float and wade trips!


Discover Your Own Fishing and Hunting Adventures

With top destinations, guided trips, outfitters and guides, and river reports, you have everything you need.