The Davidson River is a well known trout stream in the western mountains of North Carolina with an excellent population of large trout, including rainbow, brown, and brook. It has gained much popularity after being named one of the Top 100 Trout Streams in America by Trout Unlimited in 1999. This does lead to heavy angler pressure and savvy trout, so follow the advice below if you want to have a successful day fly fishing on the river .
How do I access the river?
The river flows gently through the Pisgah National Forrest and is easily located off of NC Highway 276 near Brevard, North Carolina. Best of all, there are multiple entry points onto the river and parking is readily available. The best access point is at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, where you can park for free right beside the river. From there, it is only a few steps down to the river.
When is the best time to go?
Large hatches occur throughout the year making it a prime fishing spot regardless of when you plan your trip. Keep in mind that the surrounding area is a popular vacation destination for tourists, especially during the warmer months and fall foliage. If you go during this time plan to go early and be on the water at dawn. Avoid going to the Davidson during a dry summer because water levels can get exceedingly low and compromise trout health. Personally, I’ve had excellent success on the Davidson during the middle of winter as fewer fisherman and tourist’s brave the cold.
What equipment do I need?
The Davidson River has a nice combination of large flat pools and riffles. Hip boots are perfect during the warmer months but chest waders are recommended in cooler months. Select your favorite 4 or 5-weight, 8 to 9 foot fly rod for easy casting and to help haul in the big catch. Trout in the Davidson average 10 to 16 inches, but some fish can exceed 20 inches. These trout receive lots of fishing pressure and see a lot of flies, so you’re best bet is to use a 9-foot leader with 6-7X tippet. These trout love to dine on midges so go prepared with plenty of midge larvae (size 20-24) in red, olive, and black. Also bring a few nymph patterns along with size 4-6 woolly bugger’s in a variety of colors.
The Davidson River should definitely be on your bucket list of places to fish. But don’t go to the Davidson expecting to take home your catch as it is catch-and-release only. It is the reason so many large, spectacular trout call the Davidson home and allows all of us to enjoy it’s beauty.
Fly Fishing Magazine