Everything is changing right now in southern Appalachia. Western North Carolina and east Tennessee’s rolling hardwood hills are falling into autumn more each day. And, even better, the fish are going bananas.

Dale Collins with Tuckaseegee Fly Shop in Bryson City, N.C., said three delayed harvest streams have been stocked and are off the charts right now. Delayed harvest waters are single-hook, artificial-lure-only, and catch-and-release until late spring. This provides anglers with great fishing for brown, brook, and rainbow trout in a variety of waterways.

“We had rain the first part of the week and it blew out everything, but it gets back to normal pretty quickly,” Collins said. “With the delayed harvest creeks—Big Snowbird, Tuckasegee, and Upper Nantahala—you get an equal stocking of browns, brookies, and rainbows of different sizes. It’s a good program.”

The Flies

For browns, Collins recommends some bigger streamers, along with size 16 and 18 brassies and Wooly Buggers. Go flashy—maybe purple, or yellow-black with a white Maribou tail—but don’t expect numbers. For those, look to the brook and rainbows, and tie on a size 14 or 16 Orange Stimulator.

Why it Works

“It’s one of our best ones this time of the year,” he said. “All three [fish] will hit it, too. It floats really well, high in the water, and it imitates about a half-dozen bugs. It’s probably the most effective thing we have here this time of year.”

If you’re interested in a remote getaway, stay in Bryson City or make base camp over at Fontana Village.