Fishing Report: Use February to catch up on fishing gear
The sudden, warmer temperatures this week may set you up to get out and go fishing, but have you looked at that jumble of fishing gear tangled in the area? When was the last time you changed lines, oiled your reels or sharpened your hooks? How many of your favorite lures do you have left? You may be ready to fish, but your gear is not. The last thing you want is to lose that first big fish of the season to an old line or rusty hooks, and God forbid, you haven’t got the right lure.
A little known fact in fishing; February is a great month to take advantage of big sales in fishing equipment. Manufacturers are shipping preseason orders of the latest and greatest performing items to stores that still have last year’s models on the shelves. In turn, retailers are trying to generate sales for a slow January and early February by hosting massive clearance sales, all in an effort to get rid of the old and make room for the new. Maybe it’s time to buy a new line, new lures and maybe even a new rod or reel. Pisces don’t know the difference between 2013 and 2014, but your wallet certainly will.
Remember to properly dispose of old fishing lines. Birds, animals, fish and even humans can get entangled in old fishing lines with often fatal results. It takes 600 years for nylon threads to decompose and over 4000 years for fluorocarbon threads to decompose.
The best trout fishing this week will be from 9am until just before dark. The portions of rivers and streams that receive full sun will provide the best fishing as the water tends to warm up here first, and the best insect outbreaks will occur here. Overcast skies this week and warmer temperatures will bring the blue-winged olives in force. They will be better matched to sizes # 16-20. Anglers should see good dry fly activity later in the afternoon until dark. Other productive fly models will be Little Black Caddis in # 16-18, Black Caddis Pupae in # 16-18, Little Winter Stonefly nymphs # 16-20, Little Winter Stonefly Dry in # 14-18, Blue Winged Olives in # 18-22, egg patterns in # 10-12, Rainbow Warriors in # 14-20 and black midges in # 22-26. For Streamer designs, try the black and olive Woolly Buggers in sizes # 6-8, the dark brown Sculpins in # 6-8 and the black Rabbit Strip Zonkers in # 6-10. Slowly work your streamer through the retaining water with short strips and make sure to cover every square inch of the real estate, often the larger brown trout will be standing in shallow water near the banks, just waiting to crush your fly. By mid-afternoon, actively feeding fish will be in the tails of long ponds and rapids in search of blue-winged olives, small winter flies, and black caddis.
The hottest trout fishing this week will be in the Ravens Fork, Catch and Release Trophy Trout section, and the upper and lower part of the Nantahala River. The streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park might also fish well this week. The Oconaluftee River and Deep Creek are the best choices and should have consistent caddis and Blue-winged Olives hatches.
Lake Fontana is still the best lake in the region this week. Fontana is fishing well for walleye, smallmouth bass and bass at this time. Lake surface temperatures are expected to rise by a few degrees and are expected to intensify this week. This weekend, especially after the heavy rains on Friday and Saturday, try throwing fake Texas worms and soccer jigs at muddy banks and spots. Work them slowly and hold on! Walleye are best caught at this time by jigging live nocturnal caterpillars near rock faces, or dragging crank baits and plastic minnows. Fishermen also catch walleye with jigging spoons and fire tiger-colored ice jigs.
This week’s heat wave should feel like spring at times and put most fish into a feeding frenzy rarely seen in the winter months. Take advantage, this old groundhog from a few weeks ago may have lied!
See you on the water!