Two streams in the French Broad system are open only to catch-and-release fishing year 'round. It's worth emphasizing that single-hook artificials only does not necessarily mean fly-fishing only. Big browns also rely heavily on fish, crawfish and other large meal items for calories, so flies or lures that imitate larger morsels generally offer the best prospects. These waters are marginal, however, which can be seen by the fact that only 4,000 trout are stocked in this entire 20-plus-mile section in a season. A wide variety of river bottom types give the fish more then enough room and variety for both habitation and spawning. Between March and October, the NCWRC stocks 16,500 trout in one mile of the Davidson River. Short sections do turn away from the road, however, providing fishermen the best opportunities to find a degree of solitude on this very popular stream. Whatever the offering, only single-hook artificial lures are permitted on the South Mills or any other Wild Trout stream. Wild Trout/Natural Bait waters include the entire game lands section downstream of SR 1326. In between, more than 10 miles of river are accessible only by the South Mills River Trail or by walking up the stream. The digest, which is available from all license dealers, defines the boundaries of all specially designated sections. The Davidson clearly ranks among North Carolina's most famous wild trout streams, and it is a favorite of many flyfishermen. Plus, most others run primarily through private lands. Likewise, high-elevation tributaries of most major feeders that rise along the Blue Ridge provide good trout habitat as soon as there is enough water in the creek to hold fish. In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean. The French Broad River itself may not be the top trout destination in the state, but many of this river's tributaries are. More than 10 species of rare fish and three rare mussels are found in the French Broad River, including the federally endangered Appalachian elktoe mussel. Another traditional Appalachian approach, which has been largely forgotten because of artificial-only requirements on most Wild Trout waters, is to fish a nymph on a fly rod, but to add a piece of stick bait, which refers to caddis larvae in this case. Flyfishermen rely on bow-and-arrow-style shots into small pockets, usually with classic nymphs or small attractor dry flies. As a result, these are some of the most popular streams in the mountains.
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