Winter Trout Fishing in Western North Carolina
1/11/2012 1:42 PM
As savvy visitors to western North Carolina know, a fishing rod and tackle box can be as essential as ski poles and a down jacket in the winter — a time when, if you know where to go and what to fish for, the fishing can be as good, if not better, than other times of the year.
We asked two fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission to give us their recommendations for where to fish and what to use if you’re visiting the western part of our state this winter, or, if you’re lucky enough to call this area home year-round.
This week, we’ll talk about trout fishing with Kin Hodges, a fisheries biologist with the Commission. Hodges, who lives and works in the northwestern part of the state in Surry County, suggested that trout anglers try the Ararat River in Mt. Airy, between the N.C. 103 Bridge and Hwy. 52.
This 2-mile section of the river was designated as Delayed-Harvest Trout Water in August, and opened to the public this fall. Delayed Harvest waters, posted with black-and-white signs, create high-quality fishing opportunities where anglers can fish densely stocked trout streams on a catch-and-release basis, fall through spring.
Although you can’t harvest any fish when fishing on delayed-harvest waters — at least not until they revert to hatchery-supported regulations on the first Saturday in June — these waters offer terrific fishing opportunities, even in the winter. This is particularly true of the Ararat River.
“Given its relatively low elevation—approximately 1000 ft. above sea level— the Ararat River should stay a bit warmer and provide good fishing further into the winter months than many other delayed-harvest streams,” Hodges said.
Mt. Airy recently completed a stream restoration project on more than two miles of river to help stabilize the banks and improve stream habitat. At the same time, a greenway trail running alongside the river was built to improve public access. These improvements made it possible for the agency to add the stream to its delayed-harvest program. Anglers should note that the delayed-harvest fishery on the Ararat River can be accessed only from three designated access points along the greenway.
“Given the distance between access points, anglers may wish to consider bringing a bicycle to help reach areas further from the parking areas,” Hodges said.
The designated access points are:
- Riverside Park on N.C. 103;
- H.B. Rowe Environmental Park on Hamburg Road; and,
- Tharrington Elementary School Park just upstream of Highway 52.
For those of you not close enough to Mt. Airy to hop into the car and take a day trip to fish the Ararat River, visit the Wildlife Resources Commission’s website for a list of more than 500 sites across the state where you can cast a line. Check out these fishing sites, as well as the life history and fishing techniques on 33 of the most popular freshwater fish species that swim North Carolina’s lakes, streams, rivers and ponds.
Also, check back next week when we’ll talk with David Yow, the agency’s warmwater research coordinator and an expert on walleye fisheries to get his take on winter walleye fishing in western North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Rash, Commission fisheries biologist for District 8