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Fires Creek Conservation Project Needs $25,000

leah kirk

A $500,000 pledge has brought Mainspring Conservation Trust within sight of the finish line to conserving 50 acres of private property in Cherokee and Clay counties, but the nonprofit still needs to raise $25,000 to seal the deal before the contract’s expiration in mid-November.

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Fred and Alice Stanback, North Carolina’s leading environmental donors, made the donation. The additional $25,000 will pay for transaction and maintenance costs.  The land in question is located along Laurel Creek, a tributary of Fires Creek, and is surrounded by national forest land. Fires Creek is designated as an Outstanding Resource Water. Mainspring plans to hold the property before eventually transferring it to U.S. Forest Service ownership. A donation portal is online at www.mainspringconserves.org, with an option to designate gifts for the Fires Creek project. 828.837.6383.

Leave Peeping at the Shenandoah

leah kirk

It’s not exactly what you would call riotous yet, but Shenandoah National Park is getting there. Day by day, tree by tree, this beloved national park is becoming the mosaic of color we’ve been waiting for all year. Some areas of the Park are more colorful than others – and this will continue to be the case – but expect to see plenty of autumn drama as you drive from Front Royal at mile 0 all the way down to Rockfish Gap at mile 105. The happy little maple that oversees Meadow Spring Parking at mile 33.5 is a swirl of cherry, orange, and lime, like a snow cone for a child who couldn’t decide on just one flavor. And sumacs are funny things. You might find a patch of the tropical-looking plants still green as poison growing right beside their brothers and sisters who have turned every color except green – poinsettia red, butternut orange, Golden Delicious yellow. A patch of sumacs at Spitler Knoll Overlook (mile 48) is especially dramatic, exhibiting just about every possible hue, like feather boas on Mardi Gras revelers.

Swift Run Gap is alive with chromatic splendor. A rogue maple just north of the Gap looks like an open box of Crayolas – Red Orange, Scarlet, Burnt Orange, Mango Tango, Sunglow, and tiny polka dots of Electric Lime. A dogwood just south of the turnoff for route 33 displays every color there ever was in the palette of red. Pulling off at Bacon Hollow Overlook at mile 68.9 on a foggy afternoon provided a Halloween vignette of grays, silvers, and blacks: crows flapping around and landing in a dead snag cawed haughtily, perfectly aware that they own the joint. "Keep moving," they croaked. "You have no jurisdiction here." Fog comes and goes, though; by Rocky Mount Overlook just two miles south, the fog was lifting and revealing south-facing mountainsides just beginning to turn maize and pumpkin. Hickories and birches, especially in the Park’s South District, glow golden-orange, one and two trees at a time, little fires of color in the forest.

A single phosphorescent yellow evening primrose hangs on fiercely on the west side of the Drive near mile 85. The scene-stealer this week, though, is sassafras. Sassafras trees, like sumacs, are the mood rings of the Appalachian woods. In the Park this week you can see the whole gamut of sassafras shades – single trees glittering jewel-tones of both crimson and green, startling as mangoes in every stage of ripeness, or dressing themselves in classic monotones like auburn, paprika, and Velveeta orange. A sassafras near Calf Mountain Overlook seven miles from Skyline Drive’s southern end glowed a luminous light red, like a glass of Pinot Noir on the Thanksgiving table.

Some of the best colors right now are between mile 23, near Mathews Arm and Elkwallow, south to Swift Run Gap, at mile 65.5. Here and there, hickories blaze golden yellow, the color of ripe mangoes. Thornton Gap is turning candy-corn colors branch by branch, tree by tree. The Stony Man area around mile 38 is starting to show its colorful side and should be even splashier this weekend. You might remember that last week old Stony Man got himself a henna rinse. Well, this week the old fellow seems to have gone back to the salon for streaks of paprika, cumin, and saffron.

Big Meadows is layered streaks of spice tones – sand art in a huge shallow glass bowl. Driving through the section of Skyline Drive around Lewis Mountain at mile 57 is like walking down the aisle of a cathedral with stained-glass windows in marigold tones. Swift Run Gap is dabbed with yellow and pops of red. Bearfence Trail is gorgeous, flaunting a mix of goldenrod, purple asters, and yellow foliage. A maple at Naked Creek Overlook blazes vermilion against a sea of lime green and lemon yellow.

But dryness is having an impact. Dryness like Shenandoah is experiencing now stresses trees, and their leaf colors exhibit that stress; some trees may shed their leaves before they have a chance to turn the vivid colors that back in early September they wanted to turn. We’re hoping for rain later in the weekend. That hoped-for rain could still resuscitate the colors of some trees.

Please know that this fall color report is not analytic, nor is it meant to be. If you prefer science over abstraction, you’ve got a friend in the Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map, at https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map

Team Effort Stocking at Haywood County’s Pigeon River

leah kirk

by Holly Kays

A pair of fish culturists from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission stands atop the truck as a line of bucket-bearers forms leading up to it, and the work begins. Each bucket received a splash of water and a dollop of flipping, fighting trout — rainbow, brown and brook all mixed together in one writhing mass.

There’s a splash zone around the truck as the trout fling sprinkles of water on their way into the buckets, occasionally protesting the transfer successfully enough to fling themselves away from the bucket and onto the ground, where bucket brigade members promptly grab the twisting creatures and replace them in the water-filled buckets, where they can breathe once more.

It’s trout stocking season in Western North Carolina, and the Wildlife Commission truck held 1,425 pounds — 2,400 individual fish — of trout to go in the West Fork Pigeon River upstream of Lake Logan near the Burnett Siding Baptist Church and Cold Mountain Shooting Range. The shipment is one of many that the Wildlife Commission will make over the course of the coming spring and fall to boost the success of anglers in these Delayed Harvest waters. Last year, the Wildlife Commission stocked 240,000 pounds of fish in the WNC counties covered by the Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery in Brevard — the area includes all of District 9 from Buncombe and Polk counties west, as well as a few bodies of water in adjoining District 8.

“What this does is it makes the fishing experience so much better,” said Ron Gaddy, a member of the Trout Unlimited Cataloochee Chapter organizing the bucket brigade. “It’s not just about fishing. It’s about our economy.”

Anglers will travel a long way to cast their lines in premier trout waters, and when they do they spend money on fishing supplies, meals out, hotel rooms and a thousand other things. A study released this year found that 149,000 trout anglers fished 1.6 million days in North Carolina during 2014, contributing $383 million to the state’s economy. The western counties contain some of the best trout fishing in the Southeast, and when chances of success go up — as is the case when waters are stocked — so does the attractiveness to out-of-town anglers.

The stretch of the Pigeon River that was stocked last week is designated as a Delayed Harvest waterway, meaning that anglers are allowed to keep their catch only during the summer months from June 1 to Oct. 1. The rest of the year, the river is catch-and-release only in order to keep the waters from being depleted too quickly. However, Gaddy said, he and many other trout anglers would like to see some waters in Haywood County designated as catch-and-release only all year long.

“Other counties have made designated waters catch-and-release year-round,” he said. “That would provide better fishing through the winter months.”

Jackson, Buncombe, Burke, McDowell, Watauga, Avery, Transylvania, Ashe and Yancey counties all have waters with this designation. For some of those gathered that Friday, however, the event was about more than improving angler success. It was a chance to see fish up close and to experience the beauty of Haywood County’s mountains firsthand.

According to TU Cataloochee President Tom Thomas, this hands-on stocking method is a more fish-friendly way to get the fish in the river than dumping them all out in one spot. The buckets allow the fish to be distributed throughout the river, increasing their chance of survival once released. And with 32 volunteers, the boost in manpower is a big help to the Wildlife Commission. The Oct. 6 stocking drew a record number of volunteers, more than double the typical number of 15 or so — Thomas attributed the heightened interest to exposure in publications such as The Smoky Mountain News.

Eventually, the stock truck emptied out and there was no more work to be done. But that doesn’t mean everyone turned around and went home. Many of the 32 people who had come to help had also come to fish.

Learn to Gig Like a Champ

leah kirk

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The program, provided in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, is titled “Gigs and Ghosts”, and will start at 4 pm on the lower landing at Round Spring. National Park Service rangers and MDC staff invite everyone to gather around a gravel bar campfire for a program on the history of gigging, an overview of modern-day techniques and safety, as well as storytelling around the fire.

The program will also include an opportunity to gig fish on the Current River under the guidance of MDC conservation agents. All giggers should possess a valid Missouri fishing license. The program is free, and the public is welcome to attend. Participants should dress warmly, and come prepared for enjoying the river and gravel bar after dark. Flashlights and folding lawn chairs are recommended.  Ozark National Scenic Riverways will host an instructional gigging program at Round Spring on Saturday, October 21

Those who would like to try their hand at gigging should contact Twin Pines Conservation Education Center at 573-325-1381 to reserve a spot and receive additional information.

2017 Fly Tyers Weekend in November

leah kirk

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Fly Tyers Weekend, November 4th and 5th, is less than one month away.  Daniel, Dave, and Anthony have been planning and coordinating to make this event fun, informative and educational for all attendees.  I know that many of you have enjoyed past Fly Tyers Weekends as much or more than I have.  After a two year hiatus, we are back with over 40 demonstration tiers signed up and we can expect many attendees to come see you and learn from your fly fishing and tying wisdom.

The Fly Tyers Weekend demonstration tying will be performed on tables under a big tent in Little River Outfitters side yard.  Morning tying shifts are from 9:00 AM -12:30 PM.  Afternoon tying shifts are from 1:00PM-4:30 PM (or so).  Please bring your own tying lights and extension cords.  Electricity will be provided.  You will provide the entertainment.

Follow this link for more information: http://littleriveroutfitters.com/pages/events/flytyersweekend.html

See you at the NC State Fair

leah kirk

The NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s State Fair exhibit is located between the Old Farm Machinery Building and the Children's Barnyard, across from the Village of Yesteryear. This year's exhibit will feature the Commission’s game land program and prescribed burning. The exhibit will showcase the techniques and benefits of prescribed fire on Commission-owned public game lands. Attendees can learn about the various species that thrive in habitats that have been improved by prescribed fire, including wild turkey and a host of songbirds. Be sure to learn about all the fun outdoor activities that are available on the Commission’s public game lands, including hunting, hiking, nature photography, bird watching, horseback riding and more.

This year’s State Fair wildlife button, a favorite collectible for fair attendees since 1981, will feature the Henslow’s sparrow. One of the rarest in the nation, this sparrow is a species of special concern in North Carolina. These small songbirds prefer to make their nests near grasslands among dead weeds and shrubs. Though they typically breed in northeastern states, Henslow’s sparrows can be seen nesting at the Commission’s newly-acquired Voice of America Game Land in Beaufort County.

As always, visitors of all ages can practice their aim at the pellet gun range and learn about firearms safety from Wildlife Enforcement Officers. Also be sure to stock up for holiday gift-giving at the on-site Wild Store with new baseball cap and tee-shirt designs, along with the 2018 Wildlife Calendar and Wildlife in North Carolina magazine subscriptions.

As part of celebrating the 70th year of the Wildlife Resources Commission, be sure to register for your chance to win a fishing trip courtesy of Carolina Outdoor Journal host Joe Albea! The winner will have their choice of three different excursions: River fly fishing for striped bass with Capt. Mitchell Blake, Piedmont lake fishing with Capt. Greg Griffin, or a mountain river float trip for trout with Ollie Smith. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily, except Thursday, Oct. 12, when the exhibit opens at 3 p.m. All activities are free.

WNC Fly Fishing Expo in December

leah kirk

“We here at WNC Fly Fishing Expo are looking forward to serving you at here in December. A great schedule of speakers and demonstrations is coming together,” says Alan Kirkpatrick the Director of the WNC Fly Fishing Expo. Reba Brinkman has handed off the reins to him after eight years of creating an excellent event for the fly-fishing community. “Big thanks to Reba; I wish her all the best in her new ventures.”

                Kirkpatrick comes to this position with a wealth of experience in professional events management and a passion for fly fishing. He’s looking forward to working with to continue putting on an event which creates value for businesses and continues to strengthen the fly fishing community in Western North Carolina.

                The 2017 Expo will take place on Dec. 1st and 2nd at the WNC Agricultural Center on Friday, December 1st from 12:00 noon to 7:00 pm and Sat Dec. 2nd from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

“We've added several elements to increase the number of visitors including casting instruction available at all times, a kids activity area, a both dedicated to getting kids started in fly fishing and a beginners resource booth (which will highlight the location of all fly shop and guide services booths)” Kirkpatrick said.

Currently, there are four goals Kirkpatrick has for the 2017 expo.

1.       To increase the value created for exhibitors by the expo.

2.       To improve the quality of the expo experience for exhibitors and paying visitors.

3.       To increase the number of paying visitors at the expo.

4.       To hear any thoughts or ideas attendees may have to help accomplish these goals.

Kirkpatrick says, “If you are a potential vendor for the gigantic North Carolina fly fishing show, now is the time to register your booth. If you have not already done so, please reply and confirm your participation ASAP.”

                Booths at the Expo will again cost $500 minus a $50 discount if you register prior to October 1st. Register by emailing your name, business name and how many booths you want. Kirkpatrick will follow up with payment instructions later. “Please connect with anyone you think might be interested in exhibiting at the expo that has not participated before. I will be adding a limited number of outdoor industry-related exhibitors that fly fishers will be interested in,” said Kirkpatrick.

For more contact Alan Kirkpatrick, WNC Fly Fishing Expo wncflyfishingexpo@gmail.com or by cell phone at (828) 712-7774

Breaking News: Cohutta Fishing Co. & Sweetwater Brewing Co. Hook Up

leah kirk

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“Why didn’t I think of that?” may be your first thought when you realize that the Cohutta Fishing Company has partnered up with Sweetwater Brewing Company. The partnership will be christened with Andy Bowen opening the taps this Thursday between 6:00 and 9:00 pm at the first Sweetwater Brewing Company’s endorsed fly shop and bar. 

Southern Trout is headed there for the ribbon cutting in Cartersville, Georgia, this week. Actually, Andy has been a loyal supporter of Sweetwater Brewing Company and its owners for quite a long time. We’re certainly not sure who came up with the idea of placing a watering hole in a fly shop, but we certainly think of it as a true stroke of genius.

The name is of the bar “The Last Cast Bar” It’s got a four-tap array. We are not sure what brews are available, but we plan to be to find out!

Fish Hippie Introduces the Comforts For Fall Season

leah kirk

Now that fall is here, prepare for cooler temperatures, bonfires and tailgating season with Fish Hippie, the North Carolina-based outdoor lifestyle brand. The Fish Hippie Fall 2017 Collection is available now at www.fishhippie.com and offers all the comforts of the season including all-new button downs, flannels, quarter-zips, jackets, vests and an authentic collection of North Carolina made bags and totes. The Fall ’17 collection was designed with a mixed palate of warm and bright colors, plaid patterns, corduroy and bronze accents along with refined fabrics to complement the fall wardrobe of those with a fervor for the finer side of outdoor life.

Fish Hippie flannels are perfect for crisp, fall days and nights. Made with soft 100% cotton flannel twill in warm plaid patterns (Castor, Barton, Stillbend and Lowbridge), these shirts feature a “common sense fit” that delivers elevated style and comfort compared to the traditional flannel button down.

With an authentic design providing remembrance of the revered upland casual style, an affinity for cool days in the field are conveyed with the Bridgestow Field Jacket.  Made of 70% cotton and 30% nylon with a wax finish for stylish durability around town or far from it.  The jacket is complete with 100% cotton flannel lining and corduroy collar to ensure extra warmth. 

Designed as a reliable balance between refined authentic style and seasonal function, the new Browder Vest, with a 100% polyester shell, is the perfect layer to bring about your new fall style. The full-zip quilted vest includes corduroy bindings throughout, corduroy inner collar and front flap pockets with Fish Hippie custom bronze finished snaps. 

The Fall 2017 Collection also features new seasonal patterns for the brand’s popular Solace Button Down Collection. Fish Hippie introduced the Solace Button Down Collection in Spring 2017 as “refuge” from the standard casual/dress shirt. Boasting exceptional comfort, the Solace Button Down is designed with a much lighter weight than traditional button downs and enhanced breathability, making it the perfect shirt to wear year-round. Experience the 4-way stretch material and easy care finish in countless patterns for your fall/winter wardrobe that will easily take you from day into night.

For the second fall season, Fish Hippie offers its’ North Carolina crafted collection of existing, as well as new, Bags and Packs, all truly Merited for Sea and Field.  Built to withstand the elements and accented with FH authentic character, these bags are built from waxed canvas with water-repellent finish suited for days on the water or in the field. Apt functionality and features create a collection befitting an outdoor-inspired everyday life. The collection includes a selection of totes, a laptop bag, a backpack, a log-carrier, as well as a travel kit available in two sizes.  

“This new fall 2017 collection is a reflection of our efforts to give our customers products that are comfortable, durable and stylish when the temperatures start to drop,” said Ben Webb, Fish Hippie president. “This collection has all the essentials for a cooler season along with capturing the finer side of outdoor life.”

Experience Fall in Panthertown

leah kirk

A leaf-looking stroll through Panthertown Valley will be offered 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, near Cashiers, North Carolina. This casual group hike will venture from Salt Rock Gap to Warden’s Falls and back, a total distance of 6-7 miles. The route is rated as moderately difficult, and hikers should bring lunch, snacks, water and shoes sufficient for uneven and muddy trail.

Members can bring friends and family for free, with non-members asked to join Friends of Panthertown by making a donation. Memberships start at $25. RSVP required. Join Friends of Panthertown online at www.panthertown.org/join and RSVP for the hike at 828.269.HIKE.

Special Alpine Trout Area Reserved in Tri-State Compact

leah kirk

The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, announced on Friday the protection of more than 1,680 acres of high-elevation ridges and pristine headwaters in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Located in both North Carolina and Tennessee, the conservation acquisition was made possible with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and connects more than 127,000 acres of public lands from Cherokee National Forest to Mount Rogers National Recreation area in Virginia.

                From the property's highest elevations, including the 4,325-foot Bald Knob, one can see three states and many high peaks, including Mt. Rogers and Whitetop in Virginia, as well as Snake Mountain, Elk Knob and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. The land, known as Cut Laurel Gap, features some of the best remaining stream habitat for Southern Appalachian Brook Trout and will eventually be open to the public for fishing as well as hunting for ruffed grouse, turkey, white-tailed deer and black bear.

                The Conservation Fund purchased the Cut Laurel Gap property in December 2013, serving as the temporary owner until funding could be provided for its permanent protection. The conveyance of the final acreage in Tennessee to the U.S. Forest Service this month was made possible with funding from the LWCF. Private contributions from Fred and Alice Stanback and a grant from Trout Unlimited also enabled the protection of land in both states.

                The headwaters located on the property, together with one linear mile of perennial streams also now conserved, are tributaries to South Holston Lake, which provides drinking water to residents in Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia, and popular water-based recreation for more than four million visitors and surrounding communities along the Tennessee-Virginia border annually.

                The Conservation Fund strives to create conservation solutions that make environmental and economic sense. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, the Fund has worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect nearly eight million acres of land. Visit www.conservationfund.org.

Smokies Trout Tournament

leah kirk

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The largest trout tournament in the Smokies, the 19th annual Smoky Mountains Fall Trout Tournament, will take place on the weekend of Oct. 7-8 on 20 miles of the Little Pigeon River in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. At least 5,000 trout are stocked immediately prior to the event. The top prizes will be $500 for the largest trout and $500 for the smallest trout. Other prizes will include trophies for the top three anglers in four divisions, cash awards, fishing equipment, and gift certificates to restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks.

                The entry fees are $25 for one day or $40 for both days. Cash prizes will go to the four divisions of adults and youths, both locals and tourists. Register or get more information at www.rockytopoutfitter.com, or call Rocky Top Outfitters at 865-661-3474.

Tennessee Sets New Fishing Regs For 2018

leah kirk

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Next year’s sport fish regulations were approved at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s September meeting in Gatlinburg on Sept. 27. The area on the Elk River of Watauga Reservoir that has a hook restriction during January through April will be reduced. This change allows anglers to use all types fishing gear in this section of the river year round. Delayed harvest trout fishing areas will be established on Doe River in Carter County and Buffalo Creek in Grainger County. Changes include closing upper Cherokee Reservoir to snagging from March 1 through May 31, except during the snagging season (April 1-15). This will protect paddlefish from over-harvest.

Chimney Tops Trail Reopen in Smokies

leah kirk

GSMNP has reopened the popular Chimney Tops Trail and a newly observation point starting on October 6, 2017. The new observation point is located roughly a quarter-mile below the actual summit. Most of the damage on this trail during the November 2016 wildfire occurred near the final approach to the summit.

On November 23, 2016, two juvenile arsonists started a wildfire near the Chimney Tops summit. By November 28th the fire grew to 500 acres. After several months of exceptional drought conditions, and winds gusts reaching more than 80 mph that afternoon, the fire literally exploded. Over the next several hours, it burned almost 18,000 acres, including 11,410 acres within GSMNP. From Chimney Tops the fire raced north, passing around the edges of downtown Gatlinburg and reaching the outskirts of Pigeon Forge. Before it was brought under control the fire killed 14 people, injured more than 176 people, and damaged or destroyed at least 2460 structures at a cost of more than $500 million.

The trailhead for Chimney Tops is located roughly 6.9 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center (between the lower tunnel and "the loop" on Newfound Gap Road). The Chimney Tops Trail is one of the most popular hikes along Newfound Gap Road. The trail owes much of its popularity to its relatively short length, and its outstanding panoramic views from the pinnacles. Its length, less than 2 miles, however, makes for a very steep hike - so much so that many hikers don't even reach the top. The first half of the trail is relatively tame. However, to reach the summit hikers have to climb more than 960 feet over the course of the last mile! This is similar to the rate of elevation gain you'll find on some of the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado.

The first section of trail more or less follows the cascading waters of Road Prong Creek, and crosses several footbridges along the 0.9-mile route to Beech Flats. The trail junction at Beech Flats marks the approximate half-way point for this hike. From here the Road Prong Trail branches off to the left towards the Appalachian Trail at Indian Gap, roughly 2.4 miles away. The Road Prong Trail, which continues to follow the stream of the same name, is one of the oldest trails in the Smokies. In the 18th and 19th centuries this ancient path was commonly known as the Indian Gap Trail. The Cherokee name for Chimney Tops is Duniskwalgunyi, or "forked antler", which refers to its resemblance to the antlers of a deer.

Fall Trout Stocking Begins in Maryland

leah kirk

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will begin fall trout stocking in early October, introducing nearly 28,000 brown, golden and rainbow trout into select Maryland creeks, lakes, and rivers by the end of the month.

“The stocking program is eagerly awaited by many Maryland anglers,” said Dave Blazer, Fishing and Boating Services Director. “Fall stocking gives anglers a chance to experience excellent trout fishing, while enjoying the great foliage and scenery and autumn weather conditions that the state has to offer this time of year.”

Fall is generally a productive time for fishing in Maryland. As water temperatures decrease fish are biting a little more so they can store enough energy to get them through the winter. Native brook and brown trout begin their spawning during the mid to late fall. Anglers fishing for striped bass often refer to this month as “Rocktober” in honor of the species’ more common nickname” rockfish.”

“I personally have landed my best largemouth, smallmouth bass, northern pike, trout and musky in the fall,” said department biologist and avid fisherman Matt Sell.

Anglers can expect this year’s stocked trout to weigh an estimated one-half to one pounds. However, anglers vying for something bigger will have a unique opportunity to try and land trophy size trout, as fish weighing over three pounds will also be added to the mix.

Some stocked streams have seasonal restrictions so anglers should consult the 2017 Maryland Guide to Fishing and Crabbing for all related fishing regulations and restrictions. Stocking dates, times, and locations will be chosen based on environmental and weather conditions, water flow and temperatures. Daily stocking updates can be found online and by subscribing to the department’s email alerts. There is also a recorded trout stocking hotline at 800-688-3467, which is updated every Friday during the season.

Breaking News: DRO ANNOUNCES FALL & WINTER CLASSES

leah kirk

PISGAH FOREST — Davidson River Outfitters is kicking off a diverse series of fly-tying, fishing and rod-building classes to help anglers sharpen their skills this winter.

                “We have, always tried to offer classes that are educational and exciting to area anglers” said owner Kevin Howell. “Our forthcoming fall and winter classes are some of the most diverse and in-depth that we have ever been able to offer.”

                The 2017curriculum begins November  17 and 18 with an appearance and instruction from legendary fly angler and world-renowned fly tier,  Bob Clouser. Famous for his popular deerhair minnow pattern, Clouser will demonstrate how to tie a host of his smallmouth flies during a class that Saturday.

                Throughout the fall season, DRO’s popular fly tying classes will return with basic, intermediate and advanced level classes. Specialty classes will focus on tying bass flies, musky flies, articulated streamers, midges, as well as terrestrials and Tenkara flies.

                The outfitter’s rod-building class on Jan. 5 and 6 is one of a few places on the East Coast where you can learn to build your own fishing rod. The class will be taught by expert rod builders Kevin Howell and John Rich.

                “Previous rod-building knowledge is not required,” Howell said, ”only the desire to create a customized fly or casting rod. There’s no greater feeling in the world than catching a fish on a rod you’ve built yourself, with a fly you tied yourself.”

                Veteran guide and author J.E.B. Hall will teach a class on spey and switch rod casting March 10, while Howell, a world-champion fly fisherman and caster, will teach anglers how to deal with pressured and spooky fish Feb. 16. Both of these classes will be taught on the water, with participants receiving hands-on instruction with the experts. Other casting- and technique-based classes will be added over the course of the winter, Howell said.

                For more information about DRO’s class offerings, visit www.davidsonflyfishing.com/Schools or call the fly shop at 828-877-4181. Davidson River Outfitters is a full service fly shop at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest. They offer full outfitting and guide services as well as classes, educational services and worldwide fishing related travel programs.

Trophy Shoal Bass Update

leah kirk

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Cohutta Fishing Outfitter, GA. Many anglers target shoal bass to during the warmer months to pass the time until their favorite trout stream begins fishing well again. The truth of the matter is that the big girls bite better in the winter. We all want a grip-n-grin with a trophy shoal bass to show to all of our buddies while we are sitting around having a beer. I mean, after all, they are a true bucket list fish! Each fish tells a story with the battle scars they show, notifying anglers of the life they have lived to get to where they are now. Trophy shoal bass do not come easy, which is why we pursue them.

A trophy shoal bass will forever embed a memory in the angler's mind. As you cradle them in your hands for a few short seconds, you think about the life they have been through, and the work you put in, for the two of you to finally cross paths. We chase shoal bass all year, but our favorite time is during the cooler months. In just a few short weeks, the rivers will begin to resemble a ghost town, and shoal bass will be looking to put the feed bag on for the coming months. We hope to have you come out and experience what this great resource has to offer!

This past Wednesday, we ventured out to see if any shoal bass were beginning to migrate to their fall feeding grounds. With the water level up, we are now able to navigate the river easier in the jet boat, and get into areas that inhabit fish that do not see much pressure. Our first stop produced a nice 2.5 pound fish, which was good to see. We ended up catching a good number of fish, including shoal bass, spotted bass, and stripers. We look for this to only improve over the next month.

“Down the Hatch” Fly Fishing Festival in Atlanta

leah kirk

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Help support the Chattahopchee RiverKeepers Alert Program and join the funs October 12 for the Down the Hatch Film at Atlanta’s The Metropolitan Club. Libations will be provided by SweetWater Brewing Company. You can even Cast the Helios 3 fly rod and enter for a chance to take one home, along with loads of raffle prizes and free giveaways for a great cause.

Films from the industries top names in the fly fishing film world. Learn more about the monster browns that call the Hooch.  All proceeds go towards the Quality Hooch conservation campaign and funding for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper's BacteriALERT Program.

Fly Fishing on Center State in Bryson City, NC

leah kirk

Enjoy fall color in the mountains and the Delayed Harvest waters on the Tuckasegee River in Bryson City, NC, when two regional fly fishing events take place the weekend of October 6-7, 2017.

Smoky Mountain Hook, Hackle & Rod Show

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Friday & Saturday, October 6-7, 9am - 4 pm

Swain County Indoor Recreation Facility, 240 West Deep Creek Road

Free admission. Fly tyers, fly casting, rod builders, vendors and non-profits. Casting and fly tying demonstrations. Museum 'yard sale' and door prizes. Educational booths. Food by Casting Carolinas; Music by All Strings Considered (1-4 pm Saturday.

3rd Annual Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing Festival

Saturday, October 7, 9 am - 5 pm

Train Depot Plaza, 226 Everett StreetFree admission. Meet vendors like Simms, Umpqua, Scott, Sage, Raven's Ford Rods, Echo Fly Rods, Hatch Reels and more. Watch local fly tyers and casting demonstrations. For a complete vendor list visit GreatSmokiesFishing.com/flyfishfest.

Bordering the southern side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bryson City is a laid-back, easily stroll-able town with local bookstores, galleries with working artisans, the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians, breweries, and a surprising variety of lodging and restaurants. From June-October you can enjoy free, live music concerts every Saturday night at Riverfront Park. Learn more at GreatSmokies.com. Bryson City is one hour west of Asheville; two hours from Knoxville, Greenville/Spartanburg and Chattanooga; and three hours from Atlanta and Charlotte.

West Virginia: Golden Trout Stocking Set for 2018

leah kirk

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The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has announced plans for a special golden rainbow trout stocking in 2018. During the 2017 National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration Sept. 23-24 at Stonewall Resort State Park, DNR Director Stephen McDaniel revealed that the event, which will be called "West Virginia Gold Rush," will lead off DNR's spring trout stocking season the week of April 2-6 with special stockings and events across the state.

That week, DNR will stock only golden rainbow trout in designated lakes and streams across the state, including those in several state parks. Normally, golden rainbow trout are stocked at a one-to-10 ratio with regular rainbow trout. The purpose of "West Virginia Gold Rush" is to get people, especially children and new anglers, excited about trout fishing by giving them a good opportunity to catch this popular fish.

"The Gold Rush stocking will be the week after Easter when many schools in West Virginia and neighboring states are on spring break," said Jim Hedrick, Hatchery Program Manager. "Since many children and their families will be off from school the Monday following Easter, we wanted to announce, in advance, five state parks where the golden rainbows will be stocked so they can plan to come out and have a unique fishing experience."

Golden rainbow trout will be stocked at Cacapon, Blackwater Falls, Pipestem Resort, Watoga and North Bend state parks, where special activities will be offered for visitors. Anyone who catches a golden rainbow at one of those five state parks Monday, April 2, is eligible to receive a Gold Rush Golden Rainbow Trout Award certificate.

More state parks, along with about 27 lakes and streams to be announced later, will participate in Gold Rush stockings later in the week. Hedrick said about 25,000 golden rainbows, all raised at the Bowden, Spring Run and Reeds Creek trout hatcheries, will be stocked during the Gold Rush week. All other scheduled stocking sites will still receive their normal amount of rainbow trout during the week of the event.

Introduced to the public in 1963 as part of West Virginia's centennial celebration, the golden rainbow trout is prized by anglers young and old for its unmistakable, bright-yellow color. For more than 50 years, golden rainbows have provided a special experience for anglers who have been lucky enough to catch them, and have been a source of frustration for those who haven't.

Those who want an up-close look at golden rainbow trout may do so at DNR's "West Virginia Gold Rush" booth at Stonewall Resort State Park during the 2017 National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23-24. Tours of the Petersburg and Reeds Creek hatcheries, where gold rainbow trout are reared, also are available. They also can be seen at the state's other five trout hatcheries during certain times of the year. West Virginia's hatchery facilities play an important role in the state's fisheries management efforts and are open daily to the public.