We always look forward to the winter here at Rivers Edge Outfitters in Cherokee. Winter means colder air and water temperatures and a drastic decrease in fishing pressure. We have been fishing and guiding a lot so far this winter, and the BIG trout have come out to play.
The Fly Fishing Only Catch and Release section in Cherokee has been on fire lately. The key is to focus on slow moving water in current breaks and deeper pools. This section is loaded with PIGS and barely any fishing pressure during the winter. Bring small black caddis and stonefly nymphs in sizes 16-20 and don't forget the egg patterns. Small Glo Bugs in Pink and Yellow size 14 and 16 with tungsten beads to help get them down quick have been producing fish as well. Small Rainbow Warrior nymphs in size 16 and 18 will also pick up a fish or two. A good setup is to drop a small tungsten black stonefly nymph about 20 inches below a pink tungsten bead glo bug and hang on. Adding a piece of split shot or extra wait between the two flies may be necessary to get the flies down into the feeding zones. The key is to get those flies to the bottom and keep them there throughout the drift.
We have also been floating the Lower Oconaluftee River in Cherokee quite a bit lately as well. Our most recent trip this past Sunday produced 50 fish in 3 hours. Pink Glo Bugs, Pink Mops, and Pink Y2Ks all produced fish. A size 16 Black Frenchie also call fish, and lots of small wild rainbows were willing to eat the frenchie. Floating the Lower Oconaluftee is a great way to find areas that don't get fished much period, and especially in the winter.
Soco Creek is always one of our favorites in Cherokee. Soco is absolutely packed with wild rainbows and browns, and is stocked at least once a week by the Cherokee Tribal Hatchery as well. Soco Creek is the least pressured water in Cherokee throughout the year, and is nearly void of fishermen during the winter. If your looking for a great mixture of wild and stocked fish, think about fishing Soco Creek. Small Black Frenchies, Small Black Stonefly nymphs, Small Rainbow Warriors, and Small Black Walts Worms will do the trick for the wild fish in Soco. Pink and Yellow Glo Bugs and Y2Ks will have the stock fish going crazy as well.