Little River: 585cfs / 2.78 feet
Pigeon: 1180cfs / 2.99 feet
Oconaluftee: 1140cfs / 2.69 feet
Water Temperatures (approximate)
Low elevations: 42 – 45 degrees
Mid elevations: 40 – 44 degrees
High elevations: 34 – 37 degrees
Streams in the mountains are still running a little on the high side. They have been slowly, steadily dropping the last few days, but today’s rain may have something to say about that. Water temperatures are still well below ideal but they’re what you’d expect for February.
The week ahead is looking promising with a nice warm-up expected and we may see some “okay” fishing by the end of the week. Remember that it takes time for those water temperatures to come up and one or two warm afternoons won’t have much impact. We need a string of warmer days and more important, warmer overnights. Those overnight lows will have the biggest impact on water temperature this time of year.
The biggest x-factor right now is the rain that we are getting right now. As long as it doesn’t give water levels too much of a spike, I think you may see some decent days by the weekend.
In general, you want to seek out slower water and you want to fish the warmest water possible right now. Try to concentrate your efforts on the middle of the day, stick to the lower elevations and look for areas that get a little more sunlight. Fishing high water can be tough and it can be dangerous. Keep an eye on those water levels. It’s not an exact science but typically, I consider around 2.5′ on the gauge to be the high side of good. Ideally, you want it more around 2′. Between 2.5′ and 3′ might give you a little bit of manageable water in very select locations, but you better know what you’re doing. Above 3′ will leave you very little fishable water and is really just unsafe.
There is very little in the way of hatches this time of year but you may run into the occasional Blue Wing Olive. Small dark stoneflies and caddis may also make an appearance. Most everything coming off the water will be small, in the #18 – 20 range. I would primarily fish dark colored nymphs deep and slow. A black or olive Zebra Midge would be a good bet. I do well with “peacock flies” in the #14 – 16 range this time of year, like Zug Bugs, Prince Nymphs, etc. In the right water, a larger stonefly nymph may entice a nice brown trout.