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Subscriber Stephen Zoukis takes gentlemanly exception to some of the things subscriber Walter Kirkland said about trout fishing in the mountains of North Carolina in the October issue (see page 11), and he asked us to publish this note. He writes:

“Please allow me to expand a bit on Walter Kirkland’s nice letter about fishing some of our rivers here in western North Carolina. I want to say at the outset that I’m not in any way intending to criticize anyone by writing this letter. I greatly value the fact that he and the members of the Derby Fly Fishers club in Louisville, Kentucky, value our fisheries enough to travel 400 miles to get here. However, I think his brief report conveys an impression that does a disservice to this region and unintentionally misleads your readers.

“I’m the owner of Brookings’ Cashiers Village Anglers in Cashiers, North Carolina (, in the heart of the southern high country’s best trout fishing. I’m thrilled to hear that folks from Louisville think enough of our fishing to come visit us. I agree with Mr. Kirkland that for East Coast fishermen, the North Carolina mountains are an excellent choice. I look forward to Mr. Kirkland’s early return, but he might have a slightly different and more enthusiastic point of view on a couple of points after reading this report.

“To start with a small point, he describes the Davidson River as a fraud. He mentions cans of corn and several large campgrounds and says the fly fishing stretches of the river are relentlessly poached. I suspect he didn’t go far enough upstream to reach the fly-fishing-only stretch, of which there is only one. I have never seen anyone fishing anything but flies above Avery Creek, nor has anyone I’ve ever spoken to witnessed it. Our guides regularly fish there and have never seen such a thing. Far from a fraud, the Davidson is a wonderfully complicated fishery with lots of very big, wild fish that get tons of fishing pressure. The fish are wild, but they see so many flies in the course of a season and the river carries so much food from a hatchery outflow that the setting can’t be called wild, I guess. However, the fish are plenty smart and sophisticated, just as the fish in many northeastern streams get savvy from being relentlessly pounded by anglers all season. The Davidson is a highly accessible, beautiful stream that is perfectly capable of giving up a few huge fish in a day—or humbling you if you don’t know exactly how to fish it. Local knowledge would surely change Mr. Kirkland’s impression of this stream.

“Where I need to seriously adjust the impression Mr. Kirkland creates is regarding his statement that, “The only time to go to this area is during Delayed Harvest season. . . . Don’t bother any other time.” This reflects a huge misunderstanding of the fishing in this region. We are blessed with an astounding number of streams offering an immense variety of fishing situations to an angler willing to work hard to catch wild fish. Sorry to be a wild fish snob, but the Tuck isn’t our best fishery, although it’s our bread-and-butter guiding stream. There are plenty of stocked fish during the Delayed Harvest season, along with a good number of holdovers. The fish are accessible by easy wading at low water or by raft at high water. It’s the river where you take folks who might have a hard time catching fish in a more difficult stream or who have mobility issues or a tight schedule, but there is no time of the year when either the Tuck or the West Fork of the Pigeon is anything close to the best we have to offer.

“Here is a quick list of the available alternatives to those streams:

Chattooga River: A designated Wild and Scenic River, it is one of the South’s finest brown trout fisheries.

Jocassee tributaries: Wild and hard-to-get-to fish on the Thompson, Bear Wallow, Horsepasture, and Whitewater. Bring your hiking shoes for great backcountry fishing.

Toxaway River: Backcountry smallmouth fish

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