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Ive fished in the Cashiers area of North Carolina since childhood and I now own a house in town, so I am very familiar with the surrounding waters. Ive used Brookings Outfitters (www.brookingsonline.com), a local fly shop and guide/outfitting company, in the past mostly to purchase equipment and as a source of local information. In the last year, however, I invited some friends who had limited fly fishing experience to Cashiers, so I booked them guides through Brookings. Our experiences were overwhelmingly positive. The newcomers caught plenty of fish, and I was so impressed I booked guided trips for myself while they were in the area, something I thought I would never do on my home water. Im very glad I did. On our most recent trip this past May, I fished a remote, wild stream that has a good population of browns with guide Matt Canter. Matt knows the stream very well and took me into a place I had never been before. We enjoyed very good fishing using a variety of tactics, including dry and droppers and tightline nymphing. Most importantly, Matt helped me refine my bow-and-arrow cast, which I had been executing poorly for many years. He did so in a matter of minutes. This tip alone paid for the guide trip many times over and is probably the most valuable lesson Ive ever received, as it opened up opportunities on tight trout streams I previously was unable to fish.
My friends floated the Tuckaseegee River on this latest trip with a Brookings guide named Roger Lowe and also wade fished the East Fork of the French Broad River with another guide, Simons Welter. They caught good numbers of fish both days and found both guides to be extremely knowledgeable and personable. They left feeling much more confident in their fishing abilities and very positive about the sport in general.
Other Brookings guides I can personally recommend are Boone Walker, Marc Hipp, and Henry Williamson. Boone and Marc are often in the shop. They are both very knowledgeable and friendly. Henry is a real character, and I thoroughly enjoyed a float trip I took with him last spring.
Fellow subscribers who havent fished the Cashiers area and nearby Highlands are missing out. Both are nice mountain communities with plenty of activities for nonfishing companions, including hiking, mountain biking, rafting, and shopping. Cashiers has a wealth of angling opportunities, including several Delayed Harvest streams that provide excellent trout fishing during the Delayed Harvest season, which runs from October through May. These streams are great for first-time anglers, as well as seasoned anglers who like big numbers of fish, plus larger fish over 20 inches. These streams also fish well during cold weather, which can shut down the wild trout streams.
That said, my personal favorite waters in the area are the many wild trout streams that are found within a short drive of town. Most of these streams require some amount of effort to fish and I rarely run into other anglers. The wild streams on the south side of Cashiers hold brown trout with some brook trout in headwater streams. North and east of town, rainbows show up with more frequency in the wild streams, along with some browns and brookies. Average size in the wild streams is generally on the smaller side (six to ten inches), but skilled anglers can find some big browns from time to time. The draw here is really abundant populations of colorful wild fish in a very remote and wild setting. Fishing can be good year-round in the wild streams but March through early June and September through November generally offer the best water temperatures and the most cooperative fish.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which also offers plenty of fine fishing, is about an hour north of Cashiers, and the well-known Davidson River is about an hour east. In between, there are many less-heralded streams with good trout populations. Ive spent my entire life exploring this area and Im still trying to t