Copyright 2013 James Marsh
Fly Fishing Guide to the Davidson River, North Carolina
The Davidson is a typical larger size, eastern freestone trout stream with runs and riffles
leading into pools. It is very easy to access in the lower portion from a roadthat closely
follows along the water.
The slower or moderately moving water and the bottom composition in some areas of
the stream permit Green Drake mayflies to exist in rather plentiful quantities, something
that is not usually present in the Southeastern Appalachian trout streams. This is one of
the most popular hatches even though I doubt it is all that productive of a hatch from a
fish catching standpoint. The large mayflies attract anglers about as well as they attract
Like all the streams in Eastern North Carolina, the Davidson has had more than its fair
share of low water during some years. It normally has a very good population of wild
brook trout in its headwaters along with plenty of wild rainbows and browns in the wild
trout section from its headwaters down to the stocked portion of the stream.
It is not what most anglers would call an easy trout stream to fish. That just makes it that
much better as far as I am concerned. It does offer a challenge. You normally have to
do more than merely cast an attractor fly upstream a few feet to consistently catch trout.
On the other hand, it is not a difficult stream to fish. Angie and I have always done fairly
well and managed to catch some nice trout the several times we have had the
opportunity to fish the Davidson River.
Concentrate on what should be the most available food for the trout to eat at any one
time. This doesn't necessarily mean what is hatching. In fact, most often, there isn't
anything hatching. It could be something getting ready to hatch and becoming
concentrated in areas the food normally doesn't exist. It could be some of the insects
that has yet to hatch during any given time. You wouldn't want to fish an imitation of a
Quill Gorden just after the hatch ended, because there would only be eggs in the
stream. If you pay attention to the hatch chart, you should be able to determine what is
most available for them to eat at any given time, or at least confine the items on the list
to a few choice selections.
Most often the larger brown trout feed on non-insect food items. Using a streamer may
be the best approach. They work the best under low light conditions where the trout
don't have a good opportunity to closely examine the streamer.
The biggest mistake I see being made on the Davidson River is anglers continuing to
fish a dry fly when nothing is hatching. That works sometimes in streams where the trout
feed purely opportunistically, but not often on the Davidson. If the trout are not
responding to dry flies, fish a nymph. This will greatly increase you odds. Of course if
you rather catch one trout on a dry fly than ten on a nymph, there is nothing wrong with
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