Spring is Almost Here

February 19, 2023
Matt Miles

We are officially 29 days away from the start of Spring! It has felt like Spring the most of February so far. Although January wasn't terrible, its nice to see that month in the rearview mirror. January's cold nights kept rivers and streams in the low 40's water temp so the fish stayed pretty lethargic even with nice daytime temps. With these warmer temps this month rising water temps are starting to get these fish out of the Winter funk.

This week I started seeing March Brown mayflies hatching which is one of my favorite hatches on our native brook trout streams. Brook trout were still in the deeper pools and still not that active but should be any moment with this weather. The Jackson river has stayed low and clear all Winter (160 cfs flow)and was some tough fishing to start the year. Thankfully we received around 5 inches of rain from a couple different systems and FINALLY got Lake Moo Maw full so the Army Core of Engineers will let out more than a trickle. Of course they held back to the point now their dumping out high flows, 5,000 CFS today! So frustrating as a fisherman and a guide, just be nice if they would look out for the fisherman once in awhile. The good news we have plenty of water now and they will lower it in a few days. We can finally throw streamers now for the wild browns that inhabit this great river!

With March approaching fast we can look forward to other species to fish for. My favorite freshwater fish the smallmouth bass will start get more active once water temps get to the 50's. Pre spawn bass fishing can be a great time to target smallies at their heaviest weight of the year. Big females will be packing on extra weight with their metabolism kick starting higher to get ready for the spawn come mid April. This is a fun time to throw larger streamers and feel that powerful pull smallmouth offer!

We are getting close to the musky spawn. Now in my opinion is a great time to target the fish of 10'000 casts as they eat more often to get prepared for their spawn in mid March. I still have some prime moon dates available if your looking to try your luck with these predators. March 6, 7, and 8.

For years now I have visited the Roanoke River at Weldon, NC in March for the hickory shad run.  Hickory shad along with American shad make their journey up river to spawn each Spring.  The numbers of fish provide non stop action and its not unusual for us to land well over a 100 fish per trip.  The Hickory shad on average is 16-20 inches in length and sometimes pushing past 20 inches.  The American shad can be in the 5 pound range!  The shad is also known as "Poor Mans Tarpon" they are jumpers.  These fish are eating your fly purely from anger of it being in their way.  This is a great fish for all ages and guaranteed to knock away the Winter rust! I have booked my week there this year already but plan to do this each year for the shad run.

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