Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Stoneflies
3. Slate Drakes
4. Needle Stoneflies
5. Little Yellow Quills
11. Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
Fly Fishing South Mills River North Carolina
The South Mills River begins just below the Blue Ridge Parkway near Ashville. It's a
tributary of the French Broad River. This river is listed in Trout Unlimited's "Guide to
America's Best 100 Trout Streams" Book. Its trout are all wild brown and rainbow
trout and the state of North Carolina manages it under its wild trout regulations.
This area is a popular hiking, horseback, mountain biking, camping and hunting
area as well as a fly fishing destination. The lower part of the stream flows through
private property. The South Mills River has one major tributary, Bradley Creek which
is also a good wild trout stream to fish.
The South Mills River runs for about twelve miles through Pisgah National Forest
land. It can be accessed from several points but basically, it amounts to the lower
end of the stream that's on public land, or its upper end near the Forestry Discovery
Center. You can access the stream from the lower end from the Turkey Pen Gap
Trailhead at the end of the Forest Service Road #297 which is off Highway 280. You
can also access it from the end of Forest Service Road #476 in the Pink Beds area.
You have to ford the stream several times (or use suspension bridges) through its
entire length. There are other ways to access the stream but they require long
hikes. You wouldn't get very far during high water. The trail is also a very popular
horseback riding trail and that takes its toll on parts of the trail.
The stream consist of one deep pool after another, all at the ends of relatively short
plunges. The decline of the stream is moderate and the trail is fairly easy to hike
due to the relatively declination. It has both wild rainbow trout and wild brown trout
that grow rather large. The trout probably average about eight inches but they get
much larger. Only single-hook artificial lures/flies are permitted on the South Mills
Bradley Creek is also managed as a wild trout stream and it flows entirely on public
land. About three miles of its uppermost waters can be easily accessed from Forest
Service Road #1206 and about three miles must be reached by hiking. Trails follow
its entire length. This stream has mostly rainbow trout but there are some browns.
This stream flows through evergreen trees and mountain laurel. There are several
small waterfalls and cascades along the way. You will find most of the rainbows in
the fast water plunges and short runs. The browns hide in the deep pools and in
crevices underneath boulders and rocks. The trout stay active during the hot
summer because the stream stays well oxygenated.
The small river has an aquatic insect population typical of most of the streams in
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It has a huge diversity of insects but only a
few of them exist in large quantities. As with any small stream with wild brown trout,
the larger brown trout are difficult to fool. They tend to hide throughout the day and
feed only during periods of low light conditions. The rainbows are easier to
approach because they tend to hide under the fast water surface turbulence. None
of them are easily fooled and you must make sure you're not spotted. The same
general strategies and methods we have outlined for fly fishing the streams of the
Smokies will work for the South Mills River.
Copyright 2010 James Marsh