Delayed Harvest Trout Waters

By Aaron Motley

The time for Delayed Harvest trout waters being stocked is here! Rivers with this designation will be stocked in October, November, March, April, and May. From October 1st to the first Saturday in June, anglers are to catch and release, all trout in Delayed Harvest Waters. Thanks to this regulation from the NCWRC, anglers have a place to go fish for Brooke, Brown, and Rainbow trout. It provides a place to get anglers on fish, teach casting, detecting strikes, setting the hook, playing a fish, and exercising other fishing skills. I enjoy fly fishing with my daughter and son on Delayed Harvest waters; the access to these streams tends to be a lot easier than other areas of western North Carolina. Anglers beginning to learn the skills involved in fly fishing will enjoy these streams. There are many streams that have Delayed Harvest regulation in North Carolina, to find the nearest one to you visit

While fly fishing in streams regulated as Delayed Harvest, I recommend anglers starting with a leader of 9 feet with a strength of 5x or 6x. Fly selections of dry flies, nymphs, or streamers can be fished here. The system that is most productive will generally be a two nymph system. There are many ways to rig up this type of system, but an easy one is to set your strike indicator 1.5 – 2 times the depth of the river. Tie your heavy nymph on the leader first, next use tippet to tie off from the bend of the hook to the eye of a smaller nymph. 14-20 inches is a common dropper length for this system.

If you have not fly fished using a streamer, I recommend trying it on Delayed Harvest water. Use a 7 1/2 foot leader of 3x or 4x in strength. Tie a loop knot to your fly. Woolly Buggers, Slumpbusters, Sculpzillas, and Muddler Minnows are great streamers to try.

Dry fly fishing in the Spring is generally the best time for an angler to see top water action, but October Caddis, BWO’s, and little black stoneflies can make for a great Fall or Winter day dry fly fishing.

Come in to Hunter Banks and let us help you get what you need for your next trip to a Delayed Harvest stream near you.

Aaron Motley is Operations Manager at the Waynesville location of Hunter Banks. His waterfowl hunting addictions supports his fly tying addiction. He learned his fly-fishing craft from “fishy” people and pursues large trout, bass, and musky on a daily basis. He teaches others to do the same.