Monday, December 30, 2013

Southeast Winter Trout Fishing Tips with Ken Hardwick

by Ken Hardwick 

At a point the weather pattern shifts and the app on your phone says it’s going to be cold for a long, long while.  The sunny and 75 is long gone and eventually you’ve wandered into the monotonous stupor of endless overcast and too many days at the tying desk. Time to add layers until you feel like Ralphie’s little brother in that famed Christmas classic and head out to the local run.
Winter has become one of my favorite seasons to fish. Along with the warmth most of the anglers have long since gone and the fishing pressure with it. Runs can be empty even on the weekends and that wary brown that you missed in the cut bank on a hopper back in August may be laid up in inches of water sipping size 20 blue wings without a care in the world. 
Winter offers up some great fishing though on the surface it can be sporadic. Midges, BWO’s, and little winter stones dominate your bug spectrum this time of year. In the mornings and evenings you are better off dredging the bottom. Pick apart your deepest water. Fast or slow, fish will congregate in these lies when the temps are at their lowest. It may be your 13th drift before you hit your first wily ‘bow of the day so don’t be in a hurry to move, the fish aren’t in a hurry either.
Even with temps in the mid 30’s you can find lots of activity. Add some extra layers and grease up your guides with mucilin line dressing to fight off icy build up and work your gentleman’s hours. Starting late and finishing early keeps you away from the hypothermic shiver and focuses your efforts on the warmest part of the day. As it warms look for fish moving into shallower water to feed. Keep a patient pace and take advantage of these low-pressure opportunities to work on some sight fishing. A majority of the nice trout I have caught in the winter I have seen first by scouting from a high bank or a good vantage point.
Frozen Guides
Convince your buddy to go. Having twice the fly selection in the water helps you get dialed in to what the fish are doing that much faster and you can take turns with one guy scouting and one working the run. If he’s a good friend he may bring a flask along for knocking that wintery bite!
By mid afternoon on a typical southern trout stream start looking for those dimples on the surface. This is usually the peak time for activity.  Look for blue wings or midge hatches but don’t forget about those little black things crawling on your waders. Here in the Davidson river area of North Carolina our winter stonefly hatches can show us some of the most bugs we’ve seen all season.
If all else fails don’t be afraid to throw that pink san juan or that big rubber legged stone literally chilling in the lost corner of your nymph box, or whip on that olive conehead bugger for some fun. Sometimes it takes a different approach to get fish moving. 
Its better to be on the river, even when your feet feel like  concrete galoshes. Some of my most memorable days are not the ones filled with fish, but the ones spent working a familiar run with banks blanketed in snow really learning how to appreciate sunny and 75.
Ken Hardwick is an experienced fly fishing guide with over 5 years of guiding clients for Davidson River Outfitters in Brevard, NC.  Ken has fished many Southeastern waters from North Carolina, Georgia, Tennesee, South Carolina, and beyond.  He has spent time fishing in Alaska while guiding for Great Alaska Fish Camp on the Kenai River and Alaska West Camp on the Kanektok River.  You can book your next trip with Ken on the Davidson River or other surrounding area rivers by sending him an email at

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chattooga River - David Cannon Photography

by Matt Walters
Photo by David Cannon
We recently took a trip to the Chattooga River in North Georgia/South Carolina for a full day of fishing.  It was the coldest morning of the season so far and we were excited for what the river would hold for us that day.  We left Atlanta around 4 in the morning and arrived at the river before sunrise.  Meeting us there was David Cannon, an experienced photographer from Georgia and author of Fly Fishing Georgia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters.  David joined us to shoot some photos while we fished.  We suited up in our waders and rigged our rods up while David got his camera ready for the day. 

I had met David a few months prior at our local Trout Unlimited chapter meeting where he did a presentation about fly fishing photography and gave some tips and tricks to snap better quality photos while on the water.  I took some valuable notes from that meeting that I still use on the water today in my own photos.  I was immediately impressed by the quality of his photos that were displayed during his presentation, the colors were amazing and the photographs seemed to tell a story from that day on the water.

Photo by David Cannon
We dropped in the river and were the only ones on the water the entire morning.  Breaking ice off of the rods was a constant chore, but the sun finally came out and burned off the morning chill towards the afternoon.  It was quickly realized that this was going to be an excellent day as we began catching a lot of great fish from the beginning.  The highlight of the trip were the large Brook Trout we caught and each of us was lucky enough to land at least one.  The day ended at sunset when we began our hike out in the dark down the fishing trails smelling wood smoke as we walked past a few anglers who decided to make the Chattooga their campsite for the night. 

Photo by David Cannon
Throughout the day our group shared a ton of laughs and there was plenty of healthy and hilarious trash talking between Ken and Matt about who was catching the most fish and the biggest fish . All in all it was a perfect day.  David snapped some amazing photos which I wanted to share just a few from the day in this post.    

Photo by David Cannon
To get in touch with David for your own photos or to pick up a copy of Fly Fishing Georgia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters please visit his website at or find him on Facebook under David Cannon Photography.   

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Where It All Begins

by Matt Walters

Chattahoochee River near Jones Bridge
Since Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with family and friends and sharing stories, I wanted to write up a post to share a story on here as my first blog post. 

Above my fly tying table is a memory a great time and accomplishment in my life. It is a picture of my first fishing trip ever. It was with my grandfather Walters on a lake in Ohio. The picture is of a smaller me holding a tiny yellow perch. Smiling from ear to ear. I remember the day vividly as it had been raining everyday prior to our fishing trip and I had asked my grandfather to take me fishing growing more and more restless with every passing inclement weather day of our week long family trip to Ohio.

We packed up the car with fishing rods and reels, a tackle box, and lunch. We used my grandfather's fishing poles which once belonged to my great grandfather. Those poles now rest on the wall in my office as well. Grandpa baited the hooks with fresh night crawlers harvested from his backyard. They were plentiful with all of the rain that had been falling.

We walked a good way from the car and set everything down in a promising looking spot. My first attempt at casting a conventional rod and reel was a complete disaster and I bailed the entire line into a bald eagle sized nest that had my grandfather busy for the remainder of the afternoon frustratingly pulling knot after knot out of the reel. Needless to say, he did the casting from there on out. We waited a while until finally we had a fish take my bait.  The fish weighed no more than a few ounces, but to the younger me and my larger than life imagination it felt like a striped bass ripping line. We snapped a few photos of the fish and continued on fishing celebrating over lunch on the side of the lake.

That day with my grandfather meant a lot to me as an angler and is a constant reminder of how great of a pastime we all share.  It taught me patience in fishing and in life.  It also taught me to never lose the excitement and adrenaline rush of catching a fish. Seeing the metaphors that fishing and life share is priceless. That day is a point in my life that began the love of fishing for me and that pushed me to progress into the world of fly fishing.  Fishing has come a long way since my grandfather's and great grandfather's time with the advancement in equipment, methods of fishing, and tackle used to outsmart willing fish. One thing that will always remain a constant is the tradition and importance of a day on the water with great company.

Chattahoochee River near Bowman's Island

Where were you and who were you with when you caught your first fish?
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from Walters Fly Rods.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fall Brown

Ken Hardwick, guide, at Davidson River Outfitters caught this brown trout on his Walters Fly Rods set up in Western North Carolina.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Western North Carolina - Davidson River

Davidson River, North Carolina - We fished with guides Ken Hardwick and Jeff Furman of Davidson River Outfitters.  Everyone fished the Walters Fly Rods Chattahoochee fly rod and BT12 reel during the trip.  This was day 1 of celebrating an excellent bachelor party for a good friend, Matt Wilson.  Although everyone arrived late the night before at our cabin and we all woke up with little to no sleep we all had an excellent time on the water all day.  The fish were very picky this particular day and the leaves were thick on the water.  A good portion of the day was spent fishing tiny size #22 and #24 midges on the bottom with light 6x and 7x line. Walters Fly Rods

Jack with a great rainbow caught on a size #22 midge with 6x line.

Guide, Ken Hardwick with Davidson River Outfitters putting Jack on the fish. 

The release
Davidson River, NC
Fishing between the leaves

Guide, Jeff Furman of Davidson River Outfitters on looking as the Bachelor (Matt Wilson) reels in another one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall in the Low Country

A Fall trip near Charleston, SC for Red Fish. The saltwater setup demo got plenty of action this trip. The weather was gorgeous and the fish were biting. The high tides were around 6.7 to 6.9 feet which flooded the grass/mud flats and exposed plenty of fiddler crabs and other bait. Walters Fly Rods

Waiting on the grass to flood

 Anchored up waiting on the tide and fish

Flounder on the fly.  Dinner.

North Georgia Creek

High stained waters proved productive in North Georgia. It was great to fish with my good friend Ken Hardwick using our Walters Fly Rods Chattahoochee Fly Rod and BT12 5/6 Reel. Walters Fly Rods

Montana Trip

Trip Report - Thanks to Conor O'Reilly for sending these great photos from his recent fishing trip with his father using his new Walters Fly Rod 9' 5WT and BT12 5/6 reel in Montana. Check out the rods and reels section of the website for more details. Walters Fly Rods

Welcome to Walters Fly Rods

The Chattahoochee fly rod and BT12 5/6 reel are now available. Matt Wilson at Jones Bridge on the Chattahoochee. Please check the rods and reels section of the website for more details. Walters Fly Rods