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Winter Fishing in Western North Carolina

Article by Joshua Brooks

If you are up for the challenge, winter fishing can be some of the best fishing of the year.  On this particular day it was clear and frigid.  The type of day that would have you cleaning ice off your fly rod all day long.  The type of day where your feet are numb from the crystal clear mountain water.

Flashback to earlier that year. I had spent the day fly fishing a little creek in Hot Springs North Carolina.  I fished the last hole of the day, a fun and productive one, down by the bridge in town. After one more fish, I walked up to the stream side bar to enjoy a cold beer. I sat down beside a couple that were also fishing that day. Inevitably we struck up a conversation, and the swapping of fish tales began.

Enthusiastically, they showed me what had to be a 14 foot tenkara rod, and asked if I would like to give it a try. With beers in hand we walked down to the creek where they explained what it was all about. After a few casts, they gave me a shot. I had been fishing a similar technique with my fly rod earlier that day. The only difference was a much longer rod and no mending of the line. I got the hang of it pretty quick, and put a cast directly under the bridge and sunk the nymph directly in a deep run. That indicator dropped like a ton of bricks, and as the rainbow came to the net, I realized I was the one who was hooked. The simplicity of it all made so much sense to me.

Fast forward back to my freezing feet.  I am standing in the shadow of a mountain, just outside Bryson City, North Carolina. I was fishing one of my favorite cone head buggers that always seems to trigger some good reactions from the trout. With my tenkara rod in hand, I chuck the fly downstream, into a deep pool, and give it an awkward jerk or two. A nice brown puts a bend in the rod and immediately flows down a small waterfall to the next pool. To keep the correct amount of tension on the line, I look downstream and take off running to keep up with the fish. I was rock hopping like there was no tomorrow, avoiding busting my ass for the time being anyways. The brown put up an amazing fight, but did wind up in my net after all.  After a quick picture, I let the fish go to fight on another day. 

Winter Tenkara Fishing North Carolina Joshua Brooks

As the adrenaline slowly faded, I remembered thinking how thankful I was to grow up in mountains like these. Constantly appreciating the beauty of Western North Carolina. Then one last thought ran through my head. It was great fun fishing with that tenkara rod!  After all, I still had warm hands, and didn’t have to clean ice off my fly rod all day long. 


Joshua Brooks has a great love for outdoor adventure. He spends his free time roaming the mountain streams of Western North Carolina in search of that next brook trout. Yellowstone cutthroat and western adventures also hold a special spot in his heart. He strives to turn these passions into his life’s work. You can follow his journey on Instagram and YouTube @ Rare Form Fishing.

To read additional articles from the Tenkara Angler 2020-21 Winter Showcase, click HERE.

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