By Kayla Bott
There are countless ways to appreciate the beautiful mountains around Asheville. When it comes to exploring the natural waterways and lush scenery of the Appalachian mountains, however, few hobbies are more suitable than fly fishing.
“Fall, in a sense, is the textbook image of fly fishing in Western North Carolina,” says Ethan Hollifield, fly fishing guide at Southern Appalachian Anglers LLC Guide Service (SAA) in Asheville. “The scenery is outstanding on any trout stream, but it’s quantified when you find yourself casting into a whirlwind of golden- and claret-colored leaves. The trout take on a more vibrant look, making the whole experience that much more enthralling.”
Founded in 2012 by Paul and Kacie Kisielewski, SAA continues to share its passion for fly fishing with both aspiring and experienced anglers. The Kisielewskis, along with their experienced staff, lead fishing tours year-round across WNC and eastern Tennessee waters, including the French Broad, Tuckasegee, Davidson, South and North Toe, Watauga and Rocky Broad rivers, and Apalachia, Fontana, Glenville, Jocassee and James lakes.
“Throughout autumn, brown and orange caddisfly (Trichoptera) as well as mayfly (Isonychia bicolor) larvae hatch throughout the day, which makes dry fly fishing [using lures that resemble insects on the surface of the water] the most common technique,” says Paul, owner and guide at SAA. “This makes it ideal for catching large rainbow (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and wild brown (Salmo trutta) trout, which can be the best trophy catches (heaviest or longest fish) of the year. The months of October and November offer anglers cool mountain mornings and some of the best fly fishing opportunities in the nation.”
Along with trout in the streams, smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieu) and largemouth (Micropterus salmoides) bass will be prevalent in almost all large bodies of water. Feeding primarily on American shad (Alosa sapidissima) and warpaint shiner (Luxilus coccogenis), they will be at their peak size and tempted to strike for shad imitation and topwater lures.
SAA is dedicated to preserving native species and the natural ecosystems of the southern Appalachian mountains. Leading periodic river and lake cleanups in Buncombe, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell and Watauga counties, their efforts unite anglers, landowners and local communities in understanding the importance of clean waterways.
“Often after heavy rainstorms, trash and other refuse accumulates and settles in sensitive waterways,” says Kacie. “A quick response is always necessary to ensure the damage can be lessened as much as possible.”
Water conservancy is vital to our fragile ecosystems and of grave importance to SAA and all serious anglers. Being conscious of the delicate water cycles, seasonal changes, insect blooms and subsequent fish spawns ties anglers to their surroundings in a profound way.
Their connection to and respect for nature inspired the Kisielewskis to create a summer fly fishing camp for kids. “Some of my fondest childhood memories involve fishing with my dad and uncles, so I am passionate about exposing younger generations to the sport and art of it,” says Kacie. “I truly believe that fishing builds character and patience. It offers solace from a fast-paced world fueled by money and competition. By sharing my knowledge and love of fishing with others, I hope to help make the world a better place.”
From river floats, wading trips and backcountry fishing to fly fishing lessons and more, SAA can provide a fun and enriching experience for anyone interested in fishing the great outdoors. “The sport of fly fishing is beautiful, natural and peaceful,” says Paul. “The sound of the river flowing, birds singing and fish rising gives you that timeless feeling of being one with nature, as we were meant to be. There’s nothing quite like it.”
For more information or to make reservations, visit southernappalachiananglers.com or call 828.691.1506.