Conservation Outdoors

Don’t Tread the Redd

By Allison Taylor

With fall having settled in, November is a fantastic month to fly fish for trout in Western North Carolina. As in many other parts of the country, this is the time of year when brown trout begin to spawn. Although trout don’t migrate in the same way that salmon spawn in the coastal rivers of the Pacific Northwest, brown trout do move from their typical habitat to water that is more suitable for spawning and laying their eggs.

The most likely area for brown trout spawning is in the slow, flat and more shallow water at the tail out of riffles and runs. Before these trout lay their eggs, they’ll create what is referred to as a “redd.” A redd is an area where one or more brown trout have spent several days clearing the rocks of sand, silt and sediment to create a clean surface where they’ll lay their eggs. This area is generally about four feet wide by four feet across, but it can be much larger or smaller. The actual size will depend on the size of the stream and other factors such as the number of fish using the area to spawn.

Ryan Waldrep, the outfitter manager and guide for DB bar D Outfitters in Mills River, cautions those who spend time near waterways to help protect these spawning areas. “The next time that you’re on the river during the fall in WNC, please keep your eye out for these cleared-out areas on the rocks,” Waldrep says. “We encourage those who enjoy fishing to avoid catching spawning trout or trout that are protecting their redd, as this can stress the fish and hurt the chances of their nest surviving.” He also stresses the importance of avoiding walking on and around the redd, (hence the phrase, “Don’t Tread the Redd”), as this will crush trout eggs and decrease the amount of fish in the stream for the future.

WNC is extremely fortunate to have an abundance of public and protected forested lands and waterways. As our area continues to draw locals and visitors to the rivers and streams for both fishing and for general recreation, it’s increasingly important that we all do our part to protect our natural resources. Oftentimes, we don’t see an immediate impact from activities that adversely affect our environment, but those impacts will be felt in the years ahead. If we all do our part to learn about ways in which we can be better stewards of these aquatic resources as we enjoy them, then we increase our chances of protecting them so that future generations can enjoy the same great fishing that our area offers to us.

DB Bar D Outfitters offers guided fishing and hunting trips, as well as fishing and hunting memberships that include the use of its member waters and hunting properties. Guided options include instruction and are suitable for all skill levels. For more information, visit

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