We all made it out to the tailwater for a training and fishing mission this month and it was an incredible experience to say the least. We floated a giant stretch of the Watauga River in Elizabethton, TN - fishing streamers for native browns mostly. My boat didn't have a floating line on it! We were throwing various sink tips, I really like this Rio Streamer InTouch that has a pretty aggressive but short tip. We were using various patterns and colors - mostly olive or brown - some lead eyed articulated stuff, but also some craft fur heads with glued on eyes. The back of the boat was on fire for the most part, and at the end of the day I was astonished to report 6 fish over 18" and two taped at 20"!
It was a fantastic day for training as the river was running over 2000 cfs and lots of water profiles and characteristics to read all day long. We worked on ferry angles, drift boat speed for various uses, netting fish, anchor drops and just general behaviors and techniques that HCGS guides need to exhibit. We feel it is paramount for all guides to be on the same page for professional quality and overall expectations. It was a long day by the clock, but worth the rewards! We packed our standard Melanie's Food Fantasy lunch and some beers from the shop - and shared these with our favorite; the Watauga Riverkeeper.
It seemed like the colder and junkier it got weather wise the better the bite was. The native predators were definitely on the hunt, the barometric pressure varied through the day but it was triggering an amazing streamer bite.
These were all from one day of fishing, and there are other photos floating around that I haven't been able to get posted just yet. We had multiple follows on the same strip sometimes, and lots of bumps all day!
We have been receiving new shipments weekly of new gear and new beer! We have a lot of resins and epoxies for streamer heads and nymphs backs from both Loon Outdoors and Gulff Fly Fishing. Just got in a huge order of ducktails in a lot of different colors, along with some new Kona streamer hooks. These things look like the real deal - a little bit better of a price point than most but look and feel to be very stout. Lots of new tools for the tying table, and some awesome Hareline Mega Pads and Bead Pads. These things are great for containing the mess, and are a great addition to anyone's table.
We're hosting a Tying Night with the Appalachian State University Fly Fishing Club next Wednesday night - February 20 at 6PM! We've been building up the materials just for this event and we really hope to engage the community in a way that hasn't been done in Boone before. Our neighbors across the street, The Turchin Center for The Visual Arts - has been gracious enough to allow us to use their space for the night! The Turchin has always acted as a common ground linking the campus and the downtown scene, and we feel like an event like this is perfect for their goal. We will be offering two levels of tying instruction; an introductory level for folks who have never done it or still aren't comfortable using the tools, and an advanced level for anglers looking to further their skill and knowledge. The intro class will be tying a couple of bead head flies, while the advanced class will be tackling articulated streamers! We will have lots of sales on materials and tools, but will provide some stuff for the FREE class itself. We will also have lots of beer specials and some pretty awesome news to reveal too!
There are lots of other happenings in the next couple weeks as well! Trout Unlimited High Country Chapter is having another meeting this Tuesday night at Valle Crucis Park at 6PM. They're doing a Fly Swap where you can swap out flies and share stories about said flies. We plan on bringing some stand-bys but mostly plan on bringing FREE BEER for the masses. The TU Chapter is providing Pizza, but we figured we might as well chip in and encourage more participants with some free alcohol.
Friday March 1 the state of NC will start stocking our Delayed Harvest streams in Watauga County and surrounding areas. Make sure to get out there and enjoy this awesome resource, and kick off the "Spring" fishing.
Friday March 1 we will also be hosting yet another Art Crawl First Friday at our shop in downtown Boone. Im thinking the theme of a "Fly Fest" - just kinda celebrating the fact that our streams are getting stocked and our season is kinda getting going. Also maybe trying to come up with some whacky 90's themed "Fly Fest" idea. We'll see. Lots of beer specials as always on First Fridays!
2018 - A Watermark Year
2018 was most certainly the year of precipitation. With the High Country reporting the wettest year on record and a sharp curve on the obvious climate change occurring in Alaska high country guide service tested all of our rain gear and techniques.
2018 was a giant growing year for the business and we brought on Skye as the head guide. Skye grew up in Watauga and his streamer prowess is highly desirable for all guests! Just before our Alaska season he boated quite possibly the biggest brown trout in company history. I know it is a special fish in his world and I am happy that he was able to get it himself!
For the most part of was a high water spring, allowing us to explore and kinda float wherever we wanted!
My wife changed careers and is now part of the only real estate team in Downtown Boone - 828 Real Estate
So proud of her and motivated by her all the time.
After a fun filled and productive spring guiding season it was time to travel to the last frontier and experience the most special place on the planet to me. The Kanektok!
this was my second season as the head Guide for the Kanektok float trips through Beyond Boundaries Expeditions. We had six amazing trips down the river and each one was filled with different challenges. It seems like every week it rained and no question each guest had to deal with the wind in their own way. 70+ mile an hour sustained winds during one week tested all of the camping equipment and the mettle of everyone. I tried to be as proactive as possible and bring lots of tarps and even an extra tent just to provide some relief from the rain.
Technically we never got swamped that week - but plenty of others out there did!
something that I had never experienced in the 14 years that I’ve been out there was the river changing weekly. A typical summer revolves around a dropping water column through the entire season. This summer it seemed like the river just continued to rise the entire season. I’m pretty sure each week we took a different route because the braids would change so much. Found some new and interesting braids and also lost some old standbys.
The type III typhoon that made landfall on us will always send me into a semi PTSD state when I look at the big huge weather systems above my head. We had a brand new cook tent this year and I can’t speak highly enough of western shelter systems and the safety that they provided.
overall it was an incredible season for the salmon especially....it wasn’t quite the banner rainbow year that I personally look for year in and year out. High water levels don’t always create the best trout fishing but nonetheless some of the mouse fishing on certain days was incredible and needless to say the Coho fishing was as epic as I’ve ever seen it. The Kanektok is an outfitters dream because she will always give you something to redeem the trip with!
The end of the Kanektok season Brought me back home in time to see some great football games and still some pretty hot tail water fishing on both the Watauga and the South Holston. The “guide bite” was still on and I was fortunate enough to have plenty of trips to keep me busy.
After proudly rowing my handmade boat for 10 years I finally decided it was time to upgrade and add another boat to the fleet!
.My RO Tailwater Skiff is the ultimate vehicle for plying the waters of the South Holston and Watauga Tailwater Rivers. It is beyond stable and lots of room for any angler. I am proud to be a part of the RO team and have enjoyed every minute in this boat!
it is a welcome addition and will allow for us to accommodate even more guests!
as my fall season was in full swing I decided to throw my hat into the retail ring and open up a brick and mortar fly shop in downtown Boone right on King Street! I have lived here for 18 years and was basically waiting for someone to open one so instead of watching the world go by I figured it was time to put up or shut up.
Boone is changing and growing so fast - I wanted to be a part of something that I feel like I’ve always been on the outside looking in. As a downtown business we want to reach in to the market and spread the scene of catch and release fly fishing.
I opened November 2 and it has been a whirlwind ever since. I was fortunate enough to already have my head guide Skye - Who always has my back and is the definition of what a high country guide should strive for - but I was luckily able to bring Alyssa on board. She has been a huge help with her prior experience and a welcome addition to the team!
Our crew is growing and a home base has been established. There will now be a full time HCGS presence even in the Summer while I’m gone to Alaska.
when we first opened it was quite busy with guiding and some retail sales and after a short while I was able to attain my ABC permit to sell beer in the shop. This has been an idea of mine for over 20 years and it is humbling to see it come to reality. Hot Flies Cold Beer just sounds right doesn’t it?
Our location is across the street from App State campus, and literally mixed in to student apartments - we wanted a platform to bring in the students and open our doors to the downtown scene and literally to everyone!
Then the big snowstorm came in really kicked off our winter season here in the high country. My family and I enjoyed lots of snowy days and then my beloved Appalachian State football team decided to bless us all with a conference championship right here in Boone!
High country guide service is proud to call Boone home and honestly I don’t think there’s another place like this in the country. I just celebrated my 36th birthday and was fortunate enough to guide on the last day of the calendar year 2018. Looking forward to a productive and fish filled 2019! Stop by our downtown Boone shop for all your flies, fly tying materials, and beer!
Please feel free to contact us and let us know if there’s something you want in the shop. Or just to say hey!
We had our first taste of Winter before the season is truly upon us!
At the house we picked up a super dry and fluffy 17”!
All the snow has got the shop in full on tying and regrouping for the Spring mode. While the Tailwater rivers of the South Holston and Watauga stay consistent with the full on spawn/post-spawn bite our trips over to TN for guests has started to slow. The skiing and riding on the slopes right now is prime time so I can’t say I blame any visitors of the High Country for taking advantage!
With this hunker down mindset comes the avenue of new ideas at the vise....or just restocking the essentials....
We’re stocking and restocking the tying essentials in the shop in anticipation of the Winter tying sessions/the oncoming Spring Guide season/and hopefully soon announcing some community open tie Tying nights! Stay tuned...
As promised we are expanding the beer selection. Just brought on New Belgium, Foothills Brewing, Lost Province (literally down the street), Greenman, Highlands, and Rogue from out West!
As always this is all from everyone’s input:
If there’s something you want me to carry just let me know and it’ll be here!
Stay tuned on Facebook and Instagram especially on our stories - typically general shenanigans with huge beer sales!
Til next time Goodnight Grandfather!
Come see us downtown Boone -
We are #boonesflyshop right across from App State campus
Thanksgiving Weekend Did Not Dissapoint!
Friends and Family for Thanksgiving festivities followed by some unreal fishing, some awesome beer deals in the shop, and a Conference Championship coming to Boone! What’s Better?!
we had some great holiday deals in combo with free beer (if you missed it, it was truly special) we just got our first fly tying inventory in and already selling lots of ammunition for the tying heads out there!
The fishing on the Watauga and south Holston tailwater rivers was truly incredible. I had five lady anglers Inn for days and everyone got to pull on fish over 20 inches! The resident brown trout are on their beds and the biomass that his following them around his astonishing. Our blue ribbon trout streams really are showing their true colors right now.
some of our floats are very uncrowded this time of year full of native fish. We have float trips going out daily and super happy customers living their trout fishing dreams. It is a special time in the Highcountry indeed.
all of these photos were from this weekend!
The Fly Shop that sells beer
Yeah that’s us!!!
I have had this dream since I was in college. Last week it became a reality. I always wanted a one stop shop - where you could gear up for fishing and beer up for the reflection afterwards!
Booneshine Brewing is a perfect fit for our local focused and community minded shop. We offer their IPA, their Tropic Pale, and their heady Coffee Porter. We plan on expanding their selection as we make more room!
We also offer all the yummy Sweetwater tallboys including their 420 Ale, TropicPaleAle, and the good ole yellow can IPA. Lagunitas IPA, and Sierra Nevada TORPEDO and their Pale Ale rounds out my craft beer selection for now.
Cheaper domestics like PBR , Hamm’s, Coors Original, and some Modelos for the cost efficient crowd.
Being Downtown Boone’s only Fly Shop we felt this was a perfect fit. We have always felt fly shops should embrace the community around them, making the space more for collaboration than secrets.
Less Egos, More Amigos
More about common ground rather than a culture of shit talking. We are the Fly Shop for everyone.
Fly & Bottle Shop
On November 2 2018 I was finally able to open a physical location for the Guide Service and open some doors for walk-in business! I had always envisioned opening in Downtown Boone and was able to find a perfect place for all Anglers right on King St. It is an intentionally small spot offering guide approved flies from Solitude Flies, Umpqua Feather Merchants, and Montana Fly Co. We also have a healthy selection of house tied flies.
We also have streamside accessories including tippet, split shot, leaders, and indicators. Super cost friendly Knockaround polarized sunglasses in a variety of styles and logo apparel. We also offer an awesome line up of gear from Strip N Fly Wear our of Montana!
As always we will be offering the finest guided trips in The High Country, with a central location in Downtown Boone! Daily trips to the Tailwater Rivers of the South Holston and Watauga, as well as locally on the Watauga, Elk, Helton, and Big Horse Creek.
So it finally happened, a real cold snap hit our region and putting in the boat yesterday morning was a chore with 20 degree temps!
I floated the Watauga Tailwater starting at 7:30 and took out around 4. A pretty typical timeline for me with a full service Shop and full time parent!
One thing I noticed during the bite was the cold temps had resulted in what guides refer to as a “short strike”
We fish Long leaders under indicators for the nymph bite that occurs daily, and these indicators “indicate” when the fish is biting. (They also indicate when your drift is failing but that’s for another blog) Sometimes that bite is aggressive and very obvious, other times as it is quite frequently on our tailwaters, the bite can be elusive.
The indicator will barely slow down, hesitate, bobble, hover, etc. The Guide is insisting that it is a bite - but a lot of times the Anglers are not so convinced!
In times like these it is best to default to the guide and just set the damn thing!
What we noticed in the cold was a very tiny window to capitalize on the hook set.
EVERY bite was minuscule and remote and we had to set it super fast and super hard! Make sure to reach up there and get another Strip on that retrieve with that long of a leader!!
When Fishing the tailwaters of East Tennessee - the Watauga and South Holston in particular- it is imperative to give every hookset your best shot. Those Long leaders are tougher to get the hook jammed in and it takes confidence to rip that hook set efficiently. Our guides are highly trained in the clandestine ways of the trout, if your wanting to hone your skills give us a call!
Offering Trips year round!
Boone has never had a fly shop downtown until 2018. I moved to the High Country in 2001 and every year for the last 17 I have just figured that someone would open a Fly Shop.
Right across the street from Appalachian State University campus, 444 W King St - next to my awesome neighbor Hollow Moon Tattoos - we are a Fly Shop that welcomes everyone.
We are fly focused; proud to carry Solitude Flies, Umpqua Flies and Montana Fly Company creations. Streamers, nymphs, girdle bugs, dries - you name it we’ve got it!
Along with our full lineup of guide approved flies you can also find tippet, leaders, split shot, indicators, and lots of fly boxes.
We carry Strip N Fly Wear our of Montana, and are stoked to be the only distributor in NC!
Downtown Boone is our home, and we love being able to call the High Country our own. Sharing this special resource the right way is our goal. Being the only Guide Service located right in town, we look forward to serving the guests and patrons of our awesome community!
Whether you’re needing some flies for the Delayed Harvest section of the Watauga or the tricky Tailwater of the South Holston River - we’ve got you covered!
Polarized sunglasses and lots of logo apparel for the traveling angler.
Guided Fishing trips daily/year round on our Tailwater fisheries.
Give us a call or stop by our shop!
The watersheds in the Boone area are all experiencing the Fall transition right now. The days are getting shorter and the native trout are starting to stock up on protein for the Winter. Also, the Delayed Harvest sections of the Watauga river in Valle Crucis and 321 area as well as Coffey Lake in Watauga County all received a fresh stocking from the state last week.
While this section of the Watauga is most known for lots of pressure, going on a guided trip during the week has its advantages! Our guides know how to employ Tailwater tactics (the same magic we use on the Watauga and South Holston Tailwater Rivers) and get these pressured fish to play!
Using Caddis emergers this time of year along with some high Country midges can produce all day!
Give us a call or stop by the shop to book your next fly fishing trip! Our guides are available year round and would love to share this favorite resource with you today!
our fall fisheries are really starting to show their true colors! Local streams are starting to show lots of life and the resident fish are on the move. The Watauga delayed harvest section just received a fresh stockings last week and lots of fish or coming to the net!
although we love floating the Watauga and South Holston tailwater rivers our local streams this time of year can be the true gem of the high country!
we have availability for any of your trip needs. Please call or email to book one today! We offer guided trips year round but the local streams are very weather dependent.