11/15/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
3.    Slate Drakes
4.    Needle Stoneflies
5.    Little Yellow Quills
6.    Ants
7.    Inchworms
8.    Beetles
9.    Grasshoppers
10.  Craneflies
11.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)

Fly Fishing The Thompson River North Carolina
The Thompson River is the most remote of any of the several streams that flows
across the state line from North Carolina into South Carolina's Lake Jocassee. It
starts out on the Bearpen Mountain not far from Highlands North Carolina. The
closest point a road gets to the major part of the stream is on state highway #281
where the road crosses the river. The stream is heavily fished in the nearby areas
at that point. Below highway #281, the river is in Gorges State Park and it remains in
the park until it flows into South Carolina. There's also one stretch of the Thompson
River than flows through Nantahala Game Lands thats above the highway.

Like the other rivers in the Gorges State Park area, the Thompson has several
waterfalls. Big Falls, also called Thompson Falls, is the most popular one. As with
the other streams in the area, the Thompson River is better known for its waterfalls
than its trout fishing opportunities. This river drops 1750 feet in just over four miles.
It has some small tributaries - Mill Creek, Reid Creek and others. There are seven
major waterfalls and some minor ones on the Thompson River. None of them are
accessible by road.

Due to its remoteness, most of the trout in its waters probably never see a fly. The
Thompson River Trail roughly follows the stream for about five miles from highway
#281 to Lake Jocassee. It's actually an old logging road. Moat all of the trails in the
Thompson River area are poorly marked.

From state road #1152 (in the headwaters of the Thompson) downstream to Reid
Branch, a small tributary stream, the river is under the state's wild trout regulations.
All waters within Gorges State Park is under wild trout regulations. The stream is
known for its brown trout but it also has some wild rainbow trout. As with the other
streams that flows across the NC/SC state line, this one is stocked with fingerling
rainbow and brown trout in South Carolina's waters above Lake Jocassee. This
makes it possible for some of them to get up into the Thompson River in North
Carolina waters but the fingerlings quickly learn to behave almost identically to wild
trout if they survive.

Other than the highway #281 area, which is heavily fished, the only way to reach
this river below its headwaters is to hike using the Foothills system of Trails. This is
a series of trails that's approximately 75 miles long that wonder through this area in
lower North Carolina. Any trail you take, is going to require a long hike. There's one
other possibility, depending on whether or not the Duke Power Company has the
Musterground Road open. It's a gravel road that reaches the stream in the Bad
Creek Project that stays closed at least part of the time according to the locals. The
shortest hiking route is over three miles long and it departs from South Carolina's
Bad Creek Project. There are other routes but they all are longer. This means that
most of the Thompson River below highway #281 is rarely fished.

Most of the trout, at least in the highway #281 area, are brown trout that range from
8 to 12 inches, although the first and only one I have caught there measured a full
16 inches. It was taken from a pool not far downstream of highway #281. Two
others, caught that same day by Angie, were both under 12 inches. We only fished
the stream, one at a time for about two hours.

This river probably has few areas where the water isn't dropping from one plunge
pool to another. There are few riffles, rather mostly all small, deep extremely clear
pools. The brown trout are in the pools and the few runs that may exist. We have
only seen a short section of the four miles of river below highway #281 and other
areas may vary but based on the declination of the river, I seriously doubt it.

We suggest you fish very early or late during the time the skies are clear. Fishing
on low pressure days, when there's good cloud cover, will make the "catching" much
easier from this type of stream. There's little, if any, cover in  the stream unless a
tree happened to have fallen in the river. The larger brown trout hide under
crevices in the rocks and boulders during the day. In this type of water, you are far
better off fishing a nymph in all the deep, dark likely places you can find as opposed
to fishing a dry fly. The smaller browns do take dry flies at times but catching a large
one on a dry fly is like trying to win the lottery.

The best time to catch a large brown from this stream (or any other similar one) is
during the Fall spawning season when they loose much of their caution. I'm not
suggesting you fish for them on their redds but rather prior to the actual spawn,
although I doubt anyone is going to do much harm to the trout population in this
stream. I would guess over ninety percent of its waters are never fished.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh