Eno River flyfishing

Many people think of flyfishing as it’s shown in “A River Runs Through It,” with trout, snow-capped peaks, and improbable demonstrations of casting. In fact, ARRTI is a great flick, and it’s pretty good in its treatment of the sport, as well as being a good story. But I digress…flyfishing is something that’s at home in many different locales from the coast to the mountains and all points in between. Yesterday I met friend, fellow scouter and expert flyfisherman Terry Hackett to fish a couple stretches of the Eno River in Orange County, NC.

The Eno is a warmwater stream that’s a part of the Neuse River drainage. As such, it’s home to a wide variety of sunfish, largemouth bass, and Roanoke Bass. The latter, Roanoke Bass, were the target quarry for the day.

The Eno tumbles through the piedmont on its way to meet the Little and Flat Rivers to form the Neuse, and is characterized by small rapids and riffles interspersed with slow, languid pools. One of the nice things is that miles of the Eno are accessible through the Eno River State Park. Created in 1975 and expanded since to encompass both more river miles and adjoining lands, the park provides a wonderful oasis from the bustle of life in the Research Triangle area.

I met Terry at his house at 9:30, after a quick stop to buy insect repellent. It’s always nice to fish at a civilized hour. It’s tick season, and we’d be crashing through a lot of brush, and that DEET would come in handy. We drove to a nearby park access and hiked to the river. Each of us carried a 5wt since we’d want to throw weighted flies. Terry had recently caught a few very nice Roanoke Bass, so I was really looking forward to this.

The stream was a bit high and slightly off-color due to recent rains. Standing in knee-deep water, I could see where my bare leg met the wool socks in my wading shoes, but that was about it. We worked one of Terry’s favorite spots but it was slow. I caught a couple of hand-sized sunfish on an olive bead-eye bugger (with a pair of rubber legs tied in an “X” on the back). We worked downstream, catching an occasional sunfish. It was a magnificent day, with temps rising slowly toward 70F, blue sky, and the drone of cicadas in the distance. We knew it was slow when I tossed a cicada in a pool and it fluttered, uneaten, for 50 yards down a pool 🙂 . We decided to go to another area, but walked upstream to the first pool to give it another try before leaving. Terry caught a redhorse sucker, and then a nice Roanoke Bass!

We drove through through the Eno valley to our second destination. Beautiful, rocky pools. I just knew I’d hook that Roanoke Bass. But, while I caught several sunfish, no bass for me, as my bass mojo let me down. Terry picked up a few more bass, and we decided it was time to pack it in. I picked several good tips from Terry on Roanoke Bass; always good to learn at the feet of the master!

A great day, and it reminded me of why I like to fish the Eno. It’s convenient and a lot of fun. I’m going to make sure I spend some more time there this summer.

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