Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.

Fishing Fever: Neuse River System

By Doug Sinclair, Grantsboro, NC.

A mixture of salt and freshwater settles over miles of narrow, white sand flats blanketed by a sea of grass. Nowhere in North America is there a more diverse estuary than the Neuse River. Experience the thrill of being an arms length from heart stopping fly-fishing action. Mother Nature has crowned this area one of the most pristine and diverse ecosystems on the continent, second in size only to Chesapeake Bay.

Sunrise on the Neuse near New Bern, NC.

The seasons dictate the fish species you will catch. In the late summer when there is no wind, you would wish for a pocket full of clouds to raise a cooling breeze. Understand this beautiful place and I'll take you on a journey to catch some unforgettable memories. Let's embark now on the first in this series to explore the estuaries of the Neuse River System.

The Neuse's waters, river and creeks provide approximately 2,750 acres of prime nursery habitat, and 1,250 acres of secondary nursery habitats. The upper reaches of the Neuse provide an important habitat for such fish as shad, herring, catfish, bass, and flounder. The Neuse is also home to vital populations of blue crab (estimated to top those in Chesapeake Bay) and oysters.

Of the 3.5 million acres in the Neuse Basin, 48,000 acres are state parks, 110,000 acres are game lands held by the Wildlife Resources Commission, and 58,000 acres are National Forest. The Neuse River drains land in 19 counties covering 6,192 square miles. More than 1,500,000 people (1/6 North Carolina's population) live in the basin. Many people come to visit each year. There are million acres of plush marine habitat including the widest variety of sea grasses from Johnson's, manatee, paddle, shoal, star, turtle, eel and widegon grass. These grasses house the majority of fishes and provide needed oxygen and forage for their healthy survival.

Whether you fish, paddle, or just enjoy the environment, take your camera for some breath-taking scenery. From New Bern to Oriental and Lower Broad Creek and the Mouth of the Bay River (the entrance to Pamlico Sound) you'll find many public access points for boating You can hirer a fishing guide to take you to prime light tackle or fly fishing, or eco-tours for sightseeing by pontoon or kayak. There is a lot to do, and don't forget your sunscreen and polarized glasses.

The Neuse is one of only three rivers in North Carolina whose boundaries are located entirely within the state. It begins northwest of Durham, NC, in a 10-acre farm pond, the headwater of the Eno. From there it feeds into Falls of the Neuse Lake, located on the north side of Raleigh, NC. Consequently, the Neuse starts in the heart of one of the fastest growing areas in the United States. From the Raleigh-Durham area, where it is a freshwater river, it flows generally south and east toward the Pamlico Sound, passing through many cities, farms, and swamps. It becomes a shallow, slow-moving, brackish estuary just upstream from the city of New Bern, in western Craven County. It is wider here at its upper estuary and is affected by wind-driven currents, as well as by salt water "wedges" that move upstream from Pamlico Sound. The lower Neuse estuary begins in the area of Flanners Beach and Minnesott Beach and continues until it empties into Pamlico Sound. There, the mouth of the Neuse is the widest river mouth in the continental US. The Neuse River is one of three large rivers that flow into the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. This estuarine system is the second largest in the United States.

At an estimated 2 million years, the Neuse is one of the oldest rivers in the US. Archeological evidence indicates the first humans settled around the Neuse as early as 14,000 years ago. Early native American settlers included the Tuscaroras, Coree, Secotan, and Neusiok Indians. A struggle between early European settlers and the Tuscaroras drastically reduced the European population after the decisive "Tuscaroran War" in 1714. As new settlers populated North Carolina during the next 250 years, farming and forestry took hold. Today, over 1.5 million people live in the watershed from the sprawling suburbs of the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area to the golf and sailing communities of Oriental, the sailing capital of North Carolina.

The nearly 2 million year old Neuse River is a majestic, flowing lady that has her beginnings above Durham, NC where the Eno and Flat rivers converge. The Neuse River is a vital part of the United States second largest estuary, the Albermarle-Pamlico. The Neuse's current is fast moving for 150 miles from its source until she reaches western Craven County and becomes a slow-moving, brackish estuary that continues for another 40 miles.

Combine this river system with the confluence, just offshore of the Outer Banks, the two mighty systems, the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current, and you have the makings for one of the most diverse estuaries in continental North America. Feeding the back of the Banks, along Core Sound and down the Neuse meeting in Pamlico Sound. This is a virtual nursery for every type of game fish known including Tarpon, and one other elusive fish that is Harry's secret.

This series focuses on the fishery, the habitat, types of flies and techniques used, and the seasons of fishing in Eastern North Carolina. This fishery is diverse as it changes from season to season depending on Mother Nature, wind, salinity and food sources. You'll experience a pleasurable fly-fishing adventure like the search for the loot from one of Black beard's galleons. Our journey starts in Mid-January as we ready for stripers and shad on the upper Neuse River in a place called Pitch Kettle. ~ Doug Sinclair

About Doug:

Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters. Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental. Catch him on the web at www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.

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