Helton Creek is located in Ashe County, North Carolina. Helton Creek is one of the state’s hidden gems for fly fishing in my opinion. Helton Creek is delayed harvest for most of the season. Delayed Harvest runs from October 1st until the first saturday in June. From the first saturday in June until October 1st Helton becomes hatchery supported. Whether you are a sportsman or just wanting to take the kids out fishing Helton offers a wonderful fishing experience unlike any other. Helton Creek is located off of NC HWY 194 or NC HWY 16 in Ashe County, North Carolina. Helton is surrounded by Virginia. Helton Creek is managed by the North Carolina WIldlife Resources Commission, and heavily patrolled by the North Carolina Wildlife officers. So if you do decided to come fish this stream be sure to have an updated fishing license with a valid picture identification.
During the time Helton is delayed harvest you are not allowed to keep any of the fish you catch. All trout must be returned to the water. You are also only suppose to use single hook artificial lures only. This means that you can not use treble hooks, worms, or any scented lure that may attract the fish.
During the time Helton is hatchery supported you are allowed to keep a total of 7 fish. These fish have no size restrictions on them. There is also no lure restrictions during this time.
Helton Creek is one of the larger streams in Ashe County, however, is still to be classified as a small stream. Any size fly rod can be used on this stream. I would recommend using a smaller rod such as the 8ft rod. Helton is a pretty open stream, but it still has overhanging limbs and laurel bushes surrounding it in some parts. You will still be able to do overhand cast in just about every part of the stream. Helton offers amazing pull off spots to park your vehicle. Some parts of the stream are posted so keep in mind not to trespass. Some of the other spots are private property, but the owners allow you to fish these spots. If you are fishing these spots be sure to be mindful of your trash, and pick up after yourselves so we can continue to keep Helton a top tier creek. While fishing Helton you want to make sure to fish the slow moving deep holes. They also have currants near them as well. This offers the best area to fish as that is where the majority of the fish are stocked. Try to avoid shallow fast moving water. You can still catch some Rainbow Trout in there, but you can spend you time fishing much easier areas with more fish. One time I fished Helton all day and ended up catching 73 trout. So moving around the creek as much as possible offers a better chance to catch fish. Also don’t be shy to come back a day later to fish the same spots. These fish seem to always bite something.
Fish Stats and Stocking-
Since these fish are stocked trout will bite just about any fly you throw at them. In another section I will go over which flies work better. The average size fish in Helton is about 12 inches, however, they can be smaller or much larger. They are stocked from 10 inches up to 20+ inches. There are three types of trout that can be found in all of Ashe County’s streams. These are the Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and the Brown Trout. The percentage of fish stocked are 40% Rainbow Trout, 40% Brook Trout, and 20% Brown Trout. Helton is the most stocked creek with about 20,000 trout being stocked every year. This equals 7,870 Rainbow Trout, 7,870 Brook Trout, and 3,935 Brown Trout. Helton is stocked 6 months out of the year, and offers year round fishing. These months are March, April, May, July, October, and November. In July less trout are stocked due to higher temperatures. Water temperatures remain relatively low due to the wood areas surrounding the area, as well as, the small streams that run into the creek.
Best Flies for Fishing Helton-
There are several types of flies such as a dry fly, nymph, streamer, or emerger. They can be fished in many different combinations as well. Selecting the type of fly you want to use should be based on what season you are fishing. Doing this allows you to catch more fish, select the types of flies that are hatching, and well some of it comes down to trail and error. Helton can get over fished during delayed harvest so using flies the fish haven’t seen before can prove beneficial for your success. While fishing Helton i stay away from emergers for the simple fact that I have not learned to fish with them yet. You can fish a dry fly with a nymph, or you can fish with two nymphs. Below I will go over which types of flies I have proved useful to my success fishing Helton.
Dry Flies- Fish Dry Flies from Late Spring to Late Fall.
Dry flies are top water flies. They imitate insects which are in their last stage of hatching. The come up to the top to start reproducing before they die and fall back down into the water. It all depends on what time of year you are fishing, and you have to analyze the water in depth. You can use bigger flies to increase surface tension to peak trout interest. If the water in shallow you would want to use a smaller size dry fly so you do not spook the fish.
Top Dry Flies for Fishing Helton:
Adams Parachute, Royal Wulff, Elk Hair Caddis, Griffiths Gnat, Simulator, Sparkle Dun, Fur Ant, Foam Ant, really any foam terrestrial, Dave’s Hopper, Blue Winged Olive
Nymphs- Fish Nymphs year round they always work.
Nymphs are below water flies. Usually you want them resting along the bottom of the stream. They are located on bottom of rocks, and sometimes get dislodged. With the current moving them it makes it idea food for trout. There are many different nymphs, but listed below are some that I have found most effective on Helton. However, there are many more nymphs, and if you the ones I recommended doesn’t work for you experiment.
Top Nymphs for Fishing Helton-
Copper John, Egg Patterns, Prince Nymphs, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Caddis Larvae
Streamers- Fish Streamers primarily in Winter months, but works in summer as well.
Streamers are below water flies. They are meant to imitate small minnows, and larger underwater species. They are a great way to attract bigger fish. There isn’t any size requirement, and my motto is the bigger the better. Bigger bait means bigger fish if you can get them to bite.
Top Streamers for Fishing Helton-
Clouser Deep Minnow, Wolly Bugger, Zonker, Muddler Minnow, Lefty’s Deceiver, Hot Flash Minnow, Sculpins, Egg Sucking Leech
Now these are only my top picks for flies. If you have something different that works for you use them. I have used these flies for many years in Ashe County and surrounding counties. Bigger fish need bigger bait. You have to take in many different factors when fishing. I think more about fishing as hunting. You have to study the landscape (well the water in this sense). Figure out what works best for you and run with it. This blog was meant to be an informational post, but some of the next ones will be personal stories of my times fishing. Now that we know what to use lets introduce you to the types of fish you will be catching.
Types of Trout in Helton Creek-
Brook Trout are native to the Eastern Part of North America. They require cooler temperatures and higher altitudes. Brook Trout can be seen thriving in smaller streams where the other types of trout are not present. During the summer months if the temperature is to high, and the flow of the streams are to slow the Brook Trout will struggle. With the stocking of Rainbow and Brown Trout, Brook Trout are fighting for their lives as the other two species eat their food. Brook Trout like slow moving cool water. Brook Trout in Ashe County are both stocked, and they can also be wild trout as well. I find the term Native Trout to be almost irrelevant at this point because of all the stocking we have done. If you want to have luck catching a Brook Trout chances are you need to find a spot where they don’t stock fish, or is what is called Wild Waters. Fishing for Brook Trout in the Summer with Dry Flies can be a rewarding experience as they spook easy.
Rainbow Trout are native to the Western Part of North America. They were introduced in previous years around the world. The Rainbow Trout in the most prevalent in the streams in Ashe County. They are by far the most adaptive trout species we have in North Carolina. The can withstand higher temperatures. They can be found slow moving water or in the fast ripples. They eat most of the Brook Trouts food. You will catch more Rainbow Trout in Ashe County than any other fish. The easiest way to catch a Rainbow Trout is to throw on a Egg pattern mentioned above.
Brown Trout are native to European Countries. They were introduced along time ago. Brown Trout prefer slowing moving water but in deeper holes. They prefer colder water, but can also be in warmer water as well. They not as adaptive and the Rainbow Trout, but more adaptive than the Brook Trout. Brown Trout feed on just about anything. The bigger Brown Trout will feed on other trout as well. Brown Trout in Ashe County make for the largest trout you will catch if you are lucky enough to do so. If you catch a monster Brown Trout in a hole chances are there is no more fish close to that area. Brown Trout are very territorial, and will bite or smack its tail at anything that passes its way. If you want to catch Brown Trout regularly you need to be using a larger nymph, or what works best is streamers. Streamers imitate smaller fish species and can land you a fish of a lifetime.
Tiger Trout (Extremely Rare)
Tiger Trout are a unique species. They are a cross between the Brown Trout and Brook Trout. Tiger Trout are sterile meaning they cannot reproduce. This just adds to how rare they are out in the wild. They are produced reliably in hatcheries, but can occur in nature. Other states even use them in stocking, however, North Carolina they are not stocked. If you happen to catch one of the bad boys consider yourself one of the luckiest fishers alive.
Now that I have introduced to to the regulations of Helton, the types of flies that work best on Helton, and what types of fish there are on Helton, it is time for you to go out and enjoy some fishing. If you happen to read this blog and fish Helton let me know how you do. Also, let me know if some of the flies I suggested worked for you.