When we started the conversation with Stonefly Press about a book covering the fifty best places to fly fish in the southeastern United States, it seemed like a simple enough undertaking. But the southeast offers opportunities that are not present anywhere else in the country, and hence posed a challenge in putting the book together - world class trout streams that draw anglers from around the country, some of the finest saltwater destinations in the world, and outstanding warm water fisheries as well. Even though coauthor Walker Parrott and I have fished all these places many times, we still felt like we needed more help collecting details about each fishery. So we chose to follow Terry and Wendy Gunn's approach in writing 50 Best Tailwaters to Fly Fish and ask the local guides and professionals for the various fisheries to contribute to the book.
Next, we had to agree on which fisheries we believe are the fifty best southeast destinations. After a first draft, we discovered that we were heavy on trout and light on salt, with virtually no warm water. After several revisions and conversations with industry professionals and friends, we found a balance on the different water types and locations. Some places were easy to identify, like the Davidson and South Holston Rivers, two of the finest trout rivers on the east coast. And how could we not include the Lower Keys on the saltwater front?
Yet others we struggled to give up, like South Carolina's Lake Jocassee, one the most picturesque settings in the southeast and home to five South Carolina state records, yet not on most anglers' radar.
Or the small fishing village of Harker's Island, which has been a quiet destination of industry professionals for years. And some will be surprised that we included instead the Holston River proper for its great smallmouth bass fishing. We know - there are plenty of great spots that have been omitted in order to strike a balance between all of the different species and locations. But we believe we did what we set out to do – select the best of the best in a region with many great fisheries.
After nine months of work and thousands of hours on the streams and in front of our computers, we feel that along with our contributors we have produced what will be a defining book for southeastern fly fishing for the next several years. So start looking for 50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Southeast on the shelves of your favorite fly shop by the time warm weather rolls back around.