When you drive from Smithfield to New Bern on
I-70 you'll pass some nice countryside and
you'll cross the winding Neuse River many
times until you reach the beautiful city of
New Bern. This city is named after Bern,
Switzerland and the exit ramps from the
highway are adorned with large black bear
symbols. These are also evident in town
where storefronts and shops display flags
with black bears on a field of gold and red.
The city is edged as a peninsula flanked to the
east by the Neuse River and to the South and West
by the Trent. The downtown area is a must see
with it's historic district, the Tyron Palace,
many hotels and B&Bs on Pollock Street with
direct access to the water, a variety of
outstanding restaurants and the most friendly
people anywhere, and that's an undisputed fact.
Founded in 1710, New Bern was settled by Swiss
and German adventurers led by Baron Christopher
de Graffenried from Switzerland. Royal Governor
William Tryon made this seaport the colonial
capitol. His restored 18th-century capitol and
residence, Tryon Palace, dominates a thirteen-acre
garden complex that includes several historical
landmarks in the heart of the city.
A major port and trading center in the 1800's,
New Bern was captured and occupied by the Union
Army after a fierce battle on March 14, 1862. New
Bern has three historic districts with homes, stores,
and churches dating as far back as the early 18th
century. In fact, there are 36 individual listings
and more than 150 sites included in the National
Register of Historic Places.
New Bern's colorful history includes many
fascinating facts. The least considered is the
fabulous fishing. With all this water, it is
understandable how boating and fishing could be
a great connector for people here. Access to
the water is unbelievable. There are public ramps
in Union Park downtown or Lawson Creek Park about
a mile away, has two sets of 4 ramps each.
This is one of my favorite places to take clients.
The Neuse and the Trent offer some awesome fishing
for the fly angler. In the winter stripers (called
Rock) and spotted sea trout (called specks) dominate
the angling scene. These two predator fish are so
abundant that I once I saw them so thick it
seemed like you could walk across the river on
From the Railroad bridge down to Goose Creek and
across to Slocum Creek the speckled trout fishing
is the best I've ever seen anywhere, except for
maybe Louisiana. I was with a friend of mine
on several occasions where we caught and released
more than 100 speckled trout in a short 12-week
period from mid-February to April. I caught more
specs in 3 months than I ever have fishing in Florida
over the past 10 years. These specs run about 2-4 pounds.
They aren't as big as the Florida gator trout (5-8
pounds) but there are many more of them to catch.
And, this speckled trout action repeats itself in
the fall when the migratory fish make their way back
up the Neuse into the creeks to spawn.
In the winter, the trout are down in about 4 feet
or deeper. They rarely take flies or even lures
at the surface. The flies that work best include
the DS Fire Tiger, DS Croaker or DS Nicky. The
DS Nicky fly was named for Nicky Adams of New Bern.
A well-known local character and fisherman, Nicky's
favorite lure is the Texas Chicken and he loves his
Nicky fly as well. This fly is responsible for 95%
of his hook ups and a favorite of mine. The
fly is tied using green ice chenille and polar fibre
hair. The flash is called Gliss'n Glow by Fishient.
It is tied on C71SS-SS Mustad circle hook with a 30#
Mason hard type weed guard. These flies are available
from Custom Marine (www.nccustommarine.com).
Talk with any guide in the Sunshine State and they
will tell you, the honest ones will, that catching
3-5 sea trout on fly on a charter is a great day.
How does catching 15-20 compare? You don't have
to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. But
the specs are not the only fish out there, as Bill
Townsend of Maine found out on a 3-day charter with
me in Mid-March. He caught and landed the most
beautiful striper (rock). It was a 9-pounder
(see Cabin Fever) that he caught on a 7-weight
fly rod. This was an absolutely gorgeous fish.
Rock are plentiful as well. Capt Fred Slann of
New Bern took me to some of his choice locations.
Whether you want specs or rock, the fly-fishing
action is tremendous.
Next time we'll talk about the Redfish (puppy drum),
Spanish, Flounder, more trout and rock, as we stage
down the river towards Pamlico Sound.
Please don't teach your trash to swim ~ 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.