Fourth of July weekend is a time for families to celebrate independence. Usually this involves a grill, some meat, and beverages of choice. Locations vary, but for a lot of folks, this is the one weekend they’ll spend in a tent this year. That also means this is the one weekend a lot of folks will finally be hitting the river/stream with rod in hand, making for crowded conditions which the rest of us prefer to avoid. SO, needless to say I was a little apprehensive when a friend of mine suggested we go fishing this weekend. He’s not able to get out much and lives several hours drive from the nearest trout water. He and his wife had booked a place in the mountains and it was up to me to pick the day we’d go fish. I figured Thursday would be our best bet, and it was his first opportunity to go. While I was at it, I managed to make a 2 day trip out of it for myself and fished solo on Wednesday before joining up with him on Thursday. All in all it was a great time.
I got up early on Wednesday morning and pointed the car west for about 3 hours to reach the area in which we’d be fishing. I hit the Blue Ridge Parkway at about 7:45 and by 8:30 I was parked by the river which was to be my first destination for the day. There was another car at the same pull out, but I had high hopes it would be just hikers. It wasn’t. After I got rigged and gear up, I headed down to the water and work my way through one hole only to find the owner of the vehicle casting to skittish wild fish just around the bend. Forget this, I’m going somewhere where no one else will be around. I hopped back in the car and drove a mile or so upstream, putting as much distance between potential anglers and myself as possible. Getting back on the water was a breeze and I didn’t see another person (let alone another angler) for the rest of the day until I called it quits almost 9 hours later.
The stream I was on is a very unique one. It’s rather long and runs for a good ways before it joins a larger body of water down stream. Through it’s course it falls under various regulations including Hatchery Supported, Delayed Harvest, and Wild. I have no interest in stockers, so wild water it was. But, even that doesn’t mean a single type of water. As long as this river is, in the lower reaches it fishes like a wide open free-stone with crystal clear, greenish-blue water and colorful rocks littering the stream bed, making it look like something out of a magazine. I tried to take a picture, but they just don’t do it justice.
Working my way along, I managed to catch a good number of rainbows and one brown. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I was 2 for 3 for a Western North Carolina grand slam…
As Mr. Rainbow attests, the stimulator simply is too good to resist.
Around lunch time I decided to get back in the car and move up river a good ways to some water I had seen before from a forest service road. Still on the same river, things look remarkably different once you gain some elevation. Towering oaks and poplars along with long slow runs give way to rhodo-choked pocket water and plunge pools, bordered by moss covered rocks and ferns. As challenging as wading and casting can be in places like this, they are by far my favorite. And it wasn’t long until I had my brookie, and my grand slam.
Smaller water and smaller fish seemed to call for a smaller fly, so I changed out the stimulator for an elk hair caddis. It worked!
The rest of my afternoon/ early evening was spent climbing bolders, crouching behind rocks, casting to pools on a yard or two long and rough as wide, and catching more wild browns, rainbows, and brookies than I could even begin to count. It started getting kind of absurd how many fish I was catching… To the point that I began tying on different flies just to see if I could catch fish on them. All in all, I caught wild fish on stimulators, EHCs, Adams, Trout Candy, quick sight ant, and even a nymph or two.
I try not to take too many pictures while I fish… Some part of me feels like photographing every fish diminishes from the experience (and probably stresses the fish too much), so I only snap the ones that really stand out above the rest (colors, patterns, size, maybe the take or how difficult they were to get to, etc. etc.). Below are just a few of the many, many, many fish that came to hand. It was simply a stellar day.
Some didn’t want to stay put for the camera. Stinks too, because this guy was actually pretty big, though blurred and curled he doesn’t look it…
Lots of holes like this, holding lots of fish…
These were my last two fish of the day… They came out of the same run, one from the tail, the other from the head. I couldn’t help but take a picture of the first one, though he was small, he was incredibly dark and I thought it was neat. The next one I caught was much larger (my best brookie of the day) and just as dark, if not darker. I wonder what made the fish in this pool so dark?
It was getting late and I still had to find my way out and back to my car, so I called it quits and headed out. I went to sleep that night the GOOD kind of tired. Just flat wore out.
The next day I met up with my friend at 8:30 to fish a different river, though still a little wild blue line. We had a great time but the fishing was slow. Very slow in fact. I only brought a couple small fish to hand and he went home with a big stripe… Maybe next time.
Parting ways around lunch, and with one afternoon left to kill, I decided to fish one last stream before heading home. It was beautiful water, and I had some good success, but didn’t feel the urge to photograph any of the dozen or so wild rainbows brought to hand. Not sure why…
I did, however, feel compelled to take a snap of this series of falls… Pictures don’t do it justice. It was at least 40’ high, maybe 50’. If it helps, the rock at the base of the falls to the left was about 7’ high.
All in all, it was an amazing couple of days spent on some fantastic water. Also, I got to put my newly built Blue Halo 7’6” 3wt through its paces. I can confidently say, it’s a great rod for such fishing as I enjoy. Until next time!