Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold
Showing posts with label Camping Trip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camping Trip. Show all posts

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Slam or Cataloochee: Part 3

Each fishing trip has its own beauty and memories.  Some trips are rooted in the familiarity of a favorite stretch of stream while other trips are memorable as the first trip to a stream or section of water.  This year I have been making an effort to break out of my normal fishing routines, and I admit it can be hard.  The great thing about water you fish regularly is that you know what to do without thinking too hard.  On new water, it is possible to overthink the situation even though you know deep down that you should approach it the same as all of the other area freestone streams.

During my camping trip to Cataloochee, after a restful night that wasn't as scary as it could have been, I was determined to fish some new water.  That's relatively easy for me to do in Cataloochee since I have not fished there as much as some drainages closer to home.  The methods would be pretty similar though so I still had that comfortable familiarity with just enough newness to keep things interesting.

The stream I chose to fish was like a lot of the North Carolina side streams.  There was a distinct lack of large pools. Instead, a distinct emphasis on flat glides of pocket water that can be a little tricky to find fish in were the norm.  Early on a cracked the code of where to find fish.  That's important as it allows the fisherman to focus only on prime water while discounting large sections of stream.  In the spring, summer, fall, and winter, fish will move to different areas to hold, rest, and eat depending on factors such as streamflow, time of day, hatches, water temperature and the list could go on and on.  On this trip, the fish were in the middle to rear of the pockets and small runs but were holding tight to structure which could be as simple as a small rock.


A dry/dropper rig seemed appropriate for this type of water.  An October Caddis dry worked great on top with a little bead head nymph I'm working on picked up it's share of fish.  I was fishing a 9' 5 weight Helios rod with a leader around 8 feet long.

Not long into my excursion, I caught a brook trout and then another.  According to the Park's distribution maps they weren't supposed to be this low.  That's one thing I love about Cataloochee: you can find brookies throughout the whole valley.


Moving on up the stream, I began catching enough rainbows to keep things interesting.  The fishing was neither as good as I had hoped nor bad enough to cause me to bail on this stream and find another spot to fish.  That's probably actually a good thing.  Those rare days were everything works and every fish eats can spoil a fly fisher if they come along too often.  Instead, days that hint at the possibility of fantastic fishing are what keeps bringing me back for seconds and thirds.  Returning to recreate those magical perfect days rarely yields as good a time as one remembers, and this applies in most areas of life.  When you do find a stream that is a little bit of a tease, you can go back and have a good time regardless. If it doesn't perform like an all-star, you can just accept that it fished about as you remembered.  On the other hand, if it fishes better than anything you have sampled in a while, you can be satisfied that your intuition paid off.




Eventually, I found a few more brook trout and even one small brown trout followed quickly by a tiny young of the year brown.  None of the larger browns were around and interested in playing on this particular day, yet another reason to return I might add.


As the sun slowly shifted past noon, I started thinking about hiking out.  By 3 it was time to go.  My cousin and his wife were supposed to be joining me, and I wanted to get back before they arrived in camp.  The hike out proved that I had covered around a mile of stream in approximately 6 hours.  Next time I'll hike farther before I start, but at least I can now say I've fished that particular stream.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cataloochee: Part 1

The trip to Big Creek was actually more of a break on my trip to Cataloochee.  Of course, I had planned it in such a way that I got to Big Creek early in the day.  Exploring new water is frustrating when you are limited to just an hour or two so I kept the whole day wide open.  By mid afternoon, the thought of getting camp set up before dark had me back on the road.

Driving from Big Creek to Cataloochee is always an adventure.  These gravel roads seemingly go on and on indefinitely.  Then, just about the time you are wondering if you will ever get there, you start noticing some familiar landmarks.  As it turned out, I not only made it there in time to set up camp before dark, I also had enough daylight left to catch some fish.

There is one pool in particular that I love to fish, mostly because it is easy to access and can be fished effectively without putting on any wading gear.  Never mind exactly where because I would rather not have others fishing there.  Selfish I know.

I still had a large orange October Caddis pattern tied on and stuck with that.  Why change when a fly has been catching so many fish right?  Starting out about halfway up the pool, I started covering the water carefully.  The fish were there, I was sure of that, but for some reason or another, I wasn't even getting any looks.  By the time I started casting in the fast water at the head of the run, I had lost a considerable amount of hope for this spot, but then on the 2nd cast to the fast water there was a subtle swirl and the fly disappeared.

When I set the hook, chaos ensued.  These chunky rainbows were both larger and stronger than I expected.  Soon after catching the first, I caught another, and then another.  All from the same little seam at the head of the pool.  That spot was good for 5 nice rainbows in a matter of maybe 7 or 8 minutes.  As soon as the action died down I quit for the day.  I was already feeling a little greedy after pulling enough trout out that the nearby tourists were taking notice and figured that it would be better to just let the other fish take the rest of the day off.



Back at camp, I got some supper together and settled in for a relaxing evening, not realizing that some strange things were about to happen...

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Went Fishing....Finally!!!


First of all, I want to apologize for the lack of recent posts. I still have several stories to share about West Trip 2007 and those will come, hopefully soon. School is a terrible thing, keeping the diligent tied down with never ending homework. Fortunately, this past weekend I had a respite. With virtually no homework due on Monday, I was able to take a last minute trip to the Smokies. I haven't done a solo trip to the park in far too long so it was great to be back out camping and doing some intense day trips to sample remote fishing opportunities.

I headed out of Chattanooga around 2:00 on Friday afternoon and made it to Little River Outfitters in Townsend by around 4:00. After finding a few fly tying items I needed, I talked to Daniel about a stream he had fished that I've been eying for awhile. Then he asked me if I had fished one of the Superfine Trout Bum rods yet. "Not yet," was my reply to which he asked if I would like to for the weekend. Opportunity doesn't come knocking like that every day and I saw a great chance to do a product review. After he got the rod and I purchased my items, I headed towards Elkmont to set up camp.



I just had to go fishing so as soon as my tent was up, I quickly put the Trout Bum rod (8' 4wt, 4-piece) together and started fishing up through the campground. The water was terribly low but the fish were still cooperative. A couple nice browns and one small rainbow later, I headed back to camp to get something to eat. After that I hit the sack since I was thinking about a big trip the next day.


The next day, after a huge breakfast, I headed over the hill to the North Carolina side to hike into a stream that I've been wanting to hit for awhile. The hike was fairly intense, made especially so by the fact that I'm not in quite the shape I should be (that will be remedied by the time my October trip rolls around). In hand I carried the Trout Bum rod to continue testing it out. After my first evening of fishing with it, I was already trying to dream up a plausible story that I could tell Daniel as to why I couldn't return the rod.


When I reached the stream, I was dismayed to find two fisherman coming downstream from where I intended to fish. After asking them how far they had fished, I decided to just start there and see what would happen. Despite the recent pressure, I was still able to fool plenty of fish. All the fish caught were brookies except for one lonely rainbow, a good sign I thought. The stream was very good-sized, especially for its elevation and was full of eager fish. Dry flies were the best option with an orange Neversink caddis accounting for most of my fish.




I had forgot to bring my headlamp this weekend so after fishing a couple of hours, I headed back down the stream to make the jaunt up and over the mountain. Getting stuck in the backcountry all night is not my idea of fun. After getting back to camp, I went down to a large pool on Little River to further test the rod. I had already used it to effectively fish dries and also heavily weighted nymphs so I decided to toss some streamers for awhile. I never threw them more than 30-40 feet for lack of casting room but the Trout Bum rod easily handled a weighted #4 Simi Seal Streamer.

After pounding the water awhile, I headed back to camp and got to bed early again. Sunday morning I wanted to fish the Little River above Elkmont. Accordingly, I got up, ate a quick breakfast and after taking down camp, I started up the trail. I decided to just start fishing without hiking very far but soon saw the telltale wet bootprints. I still managed a few fish before getting out to hike a bit farther. This time I thought I was fishing fresh water but after fishing for probably an hour or more, I saw to guys fishing above me. I had still been catching some fish but realized it probably should have been much better if I hadn't of been behind other fisherman all day. Still, despite fishing behind somebody I managed probably 10-15 fish over 2-3 hours so it wasn't a horrible day.


Finally I decided that it would be wise to head back to school and so I headed back to civilization, fully refreshed and ready to hit the books again! Oh yeah, I never came up with a good excuse so I stopped by LRO to give the rod back to Daniel. More on the rod later...