Featured Photo: Native Colors

Featured Photo: Native Colors

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Big Day

The second and feature day of our weekend trip was to fish a special section of Deep Creek. We intended to do some hiking and fish a section that is a favorite. The main wrinkle in our plans was the cold night temperatures. First thing in the morning I took the water temperature at the Deep Creek Campground. The chilly 43 degree reading had us extremely nervous about the prospects for the day.

Cold water is not necessarily bad for trout. A lot of people think that the fishing is bad once the water temperature is too low but this is not quite an accurate generalization. The real detrimental factor is a huge fluctuation in water conditions, whether it is changing water levels or a large change in the water temperature. Rising water temperatures are often good early in the season but a large drop in temperatures can put the fish down. Despite the cold start, the forecast high was in the upper sixties under mostly sunny skies.

We started the day hiking in to where we wanted to fish. On the way up we stopped at a couple of spots to see if the fish were active yet. Large numbers of midges were on the water, but the fish did not seem interested. Considering the hike, we were a little nervous about the overall fishing for the day but hope springs eternal and we pressed on. Finally, we found what we were looking for. A beautiful stretch of dry fly water was just begging to be fished. At our last stop I had tied on a pair of nymphs but the sight of such nice water quickly convinced me to tie on a dry. The fly of choice was a #16 parachute Adams. I slowly worked my way into a nice shallow riffle but could not get a rise. The deeper part of the run looked good with a midstream boulder creating a perfect pocket.

My first cast was too close to the faster current but the second one was perfect. The fly slowly danced tantalizingly in the dead water behind the boulder and then it happened. A dark shadow materialized from the depths and inhaled the fly. The hookset was perfect and a nice little rainbow was dancing on the end of my line. At this point in the day, we were both quite relieved to see a fish so we took the necessary “first fish of the day” pictures and then watched the fish dart back to the bottom.

Joe Mcgroom Photograph

Moving upstream, we saw a few more fish but none of them seemed particularly enthusiastic. Good numbers of bugs were hatching, most notably several large Quill Gordon mayflies. Rummaging through my box of dries, I found the perfect match and tied it on. Immediately the fish were all over it. I couldn’t keep the fish off. As we continued upstream, I caught lots of fish while Joe was struggling to get any to rise. Finally I offered to give him a fly like I was using and that did the trick. The fish were keyed on Quill Gordons. The rest of the day was spent tossing big dries to hungry fish. Over the course of the afternoon we both lost track of how many fish we caught but agreed that it was plenty.

The biggest surprise of the day was that the majority of the fish we caught were brown trout. I always catch plenty of browns on Deep Creek but normally they aren’t the majority. This made the day even more special. The final pool of the day was the same place that I caught my nice 19.5 inch brown last summer. I was really hoping to find this fish again since it should be over 20 inches by now but it didn’t want to come out and play. We were both tired from the hike and our feet were a little sore because we wore our wading boots for the hike up. It had been a perfect day of fishing and we weren’t going to push our luck.

As we headed back down the trail, we spent some time discussing the days fishing and everything we had learned about early season fishing and hatches. I was also thinking about the next day’s fishing with visions of big fish dancing in my head…


  1. nice report and some great fish photo's... TL, Dougie

  2. James Marsh1:25 PM

    Quoting you "Cold water is not necessarily bad for trout. A lot of people think that the fishing is bad once the water temperature is too low but this is not quite an accurate generalization."

    You are exactly 100% correct David. Keep in mind there are those that just like to write about fishing but actually never fish. In that case, I suppose that is about all they can come up with. It is nice to see someone get that right and it is nice to see someone catch trout irrespective of the conditions and not just look for excuses. Great report

  3. Beautiful little fish. I'm gonna go hit a little creek up in the sierras soon-- I hope I have the same success!


    --Brian J.

  4. David,
    Great report! I love the Deep Creek area. I'm surprised the creek was even fishable going by how much rain we had here in Alabama. About the quill gordons, I remember on the Little River a couple years ago, the fish really keyed in on them just like you mention. They seem to really get selective with that hatch. Take care,


  5. Nice post! Great pics, especially the mayfly. I is cool to see the fishing is crankin up on the east side of the states. -Thom

  6. Excellent report David, and very nice pics. I really need to meet up with you sometime and fish the mountains.

  7. Anonymous8:54 AM

    Great information. David it is nice to see that someone who loves fishing is willing to sharing their knowledge besides James Marsh to a novice like myself. You both are a tribute to the trout fishing world. Thanks again David.

  8. Glad you all have found this useful and thanks for all the kind words.

    Nathan, the creek was really high compared to what it should ideally be. The best/worst thing was that it didn't drop nearly as fast as we were hoping. I guess this means that the drought is loosening its grip on the area so that's good. Despite the high water, there were still plenty of nice pockets that we were able to pick with our dries...

    We definitely need to get together to fish soon. I'll be heading for the mountains again soon so shoot me an email if you're interested...