Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout
Showing posts with label small stream. Show all posts
Showing posts with label small stream. Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2015

South Carolina Trout Fishing: Day One


Ever since my cousin moved to Greenville, SC, he has been trying to convince me to visit and experience some South Carolina trout fishing.


Not that I needed much arm twisting when fishing was involved, but you know how life gets in the way and things get busy. Last week, with the memory of the ice storm of 2015 still fresh in my memory, the thought of a warmer climate and spring hatches had me thinking about a road trip.

Most people probably don't even realize that South Carolina trout fishing even exists. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about the quality of fishing that I would find, but then part of the charm of fishing new water is in the exploration as much as in the catching. After doing a fair amount of research, I discovered that, yes, South Carolina does have some trout fishing although it remained to be seen whether it would be worth a second trip.

A few weeks back, when the Cumberland Plateau was stuck in winter's icy grip, I called my cousin and made plans to visit during his spring break. When last week turned out to be one continuous rain shower here in Tennessee, I knew I had picked the right time to travel. While my local waters were all high and blown out, the streams in South Carolina were almost perfect or at least the ones we were experiencing were.


All of our fishing was on the same stream although on different sections. This particular stream had an interesting catch and release section that is apparently only open 3 days a week. At some point in the past it appears that the fish received supplemental feedings, but we could not find any current evidence of such taking place. The fish were your average mountain freestone stream trout with a heavy dose of fingerlings and small fish up to about 5 inches. The occasional nice trout kept things interesting though.


Photograph by Nathan Stanaway.


Photograph by Nathan Stanaway.

On our first day out fishing, we noticed little black caddis, little black winter stoneflies, and early brown stoneflies in addition to the usual collection of assorted midges. A stray mayfly or two was spotted as well but not in enough numbers to get the fish keyed in. the good thing about this stream is that the fish did not seem to be very selective and we caught them on a variety of both dry fly and nymph patterns.


By the end of the first day, it was clear that the stream had potential and we were excited to get back for round two fishing higher up the drainage. So far, South Carolina trout fishing was pretty good!


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Smokies Adventure

Adventure is a huge part of fly fishing for me.  During a conversation on our camping trip, I was telling my buddy Joe how I enjoy exploring almost as much as the actual fishing.  Thankfully I was able to enjoy both on this trip.

On Sunday, I arrived a bit later than Joe.  Coming from Central time into Eastern time always makes it hard to get up and on the river as early as my friends.  Getting there at first light means being up to leave around 3 or 3:30 a.m.  No thanks...  Anyway, so eventually I did make it over there and when if found Joe he was already hard at work fishing a likely run.  He reported good early morning action on the usual nymphs and we decided to continue fishing up through a nice mix of pools and pocket water.


Not too far upstream, I came across Mountain Laurel and stopped to play with the camera a bit.



Just above the blooms, Joe worked a really nice run.  When he finished and headed down to the truck for some lunch, I noticed a few rises and moved up into the run.  Tying on dry flies, I worked the fish hard but in the end was humbled.  If I had known how spooky those fish would be I probably would have brought a 3 weight and also used a longer leader.  Dry fly fishing is excellent on Little River right now, but the long still flats on the roadside stretches may produce some challenging conditions.  It was every bit as tough if not more so than chasing a picky riser on a tailwater.


Anyway, eventually we had lunch, set up camp, and headed back out for an afternoon of catching fish.  We both caught a lot of nice trout on nymphs and eventually made it back to camp to rest up for the next day's action.

We fished on both sides of the mountain and hit up some stretches that were new to both of us.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was exploring a stream known as having the ability to produce the Smoky Mountain Hat Trick.  After a fairly early start, we made it over to the stream on day 2 and started fishing by looking for nice browns in the larger holes.

While Joe worked the pools, I fished the pocket water.  A double nymph rig seemed appropriate early in the day.  Wet wading was a little chilly with the temperature hovering right around 50 degrees in the early morning shade.  Hatches were pretty much nonexistent but the rainbows were feeding well subsurface.  This is where I picked up my better rainbows on this stream.  Strangely, neither of us caught a brown trout in this stretch.  By the time things had warmed and the sun was triggering some hatch activity, we decided to head upstream and look for the slam.


Both of us had fished just a little bit of this section before but we had no idea of the challenges awaiting us.  Huge piles of debris from a semi recent flash flood made stream navigation a challenge to say the least.  The fish population seemed to be on the low side but we both caught trout.  The pools were beautiful flat runs that were mostly shallow to medium depth, perfect dry fly water if you ask me.  Of course on water that pretty we both fished dry flies.  I choose a new Yellow Sally imitation I've started tying and Joe went with the standard for brookies, a Yellow Stimulator.  Betchya can't guess what color of bugs were hatching...


I found the brookie before I found the brown.  Both came out of fairly fast but large pockets.  The nice dry fly runs were not producing for the most part.



After a ton of effort to fish maybe 1/4 or 1/3 of a mile of water, we got tired at the lack of fish and decided to head out and hit up another brook trout stream.  That was a good choice as we caught a lot of trout although the number of rainbows was a concern.

That evening, we had a good fire as it was our last night.  Staying up late, talking about trips from past years, we reminisced about our Yellowstone Trip (here and here also) as well as the epic one day fishing trip in Colorado last year.  Good days fishing the Smokies, large fish caught, and lots of other topics kept us up late but not too late to be up early the next morning.


Joe didn't have long to fish the next morning, so after fishing just a little together, he took off, and I decided to hit up a favorite stretch of Little River.  The water here is a nice mix of pools and pocket water, classic Little River water if you know what I mean.  In the first pool, I caught 4-5 trout and probably could have caught more if I had chosen to.  Best of all, most of them were browns.


I continued fishing until around 2 in the afternoon when hunger started to gain the upper hand over my desire to fish.  On the way out, I found a hat hung on a rock in Little River.  If you happen to have lost one while fishing, it is now over at Little River Outfitters in Townsend.  For this last day, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.






Tips and hints: The best action was in the faster deep pockets...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Teaching Never Stops

As a teacher, having my summers relatively free is a nice bonus.  This does not mean I stop teaching though.  A couple of weekends ago, I went camping with a group of friends near Gunnison.  Fishing was a definite must and one of my friends had been wanting to learn the sport as well.  I told him that I would be glad to teach him so extra rods were packed and the dry fly box was well-stocked in anticipation of finding some brookies.  

The stream was a small one, out of the way, meandering through the willows and over beaver dams.  Some sections were considerably steeper with tight pocket water while others took on the meadow stream nature that I've come to love.  Both brown and brook trout inhabit this stream.  I tied on a streamer to look for the big guys while my buddy John started off with a yellow Neversink Caddis, size 16.  

Since the stream was so small, I knew he would not have to cast very far to catch something.  I gave a short informal lecture on the theory behind fly casting, showed him what he should be doing, then handed him the rod.  His first two casts were slightly errant, but after another quick tip he was throwing the fly right where it needed to go.  A little more advice on what to do when a fish hit, and we started fishing.  


I was catching a few fish here and there when I found a nice open section just above a beaver dam.  The casting area was definitely not as tight and there were fish waiting for a snack as well!  From up above on the trail, I showed John were to fish and how to approach the pool.  Soon he had snuck into position and laid out a nice cast.  A brookie came up to annihilate the dry and the battle was on.  John fought and landed that fish just like a seasoned pro and soon was posing for a picture of his first trout on the fly rod!  


Not to be outdone, I fished my way around some undercut banks and close to log jams hoping for a big brown.  One 14 incher (a really nice fish for this stream) came out but would not commit while my heart nearly burst from the suspense.  Later, I found a willing brown trout in a larger than average run.  A quick picture and I sent it on its way.  


John continued to do well and ended up catching several fish.  His smile showed that he was enjoying this new sport.  I was happy to be back on the water in Colorado after a month away from home and also happy that I still had a few weeks before school started again.  Teaching fly fishing is a lot different from teaching math, but only because it is outside instead of indoors.  There's nothing like being out in nature!!!