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43. December 26, Cloudy, 30 degrees, Water Temp 32 degrees!

There was a message on the board asking how to fish when the river was covered with ice. I thought that there might be a little on the edges of the stream and the fellow was just having a hard time finding fish. I went up to see for myself. I was surprised to see the mill pond frozen completely over. Surely the faster moving river would be open! Boy was I wrong. Most of the river was frozen over only the swiftest currents remained free from ice. Unfortunately the fish weren't in these fast runs either. After wading (breaking ice) for a while and losing two woolly buggers on snags or cut leader from the ice, I gave up and went for a walk, talking to the other crazy fools searching for trout, to the end of the delayed harvest water.



42. December 9, Cloudy, 42 degrees

I realized that the year was almost gone and I had only taken one of my kids to the delayed harvest waters at Stone Mountain. They are 4 and 7 and while they can't cast very well they sure love to reel the fish in once I hook them. They took turns reeling in 7 inch rainbow and brook trout from the skinny water of Stone Mountain Creek. Griffith's gnat was the top producer of the day. The fish continued to hit the fly even when the kids were launching "boats" and tossing rocks.

41. October 15 , Sunny, 75 degrees

Alli, Rusty and I got together for our final day of fishing. I chose the Pigeon River, I don't think that they will let me choose again. After searching for a good access point, we hiked down the steep gorge to the water below. I looked very promising. Pools, and runs, with plenty of water, it looked like trout water. I crept low in the shadows and approached some pocket water. Pinpoint cast and drag free drift failed to raise a trout. I then used maximum strelth, crawling along the streambed to the next pocket. Again a terrific cast failed to attract any attention! Alli and Rusty reported the same. Was this stream dead? We leapfrogged up the creek and were mystified by the bad luck that we were having. I finally caught a 5" trout! We were growing quite frustrated. Alli was casting and I was moving up behind him. STOP!! I cried as his fly tagged the tip of my nose. Thankfully he did and I removed the hook without too much discomfort. Alli continued to cast as I held a tissue to my punctured nose. We finally called it quits and hike back out of the gorge to the promise of cold beer in Rusty's vehicle. Failure to quickly produce a bottle opener led me to seek alternate methods of opening the bottle. I succeeded and was greeted with foam running out of the bottle. I quickly brought the bottle to mouth with the instant realization that the glass was broken. I withdrew the bottle and blood dripped from my cut lip. I knew fishing was a blood sport, but this was taking it to extremes. I am writing this on December 8 and I can still taste the blood!

40. October 14 , Sunny, 75 degrees

I fished the lower part of this creek last year with Len and without much success. So I wanted to come back and explore the upper stretches of this beautiful creek. I hiked up quite a ways, several miles at least, before dropping carefully into the water. I tried several of my old favorites, including Adams, Elk Hair, Hoppers, and even tried nymphing. But the fish were few and far between. I got out of the steam near the first backcountry camp site and talked to a couple of anglers who were just starting to fish the horseshoe. I hiked up over and put in the river at the upper end. I continued to catch small lively, brightly marked trout, but the larger cousins were elusive. I fished on for a while and then, not familiar with the territory, headed back down stream to my put in point which was blazed with red tape. That evening at the lodge I boasted that I caught 54" of trout up on Deep Creek........6" at a time!!!!

39. October 13 , Sunny, 75 degrees

Time for the semiannual pilgrimage to Balsam lodge with the Blur Ridge Chapter TUers. I took the day off and planned to have a full afternoon on the Davidson. The Water was still low and the fish were hard to find and catch. I had a few hookup and LDRs. Finally caught two nice trout as dusk set in. Drove over to the lodge for dinner: New York Strip and a baked potato. During the evening we plotted our strategies for the weekend.

38. October 7 , Sunny, 60 - 40 degrees.

Psycho FF 2000 V1.2 was a great success. There are some super tiers in this group and about 500 years of fishing wisdom! However, the Smith proved to be a difficult river to crack. I caught two on a pheasant tail in a deep run. I had a ton of weight on about five feet below the strike indicator. Then the wind whipped up and blew me off the water as the temperature dropped. I didn't have enough layers! Great dinner, Scotch and company. I'm looking forward to next year and Psycho FF V2.0!!!!!!

37. October 3, Partly Cloudy, 78 degrees.

Stone Mountain State Park - Delayed harvest water. I picked Christopher up after school and we drove up to the park u to catch some trout. We tied on an Elk hair Caddis and took several 7 to 8 inch trout from a run. We watched the fly float down in the current above the recently stocked fish and wondered which on would make a dash for our deceitful fly. We caught several more in a big pool and missed a few in another run. The sun was setting and we had to run home for dinner.

36. September 21, Clod, 72 degrees.

Afternoon the conference was over so I headed over to the river before driving home.

In the early afternoon, not much was happening on the river. Then there were some steady risers that I managed to put down. But I somehow managed to catch several nice trout in the low clear waters. I left the stream at dusk.

35. September 20 , Sunny, 75 degrees.

I was attending a conference at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, had the afternoon off so I drove over to the Davidson river. The water was running low and clear a difficult combination on this stream. The fish didn't seem to be holding in the feeding lanes so I tried searching the edge of the stream with a parachute hopper. I found a few holding in pockets against the bank. But I failed to hookup with any Later at one of the large pools I did manage to catch a few before I have to return for dinner at the Inn.

34. August 14 , Sunny, 82 degrees.

Cicadas bring a racket to the darkening forest and the peacefulness of the evening is shattered till first light. My son asked me one time, "Don't they ever get tired rubbing their wings together? I hope they get tired soon". The plan for today was to pack out to the "horseshoe" to fish that section and then head home. I reached the falls and was startled by the absence of any other people. I approached slowly and stood by the pool listening to the thunder of the rushing water, admiring this serene vista. A voice behind me shattered my illusion that I was alone. I turned quickly to see four, the two more, then another group. I could only think that my arrival was timed with the first wave of hikers from the just opened loop road.

I hiked up to and found access to the stream, strapped my pack to a tree and began fishing the beautiful water with a Dark Elk Hare Caddis. Abrams isn't easy to wade, the rocks are covered with slick algae and the water is a tricky four feet clear. The ledger rock is mixed with round boulders. After maneuvering into position to cast to a great holding spot. Quickly I had a rainbow on the end of my line, it zinged through the water and jumped twice before I brought it to net. A nice 10 inch Abrams Rainbow! I fished on for a while longer, but I was tired and the thought of a six-hour drive home haunted me. The bright sunlight may have hampered my ability to catch any more trout, the water sure looked promising…maybe if I had more time. I had just reached the first bend in the "horseshoe" and knew that it would be foolish to travel any further. Perhaps a trip in the fall.

33. August 13 , Sunny, 80 degrees. "There Are Bears in them hills"

I awoke early, just after sunrise, and fixed a quick breakfast of hot oatmeal. The cool night air blended with the smoke of campfires and was warmed by sunlight and the smell of coffee and bacon. Back to my original plan I headed up the mountains to Cable Cove and Abrams Creek. It took about an hour to get to the trailhead, a popular two and a half-mile hike to Abrams Falls. I faced five+ mile hike downstream would bring me to campsite #17 (Elevation 1240 ft.) for my second night in the Smokies. Many day hikers filed down the trail. Some wore new boots and backpacks, other tennis shoes and Sunday dresses. It always amazes me how ill prepared many people are for a "strenuous" hike. Along the way I spotted the signs of a heavily used area; discarded water bottles and soda cans. Upon reaching the falls I stopped briefly for a snack and observed the beauty of the falls.

Back on the trail again and away from the massed the trial became much narrower showing much less traffic. But up around the bend I found another disturbing sign: Toilet Paper! A little pile here a larger pile there. Why can't they have the common sense of a house cat and bury it! The farther away from the fall the more primitive the trail became. At the junction of Hatcher Mountain Trail the path led to an even less used section of the trail. I had the feeling that I was truly headed to a remote section of the part. I though that the site would be remote and not heavily populated with campers, but I forgot about the shorter access up from Abrams Creek Campground (1.1 miles) and found five teenage boys with one father, a middle age couple and young couple who was obviously "in love".

After setting up camp I started fishing Abrams Creek upstream from the campsite. Quickly I had a fish on, a Smoky Mountain Cutthrought, a.k.a. red striped dace. Next I battled with a seven inch sucker on my five weight Sage rod. I spied some larger fish in a deep pool, tied on a woolly bugger and caught a nice smallie and a red eye Perch! I was beginning to think that I might be too far downstream and out of trout water. But I was hopeful that I would find a large brown hiding out somewhere. So I patiently worked my way upstream, the water was sparkling and spoke of hidden trout in its runs, rapids and sloughs. The brilliant sunlight was at my back. I tried to keep my shadows off the water. Perhaps I was spooking the trout, leaving the trash fish to chase my fly.

I reached a bend in the stream and noticed a distinct odor, like that of carrion. I thought the perhaps I dear had been caught in high water. I even thought for a moment I might be a bear that I smelled. I continued fishing this section carefully without getting a strike. It was getting late and I was far from camp and no one in the world knew where I was, I got an uncomfortable feeling and decided to turn back to camp. I waded down past a fall carefully stepping on the algae covered rocks, I heard a branch break and turned around to see a black bear enter the stream twenty feet behind me from where I stood not 10 seconds ago. He waded confidently into the water, swimming when necessary; upon reaching the far shore he climbed the steep bank without hesitation. I don't think he even saw me. He seemed small, perhaps three feet long maybe 100 pounds. But I've never seen a bear in the wild before and certainly have never weighted one. I slowly worked my way downstream back to camp for a nap. In the evening I took a short hike south of camp and on my way back I heard the cracking of branches and rustling of leaves down off the trail, I looked an saw the tail end of another small bear running downhill full tilt. He must have spied me first and was fleeing just as fast as he could. No trout, but two bear, not bad for day two in the Smokies.

32. August 12 , Partly Cloudy, 80 degrees. "14 inch Little River Brown"

On Saturday my wife decided to take the kids up to see their aunt in Va. Beach for a week of summer fun before school starts. I poured over maps and plotted a trip into the Smoky Mountains National Park. I had read a lot about the wonders of Abrams Creek, in particular "The Horseshoe" bend, a remote section offering potential of wild rainbow. After a late start and a longer than expected drive I found myself nowhere near my destination. Hiking five miles at dusk did not appeal to me so I checked into Elkmont. I briefly weighted the price of the campsite ($17), against a mile hike to a backcountry site (no fishing). I opted to the quick fix and checked into site #42 in the "G" loop.

after setting up cam a five minute drive brought me to a pretty section of the Little River. With the easy roadside access, I didn't have high hopes for great fishing, as the waters were probably pretty heavily pounded. I tied on an elk hair caddis and cast the runs and pocket water. After a while without results I switched to a Stimulator and a dropper nymph. This big western style Stimulator rode high on the turbulent water and I watched carefully for any pause or hesitation in its drift. I cast into a likely run that swept past a large undercut rock. I watched in amazement as a large brown came from under to rock to check out the stimi! A quick refusal and then he turned and snatched the prince nymph! Fish On! He ran down into the current and the line peeled off the reel, I kept him under control as I jumped rocks following downstream. The run halted he ran back at me and I reeled in like crazy. I got my first real good look at this marvelous fish, deeply colored and robust in girth, and then he ran downstream again. Finally I reeled him in, measured him against my rod, 14", not bad for my first Little River trout. I thought briefly about my meager backpacking dinner and entertained the notion of harvesting this fish. I turned the hook and let him go; he quickly found shelter back under his rock.

31. August 6 , Partly Cloudy, 78 degrees.

Cicadas, Cicadas, Cicadas! How's a guy suppose to get any sleep with a racket like that? Christopher and I backpacked into Stone Mountain the night before meeting up with Allie Hutchenson at Julian Price Park for our stream sampling project. After realizing the topo was out of date and the Lynn Cove Viaduct wasn't even on the map we figured out how to get to US 221 and Green Mountain Creek, out first sampling site. The water cascaded down the mountainside. It was a short hike up around a waterfall to the creek. After collecting the water sample we hiked up a bit more stirred by the beauty and the ruggedness of the terrain. We drove 1.8 miles to our next stop, Dixon Creek. The steep mountainside and rhododendrons challenged our bushwhacking skills as we searched for easy entry into this steep tumbling ledger rock creek. After leaving Dixon Creek we stopped at several other creeks to check our navigation. We turned off of 221 onto Edgemont Road for our last stop, Wilson Creek. This is a little jewel of a catch are release stream. A quick walk downstream and the sampling was done. After a little lunch we broke out the fly rods and the three of us worked our way upstream. Tiny pockets and pools held secret jewels, red crimson spots of brookies! The fish were small and ranged from five to seven inches. All to soon we needed to head back to Winston. But "I'll be back". Christopher asked "Can I go on the stream sampling next year? I really want to especially if Allie comes with Kipers and Hearings".

30. July 30, Partly Cloudy - Thunderstorm, 80 degrees.

I was fishing the "casting pool" of Bullhead Creek trying to figure out what these wary trout were interested in when a troop of bathers crashed through the woods looking for a "swimmin' hole" that the ranger had told them. When I explained to them that this stream was closed to all but registered fisherman the repeated "Well the ranger told us to come here!" was their reply. I finally convinced them that they were looking for Widow Creek Falls, but before they left the all stood on the edge on the pool a pointed out the fish to each other. "So that's what a fly rod look like," one stated as he pointed to my Orvis One Ounce, "its catch and release ain't it". "Yes", I replied. "Don't that take the fun outa it", one young woman taunted. "No, I can come back a catch the same fish next year and it will be bigger", I replied.

After they left I was too angry to fish that pool anymore so I headed up to section #7. I couldn't get them off my mind and I fished poorly because of it. Thunder was booming about as I headed up through the gorge, but it appeared to be a distant storm moving off in some irrelevant direction. The skies cleared and for a while the fishing was good. At least I managed to scare my usually number of fish. Several slips on my AquaStealth boots led to hard fall. Landing on my hip and elbow I lay in the stream immobilized with pain as water poured down my back, an aborted attempt to raise myself caused me to lay back down in the cold water again. Finally I was able to get up, nothing appeared to be broken, just painful. As I approached the end of the gorge and my favorite holes the sky darkened with rapid despair and the rolling thunder drown out the roaring river. The rain, light at first, became blinding torrents and fishing became impossible if not down right dangerous. The forty minute hike out was nerve racking as lightning crashed and thunder boomed, rolling and reverberating about the mountains.

29. July 26 , Partly Cloudy - Light rain, 75 degrees.

After the meeting I headed directly to Brevard for an evening of fishing on the Davidson. Now you might not know this but I have an almost perfect record of not catching trout on this excellent river. I've only fished the lower section (below the hatchery) three times and have been skunked twice! This being the second time. There were a few midges circling about and every once it a while I would see a splashy rise to some unseen insect. I tried bwo's, Griffith's gnats, beetle, pt, flashback pt, caddis nymphs all to no avail. I did see a number of fish move to take a look at my imitations and ever a few took a bite but refused at the last second before I could set the hook. I had a great but frustrating evening on the river and left to drive back home around 9:00.

28. July 26 , Partly Cloudy, 75 degrees.

On the way up to a conference at Grove Park Inn in Asheville I stopped in Old Fort and headed up into the Pisgah National Forest to do a little fishing on a wild trout stream. The air was cool and humid from an early morning rain, but the clouds were parting and the day looked promising. No insect activity was apparent so I tied on an Elk Hair Caddis, early cast brought many refusals. Switching to a smaller fly was the trick and I was catching small rainbows from just about every likely holding spot. This steep gradient creek was running a little low but that didn't detract from the beauty of the surroundings. I didn't see any other fishermen on the stream. I caught about 30 five to seven inch rainbows on my Orvis "One Ounce" 2 wt. rod.

27. July 16 , Sunny, 80 degrees.

Went back up to the same stream as last time fished a longer section up through a gorge. Little yellow stones hatching, few fish rising. Lovely evening, caught a couple of good sized browns. Fished till dark.

26. July 7 , Sunny, 80 degrees.

Even with recent thunderstorms the mountain streams are running lower than ever. The low clear water is difficult to fish, the fish are very skittish. When I arrived at the stream the sun was off the water and the shadows were growing darker by the moment. Time for the big browns to start feeding. I watched fish rising in a pool and worked it for a while without a hookup. I had a few refusals and think that I needed 7x for success. Moving up the stream I manages to put down or spook every fish in every run or pool. Even a delicate cast with my four weight sent the scurrying for cover. Finally in one of the larger pools I hooked up with a 12" brown. As I walked back down the trail I stopped for one last cast at a little eddy where I had caught fish before and dropped a small yellow hopped pattern right in the middle where it got sucked under. Fish on! The trout fought hard running up and down the pool. It took several minutes before I raised its head above the water and netted it, a gorgeous 16" brown trout! What a way to end the day!

25. June 9 , Sunny, 82 degrees.

I hit the stream early after work and there weren't many other fishermen present. As I stepped into the water I noticed a rather large rise at the tail of a run near an eddy caused by a submerged log, a perfect lie for a brown trout. I cast my Adams and the trout rose, followed the drift and then at the last moment refused the imitation. I tried several more cast but the trout wasn't interested. I tried several different patterns and got the trout to rise twice more, it appeared to be about 18 inches long, finally I put the fish down. I moved on up to the head of the run a hooked a twelve inch brown. My kids asked me to bring home some more fish so I kept this hatchery fish. I caught and released several 8 to 10 inch rainbow, brook and brown trout. As I was working a run I noticed a rise right up against the bank in very shallow water. On the second cast the fly landed two inches from the shore and the fish nailed it. I now had a nice pair of trout for dinner.

24. June 4 , Cloudy, 75 degrees.

It was raining lightly as I left the house, driving west I decided to fish a delayed harvest stream. Only when I was half way up the mountain in the fog did I remember that the water was now open to all. As I turned along the stream I noticed fishermen parked all along the stream. Several of my spots were taken and I had to drive quite a way before finding a section that I wanted to fish. I didn't notice any risers, and the hatch was minimal, so I tied on an Adams. After hooking a few launchers, I found a nice 14" brown in a shallow run. It was a healthy fish full of body and fight. I thought of taking this fish, but with a full day in front of me I let it go. Over to the left, in a small pool, I noticed a fish flashing so after drying my fly I cast. The cast was a little to the left and another fish rose off the bottom and took the fly. A nice rainbow! Again I let it go. A few minutes later and I caught the other fish in the pool. Fishing slowed down in the afternoon and I moved to another spot. Quickly I caught a 12" brookie, and decided to keep it for dinner. I hooked a nice brown and was trying to land him when I noticed a 3 foot water snake along the bank as I was reaching down to net it. I tensed and broke off the fish. I caught two more that were about nine inches, I let them go and kept another brookie about 11 inches. Now I had a nice brace of brook trout. The stream was fairly crowded now and I noticed several fisherman with stringers of trout. Now it will be time for me to head for the more remote wild trout waters.

23. May 26 , Sunny, 75 degrees.

Jim and I headed up 52 for an afternoon and evening of fly fishing some quiet NC waters. We were surprised to find the stream nearly deserted and selected some prime water to start fishing. Jim spotted many risers and we quickly nailed a few fish apiece. We ended up fishing a long flat side by side, taking turns hooking fish. Jim managed to entice a few of the larger fish from along the bank. We took a short break and moved on downstream at dusk looking for the evening rise. I caught three, Jim two, then we moved again and fished till almost dark landing several more trout among the yellow stonefly hatch.

22. May 20 , Sunny, 75 degrees.

Nine angles from the Blue Ridge Chapter of Trout Unlimited met for an early breakfast before driving up to the Watauga River for our StreamClean project. We gathered at Shulls Mill Church and split up to various section of the river. I stopped at a the first pullout, the ground look fairly clean, but when I took a look over the edge of the trail down to the stream I was shocked to find the entire area littered with tires, beer bottles, aiti-freeze and oil containers.

After deposing of the trash we once again split up to do some fishing some like myself choose the Watauga, others drove over to Helton Creek. I managed to catch a few rainbows and brows among the anglers on a crowded section of the river. I decided to head on over to the S. Holsten to meet up with the gang from the Virtual Flyshop Southern States first annual conclave: Psycho FF 2000. I reached a quiet section of the Holsten around 4:00 or fifteen minutes before the rain started. I fished on for an hour, when it really came down hard. I left the river and drove to the PFF2000 campground. I was greeted by a motley crew of fly fisherman standing under a trap with a bottle of Macallan's Single Malt Scotch. One by one the rest straggled in from the surrounding creeks with reports of successful days. I got my T-shirt and stayed for dinner, a pork shoulder with slaw and beans. I was surprised by the knowledge, wisdom and experience and camaraderie of everyone. I only wish I could have stayed the night and gone fishing with them. Psycho, J Thomas, W.D.R., Loop Wing, and many more whom I don't recall at present. I'll have to get the list from Psycho. After a couple of sips of Scotch and dinner I headed over the mountains for the two and a half hour drive home. I can't wait for next year's gathering, I hope it is as well organized as this year's. Thanks to all for their efforts.

21. May 6 , Sunny, 80 degrees.

Fishing was a little slow on top and the glare from the afternoon made it difficult to follow a dry so I switched to a green woolly bugger. In short order I hooked two 14 inch brook trout, followed by a couple of good sized rainbows. Then as I worked my way upstream I caught a large fish, at first I thought it was a monster brown, but it turned out to be Mr. Bronzeback, size 13". As the sun set fish started to dimple the surface of the deep runs. I tied on a #18 Adams parachute, picked out a fish and cast. Fish on! What a joy to sight cast to rising fish. I quickly lost count of the many brook, brown, and rainbows. Finally it was too dark to see the fish take the fly. What a great evening with a nice smallmouth bonus!

20. April 24, Cloudy - Rain, 57 degrees.

Wild iris, yellow eyed bluets and may apples were in bloom on my favorite Easter stream. The two and a half hour drive went by quickly and the hike down to the stream was effortless. I rigged up as soon as I reached the water, tied on an elk hair caddis and began casting into a great looking run. On my third cast I caught a beautiful brookie, jeweled with rubies. My luck ran out for a while as I fished the pocket water and failed to find any fish looking up. On to the bigger pools where their was canting room, forty feet to the head and fish on! Another brookie, I don't remember catching so many this far down the stream. Several rainbow came to net and then I reached a pool with rising fish, there was a mixed hatch going on, I tried an Adams parachute and hooked a nice brown on the first cast! Several more beautiful fish came to net, most memorable: a twelve inch rainbow with vibrant stripe and crimson gill plate, and the 10 inch brown. Rain came down steady at 5:00 PM so I packed it in and hiked 540 ft back up to the top of the ridge and the car.

19. April 16, Partly Cloudy, 72 degrees.

On Sunday we all pitched in and cleaned up the lodge before heading out for another day of fishing. I let Len choose today's stream, since my choices had not been productive. We headed to the South Mills, a wild trout stream in the national forest. This is a popular recreational spot offering mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking and fishing. Our plan was to hike down and then fish for three hours before meeting up for lunch. The water was flowing hard but this smaller stream didn't offer the difficulties of Deep Creek. We both fished hard for the next several hours before heading back to the trail bridge for lunch. Neither one of us had had any luck, fully discouraged we packed it in for the day and got an early start on the long ride home.

18. April 15, Partly Cloudy, 64 degrees.

Some got up early and had a quick breakfast others cooked omelets, bacon, and sausage. After a quick bite Len and I headed up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and over to the Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain. The drive was fantastic with spectacular views of the cloud-covered ridges and mountains below. We finally reached the park and hiked upstream to wet a line. The swift current and steep gradient forced careful wading and constant mending of lines. We tried numerous flies and setups with out success. We hiked up a ways more looking for flatter water. Up past Indian creed we tried again, several great looking stretches of water failed to produce. I was a little frustrating to be on such fantastic water and not be able to hook up. The water may have been running to hard and looking back we may not have weighted our nymphs heavily enough. After several hours of being beat up by this fast freestone stream we packed up and drove down the "Road to Nowhere" and parked at the Noland Creek bridge, five fisherpersons were having a break, we asked how the fishing was the they reported that they hadn't had much luck. We were several hundred feet above the stream and Len wasn't inspired to hike down to the river. He said for me to go if I wanted, but I didn't feel right about leaving him in the car by himself. It was already 2:30 and we had a long drive back to the lodge so we headed to the Tuckaseegee to try our luck on this large river. As we drove in we spotted a local hauling a large trout into his trailer. We parked along the river and began casting weighted woolly buggers and streamers into the swift current. After an hour or so without luck we headed back over the mountain for the camaraderie of the lodge. One good thing about the area we selected to fish was the weather, it was clear, sunny and warm, others were not so lucky and came back to the lodge drenched from afternoon thundershowers.

17. April 14, Rainy, 56 degrees.

Len and I got an early start for the Blue Ridge Balsam Lodge fishing weekend. We were fishing the South Mills by 10:30. This pleasant stretch of delayed harvest water proved to be a well-stocked stream. Len and I caught several brook and rainbow trout. We broke for lunch and then moved on to the Davidson. We selected a pull-off about halfway to the hatchery. By coincidence it was the exact spot that I fished two years ago. The rain started to come down steadily and the water was running a little stained. I chose a green woolly bugger, which was effective in attracting the trout. However, my reflexes were too slow and I missed many of these educated fish. The ones I did manage to catch were beautifully marked and fought with vigor found in wild trout. We left the river at 5:30 and headed up the mountain to the lodge, we were expecting a full house and wanted to make sure we got our dibs on a bunk. Dinner was underway, the grill was lit and the kitchen was abuzz with food preparation. I poured a Scotch and looked at the shrimp, streaks, salmon, London broil and TV dinners that lined the counter tops as everybody fixed their own meal. I opted to keep it simple with a salad, baked potato, and steak. After dinner we cleared the table and tied flies and studied topo maps, discussing tomorrow's destinations, before having a nightcap in front of the fireplace.

16. April 8 , Sunny, 70 degrees.

Now that daylight savings is upon us it is possible to head up to the stream for a little evening fishing after work, so that is what I did. I was expecting a hatch of quills and rising trout. But there were few risers and they were feeding on midges. The stretch of river was crowded and I noticed a wildlife officer checking licenses on the other side of the river, before I could get in the water he had driven around and checked me also. I left my nippers on the bench from tying up some leaders so I had to trim the tippet with my teeth. I slipped into a deep pool and began casting up to the head floating a caddis fly. After trying several patterns without results and limited by the deep pool I got out and walked to the riffle at the top of the run. I spotted a fish rising and attempted to catch him but was frustrated by not having my nippers. As the sun was setting I noticed several mayflies but still the waters were quite. I finally tied on a woolly bugger and after missing several strikes hooked a 12 inch brown. A chill came to the air as the birds began to sing goodnight.

15. April 1 , Sunny, 75 degrees.

The kids have been itching to go fishing so we packed up and headed to Stone Mountain State Park. When we arrived the changed their minds and wanted to climb the mountain instead of fish. We finally decided to hike from the new picnic area to the falls. This trail slopes down to Big Sandy Creek and up the other side and back to the top of the falls. Once we viewed the top they wanted to hike to the bottom. I asked if the were going to hike back up on their own. "Sure", they replied. At the bottom we waded the creek and watched quills hatching. After a snack they wanted to go fishing, so we began the hike up the 200 foot falls, I carried Zoe on my shoulders and Christopher led the way. Once we got back to the car we headed to a quite spot on the Roaring River. I rigged up Christopher's rod and choose a fly from Zoe's fly box. Quick work and we had a 10 inch trout. The kids took turns reeling it in. We caught another from the same pool and repeated the teamwork landing the fish. Scott, another Blue Ridge Chapter member, was fishing up stream from us and the kids watched him land a couple of fish. They threw stone and collected butterfly wings until it was time to head home.

14. March 25, Partly Cloudy, 75 degrees.

There was an Orvis Hatch of the Roaring River Saturday, a rod and reel is every hole. I spent some time just looking for a stretch to fish. I passed on guy working the head of a pool, another working the middle and a third one fishing the tail. I entered the run below and watched as the three guys above converge in the center. No respect! I was fishing a woolly bugger and tagged a trout but didn't have a hook up. I moved on down stream only to find pairs of fisherman and couples, spouse watching from the bank with dogs and kids in tow. I was beginning to regret my choice of streams to fish. I explored a stretch of the river near the park entrance and only discovered empty water with bait containers littering the bank. An an artificial stream, stocked to provided entertainment for angles and poachers! I was depressed and frustrated. With out stocking rubber fish how many of our streams would be void of trout?

I remained fishless for most of the afternoon and finally just sat on the bank and studied the water and yet another fisherman working the water. He had a nice hookup with a large brookie using a nymph. I was watching a fish picking off drifting nymphs in the run across from where I sat. I retied my leader and tied on an elk hair and a bead head pheasant tail nymphs. I let the guy below me work through my pool (He asked! How refreshing). After he passed I slipped into the water and and cast to the fish I had observed. I got a strike on the top fly but missed it. A little whiled later I missed another one. It looked like I was going to have a fishless day. However after I little wild I took two trout from this pool. Thing were looking up. I had a few more fish on the line. Around six in the evening with the sun off the water and a nice hatch of red quills the fish began to feed rising with abandon. Now I tied on an Adams Parachute and the magic began with hookups cast after cast!

But I long for the solitude of wild trout waters and now that the weather is acceptable to the masses and the longer days I'll have return to the wild trout waters that I love so much. The delayed harvest stream have helped getting me throughout the short winter days.

13. March 23, Sunny, 50 -70 degrees.

Jim and I headed over the mountains to the South Holsten River in Tennessee. This was our first trip to this tailwater. Jeff Wilkins from The Flyline in Greensboro told us to use #18 and #20 pheasant tail nymphs, or flashbacks in the same size. When we arrived it Mountain City we stopped at the Court House to get our fishing licenses. Then we drove the final 22 miles to the dam, checked out the area by the weirs and then headed on downstream. We selected a riffle in the Big Spring area for our first attempt on the river. I tied on a Royal Wullf with a Zebra Midge dropper. We fished hard for about two hours then the water from the morning release flooded our spot. We packed up and drove several more miles on down the river. This time I tied on a pheasant tail dropper with some weight added six inches above the fly. I cast into a deep run and watched the indicator fly bounce on the water. Strike! I lifted the rod tip and set the hook, "Fish On", I yelled to Jim upstream. The drag on the San Miguel performed flawlessly as the brown trout made his runs. I netted a healthy 14" trout. Fished the rest of the run thoroughly but failed to hook another fish.

"Did you see that fish jump?", Jim called. "It must be seven or eight pounds!", he exclaimed. I turned to watch, and saw this huge fish jump clear out of the water. This had to be the biggest trout I had ever seen. With stealth we waded into casting position and saw this cruising bruiser leap two feet in the air. The closer view caused us to speculated on the species of this fish. Perfect casts led to no strikes. I waded closer and then noticed three of these huge fish in the weeds ahead. CARP! Oh well, the thought of a true monster trout was quite entertaining. We tried to entice these rough fish to strike our flies without success.

I moved on back to the first run and drifted a woolly bugger into the deep holes. Nothing. So I tied on a yellow humpy with a midge pupa #20 and cast again and again into the seam between the currents. At the end of a drift as I was getting ready to cast again, the humpy jumped and skidded across the water. A rainbow, dreaming of monster sulfurs, shot from the bottom and chased the darting fly, driven by desire the fish smashed the fly. "Fish on!" This was a nice 14" bow that danced on the line leaping into the air four or five times before I brought him to net. Shortly I had another bow on the line this time he took the dropper. The San Miguel purred as line ran off the reel. This acrobatic rainbow jumped and spun time after time before a final run led him to shallow water and the net, 16" and the best fish of the day.

The morning release had now reach the lower section of the river and once again we were forced to find another spot to fish. We head upstream to fish the "flats" below the weir. In short order I had another rainbow on the line and played him for a while before the #20 hook pulled free.

12. March 18, Partly Cloudy, 32 - 51 degrees.

Jimmy and Len met me for the Helton Creek Cleanup. We arrived at the steam and picked up trash for about an hour collecting 8 bags full! Then the fun began as we started fishing. I used my brand new San Miguel Two reel on a Sage 905 SP. The cold temps prevented anything from hatching so I tied on a woolly bugger. A ten inch brown came out from the bank and nailed the bugger. Later a rainbow took it in a deep run. I moved on down a ways and hooked a number of bows in the riffles. One was at least 14". Len reported good luck with six or seven and Jimmy caught one. What a way to break in a new reel. A great time was had by everyone and we hope to do it again soon. Hopefully we'll have a better turn out from the chapter!

11. March 12, Partly Cloudy, 37 degrees.

Top 10 Reasons I like Woolly Buggers
10. You Catch Bigger Fish
9. You Catch Bigger Fish
8. You Catch Bigger Fish
7. You Catch Bigger Fish

6. You Catch Bigger Fish
5. You Catch Bigger Fish
4. You Catch Bigger Fish
3. You Catch Bigger Fish
2. You Catch Bigger Fish
1. You Catch Bigger Fish

Not that you can't catch big fish on a dry fly but today was just a woolly bugger kind of day. Storms moved through the mountains last night and the water was up and stained so bad at one stream that I changed plans and fished a more protected stream. I tied up two woolly buggers before I left and tied one on. Wham a nice 12 in brook trout! I missed one or two and then was working up a run. I tagged on close to the bank but couldn't get him to hit again. Moved upstream a little, added another split shot (lead free) and cast back downstream, the fish struck hard, and just as I set the hook two guys in a truck pulled over to watch the action. "I've got the proof," one yelled waving his camera. As I fought the fish he moved on down the back for a better angle. At my first attempt at netting the fish I remarked, " I think I need a bigger net!" Finally I got most of him in the net, tail flapping out the end. I held the fish up to be photographed, they said they would mail a copy

Note Woolly Bugger in Jaw!

We think the brown trout measured 18". Later I moved on down to another section, spoke with another angler who reported catching about 10 small fish. As he moved on I stepped into the pool and cast across and down into a pool under a tree and wham-o, "Fish On!", I cried. This was a big brown trout! I finally brought him to the surface where he thrashed about and headed downstream. I fought him for several minuets before attempting to net him. He didn't want anything to do with the net and ran off about four times before I was finally able to net him and remove the barbless woolly bugger. I'd have to guess at least 24 inches long, five to seven pounds!

I took one more about 16", those were the three big fish of the day and were mixed in with a dozed smaller fish measuring from 10 to 14 inches. Woolly Buggers Rule!

10. March 6, Sunny, 75 degrees.
After school my son and I headed up to Stone Mountain Park to break in his new fly rod. We spotted a number of trout in several deep pools and watched them rocket off the bottom to tag our elk hair caddis. We missed about six in a row, then finally got our timing down and landed a small rainbow. Throwing sticks and catching trout don't mix, so the fishing was pretty slow for a while. Around dusk I tied on a woolly worm and wham, one fish, two fish, augh.. I broke the hook and lost the fly. Later we switched back to a dry and landed three more before we headed home.


9. March 5, Sunny, 70 degrees.

Headed out for a quick morning of fly fishing, midges everywhere on the water, a few trout sipping. Griffith's gnat? No thank you, not today. How about a #16 elk hair caddis. Thank you very much. Caught a few early, then the fisherman hatch appeared on the stream. Caught a few on a midge nymph down deep. A few on a parachute Adams. I one pool I hooked a minnow, tossed him in, every fish in the pool wanted a piece of him! Had to head back home for Pinewood Derby weigh in!

8. February 27, Rainy, 55 degrees.

After church we tried to beat the approaching front but the rain came down as we headed up 21 to Stone Mountain State Park. The upper sections of the Roaring River were now deserted and we had several good pools to ourselves. My wife wasn't too happy with the rain and ended up in the van with our daughter as my son and I tried to catch our first fish on his new fly rod. We tried several nymphs but the we couldn't entice the fish to strike. The rain came down harder and we left the stream, picking up an empty can of corn from the bank of this delayed harvest stream.

7. February 25, Sunny, 70 degrees.

Everybody had the same idea as I did, for when I got to the stream there were fishermen everywhere. I slipped in between two guys on the lower section and noticed that the fish were rising everywhere to some small invisible midge. There were plenty of other insects driven to flight by the warming days. BWO didn't work, Micro Caddis didn't work, Griffith's gnat did! I caught four or five of the picky risers and later hooked a nice brown on a dropper followed by another on an Elk Hair. Later as the sun was setting and the waters swirled black with mystery I took several brook and brown trout on the elk hair. Highlight of the trip was turning to look down stream to see a brookie leap a foot out of the water chasing its prey and splashing broadside in the stream.

6. February 20, Sunny, 45 degrees.

Revenge! I headed back up to the mountains to erase the prior no fish day. Although the fishing was slow I did catch a 20 inch rainbow on a pt dropper. Later I landed a 14 inch brown on the lead fly, a green conehead crystal bugger. Water was still cold and as the sun set a chill fell upon the water.

5. February 19, Sunny, 55 degrees.

On the way to Borders my three year old daughter asked, "When will we be able to go fishing, I never get to go." Not wanting to disappoint her, I turned around and headed for Stone Mountain Park.. I loaded her up in the backpack and tied on a woolly bugger. I was sight casting to a number of fish at the tail of a pool, but they would have nothing to do with the bugger. Moving up stream we continued to spot fish but had no luck hooking up. I didn't take my vest with us, so this was a "one fly" trip. We chatted some and then she told me "Dad, your the best fisherman!" Needless to say that made my day and even though we got skunked we still had a great time on the stream!

4. February 13, Rain, 38 degrees.

The North Carolina weather has been far from ideal for fishing this year. Snow, freezing rain and cold temperatures have made it difficult to muster the energy for a trip to the mountain. But I was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms (looking a a Super Able reel) so I decided to go rain or shine today. Gray clouds and a steady drizzle came down all morning, but by early afternoon it appeared like it was going to break, I hopped in the car and drove an hour to the closest water. Much to my surprise there were two other anglers on the stream. As I geared up the rain came down harder and finger tips ached while tying on a stonefly nymph. At the head of the first deep run I hooked a nice 14 inch brown who fought hard. An hour later with aching cold toes I hooked a 12 inch brown. I took a break from the water and hiked downstream to some nice looking water. Nothing happened in the deep pools as I cast a ton of lead. A little later in a deep run I hooked a lethargic 18 inch rainbow. Three fish in three hours on a cold miserable February day!

3. January 17, Sunny, 25 - 38 degrees.

Holidays were made for fishing! Jim and I headed west to explore a stream that we had heard about but hadn't gotten around to fishing. Flowing out of Grayson County Va. this stream offers plenty of easy access water. When we arrived at the stream the air was brisk and instant guide ice confirmed the sub freezing temp. Jim had the first hook up, a nice brown in a shallow run. I took the lead and spotted a nice fish deep under a rock. I cast my tunghead nymph, perfect cast, the dry fly indicator twitched and I had my first NC fish of the year, a 14 in. brown! We broke for lunch and them moved to another section. I ran into a pool of brookies and picked off four, 10" to 14" long. Jim had some luck with rainbows located near a bridge. Not bad for a wintery day in December! Water temp a toe numbing 32 degrees (ask Jim).

2. January 8, Sunny, 17 - 38 degrees.

Lee's Ferry Colorado River - Arizona. I checked in with Lee's Ferry Anglers the night before. Layer up good, it will be mighty chilly in the morning! I'm staying at Marble Canyon Inn which is located right at the turn off to the ferry (boat dock)

The boat landing was quite busy when I arrived to meet my Guide George Peat of Lee's Ferry Anglers (LFA). George had just launched the boat and as I was waiting for him to arrive at the dock I struck up a conversation with another angler who happened to be with Smallstreams.com., Adam the owner/author of the site was launching the boat. I wanted to meet him as we had emailed each other and commented on how we both like fishing the small streams of our respective states, but one call from my guide and I hopped aboard the boat. George had a little propane heater going in the enclosed cabin of the boat and the warmth was a relief from the 17 degree temperature.

The emerald green waters swirled around the boat as we headed upstream, once out of the no wake zone we speed up river along with dozens of other boats ranging from an array of guide boats to two man Zodiacs. But as George pointed out, with over 50,000 trout per mile and 17 miles of water below the dam there really is no need to rush to the "best" spots. Our first stop was a little back eddy below a gravel bar, we rigged up with a Royal Wullf with a #18 Zebra Beadhead. After missing a few quick strikes, I hooked my first fish of the year, a nice 14" Colorado River Rainbow! A rattling sound came from my rod, ice in the guides, a first for me.

Ravens cawed from the cliffs and Mallards quacked from the shore, Whistlers flew down the canyon if formation. Often the sound of the beating wing broke the silence. The occasional report of a shotgun echoed down the canyon, duck season. I continued fishing in the early morning light and caught a number of fish 10" to 14" inches. "George," I said, "if this keeps up I'll have a hundred fish day!". He just smiled.

We moved to another location, now in brilliant sunlight, the radiant warmth was welcome and incited midges by the thousands to emerge. The fish were now feeding actively on the surface. I switched to a dry fly and picked off a fish or two. Back to the beadhead dropper and several more fish. Lunch time! LFA provided the lunch: Turkey sandwich with fixings, potato salad, chips, carrot sticks, cookies and an apple. As I was anxious to get back to fishing I didn't get a chance to eat everything.

Well, the afternoon fishing slowed down dramatically. Fishing a gravel bar at the "icebox", located at the "horseshoe", I landed several fish some over 17" and I had a battle with a large rainbow for several minutes. He jumped twice and the on the third jump he threw the barbless fly. Later I had another good fish hit the dry fly (guessing 24") which I have for several good runs, he never showed himself and I was really getting excited about landing this fish. I had reeled him in and thought I was about to get a look and him when with an unexpected burst he ran twenty yards. I was working him back in when he got off. I just laughed! "Great fish", I said to George.

All too soon George announced, "Quitting Time!". I reluctantly worked my way back to the boat and we headed downstream to the landing. We followed the parade to the dock and the setting sun. "I'll be back", I told George as we parted. I settled up with the guide service, Note: they provide all the flies you need, and only charge for the ones you lose. I managed to lose a total of ten. I'll blame the 7x tippet that I was fishing; every time I broke off I remarked to George that we lost another fly. He accused me of transferring blame.

Note to Jim: you really missed out on a GREAT trip, but you were right, you need to spend at least three days on river to fully appreciate the beauty of the canyon and the fantastic fishing.

1. January 7, Sunny, 45 degrees.

Oak Creek Canyon - Arizona. I finished up my meetings in Phoenix and headed up to Marble Canyon for a guided trip from Lees Ferry. On the way I took a detour to Sedona and slopped to fish Oak Creek. I had read about the stream in Arizona Trout Streams and their Hatches. I followed directions from an email and hiked down into the canyon. The stream was running clear and cold. Snow still blanketed the shady spots. At 4200 ft. the nights were running in the low 20's with daytime highs of 55. But as the long shadows crossed the stream the temperature dropped quickly. There was a healthy hatch of white midges mixed with an occasional Adams look-a-like. I didn't have any microscopic midge patterns in my fly box so I choose an elk hare caddis with a bead head dropper. Then I tried a ph, grhe, green caddis. Then I gave up on the dropper and fished a woolly bugger for a while. Finally I spotted a fish sipping some microscopic insect from the film. I tried a rusty spinner, a CDC emerger. Nothing worked. As the hour was getting late and I still had a three hour drive ahead I left the stream skunked on my first fishing trip of the year.

fly fishing, north carolina, flyfishing, trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, nymphs, woolly buggers, dry fly, north Carolina, blue ridge mountains, trout unlimited, smoky mountains, smokies, davidson river, delayed harvest,

Update: August 17, 2000