Friday, March 31, 2017

Back Country Trout NC

Back Country Trout
North Carolina 3/30/2017

 I decided to hit one more trout creek before heading back to PA. There is a creek about 5 miles north of Lansing North Carolina that is a Delayed Harvest area. Before parking I drove up the road a bit to check out the creek. It meandered through branchy trees and rock formations. It looked like a quiet brook stream, narrow with lots of shallow riffles. I found a place to park along the road and gathered my stuff.
 It was a misty overcast gray sky morning. I wasn’t sure if it was going to pour down rain so I decided to leave my camera in the truck. The odds of catching a monster trout in such a small creek looked slim anyway. I fitted the ferrules of the 7’ 3wt Hardy Demon and attached the reel with DT3F line. I Figured I only needed hip waders and put on my fishing rain jacket. Being I was only going to fish till noon I only took 2 stogies with me. I also took my water bottle and a net just in case.
 On the water I looked down creek. There were nice deeper wavy runs along the bank. The water was pretty much low and crystal clear with darker pocket waters. Leaning trees and bare branches stretched overhead so I was glad I took the 7’ Hardy. By the looks of the empty bait containers along the banks I wasn’t sure I was going to catch any trout but maybe there were a few trout to be had.
 I knotted on a Woolly Bugger and pulled out a lot of line to make long casts along the banks hoping to draw trout out of their bank side hide outs into midstream as I fish downstream. I missed two strikes within the first 10 minutes. I brought my bugger back just to check to make sure there was still a point on the bend. After honing the point I returned to swinging and stripping the bugger as I slowly waded the creek.
 Midstream there was a good current flow that waved over rocks and emptied into what looked like a short length deeper pool. I made a cast down and towards the far bank and let the bugger swing into the deeper pool. I felt a sharp tap and strip set the hook. The 7’ rod arced down creek when I brought it to my side and my first hooked fish was tugging at my tight line. I forced him into the shallower water to my right and he splashed the surface water all the way to the net. I was a little surprised to see it was a rainbow. Not too big but it was my first trout in this creek for me.
 After 6 to 7 more swings in the pool accounted for 1 missed tap. I had a feeling there were more fish in the pool being it was surrounded by shallower water. Keeping a low profile I snuck to the right side bank and contemplated my next offering.
 Having caught a few trout the past few days in the Big Horse Creek on a cheese color sucker spawn I decided to drift one through the knee deep pool. I clipped off the bugger and when I went to tie it on I already had a BH Hares Ear attached to tippet as a dropper. The weighted nymph was a good idea to keep the unweighted spawn along the bottom in the feeding zone without any additional weight. It wasn’t easy to make a roll cast with a short rod from a stooped position but with a little extra oomph I managed to get my imitations up into the riffles. Holding the rod tip high I watched the fly line as my imitations drifted through the pool of water. Almost at the end of the drag free drift my fly line dipped down so I lifted the rod up and back with hook setting force. The line tightened and the rod instantly flexed deep with a hooked thwarting fish on the other end. This was no small trout. I stood up and held the grip tightly as the fish struggled against the arcing rod pulling line out of the tensioned spool. The fish darted up on the far side of the wavy current through the shin deep water. I kept my wrist locked as the rod tip pointed towards and following the large trout. In the clear shallow water I could see I had a big fish for such a small creek. He turned into the wavy current and followed the current down into the pool where I hooked him. I took in line and kept tension with the arced rod. In the deep pool he struggled with thwarting body language. The sucker spawn was now swaying with the straight line above the surface water. The trout had taken the Hares Ear as it was sliding along the creek bed. I struggled a bit more with him but every time I got him nearer he thwarted viciously and I had to give him line for fear of losing him.
 It got to be nerve racking with the light short rod fighting the big fish. I began to feel him tiring with less aggressive fighting. It was now his weight and the force of the current versus my rod pressure and my wit! I swear the rod was curved only inches from the cork handle when I finally netted the trout. It slapped in the net a few times before I attempted to unleash him from the hook. Upon the release he sat in the ankle deep water, as if to catch his breath, before darting back into the pool of water with a forceful tail swat.
 I looked up into the gray sky. The morning drizzle rain was now more of a light mist. I decided to walk back to the truck for my camera. You never know?
After getting the camera and lighting up a stogie I began fishing again where I left off. I clipped off the tandem rig and retied on the Woolly Bugger. Now that I knew there were deeper pockets than I thought I added a little weight about a foot up from my bugger.

 In the shallow riffles I kept the rod tip high enough not to let the added weight wedge between any bedrock. In deeper sections I kept the rod level or slightly towards the water surface depending upon the swing and depth of the water.
 I stuck with the bugger as I slowly waded and fished downstream. Occasionally I’d stop and observe the backwoods and surrounding.

 At times I had to climb over boulders to get a better position to cast the bugger in good looking locations. Other times I climbed over boulders just to make my way downstream. There were times I caught a branch or two I wasn’t aware of. I always made an extra effort to retrieve it from miscalculations or not observing my clearance when roll casting.
Wham, a trout tags the bugger on the swing!

 Wham, a nice brook trout slams the bugger as I twitched it in a slower current pool and puts up a good struggling fight against faster current.

 Wham, a rainbow swipes and gets hooked as I strip the bugger towards me.

  There’s a good deep current flow along the far bank feeding a large pool of water, as well as the slower main flow, entering very deep water under a rickety old wooden bridge. I catch two hearty rainbows in the deep wavy current along the bank.

 I try and try again to hook a trout in the deeper water but fail to get any action. I know there has to be fish in there. I try adding more weight to the leader but still no strikes. I give up, wade out to the bank and follow the path that crosses over a dirt road that leads to the bridge.
 On the down side of the bridge I walk along the bank a few yards from the bridge. I peer into the water beneath but it is too dark and deep to see the bottom. Just for the heck of it I took off the extra weight from the leader. I make a backhand sidearm cast under the bridge and strip the bugger back towards me in the oncoming current. On my second attempt I felt a little more weight might get my bugger down deeper sooner before being swept by the current. With the added weight I was able to get the bugger further up creek under the bridge. As I was slowly taking in line I saw the slack in the fly line loop downward. With a long pulling strip of the line and yanking the rod upward the line tightened. I saw a flash within the deep water. The trout darted to the far side of the bridge block wall as I let the fly line slip through my pinched fingers with tension. The trout did a quick u-turn, down than up creek and dipped deeper. I knew the trout couldn’t go very far upstream past the bridge caused of the boulders so I let him tug the flexed rod not giving him much line. After his failed attempts of freeing himself he turned down creek. When he passed before me is when I realized this trout was bigger than what I originally thought. His long body flashed in front of me on his way by. He was now struggling down creek from me churning up the shin deep water. Quick head shakes and short darts didn’t set him free. The Demon rod flexed deep with each jolt while my line hand controlled the line tension. I took a few steps down along the bank and stepped into the water. With the movement he swam to the far bank remaining down creek from me. Again, with the short rod and now with current flowing against him, getting him towards me wasn’t going to be easy. With him struggling a few yards across from me I stretched my arm out holding the wooden net handle tightly. With the rod high and practically behind my head I had the trout coming nearer. Struggling but inching closer I scooped his body into the net.
 With a kype jaw and hunched back I had a feeling he’s been in the creek for awhile. 

 Down creek I found a deep flow where the current would sweep my bugger under a wedged log with the right drift. The log, I guess, was about 2 feet above the creek bed with a foot or so of water flowing over the log. There was no way to master the flow with every cast but when my bugger flowed beneath the log I was almost guaranteed a strike most of the time. I think I hooked about a half dozen times in this one section.

 Looking downstream there was so much more trout holding water but I knew I must be going. I got back to the truck around 1:00. I had about a 7 ½ hour drive ahead of me. I wasn’t sure how far I was from the interstate but I had a feeling I’d have a lot of twisting winding roads to get there.
 Well, the biggest fish didn’t get away but I just didn’t have my camera with me to capture the moment. I’m sure glad I brought my net along.

 On the drive home I thought about my past week or so. I got to visit with a friend in Kentucky and my two boys and their family in Asheville NC. I fished 5 different waters from a small mountain creek to a wide open river for trout. In all of the five trout waters I caught at least one and some times two big trout.
I took out the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau sun grown and lit it up. The smooth tasty tobacco was a great way to top off a good vacation.


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