Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Slight Change of Plans

Every year it's always the same. Summer vacation is ending, and I'm getting ready to begin a new school year full of new students, new surprises, and old friends. Each summer always seems to end on the same thought for me. What did I do with all my time, and why did it not include more fishing? The beginning of summer always brings high hopes for trout trips, smallmouth stalking, and bream befuddling. It ends up usually being too hot, too wet, or too dry, or some combination of these three, for most of the time I have off. This, along with trying (not always successfully) to be a responsible adult, husband, and homeowner, and catching up on some of the projects and garden chores that seem to get put on the back burner during the school year all work together to eat into my opportunities to go fishing. I know it doesn't sound this way, but I promise I'm not trying to use this blog to complain. I'm just trying to make excuses to explain to myself why I didn't fish more this summer. I'm not real sure that it's working though.

First of the Day
Last Monday, with the start of school for teachers being only a few days away, I took a look at the knee high grass in our yard, and decided that I knew what I had to do. Yes, it was time to go fishing. The grass would be there when I got back. The knee high grass was compliments of about a week or more of rainy weather, and I had hopes that this would have the streams in the high country in a little better shape than they had been the last few years in August. It was predicted to be in the mid 90's here at home, so being knee deep in a cold mountain stream sounded like the perfect alternative to riding a mower. Since I knew this would most likely be the last fishing trip of the summer break, I wanted to do something a little different.

I talked to my fishing partner (and brother-in-law) and we decided to fish a tributary to one of the streams that we fish regularly and see if we could catch some brook trout. It had been a few years since I had fished this particular stream, but I have had some success in the past, catching some pretty wild brook trout up to about 9 or 10 inches on my best days up there. We headed out for the mountains with plans to catch some brookies, then possibly drop back down the mountain to the main creek and try for some wild rainbows and browns to see if we could manage to catch all three species in one trip.

"Not Recommended for Trucks"
Our first clue that things might not be going quite like we planned occurred on the way in to the creek. As you enter the road leading up to the creek, there is a sign that says something like "Steep Winding Road - Not Recommended for Trucks". I've seen this sign many times, and never really paid it any attention. The road is paved for a few miles, but then turns into a dirt Forest Service road that follows the main creek all the way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. This particular road is the last place I would expect to see an 18 wheeler truck, because I can't think of any reason for them to be traveling through the area. So you can imagine our surprise, when just past the point where the pavement ends we had to stop and wait for a tow truck to move out of the road. Evidently someone had either not paid attention to the sign, or had a very important reason to be using this road, because there was a trailer from an 18 wheeler slid down the bank beside the stream. We eventually were able to get past and on up toward our destination, but we both couldn't figure out what had brought that trucker up this way. The truck itself was not there, and I'm assuming (and hoping) that nobody got injured. It appeared that the trailer had possibly detached from the truck before sliding of the side of the road.
One of Trent's Trout

After we got clear of the accident, we made our way on up toward our destination. The beginning of the public National Forest land is at the end of a dead end dirt road that goes past private homes and posted land. When we arrived at the end of the road, someone was parked in the only pull off. With as small as this stream is, we figured our chances of success would be very limited if we wound up fishing behind someone, so we turned around and headed back to the main creek. The brook trout would have to wait, but at least there was the possibility of wild rainbows and browns waiting back down the mountain. We made our way to the main branch, and started at our usual spot toward the bottom of the public water. The creek was a little lower than I was expecting with all the rain we'd had, but it was running clear and cold so we decided to give it a try.
Wild Rainbow

After fishing a few hundred yards of stream without any strikes other than from the minnows, we came to several fallen trees blocking the way. Knowing that there was a lot of skinny, usually fishless water on the other side, we walked back to the truck and decided to head farther up toward the headwaters where the terrain becomes steeper, and there are more plunge pools and pockets to fish. This turned out to be a good move, because once we got into the pocket water we started seeing and catching more trout. We never did catch a brown on this trip, although there are some in this creek. This time it was all wild rainbows, with most of them being in the 6-8" range and all of them coming on attractor dry flies. We each caught four or five and by this time it was getting time to think about heading back towards home. It wasn't quite the trip we had envisioned when we planned it, but fish were caught and we got to enjoy the beauty of the mountains one more time before summer came to an end.

And in case you were wondering, the grass finally did get mowed the next day.

- Joseph


  1. I know what you mean about the quick passage of summer and its modifications to our fishing plans before school reignites! Same thing here, but I can blame the drought and high heat for some of my limited action. Hopefully the autumn will give us some opportunity to be out on weekends, etc. Good luck!

    1. Thank you Walt! I'm hoping cooler weather will come soon for both of us.

  2. I know what you mean about the quick passage of summer and its modifications to our fishing plans before school reignites! Same thing here, but I can blame the drought and high heat for some of my limited action. Hopefully the autumn will give us some opportunity to be out on weekends, etc. Good luck!

  3. Like Walt said, skinny water and high temps have put the brakes on the fishing here. A little relief came in the form of some showers, but we need more. As for the grass, the only thing growing is the weeds!

  4. I know how that is! If it wasn't for weeds we wouldn't have a lawn most summers. Hopefully more rain and cooler weather will be here soon for you.


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