Monday, July 9, 2012

Rainbows and Copperheads

This should be the last of the delayed fishing trip reports. On June 26, Trent and I took a trip up to the closest trout water to home, in South Mountain State Park. We had planned to fish a small wild trout stream in the park that is a tributary of the Jacob Fork River. This stream has always been a special place to me, because it's where I feel like I truly learned how to trout fish. When I was in high school, a good friend of mine and me would head up to "the mountain" as we called it and fish this stream using single hook Roostertail spinners. It never seemed to matter what color we used as long as it was black. Trent had never fished this stream, and I was hoping he would be able to have that small stream experience that I remembered so well from several years ago.

We weren't using spinners this day, instead we were fly fishing. This little creek is a challenging place to fly fish even during the best of times because of the close canopy and all the wonderful rhododendron that grows along the stream. Our trip started off with a little excitement as I almost stepped on a copperhead snake sunning on the trail. Just a word of caution for anyone who visits the South Mountains - there are copperheads and timber rattlesnakes both in those hills. Keep your eyes open! My experience with this particular stream over the years made me figure that we would be catching only rainbow trout, and this proved to be the case. We only fished a little way up the creek because of low water conditions. The trout were there, but were extremely spooky and difficult to catch. I did manage a few rainbows like this one.

Shinny Creek Rainbow
Because of the low water conditions we decided to make our way back down the trail and fish the main branch of the Jacob's Fork. Luckily the copperhead had made his way off the trail by the time we headed back, but I was definitely more vigilant on the hike out! The Jacob Fork was low as well, but there was enough water that the fishing was easier. I caught two nice fish out of some large pools, a brown trout and a brook trout that were both around ten inches. This coincidentally completed what many people refer to as a Western North Carolina trout slam - catching all three species of trout that live in our mountains in a single day.

Jacob Fork brown
The trout above was hiding under a large rock ledge and it took several attempts to convince him to come out and eat. I was surprised to catch a trout like this in the Jacob Fork because I do know it sees a fair amount of fishing pressure during the summer months. I won't say where, but he is swimming in the same hole he came out of unless someone else has caught him.

Jacob Fork brook trout
This brook trout was the last fish of the day for me, and a very nice surprise. I have caught a few wild brook trout in these mountains over the years, but I would have to say this one is one of the nicest wild brookies that I have caught anywhere. He was in another fairly deep pool on the river, and like the brown it took several drifts before he ate the fly. I released this beauty and hope to get to see him again sometime. I decided that this was a good fish to end the day on. All of my fish were caught on a Thunderhead dry fly, one of my favorite flies to use in the summertime when I'm fishing a wild stream. Trent had success using a CDC caddis dry fly pattern and caught several wild rainbows. With the park only 20 minutes away, I will definitely be returning soon. I have always considered the South Mountains as my home waters, and it is the classroom that has taught me a lot about trout fishing.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph

1 comment:

  1. A friend and I will be fishing the area tomorrow. I'm used to rattlers and copperheads from back in the Catskills of NY state... which is not to say I appreciate them hanging around and potentially ruining my day by causing me to soil my pants. Still, trout and seeing the places they call home is almost always worth any inconvenience.


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