Saturday, August 18, 2012

Summer's Last Cast

With the start of the new school year just around the corner, I decided to take one last fishing trip in order to close out summer vacation. I hope this one doesn't turn out to be the last fishing trip of the year, but I do know that once I'm back at work teaching time will become a precious commodity. Trips for trout will be left for the weekends, and as the days get shorter my fishing options during the week will be limited to water close to home, if I have time to fish at all. This eventually will mean a couple of farm ponds close to the house, or possibly the local smallmouth river. On top of that, with dove season starting September 1 in NC and our archery deer season opening September 10, I will be forced to make some hard choices about how I use my free time. I love to fish and hunt both, but with fishing season being year-round I tend to give hunting a slightly higher priority when the season is open, especially when cold weather sets in.

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education at the Davidson River
Without planning it this way, the last two summers one of my last trout trips before the start of school has been to the Davidson River. It looks like this may be becoming a tradition of sorts. I became hooked on this river on my first trip there, when I managed to catch a 17" brown trout. This is the trout that was pictured in the original header for the blog, and is the cover photo on the blog Facebook page. It was the only fish I caught that day, and I'm still not sure whether it was luck or skill, but I was happy to catch it either way. It also gave me reason to want to try fishing this stream again and figure out some of its secrets.
My First Trout from the Davidson - Last Year

This trip marked my 3rd time at the Davidson, and it has always been a challenge. The fish are heavily pressured in the Catch and Release Fly Fishing Only area, and tiny flies and light tippets are the name of the game. To make it even harder, the fish there on average are a lot larger than most of our wild NC trout streams, and every time I hook one the light 6x and 7x tippets add an extra layer to the challenge of landing a fish. I go to the Davidson not to catch large numbers of trout, but for the challenge of the technical fishing and the chance to catch some of the biggest trout in NC.
1st Trout of the Day

2nd Brown of the Day
Friday's trip to the Davidson began with a 5:00am start. Trent (my brother-in-law) and I were out the door and headed west long before the sun began to rise. We arrived at the Davidson around 7:00am, and there were only a couple other fishermen there. We had our choice of spots, even on this notoriously crowded stream. We wound up choosing to fish a pool that was glassy and smooth with a slow current, and soon after we started fishing, trout began rising to midges almost the entire length of the pool! When I saw this, I quickly switched to a dry midge and began casting to the risers.

Brook Trout
 I managed to break off the first two trout that ate my dry fly, probably because I was still used to fishing 5x tippet for 8-10" wild trout. A strong hook set with large trout and 7x tippet doesn't work very well. After the first two I was able to settle down a little bit and over the course of the morning I was able to hook and land 4 nice trout in the 12-14" range. I missed a couple of strikes from bigger trout, and saw several more that seemed impossible to catch. Even though I didn't catch one of the huge trout the Davidson is known for, I couldn't have asked for a better day of fishing. Rising trout eating dry flies are always a thrill, no matter the size, and I will take a 12-14" trout any day!. I was even lucky enough to catch all three species of trout, starting the day with two nice browns, then catching a brook trout and a rainbow.
Rainbow Trout

After the trout stopped rising, I changed from a dry fly and fished a two nymph rig that was suggested to me by fellow blogger and Foothills TU member, Josh from Bows and Browns, with a hare's ear birds nest nymph and a red midge. I missed a few strikes on this rig, but by this time the trout seemed to have slowed down their feeding. We fished until about 12:00pm, then decided to call it a day. We took a lunch break on the tailgate of the truck, and then decided to take a look around the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education.
Tailgating on the River
The Pisgah Center also is the home of the Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery, which contributes extra nutrients to the river when the raceways are flushed and allows for the hatches and growth rates seen at the Davidson. It was neat to walk along the raceways and see all the brook trout that were getting close to being stocking size. The Pisgah Center itself was closed, but there were some walking trails and outside exhibits that we were able to see.
Brook Trout at the Hatchery
This is a unique place in several ways. Not only are the trout bigger and a lot tougher to catch, but it is also different than most of the streams I fish because of the crowds. By the time we stopped fishing, it seemed like every pool and run had someone fishing it. I think this might be one of the reasons I don't fish the Davidson more often. I don't mind people, but there is something special about fishing a wild trout stream and feeling like you are the only one that's been there, at least that day. I think maybe I fish the Davidson late in the summer more as a test for myself to see if I am up to the task of hooking a few educated fish. Whatever the reason, I know that I will be back sooner or later to give those big, smart trout another try.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph

Editor's Note: I have to give credit for the  title of this post to my wife. I was having a hard time deciding what to name it. She said why not call it "Summer's Last Cast?" since it's your last fishing trip of summer vacation? Thanks honey!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!