Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Tale of Two Streams, Part 1

Waterfalls and Boulders
I'm not usually in the habit of writing multi-part blog posts, the ones about Oak Island being the exception to the rule. However, I hope you'll forgive me if I take two separate posts to talk about my most recent trout fishing trip. This trip involved two fishermen, two streams, two species of trout, and a whole lot more pictures to share than will comfortably fit into a single blog. Since the number two seemed to be a trend on this trip, I decided to go with two blog posts, one focused on each of the streams I fished.

This trip started with a conversation at church with my uncle Greg, who told me about a couple of new streams that he had recently discovered and wanted to check out. I'm always up for exploring new places, and we made plans to try these streams out. One of the streams Greg had fished briefly once, and the other was one that he had seen from the trail while on a recent hiking trip. Since both of the streams were within a ten minute drive or so of each other, we decided to check them both out.

The Bridge to Brook Trout
The first stream we fished the morning of our trip was completely new to both of us. This was the stream Greg had noticed while on his hike, so we had no idea what we might find. From the road coming in, this stream doesn't look like much to grab a fisherman's attention. However, once we parked and started up the trail and gained some elevation, I saw what had prompted Greg's curiosity. The stream went from a small, flat, and fairly featureless ditch to a beautiful mountain stream full of plunge pools and small waterfalls as it cascaded down the mountain. There were some surprisingly deep pools at the base of a lot of these waterfalls, and it went from looking disappointing to very fishy as soon as we gained a little altitude.

We decided to split up like we usually do when we fish together, especially on these small streams where there just isn't room for two people to fish together. We always agree on a rendezvous place and time just to occasionally check in see how things are going and to make sure nobody has suffered any kind of mishap. There's lots of boulders and slick rocks in a stream like this, and it always helps to ease my mind to know there is someone close by just in case.

Little Native
After a short hike up the trail into the national forest, crossing an old bridge with a few planks missing along the way, we decided to try our luck. All we knew at this point about this stream was that it fell under Wild Trout regulations, just as all the other streams in the national forest do that are not specifically identified otherwise. This stream had the look of one that hasn't been fished very much or very hard, and there were not even the usual diamond shaped regulation signs along the stream. As I climbed down into the first pool, I couldn't help but have a feeling that this looked like the type of stream that might have native brook trout in it. I had no idea if it would or not, but it just had that steep, boulder filled, headwaters look that I tend to associate with places where I've caught brook trout before.

Pretty Pool
After a few casts, my suspicions were confirmed when a pretty little brookie took my dry fly. I was excited to see this, especially because most of the streams I fish contain wild rainbow or brown trout, or a mix of both. I know of another stream that is almost exclusively native brookies, but for the most part I catch an occasional brook trout when I get high into the headwaters of most of the streams I fish. I love to catch brook trout, our only truly native trout species, (and I realize they aren't really "trout" but char instead), mainly for their beauty and willingness to take almost any properly presented fly. They also live in some of the prettiest, most rugged streams that I've ever fished. This only adds to the excitement of chasing them. There's also something special about catching a fish that can trace its ancestors back thousands of years in these mountains.

Native Brook Trout
After that first brook trout, I was curious to see what was farther upstream. I worked my way over, around, and through the pools and boulders, fishing every likely looking spot on the way. Almost any spot that looked deep enough held trout, although I did miss more than my share of strikes. It was a reminder that a trout's reflexes and instincts are perfectly tuned to survival, while mine may have been a little rusty. I managed to fool a few more little mountain jewels along the way, with the best trout of the day being a brightly colored eight inches. It was a perfect day to be in the mountains, escaping the ninety plus degree heat at home, and catching pretty natives. When Greg and I met up and compared notes, I found out that his luck was similar to mine and that we had both caught brook trout exclusively. With our curiosity slightly satisfied, at least as to what this stream held, we decided to spend a few hours exploring another new stream a few miles away. I can't wait to get back and spend more time here exploring farther up into the headwaters and seeing what other secrets this little stream might hold. In the meantime, I'll pick up with this story on the second stream in part two.

To be continued...

- Joseph

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