View Full Version : Noland Creek Nostalgia

Jim Casada
08-21-2010, 01:59 PM
For much of the summer I've been intending to do a full day's trip on Noland Creek, a stream I've fished countless times in my life, and yesterday I finally got around to it. Here's a brief report, although thanks to chronic computer ineptitude (not to mention the fact I didn't even carry a camera) I can't offer anything but word pictures.
I got things squared away for my Dad (his breakfast fixed and lunch ready to pop into the microwave) and headed out to Noland shortly after 8:00 a.m. My intention was to walk a couple of miles upstream before beginning to fish. I hiked to the second bridge above the viaduct and changed from my walking shoes to wading boots.
Over the next few hours I covered prime water of the sort you find in all the middle reaches of Noland, a stream which changes size very little over a stretch of several miles thanks to a lack of significant feeders until you get to Mill Creek. The best thing about the whole day, without question, is the fact that the only mammals I saw from the time I left my truck until I returned were two deer.
I fished with my standard dry fly and a dropper rig, and never changed from the Herbie-Werbie (Tennessee Wulff) and beahead Prince I started with, although I did have to replace each fly once thanks to them coming apart after catching numerous fish.
As is often the case this time of year, there were a lot of "flips," follows without takes, short strikes, and flat-put refusals. I also just touched a world of fish, and what is especially telling is the fact that during the day I foul-hooked at least half a dozen trout with the nymph after they splashed at the dry fly.
I didn't count fish but in the course of perhaps six hours astream I probably landed between 30 and 40 fish and hooked perhaps that many more. Nothing in any way spectacular--everything I caught was in the 5 to 10 inch range, and every fish save one was a rainbow. I caught one small brown. I didn't see anything much bigger, if at all bigger, although it's possible one fish could have gone a foot (but it is equally possible it was foul-hooked and only went 9 or 10 inches). Foul hook one in the tail or back and it always seems bigger than it is.
While the fishing was about what I expected, given the time of year and the nature of Noland generally, there was a full measure of pleasure. I looked up at the old Queve Woody place and thought back on a man I knew (for those of you who have my book, there's a photo him in it--he's the guy standing on a bridge with several trout and the readily obvious fact he had only one hand). Shortly afterward there was the old I. K. Stearns place, again redolent with history, because he is the man who served as the executor of Horace Kephart's estate after the original executor, Jack Coburn, was killed in a car wreck in Nantahala Gorge not too many months after Kep's death (also in a car wreck). Then there's the lower end of Salola Valley, once a thriving settlement with an amazing amount fairly flat ground given how far back in the hills it lies, memories of the old sheep barn, and more. On the way out I was tempted to climb to the cemetery above the Stearns Place but didn't simply because it is a real haul to get to a site where there are 18 unmarked graves. I have made the climb several times in the past and figure the funerals held there had to involve a wagon. I just don't think pallbearers could have handled the grade for that long of a haul.
I did sopt and poke around a bit at the old home site which sits almost directly across the creek from the Stearns Place. Several pairs of boxwoods led from the road to the entrance to the house, and the concrete entrance steps are still there. This had to be a pretty affluent family, because if you poke around a bit in the nearby woods you will discover that they had a covered spring and gravity fed indoor plumbing (I would advise that kind of "poking" in dog days--wait until snakes have denned up).
By the time I got back to my truck, I was all too keenly aware of a favorite comment of Marty Maxwell, my longtime fishing buddy from Graham County: "I ain't as catty as I used to be."
In truth I was bone-tired and today I'm sore, but the experience, with the fishing punctuated by such things as lots of cardinal flowers at the peek of their bloom, butterflies on Joe Pye weed everywhere you turned, and ample time to contemplate what life must have been like here early in the last century, made my weariness a wonderful one.
As I've suggested before, awareness of the history (human and natural) which surrounds you as you fish adds immensely to the experience. Now I've got to complete my Indian Creek return to boyhood by fishing from the old Bock Laney Place to the place where the trail ends and the climb over Pullback to the Bryson Place begins.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

08-21-2010, 03:20 PM
Thanks for the report and story of your trip. Sure wish you would buy a camera though. regards, Silvercreek

Scott H.
08-21-2010, 03:50 PM
Thanks for the report, even without pictures, I could almost see the creek.

I agree with you about contemplating the history of things. It is what makes us what we are today.


Jim Casada
08-21-2010, 04:17 PM
Silvercreek--Thanks. I actually have not one but two digital cameras, one of them a high dollar one. My problem is knowing how to download, upload to the forum, and take whatever steps are necessary in between. I'm probably not even using the right terms, and that reveals how little I know about computers. On top of that my desktop recently crashed (thankfully technicians were able to save all the data, including two near finished book manuscripts) so I'll more or less have to start over again on the new custom-built one when I get home. I've been operating from my laptop all summer, and it's old and quirky (like me).
Maybe one of these days I'll get some inspiration and learn what to do. I have decent instincts as a photographer, as I hope is evident in the photograph section of my book. The great majority of the color photos, including the cover shot, are ones I took. I also need to acquire and learn how to use a scanner, since I have at least 20,000 slides in my office.
Probably the best indication of how modern tehcnology and yours truly just don't gee-haw is provided by the fact I don't own a cell phone. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only regular user of this forum in that state of backwardness. Incidentally, it suits me just fine--I don't want to be tied to a technological umbilical cord.
Jim Casada

08-21-2010, 04:33 PM
...Probably the best indication of how modern tehcnology and yours truly just don't gee-haw is provided by the fact I don't own a cell phone. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only regular user of this forum in that state of backwardness....Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

I don't know if he frequents the board, but as I shared with Jim at TroutFest, I once heard a seasoned citizen say that in order not to be the only one in his circles without one of those little phones on his person, he took to clipping his garage door opener on his belt.

Jim, I really enjoyed your trip report. I've hiked the lower trail twice doing research and hope to fish the upper part soon.


08-21-2010, 04:53 PM
Jim, I'm silmilarly challenged in computer use, but the newer ones make getting the image into your computer much easier. Although recently, a forum I frequent, upgraded it's forum. My attempts to post a picture were laughable and had numerous failures. I felt like the village idiot. As for cell phones, I have one, but only turn it on when I want to use it. I view it like carrring a firearm. Nice if you really need it, but otherwise, just something else to tote. Something to be said for stepping back from all the technology to get closer to the earth. Look forward to more stories from you. Silvercreek

08-21-2010, 09:53 PM
Nice reporting Jim, love the history intermingled with the fishing story!
I, too, really appreciate the lineage of places, and people who went before us
and just wondering about "back when". It makes us unique in all creation
that we ponder those things. I'd love to visit Noland one day and I would really
like to go see the old Bryson place and Kep's tromping grounds.

Jim Casada
08-22-2010, 09:24 AM
Bran--If you get to the Bryson Place, and you definitely should, be sure to do a bit of searching to find the plaque placed nearby (in an old millstone) in memory of his last permanent campsite. I give the story in fairly full detail in my book. The plaque and millstone are not visible from the trail, but they are quite close by.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

09-01-2010, 08:49 AM
Hi Jim,
I haven't posted here in awhile,but have checked in every once in awhile,I always read your posts and have your book,I love all the old ways and history....I grew up in the 50s/60s listening to the old people and their tales.
I was fishing up Palmer trail out of Cataloochie last week and stopped for a few times and looked at some obscure hidden bits of pioneer life...those people had a hard life but a rich heritage follows them.
There's a spirit in those places that I can feel and if you dwell on it for some time it always adds to the fishing trip.
Thanks for the report and history,I have often wondered about the old guy in the picture with one hand.

09-01-2010, 09:07 AM
Sounds like a great day on the stream! I always thought the dog in the picture of Queve Woody in your book looks like he is about to snatch a snack of one of those trout.

With regard to a scanner, my dad purchased a small scanner for a large collection of 35mm slides from his childhood years. I wish I could tell you the make and model, but I know there are several out there like this that are specifically made for slides, that cost less than $100. I know looking at some of the ones that he had scanned, it actually did a pretty good job at getting a good resolution file. He got this after trying to use a traditional flatbed type scanner (like 8.5 x11", I believe) and not being happy with the result. They typically hold 4-6 slides at once (a real timesaver) and don't require more than a usb port and the push of a button to set up (if all goes well, I suppose), and I think you can set it to save each slide as a separate image file, even though you can load 4-6 at a time. Some of them also come with different slide loading trays to hols slides of different sizes, if that is an issue.

Jim Casada
09-01-2010, 12:43 PM
NDuncan--Thanks, and I was aware that this type of scanner existed. Indeed, I think there's a more sophisticated kind which lets you load up to 30 slides at a time. That being said, anything like this scares the bejeebers out of me. I barely know what a USB port is (and that's only because I've got to get a USB cord to connect my new printer to the computer (also new). Right now I'm overwhelmed trying to learn how to blow a few of the whistles and ring a few of the bells on this new machine, even as I'm than mighty grateful geeks rescued by data from the dead one.

Maybe, at some point, I'll get it done--of course every minute spent doing that (or contributing to this forum) is a minute I don't write:)
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)