The thunder got louder and closer, the rain was coming down harder, and we saw the flash of a lightning strike over the ridge, so we thought it best to give it a rest and get back to camp before we got ourselves into trouble.
Sunday morning came with clear skies, but the computerized voice on the weather band radio was calling for a change of scenery. Another storm, this one much bigger was set to roll through the area around noon. We rigged up our rods one last time for 30-45 minutes of fishing before we packed up and headed out. We got out on the river, barely downstream of camp and Dj immediately picked up a nice fish. After he released it, I moved up ahead of him to take my turn at a nice deep run. I peered over a boulder into the run and casted in. It drifted along for a few seconds and the indicator went down. I pulled but nothing was on the other end, so I thought it must have gotten hung for a second. I casted back in and it went under again. This time I had a big one on. I saw it turn and roll in the run like and alligator on a leash. I got up next to the rock I was crotched behind to see how I could get it to my hand. It was coming right for me and it was moving fast. It took off down a quick chute of water right beside my feet and I got a good glimpse of it. Easily the biggest wild fish I had ever hooked up with. It took off downstream with a fury like I had never seen. Meanwhile my drag was singing and I was doing my best impression of Brad Pitt chasing the fish downstream. Then I remembered why they call it slickrock creek. My foot went out from under me. I caught my balance, but when I did, I accidentally put tension on the line. The fish snapped my 6x tippet like it was 40 year old dental floss. I yelled expletives and Dj joined me in the profanity. Then I just laughed. My heart was beating so fast & hard you would think I just stabbed myself with my epinephrine injection. What the heck…I didn’t even have my camera with me. I wandered up the creek and caught one more small fish and decided to call it a day. We went back to camp and crammed all our wet gear in our backpacks and hit the stiffknee trail for the most humbling part of the trip.
The hike out wasn’t terrible. It gets pretty vicious around the saddle at little stiffknee top, but its no worse than the hike out of Deep Creek up to Newfound Gap Road.
I don’t thing Slickrock Creek is anything like it used to be, but I’m glad to see it is at least trying to make a recovery. The one thing that did bother me was the amount of trash we found in the backcountry. We packed out as much as we could handle, including a thermarest that looked like a bear had had its way with it. I think “disposable” water bottles are going to ruin this country. Maybe Aquafina or Dasani will have their own landfill one day.
Thanks for reading.