Earlier this week I ran into Old Tom in the local (Bryson City) Ingle's grocery store. I met his wife and we had a nice chat, although I'm sure the two grandkids they had with them wished it was shorter. While we wre talking I kept mentioning places I thought he ought to fish, and it took six or seven before I came up with a destination he had sampled.
One of the places I mentioned was Indian Creek, a major feeder of Deep Creek where legendary mountain angler Uncle Mark Cathey lived prior to the coming of the Park. He said he fished it every so often and that last year he had a stellar day there. That reminded me that it had been two years since I fished the stream Uncle Mark waded and where I caught my first limit of trout.
Accordingly, early today I headed up Indian Creek and fished from the Rock Pile Gap Trail to the old Bock Laney place. The latter won't show on any map but it is distinguishable by huge boxwoods and vestiges of an old chimney. Several things struck me. First of all, for this time of year I had exceptional fishing, probably averaging about six rainbows an hour. Better still, they were far bigger on average than has been the case in the past, with perhaps half of all those I caught being keeping size and many going nine to 10 inches (nothing bigger). I suspect fewer numbers (there are otters present and the drought a couple of years ago certainly had an impact) explain the bigger fish. Second, it is little short of incredible the way nature is reclaiming Indian Creek. Portions of it are literally unfishable because of rhododendron encroachment, and I'm a guy who doesn't hesitate for a moment to dapple with two feet of line or to use bow-and-arrow casts. Another change, and it is one we are going to encounter with increasing frequency on small Park streams, is log jams. Almost all of them are down, dead hemlocks, and that will only get worse for the next few years. A lot of small streams don't flood enough to blow them out. There were a few places where I literally had to take to the woods to get around jams--there was just no save or viable way thorugh them.
I took a side trip, as I'll invariably do when the opportunity is there, to visit the lower cemetery on Indian Creek. If you don't do this, I'd urge you to consider it. Such diversions give one ample time to pause and ponder, while looking at mute testaments to a way of life we have lost, those who went before us. This particular cemetery has 75-100 graves, and exactly five of them have markers with inscriptions. Folks in the early part of the last century didn't have money for store bought markers; they made do with creek rocks.
I'm about as technologically challenged as it is possible to be, so no photos (I don't have a clue how to post them, although I do carry a camera with me at all times, and I'm much more inclined to take photos of flowers, mushrooms, and stuff of that sort than of fish I catch). But it was a glorious day, proof fish can be caught at lower elevations even in this heat (and I did well right through the day, but of course this is a stream with wonderful oxygenation). Perhaps what I liked best was fighting cobwebs with casts the whole way, never seeing another angler, and only seeing five people total once I got above Indian Creek Falls. On the other hand, coming out, the lower half mile of Deep Creek was literally bumper-to-bumper tubers. I've never seen such a zoo, and sheer numbers are doing significant damage to the streamside. There are trails everywhere, and most of them are tailor-made to erode with much rain. I suspect if the numbers continue like this the Park will have to do something. I've never seen anything like it. You literally had to pick your way through people carrying tubes up the creek to start floating.
Obviously I've got a misanthropic vein, but once on Indian Creek solitude was my companion and in honor of Uncle Mark I fished a Grey Hackle Yellow some. In truth pattern didn't matter. If I could get the fly in the hole without spooking fish, I got strikes.