My mom, my brother, his friend, and I went up to the NC mountains this past weekend. We all got up early thursday morning and were at the campground by 10:30. After unlocking the airstream and dealing with some dead mice we trapped I hiked up a small wild trout stream I know of to fish. I started fishing just past the end of the gravel road that followed the the creek. I was originally just going to hike way up and try to find a couple brook trout, but I had all day. The last time i fished the lower end was when I just started to try small stream trout fishing. I didn't do so well then, but I did much better now. I worked my way up and was atleast missing a fish in every likely spot. All i used was a #16 EHC the whole time. I kept going up until the creek split. I went to the side that I got my first brookie from last time. At first I wasn't getting much, but then after a little while I started to catch some small bows. The trout in this creek aren't that great sized compared to some smokey's streams nearby, but there are a few nicer ones. I came up to a nice little pool and had this guy inhale my dry.
He jumped a few times as i pulled him in. I was suprised how little color he had compared to the other fish i had caught. I kept working up this branch and caught some more smaller fish, but still no brookies. I did spook some though. Then the creek split again. I hadn't fished up this far, so I said 'why not' and went for it. Like the last split off it was slow at first, but got much better as I got up further. I was fishing one spot and looked upstream. I saw a real nice 7-8" trout jump about 3 feet high and over a boulder into another little run. I guess he really knows his home! I snuck up to the spot and right as my fly went around the boulder I had a hit. I hooked it and he jumped. I could tell it was the same fish. I got him in and he posed for the camera.
I'm 6' 2", so my hands are sorta big, but I assure you he was a good one! Not to mention that the creek was maybe 1/2 as wide as a car by now. The pic does no justice, but he had a really big head to him. I kept goin up and caught a few more fish. The creek split once again, but it was just to small to fish by now. I made the long walk back. I put on a small hopper when I got back to the roadside are to try to raise a slightly larger trout. I managed one on it, but it was average sized.
It's a pretty bad pic, but I love to use hoppers and just wanted a pic of a hopper caught fish. Even though you cant see the whole fish it's a pretty good example of my average sized fish. After this I was tired from walking atleast 3 miles overall and headed back to our airstream. After a little chill time I fished around the campground a little bit, but couldn't get the fish to touch a dry. I switched to a small y2k and managed 4 or 5. It was only about 3 pm, so I wasnt done. Instead of me fishing I took my little brother's friend. He has tried to get into fly fishing ever since he started to see me catching trout on a fly rod, but his family doesn't know how. The very lower end of this stream has a mixture of wild bows and browns with a mixture a few stocked fish. I rigged his rod up with a small y2k and a #16 price dropper. We walked way downstream to a good area I know of. Not long after we started fishing he caught his first! I think I was prouder than he was of the little 5" wild bow on his line. I had forgotten my camera which made me mad. We kept going downstream and he caught another fish or 2. Then we got to a spot that went away from the road. I knew from past experience that the stockers will stack up here. We had this one fish that he kept missing the hookset on, but it kept coming back. He eventually hooked the stocker and got it in. His smile was enough to make the whole trip worth it for me. He wanted to keep the fish for dinner, so we went back and cooked it up. I forgot to snap a picture. This kid amazes me. A couple months back he bought a fly tying kit and had tied up some great flies that he wanted to try. He had never even trout fished before! I told him we'd go out the next morning.
We woke up a little late, but my brothers friend and I walked way downstream to where this creek feeds into lake fontana. The day started out real slow. We were both nymphing for better fish. I had him rigged up with the same as the day before and I had a green weenie with a pheasant tail dropper. We caught maybe 2 fish the first 2 hours. I eventually got frustrated and switched to a stimulator to catch some wild fish with a small pink san juan dropped off just in case. It was my turn to fish and I had a real nice spot. I casted into the tailout of the pool and first cast my stimulator decided to take a dive. I set the hook on what i thought was a small fish at first, but all of the sudden it took a little bit of drag and ran upstream for a log pile. I was shocked! Then he came back downstream and went down below me. I started to chase him and managed to slip and fall right away...stupid slippery rocks... After a nice fight on my 3 wt. I beached the fish. It was a 14" (tape measured) holdover brown that had been stocked a while back. It was my best fish for the creek. He was all colored up. I say he was a holdover because his anal fin was white tipped, so I think that means he's been in there a little while.
My brother's friend Dakota wanted to keep it, but I didn't want to keep a nice fish like this one because there arent many left after they get stocked. The locals tend to clear them out. I had determined that a small #16 sjw was the ticket for the day and not long after my brown Dakota has one of his own on. This fish was 10" and was definately a stocker. I let him keep it and it made a nice late lunch for him later.
Sorry, but I didn't manage to get a live fish pic. After he got his brown I decided I was done for the day and just worked on helping him more. I couldn't believe how much improvement he made after 2 days. I taught him how to be stealthy in such a small stream, where to cast, and the whole natural drift thing. I told him I was gonna shut up and watch him try by himself. As I said earlier; this kid amazes me! It wasn't long until he was nailing some real nice wild rainbows and some smaller wild browns on the sjw. I didn't really wanna risk dropping the camera, so i didn't get any pics. We kept fishing/me instructing and his fish count had definately passed mine. After a little while he said he was done, so we walked back. We ate lunch and he enjoyed his trout. I just decided to chillax the rest of the day and went to a ropeswing on lake fontana.
This was the day we left. We packed up the airstream and left. My mom let me wade fish the lower nantahala on high water. There are some easy areas to wade in case you were wondering. I hooked a nice RB right away on a rainbow warrior. He got off. I switched to a #20 black zebra midge dropper and killed it. After a little while we drove up to pizza by the river. Me being the way I am decided to fish while I waited for pizza. I started off right beind the deck. There were rafters everywhere, but the fish really don't care here because they see so many. On my 2nd or 3rd cast i hooked the fish i was waiting for. He was in a run that was probably only 2-3 feet deep. He made some big splashes and headshakes and ran across the stream. I got a good look at him in some shallow water and saw it was a brown that was about 18-20" long. I had everyone at the resturaunt watching by now. He decided to run into the main flow and took off straight downstream taking a bunch of drag with him. All of the sudden he jumped clear out of the water and...SNAP! I lost him... He broke off my midge. I swear if any of you are up there dont let the high water discourage you AT ALL! It fishes much better on generation than on low water. The fish arent very spooky, and they are eating like crazy. The best rig for me is a #12 nymph up top with a tungsten bead to get it down and a #20 black or grey midge. 9 times out of 10 they will hit the midge. Just fish pockets behind boulders no matter how big they are or slower runs/pools. Fish deep and right by the bottom. Overall I landed about a dozen. I managed to land a few more bows in between all the rafts after pizza. Another thing. Pretty much all the fish you catch are wild bows and browns. I dont catch many stocked fish in there. This tailwater is way overlooked. Get out there!
Thanks for reading.