My uncle and I decided to look at an atlas Friday night and pick a wild stream, hopefully one that doesn’t receive any pressure and holds some feisty native fish. We made our way there early saturday morning, and after catching some breathtaking scenery on the way up there, we finally put on all our gear and started our descent down to the river. About a mile later, we finally came to a picturesque spot and began to make a few casts in the frigid air, about 35 degrees.
A couple of casts went by in a nice pool and I had a fish on the blackbird. This fish proved to be too good for me, however, and he spit the hook out. I made another couple casts in the same deep pool and was watching my line intently when I noticed a sudden slow down, so I flicked my wrist and set the hook. The fish that revealed itself had a bright orange belly, a brookie! This was a pleasant surprise as I didn’t figure we were in brook trout country. The weight of this fish almost doubled over my 9’ 5wt rod and I was getting excited. This was what appeared to be the biggest native brook trout I had ever seen, around 12”, a true Appalachian gem (Disclaimer: We all know fisherman want to believe “the one that got away” was bigger than it actually was, but I honestly believe this fish was every bit of 12”. Shawn can testify, this fish was in an area that one would think would be very favorable for a large fish). In usual fashion, however, the fish got the best of me and threw the hook after a short battle. At this point I was cussing underneath my breath in disgust, but nothing to get too mad over, I’ll get him next time!
We than got back on the trail and began a strenuous, and I mean strenuous(!), walk uphill. After about 20-25 minutes, we regained sight with the stream and hopped in. I immediately hooked a fish, about 6”, and then another one out of the next run which would set the tone for the rest of the day. The stream began to get tight, but I began to catch fish at a normal pace and stretched out a little lead over my uncle! He fought back though after several nice fish, some around 8”, as we seemed to catch fish out of every possible area where one would hold. These fish were absolutely gorgeous as well. Their oranges were as bright as I’ve never seen before, and they were taking our flies with vicious strikes. We were having a blast while at the same time, we were all by ourselves. We continued upstream for a ways and hopped out of the river for a bit before we finally got back on the trail and joined back up with the stream a little further up. We hopped in and immediately ran into some fish in some nice looking pools. By this time, the temperature was warming up, if you call 50 warm, and the fish seemed to become more active, especially to the top. My uncle managed to land (we all know who enticed the biggest(!) fish to take their fly, haha) the big fish of the day this time, a very nice brookie that probably measured about 10”. The blackbird worked wonders again today!! We looked at our watches and decided it was time to walk the 1.5 mile trail back out, so we got out of the river and started the less strenuous, although still tough, trail out. We ended up with 20+ trout between us, all native brookies, and just as beautiful as could be. Although the walk in and out put a whoopin’ on us, it was a great day fishing with family!