I know, I said the other day that it is really dry out there but with this warm weather I just had to get in one more trip chasing brookies in one of my favorite streams up off the parkway. The stream I wanted to hit this week is located at an elevation of over a mile, so it won’t be long before they lock the gates on this particular section of the parkway for the winter. Mark Lynch was ready to try out his fish stalking skills so we headed out from Asheville about 10am Monday morning and were stream side by 11:30. In spite of predictions of 68 degrees for Asheville, it was still cold up there with air temps in the low 50s, the water holding at 41.6 degrees, and the stream so low I swear I saw a couple brookies taking dust baths in what would usually pass for a nice little pool.
We gently worked our way up the stream, making sure to avoid any gravel beds where fish may have recently spawned. This is something to always keep in mind from October until about mid-February when the fry finally emerge from the gravel–you can wipe out a hundred or so eggs or young fish with one poorly-placed footstep.
In spite of the low water the fishing wasn’t easy since there were no leaves on the stream-side bushes to mask our presence and what water there was was gin clear. Consequently we scared a lot more fish than we ever had a chance to cast a fly to. After a while we did notice a pattern with the bigger fish holding in the deepest parts of plunge pools. A nice long cast would have made it easy pickings, if there had not been so many limbs along the stream ready to jump out and grab a less than perfectly placed fly. As a result I ended up using a bow-and-arrow cast and a roll cast a lot more than anything else, and still ended up retrieving a lot of flies from the trees.
I don’t know how many fish we caught but Mark ended up with the trophy of the day. He managed to slide a beautifully cast Royal Wulff (almost all our fish were caught on dry flies) onto a deep plunge pool only to have it grabbed by a large male brookie. After a short fight, a photo (see above), and a quick release the king of the pool returned to his harem in his deep lair and Mark and I moved on to the next pool. This continued for several hours as we made our way up the mountain and eventually hit the trail back to the car.
The long-range weather report looks good for a couple more days in the 60s this month, so even if you don’t have the time or inclination to rock hop up a mile-high mountain stream, head over to the North Mills or one of the other DH streams in the area before the really cold weather hits–Larry