Noseeum trutta

I spent Wednesday making futile presentations to a species of trout native only to the Davidson River – the Invisitrout (Noseeum trutta). There is no trout in north America that is more spooky, selective, possibly non-existent or – invisible.

It was a beautiful day on the mysterious river none the less. If you ever want to go suffer let me know. My current list of fishing partners have fallen victim to the elusive Invisitrout burn out (ITBO – see WebMD).

If you are tempted to comment on this thread about how many trout you have caught on the Davidson please go right ahead, assuming you didn’t catch them at: (1) The Hatchery; (2) The Private Water operated by DRO; or (3) The Hatchery Supported Section. Those are “Davidson* trout” which are decidedly different from the “Davidson” trout of TU Top 100 fame.

The beatings will continue until morale improves, so I’ll be back in Brevard in January.

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Beetle Mania

I once believed that the best terrestrial fishing could only be found out west, but I was corrected a few days ago by the fish living in the Davidson River. Having fished the catch and release section and the hatchery quite a bit in the past few months, I decided to give the private water operated by DRO a try. Let me say it is a high quality section of water and a freak show of trout proportions. There are large high quality trout holding everywhere. Now on to the tales…

My day began with Nick Roberts at 1pm. He was booked for the morning, but I wanted to do a full day, so we went with a 1pm to 8:30pm trip. I am glad that we did. The sun was high and the air was warm when we started, so we headed to a shaded run with a nice plunge pool that oxygenates the water. With the sun directly overhead nymphing seemed to be a good approach for this particular run. We tied on the usual fare – small, subtle nymphs and midges. I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of the midges, and have started to fish them more and more often. You can’t argue with the results.

After a few minutes of eye adjustment the trout began popping out and they were holding in all the textbook places. The drifts were often quite delicate with many swirling and boiling currents. The take was very light often with the thingamabobber showing no sign other than a slight pause. Our 3 hour session in this pool was awesome, and we left with 6 fish to hand on small midges including one beast of a rainbow that taped at 22″.

As the golden hours approached, we switched tactics opting to fish a beetle pattern on a “dry or die” bender. I was a bit skeptical at first, but as usual Nick knew what he was talking about when he told me of epic beetle fishing. We tied on a size 10 PMX beetle, and headed for a riffle that fed into a pool. Just looking at the water would make any trout fisherman giddy, as it is obviously trout heaven. I began casting the beetle up and across the riffle, and soon enough there were fish taking huge swipes. At one point I went 3 for 3 with 3 hookups in 3 casts. Ridiculous would be an understatement. It was obvious that I hadn’t fished a dry fly in awhile as I missed many of the first takes – especially the ones which were downstream from me. (Does any one have any suggestions on hooksetting for downstream dry fly takes?) I eventually got it dialed in and fish started making it to the net. Let’s just say these fish loved this beetle and I love watching them crush it on top.

Feeling a little more confident with the dry fly up to snuff we headed to my favorite type of water for our last hour and a half – flat, gin clear, dry fly water. I didn’t think there was any way this beetle would continue to be effective, and yet again I was wrong. As we worked our way along the bank, I spotted a fish holding behind a rock about 10 feet out from the bank. Not wanting to disturb the fish by getting into the water, I simply pulled some line off my reel and plopped the beetle straight down onto the water surface with a tightline nymphing style cast. I watched in disbelief as a trout I hadn’t even seen moved off it’s holding position 8 feet away charged at this beetle and took it in a swirling spray. In my excitement, I set the hook too quickly and missed the fish. Bummer. This was the first “lateral line” take I had ever witnessed. It was so cool to watch the predatory instinct of a big trout in action.

After this encounter we made our way into the water, and began working upstream with 40 to 50 foot casts to avoid spooking the fish. Nick exited the river on the opposite bank while I continued to try and work a few fish that were holding behind rocks. It wasn’t long before Nick told me to pick up and come to join him because of a monster fish. We have coined them “donkey kong” class trout. After joining Nick on the bank and sighting the fish, I made my way back downstream about 40 feet before re-entering the water. Nick relayed the fish’s movements and behavior to me as we tried a few casts. With time fading and my hope as well, Nick called in a new casting location, and I dropped the fly on the water with a nice beetle “SPLAT!” This got the fish’s attention, and after about 10 seconds of drift, it smashed the fly. This time, the hook set was good, and the fight was on. Following a mellow 10 minutes battle, we landed this awesome “donkey kong” class rainbow trout at 8:07 pm.

These are the days I enjoy most on the water. Things seemed to build in crescendo all the way until the very end. Literally everything I learned on the water throughout that day culminated with this final fish. It was a special moment on a special river. I hope you all also enjoyed your own special moments these weekend – after all that is what trout fishing is really all about.

A Day Drifting with Dad

There aren’t a ton of certainties in life, but one of them is that you get a finite number of days to spend with your parents. Some people don’t even get that, so if you are blessed enough to get time with your parents you are obligated to make the most of them. That’s one of the things that brought me to fly fishing. My Dad and I spend a lot of time outdoors together when I was growing up – fishing, hunting, camping. These things were a ton of fun, but hunting was something that just never became mine, and life with it’s busyness has a way to carrying us away from the priorities we often fail to recognize.

Fly fishing was something that I had always thought would be awesome to learn how to do. So when my Dad picked up a fly rod about 3 years ago I thought to myself, “maybe this could be the thing that we do together.” Last summer my Dad invited my brother and I on a trip to Yellowstone National Park to fly fish together, so in July of 2013 I walked into the Orvis store and bought a beginner’s package. Over the past 8 months, fly fishing has become mine and my Dad’s thing. We spend a lot of time together on the water now, learning together, suffering together, being frustrated together, celebrating together – fishing together.

That brings us to this Saturday, March 15 when Dad and I shared a drift boat trip together that I am going to remember for the rest of my life. We set off around 9:00 am. The air was cold and the rhythmic gurgling of the downward flowing water was soothing. The line of bright golden sun crept steadily down the treeline and towards the river. The first 30 minutes of the tip were devoid of any fish leaving the guide, myself, and dad with a palpable yet publicly unacknowledged tension in our movements. Soon enough the sunlight crept to the banks and out onto the water.

Soon enough Dad had a trout on the line and we had one to the boat. A gorgeous brown. Everyone relaxed a lot after that. Maybe our approach was going to work after all.

After Dad scored two more fish, I was beginning to regret letting him have that front seat. He was making it count. Soon enough I had my own beautiful brown trout to the boat.

From here on out we kept our guide Hunter steadily occupied. The bite was on and we were the lead boat and we were taking full advantage. A 10 minute fight with the awesome rainbow below gave Hunter a chance to show off his deft boat maneuvering skills as the slid up and down the pool and side to side spinning smoothly around rocks and other obstacles until the treasure was ours.

We caught so many rainbows that were simply beautiful, healthy, perfectly designed, divine creatures.

Dad even managed to dig up a Brookie at one point to pull off a slam.

Not only did we catch good numbers, but we caught some stout fish as well. The numbers continued to climb with several double hook ups.

Dad managed to catch this awesome kype jawed male and get him to the boat. The battle was epic with the fish making several reel squealing runs that had Dad begging for mercy.

Although the trip as a whole was one that I will remember forever it was capitalized by subliminal moments which permanently engraved images in my mind. One such moment came when Hunter told me to cast my flies to a rock strewn bank about 50 feet away. For me a 50 foot cast on target requires my full stock of limited skill and a ton of destiny. After two false cast and a haul the line streaked forward unrolling like a scroll and the fly alighted on target – miracle number one. This cast was followed by a mend utilizing the technique Hunter had shown me earlier to prevent pulling my fly away from the target – miracle number two. In my book two miracles ought to be followed by a trout, and it was a miraculous day indeed. I will never forget that fish because it embodied everything that is the essence of fly fishing.

Throughout the day we kept having to revise our goal upward. We started at 25, but surpassed that about half way through the float. About two thirds through and two goal-revisions later we surpassed 40. How about 50 a number that only 7 hours ago seemed astronomical to me?

Another deep hole yielded another awesome rainbow to Dad.

We continued hitting the seams and pockets of soft water in the last half mile of river, and soon enough we stood at 50. I couldn’t believe it. If you had told me at 9:30 am that we would have 50 trout to the boat by the end of the day I would have told you that you were crazy. But Hunter pointed out that a round number like 50 doesn’t lend much credibility since it sounds like you are just rounding to an arbitrary value and didn’t actually count. My Dad being the kind of guy that’s dots his I’s and crosses his T’s and checks them twice found Hunter’s argument compelling enough to bring his full attention to bear on turning up another trout, and with 200 yards of stream to go, trout number 51 was in the boat.

Needless to say this was a day that my Dad and I will always talk about. I’m not sure we should ever book another drift boat trip again. But because we are fisherman, we will.

Many thanks to Hunter Barnes with Blue Ridge Fly Fishing for helping us to have the day of a lifetime!

Broken Bat Grand Slam

I had a hard time coming up with an appropriate title for the fishing report. This is part trip report, but mostly fishing story. Sorry for the length. It is a story of tragedy and heartache and triumph and happiness all taking place in the north GA mountains in about 6 hours time.

The cell phone ring punched through my deep slumber at 6:15 am this morning. I figured the news wasn’t good. Any preemptive phone call from your fishing partner early on the morning of a scheduled trip is never good. “Have you been outside?,” he asked. “No, is the wind bad.” “Yeah it’s real bad. I don’t think fly fishing in this wind is going to be any fun, so I’m not coming.” “Ok Dad, we’ll try again next time.” With the phone hung up and 15 minutes until my alarm time, I tossed and turned wrestling with the fishing demon inside me. “I should just take that as a sign and stay home and get some work done.” Fishing Demon: “You’ve been working all week. You haven’t fished in 10 days. You know you want to.” By the time my alarm sounded at 6:30 am I had decided to head for the river solo.

Since I was alone, I figured I would swing by Duke’s and see what was happening on my way to our original destination of Smith’s Creek. I pulled in the lot at 8:20 am. The wind was howling, and it was cold, but the angler’s were stacked up like trout at the Davidson hatchery. I parked and walked toward the office but found six more angler’s holding in the warm currents. I made an about face, and bolted for my car. I should have Smith’s to myself.

I signed in at Smith’s and found myself alone in the parking lot. I began gearing up. The wind continued to howl. I couldn’t tell if it was snowing or the wind was blowing snow out of the trees, but it didn’t matter – it was cold. I assembled my rod (all 10’6″), and set it in the trunk to keep it from blowing away. As I pulled on my waders, a powerful gust of wind was followed by the sound of my trunk slamming shut. Crap. The trunk slammed shut on my rod. I stumbled over the half way donned waders and popped open the trunk. My rod had been spared, or so I thought.

I finished rigging up and made my way down to the ol’ culvert. My second drift through the deep slack water found my sighter pausing and tippet surging ahead. My rod snapped to life in the cold and a fish was on. About 10 seconds into the fight, SNAP! My rod broke at the place that had been closed in trunk. The fish was still on and using the remaining 7 feet of the rod tip, I brought the brown to hand.

Figuring I still had seven feet of good rod left, and knowing there were still more fish at home, I began fishing with the bottom third of my rod in one hand and the tip in my right. Two more drifts and another fish was on. This time it was a nice little bow.

Now, I’ve got a brown and rainbow. Seems like there is only one thing left to do. I continued fishing and soon enough and good size stocker had brought the rod tip under pressure. About 30 seconds into the fight, my remaining 7 feet of rod snapped in two places and the fish was gone.

I now have an awesome 7 piece 4 weight Cortland comp rod (You can buy it in the swap shop ). With my longest rod piece at 2 feet, but still wanting to catch a brookie, I went into the woods looking for a good cane pole. I found what seemed like a decent stick and rigged it up with some tippet and a sighter. It was the proverbial broom stick and didn’t cast worth a crap, so I decided that the best use of the rest of my day was replacing my rod.

I headed towards Blue Ridge to the only shop that I know carries the Cortland. Having purchased my rod, Cory suggested that I got fish at Tammend park since the generation had stopped about 30 minutes prior. I drove all the way here, so I guess I should at least check out some new water. I rigged up the new stick in the Tammend parking lot and crossed the river to the far bank. I used the high bank to spot deeper holding water and targeted it for my drifts. Three drifts into the first deep pool and I was hooked up with a fish. As I netted him, I was thrilled to find it was a Brookie. I call this the Broken Bat Grand Slam.

I managed to pull two more nice rainbows from the water around Tammend Park. I left the mountains feeling like today I had truly had an adventure. It was good for my soul. There was adversity, and there was accomplishment, and I had learned a valuable lesson – don’t put your fly rod halfway in your trunk in a wind storm.

Newest Fishing Methods Being Developed in North GA

My fishing chronicles are not very long yet, as I’ve only been at if for about 6 months, but just because they aren’t long doesn’t mean they aren’t storied. I’ve had some pretty peculiar interactions with our finned friends as of late. I thought I would share – strictly for entertainment.

Disclaimer: I’ve read all the proper catch and release literature, and have my C&R certification. The fish in these stories were released back into the wild unharmed (which could be part of the problem). But I digress…

My first peculiar experience started with a large rainbow that tried to sneak away downstream after I had almost brought him to the net. Seeing him beginning his downstream journey, and having already lost one fish to a similar maneuver, I pounced like a cat. Diving headlong into the water, I proceeded to wrastle’ him straight on into the net with my bare hands. Did I mention that the air temperature that day was around 38 degrees and the water was about the same? After a brief photo shoot the fish was released unharmed.

The second one occurred after catching and then releasing a large trout. He was holding in the current just in front of me, when my friend suggested that I probably should have measured him because being such a fine specimen he was worthy of such scientific investigation as to inflate my fishing ego. As my friend attempted to renet the fish, I did my best Heron impression and lunge-stabbed into the ice cold water with both my hands and latched onto the fish. After conducting our very important scientific investigation we released the fish back into the wild.

At this point that’s two fish in the fishery full of fishes that we had caught or re-caught using non-traditional, herron-cat like methods. It never crossed my mind that perhaps the fishes might begin telling one another about their interactions with such heron-human-cat like prowlers.

But then one day, my friend and I were fishing in the same fishery that is full of fishes. I had hooked into a good one and we were engaged in hand to fin combat in the traditional reel and rod type manner. After 10 minutes of battle, the fish was nearly to the net. My friend begins to approach the fish to net him, the fish lunges away breaking my tippet. Having just unbuttoned a large rainbow I go into the traditional emotional breakdown ritual of all fly fishermen – falling to one’s knees, holding one’s head with one’s hands, loud lamentations, etc. Unbeknownst to me due to my grieving process, my friend sneaks up on the previously hooked fish in shallow water hiding behind a rock, and in a lightning like move nets the fish.

Now that’s three fish that have been caught using non-traditional, human-cat-heron tactics. But what concerns me was the look on the fish’s face. It is one of shear terror. Did this fish know that he had been caught by the human-cat-heron thingy’s that the others had told him about? Does this explain his look of fear or possibly disbelief? I’m no scientist, but is it possible that these fish are communicating regarding the latest fly fishing methods from eastern europe? And the new methods being developed in the mountains of north Georiga? Probably we’ll never know.

All characters and events depicted in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons or fishes, living or dead, or real events, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A Day at Duke’s with Dad and Jimbo

I spent the day as “net man,” (“because if I was a net boy they would have to tip me”), local scout, and photographer for Trout Fear Me (Dad) and Jimboyyy (Jimbo). It was Jimboyyy’s first time on the creek, and TFM’s second, so I was hoping for a good day.

The day started cold and clear with the sun slowly making it’s way above the mountains and treeline. Soon after it’s appearance, it was enshrouded by clouds which kept the temperatures “sporty” throughout the rest of the day.

Jimboyyy hooked up with this nice rainbow. The coloration of these fish is striking, and causes one to pause and soak.

They tried their luck in this hole for a bit, but the drift proved to be super technical with the fish hunkered down right behind a drop off. Getting the flies down often led to getting the flies hung. After the better part of an hour, we decided to press on to bluer waters.

When nature came a calling, TFM allowed me to put his rod to use for a few moments. One cast and one drift produced this pretty little trout. The skin near his back had a strong tint of gold to it.

Having heeded nature’s call, TFM was back at it soon enough. As the afternoon wore on things began to pick up.

After bushwhacking through the woods for a bit, with much grumbling from the esteemed gentlemen, we set to work in a nice deep hole. Luckily after a few drifts, my expedition through the woods seemed a small price for such a wonderful prize.

TFM managed to pull two more fish from this hole. With the cutoff time rapidly approaching, we blazed over the mountain on our own two feet. Carried by the optimism of the last hole’s yields, the esteemed gentlemen set about working the culvert. Ten casts brought forth two silvery green fish emblazened with light pink racing stripes. These fish were acrobatic masters and put on quite the show for the cars passing on 75 Alternate.

All in all, I would call it a success. Jimboyyy wasn’t skunked on his first Duke’s outing. TFM managed 9 to hand with a beautiful 19-inch rainbow among them. And I was happy to spend a day helping others catch fish.

Duke’s Creek Frostbite Excursion

When we showed up at 9:00 am it was brutally cold, but the sun was out and the solar rays felt good when you could find them.

The cold temperatures brought on some interesting challenges. Freezing sighters, freezing guides, freezing drags. Tying knots was a real chore.

The water was gin clear and low. Great for sight fishing except that the fish are holding the bottom in deep holes. My expectations for the day were very low, but I was enjoying the peace and quiet and the bubbling of the river. I took my time and took a lot of pictures. There were some really cool ice sculptures.

Two pretty little rainbows caught from a sunlit hole revealed the secret pattern for the day, and finding places with sunlight on the water seemed to up the activity.

By noon I had already brought 9 to hand including two leaches, three woolly boogers, a Y2k, a prince, a hare’s ear, frenchie, stone fly, and a worm. All caught from trees, holding 12 to 36 inches above the water.

With the secret pattern revealed and the sunlight warming the water to a balmy 38 degrees we headed up into section 1. Soon enough a fish was on, but he used the current against me, got downstream, and blew up my 6x tippet…lesson learned. The next hook up proved to be another good fish. After my net man missed the scoop and the fish was heading past us downstream, I dove into the water and grabbed the monster with my bare hands. It was cold, but it was worth it.

We continued upstream to fish a few more holes and I was able to hook up with another good fish.

As we made our way up to the swimming hole the sun fell back behind the mountains, and things cooled back off. I spent an hour watching the fish in the swimming hole while my friend tried to convince them to eat. We called it at 4 pm and headed out. I set out today with low expectations and was just looking forward to some time outside with a good friend, but what it day it turned out to be. “Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.”