A Week on the Water
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Thread: A Week on the Water

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Asheville
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    Default A Week on the Water

    Last Friday, my friend Matt flew into town from his home in England's Lake District to spend some time vacationing and fishing stateside. We met last fall through a mutual friend and fishing buddy, and had such a good time fishing together that we decided we had to do it again this year. Now Matt is a proper fly fisherman, in the English style, although he was born and raised in South Africa. He's a casting instructor and a former shop manager for Farlow's in London, the world's oldest continually operating fly shop. He's honed his craft fishing the chalk streams where this sport was born. But this is the New World and we ain't proper, so I made the effort to get him on some ripping bluelines and back into coal country hollers. That sort of thing.

    When we met last year, the drought was still on, in fact, the drought was at its peak. I was almost ashamed to show off some of my favorite streams then. What a difference 8 months make. The creeks are full and still running in the upper 50s and low 60s at elevation, despite the heat. Last year, heat and low water restricted us to extreme elevation (and resulted in a focus on brook trout); this year we had a wider variety of streams available to us. After giving him a day to shake the dust from the trail and get acclimated to the time zone, we put in three days of bluelining. In an effort to get Matt on some more respectable fish, we focused mostly on larger wild streams, creeks directly tributary to large hatchery supported water with wild browns, and a creek I just happen to know holds some real crackers.

    When Matt fished with me last year, he had some trouble adjusting from the mindset and techniques appropriate to the chalk stream fishing that he's most used to. The bread and butter of an Appalachian blueliner is a stealthy approach and close quarter casts, preferably from behind cover. Matt wanted to make long casts across too many conflicting currents rather than make the close approach, and he tended to flog the water with lots of drifts before moving on. Spring creek and chalk stream fishing demand that kind of approach, but small mountain freestones demand a different approach. This year, he arrived dialed in and ready to do it right.



    Flows were well above average for this point in the year, and the fishing was fairly productive. We were mostly slinging bog standard hopper-dropper rigs with girdle bugs, bead head PTs and prince nymphs, and the occasional inch worm under foam terrestrials. Plenty of fish were willing to rise to the dries, but, as usual, most business was done on dries.











    On one stream, we picked up a new friend for morning. I've never had a dog, much less a fishing dog, and I've never wanted one. But this guy was so cute and polite. He followed us upstream for over a mile, never in the way, never spooking fish. Watching him pick his way up through a boulder garden or over a series of plunges was incredible. A hardy soul indeed.



    When Matt visited last fall, we extensively targeted brook trout. This year, we mostly went after the invasives. Still, we took time out Monday afternoon to make a brief exploration of a trickle rumored to hold natives. Trickle being the operative word. There wasn't much there there. Plenty of pune brookies, though.




    Matt had expressed an interest in a coal country stream that I often fish in the winter months when our local small streams are too cold to fish well (the creek is fed by groundwater seeps out of old mine shafts, which helps maintain year round temperature stability). I checked the weather and found that the area had received significant rainfall on Tuesday evening, and this creek has always fished very well on high but falling water. We went online and got him licensed up and legal for the Moutain Mama, gave some time for some of the stain to drop off the water and made the run up, arriving in the late afternoon. Fish were there to be had, and quite a few were had. I hooked a massive rainbow late Wednesday, but having packed everything but the landing net, we parted ways just as I was moving to tail the fish. Bummer, but that's the game.













    Wednesday night we celebrated an excellent day, but perhaps celebrated a little too hard. Thursday morning, Matt indicated he was in no shape for fishing, but urged me to get in a morning sesh while he slept it off in the motel. To tell the truth, I wasn't in tip top shape myself, and my fishing suffered. I spent an hour fumbling about, snagging up in the trees, standing where I should have been fishing, and farming fish left and right. Finally—entirely coincidentally as my hangover started to abate—I stuck a smallish bow and managed to keep it stuck. While fighting it, I thought I might have seen a very large, dark shadow tracking it from below. On the outside possibility that my bleary eyes did not deceive me, I cut back my leader to the thick stuff and tied on a streamer. My eyes did not deceive me.



    At that point, it seemed like a good time to quit while the getting was good, so I headed back to the motel to scoop Matt up, and we headed back to Asheville, already talking about what we might do next year.

    Cheers y'all!

    Dylar


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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Holly Springs & Oriental, NC
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    Default

    Beautiful scenery and fish, looks like a great time.
    Dylar likes this.

    2015 Pathfinder 2200 TE, Yamaha VF200 SHO, Carolina Blue
    Jackson Coosa FD, Native Ultimate 14.5, CCA Member

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Bath—Belhaven area
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    Very nicely written, with great pictures...thanks!
    Dylar likes this.

    Kayak Angler, Red X Angler, and a Full Time Angler (as of 2/1/18!!!)Retirement!

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Chocowinity
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    126

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    Great photos, great report! I have never fly fished. Never caught a fish in the mountains much less a trout. Maybe something for my bucket list.
    Dylar likes this.

    That, that is, is. That, that is not, is not. Is it?

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Durham
    Posts
    94

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    Great buddy trip!

    Mountain Mama country has been fascinating to me for awhile. I’ve been sight seeing from a small plane and can see some very interesting water sheds and drainages. I just may get on the ground and do some exploring.

    That’s a REALLY nice Brown! Congrats.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Dylar likes this.


  8. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Apex
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    Great post!
    Dylar likes this.


  9. #7
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    Jul 2007
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    Greenville, SC
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    Epic, Dylar. Good show.
    Dylar likes this.


  10. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Asheville
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    Mountain mama country?

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Stallings
    Posts
    866

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    Nice report again! Killing me- haven't chased a trout since May, and I'm jonesing bad...
    Lifelong fishing nut. Wish I was fishin, instead of wishing!

  12. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Stallings
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    866

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by floridiantransplant View Post
    Mountain mama country?
    That would be "West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country road"...
    Lifelong fishing nut. Wish I was fishin, instead of wishing!

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