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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i've been telling my brother (who lives in STL) for a few years that he needs to explore the linville gorge with me. finally made it happen a few weeks ago. first day was just about perfect weather. we went down the conley cove trail, which is rough but not the most challenging trail in the area. had a 25 percent chance of showers, so didn't want to be dumb and go down cabin that day (if you've been down/up cabin, you know why it would be dumb on a rainy day). wound up not raining until almost 6:30, after we reached the car.

Water Water resources Plant community Plant Tree


as i've said before here, i never know what to expect fishing-wise in the gorge. found out pretty quickly it was going to be a smallie-goggle eye day instead of a trout day (even though we worked a spot that almost always produces at least one quality brown trout). i was cool with that. used two-inch grubs on 16th-ounce jig heads, most of them with some type of orange hint to the body. water was a little high, so my weightless soft plastics didn't fly in the slightly quicker current. he caught 15ish fish, i caught 10ish (because he's my brother and doesn't fish much, i was ok with him catching more because i was able to convince myself it was my helpful instruction that lifted him to the top of the scoreboard. is that true? maybe. shaddup. ha). no size of consequence to any, unless you count a couple goggle-eye that were pushing 10 inches.

as always, the gorge was an amazing visual experience (you can barely see my brother next to that rock on the left).

Water Natural landscape Fluvial landforms of streams Bedrock Plant


found this dude under the tent as we were packing up the next morning. fun.

Arthropod Insect Blue Spider Pest


we were going to take the cabin trail into linville the next day, but the forecast changed dramatically overnight, from 10 percent chance of light rain to 70 percent chance of drenching rain in the morning turning into thunderstorms by 2ish. thanks, forecasters. so instead, we adjusted plans to head over to wilson creek for the day, because he'd never caught a trout. i tried to tell him that the timing of this wilson creek trip--the last gasps of the hatchery-supported season--couldn't be worse because the stream would likely be pretty much cleaned out, but we'd give it a shot anyway. didn't even see any trout at the first two spots, both of which are normally money for me. ugh. did see this guy, though, trying to scurry across the road.

Reptile Lizard Wood Scaled reptile Road surface


don't worry, i got better (ok, please tell me somebody gets this? anyone? anyone? bueller?)

anyway ... at the third spot, we finally found a few fish. i caught a nice brookie on one of my magic two-inch senkos, and a few minutes later, he caught his first trout, a feisty brown, on the same thing. there were a few small smallies and aggressive sunfish in the swim, so we had a good time. as we had walked into this section twenty minutes earlier, though, he saw a big ol' trout chillin' in the middle of the creek, 20 feet from the shore in about eight feet of water. it had ignored my brother's offerings, and anxious to get him his first trout, we left that one alone and tried to find some less-finicky fish.

this time, though, i told him we weren't leaving until he caught the big'un or he scared it completely away by running too many lures into his zone. we were going to stand there and change tactics as many times as possible. so he threw the senkos again, and nothing. after 10 minutes of that, i had him put on the two-inch pumpkinseed-and-orange grub with the 16th-ounce head, the combo we used at linville. he threw it well upstream and slowly matriculated it back toward the fish.

as the lure worked into the potential strike zone, we both held our breath. then, the beast turned abruptly in the direction of the grub. "i think my lure's right there," he whispered quickly, in the same excited tone we all used at one point as a kid to say, "i think i just heard santa's reindeer." man, i wish i could bottle the raw excitement of that moment of anticipation. then, boom. he felt the strike and set the hook. the trout did that thing all trout do, thrashing side-to-side, head-to-tail, in that awesome manner that takes them from nearly invisible in the water to unmistakable.

he worked it like a pro, holding the rod tip high and giving the fish room to run. i had made sure to adjust the drag just in case we fooled the trout into biting. then he said, "I wish we had that net." my stomach sank. i had a net in the car, but had forgotten to take it with me to that spot. we were now more than a half-mile from the car, but he was absolutely right. we needed the net. there was a bit of a rock bank where he was standing, and the water dropped three or four feet immediately. zero chance we could land this fish right there and have any regard for releasing him safely again. so i took off sprinting for the car, already completely drenched from the all-day rain. made it there, sprinted back (well, sprinted part of the way back. i need to run more often), praying all the way i wouldn't round the corner to see him holding an unbent rod and wearing a look of disappointment on his face.

he still had the fish. i let out a whoop. we landed the fish, took a couple quick pics and he released the beauty, making sure it was moving well before letting it slide out of the net and head back toward deeper water.

Smile Plant Fisherman Fishing net Fishing


yep, that'll do. i've caught plenty of picture-worthy trout in NC, but not sure i've ever enjoyed a catch more. and i didn't even get this fish.
 

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I like the way you tell the story. You've about convinced me to drag my old self down into the gorge next year, if I can find a fellow old nut. I've only hiked down to the river to view Linville Falls, which I understand is much easier than the places where folks actually go to fish. I'm not into defying death, but I don't mind working a bit to get to beautiful, low pressure water with some smallies in it.
 
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Awesome trip and story. My wife and I went down in the Linville Gorge 2x this year, 1st time was in April. Started at the top of Conley Cove trail it was 37-degrees and sunny. No one was fishing as far as i could see. We went up and down stream about 1/4 mile before we had to hike out. It took us 1:30 to get down and 1:50 to get out. Carrying a day pack with lunch/drinks emergency items and waders,boots,vest. both our packs weighed about 30lb.
I caught a 21.5" brown trout on a 4wt fly rod with a Honey worm.

Bedrock Sunglasses Goggles Wood Tree
Water Water resources Sky Fluvial landforms of streams Tree
Water Mountain Sky Water resources Cloud
 

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How do you *know* she is a witch??

Great story, great photos, thanks for sharing!
 
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We went down the Babel tower trail this spring also. Beautiful. But we won't do it again. It was like doing a stair machine for 2:30 coming out. It whooped us good.
We wanna hike in and camp. Get more time fishing. Probably will in spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Awesome trip and story. My wife and I went down in the Linville Gorge 2x this year, 1st time was in April. Started at the top of Conley Cove trail it was 37-degrees and sunny. No one was fishing as far as i could see. We went up and down stream about 1/4 mile before we had to hike out. It took us 1:30 to get down and 1:50 to get out. Carrying a day pack with lunch/drinks emergency items and waders,boots,vest. both our packs weighed about 30lb.
I caught a 21.5" brown trout on a 4wt fly rod with a Honey worm.
that's a great brown, especially down there. awesome fish.

i wind up doing the wet-wading thing down there, just because it's such an effort to get in and out even with basic food/water supplies in the backpack. you're a real trooper bringing in the waders, etc. ha. sometimes i'll bring dry shoes for the hike back up, but usually a dry pair of good socks does the trick.

can't wait to get down there when the leaves are changing. traveling for work now and won't be back in NC until november, though. hope i don't miss the peak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
wilson creek basically runs parallel to the linville gorge, about 10 miles east as the crow flies, but about an hour away by car because there's no easy way to get there. it's much, much more accessible for fishing purposes. google "wilson creek visitors center" and that'll put you smack in the middle of the fishable stretch (half hatchery, half DH).
 
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