Monday, December 29, 2008

Davidson River

Yesterday, we had good fishing on the Upper Davidson River. We were catching them mostly on pink egg imitations using high-stick nymphing technique.

Tim caught a beautiful brown.

Dave landing a nice sized rainbow.

This brown is 15+ inches long (I wish I had taken the time to actually measure it). It is the largest trout I have caught in the lower 48.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fall Fishing in Brevard

Last week I spent 4 days of fishing with friends from work in Brevard, NC. The weather was great, chilly 45 degree mornings and warm 70 degree afternoons. We caught a lot of fish the first 2 days (Wednesday and Thursday) on the North Mills and Little River. The streams we fished were Delayed Harvest catch and release only. Mostly stocked brook trout.

Then Friday and Saturday we fished the Wild section of the Upper Davidson River and caught some beautiful wild rainbows and browns.

Tim's 31 ft RV had all the comforts of home, including satellite TV!

Relaxing after breakfast.

Tim and Eric getting ready for fishing on the North Mills River. Eric caught a ton of fish this day using a streamer and stripping it in.

8" Brook Trout. This was a typical sized fish for the North Mills. They were taking mostly streamers and nymphs. Although I did catch a few on dry fly during the warm afternoon.

12" Brook Trout. Probably a hold-over brookie from the previous year stocking. I'm guessing because he was larger than most of the other fish.

Small wild Brown Trout from Upper Davidson River.

14" Brook Trout. This is the largest trout I have caught so far in America. I saw him tailing a spawning bed near the back of a large pool. I drifted a size 18 nymph by him and he took it on the first pass. He did not fight very hard, which was a good thing because I was using a 7X tippet. I waded out to the middle of the pool to net him to keep from breaking him off.

14" Brook Trout

Tim on the North Mills.

David S. on The Little River.

David S. stalking trout on the Upper Davidson.

10" wild brown caught on Upper Davidson in the Wild section. I made a long cast to a calm deep pool just downstream of a waterfall. I could not see my fly, but I did see a small dimple in the water when he took the fly. I set the hook hard and felt that I had a fish on. He fought hard and tried to go under an undercut rock on the side of the pool. I steered him back to the center of the pool and was able to net him. He had very nice color. There is just no comparison between the wild trout and the stocked trout.

10" wild brown close-up.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Snowbird Brookies

Last Sunday I finally went to a special creek that I have been wanting to fish for a long time, the Big Snowbird Creek near the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina. I knew fishing this creek would be a challenge physically because it is very remote.
I woke up at 3:00 am Sunday morning and drove to the trail head (called the Junction) arriving at 6:45 am. It is called the Junction because of a narrow gage railroad used for logging in the area during the 1920's and 30's. The native brook trout were completely extirpated from Snowbird Creek because of heavy silting from the logging operation. Fortunately, the creek has recovered and is a revitalization success story. It now contains the largest known Brook Trout in the Southern Appalachians!
Artifacts from the logging operation can still be seen along the trail.

From the Junction it is about a 5 mile hike upstream to above Big Falls where the Brookies live. It took about 2 1/2 hours to make this hike. By 9:45 am I was fishing.
At first the fishing was very slow. I caught this pretty little 4 inch brookie first, but I was after his big brother.

Next I caught a nicer 7 inch brookie. I was happy but still hoping for something a little bigger.
Finally a landed an 8 1/2 inch brook trout. My biggest for the day. I talked to another fisherman who said he caught a 12 inch brookie! So I know there are bigger ones in Snowbird.
I caught a total of 5 fish for the day. I only fished for 4 hours before it was time to start the long hike back to the car.
I think next time, I should plan to spend the night if I want to get into the bigger fish further upstream.
But, this was a good scouting trip.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Upper Chattooga

It is finally beginning to feel like fall. The water is cooling down and the fish are becoming more active. So last weekend I decided to try fishing one of the South Carolina trout streams, the Chattooga River in Oconee County. This was my first time to fish the Chattooga, in fact this was the first time I have fished "seriosly" for freshwater trout in my home state of South Carolina. I was pleasantly surprised.
I parked at Burrells Ford Bridge and hiked and fished my way up stream to a point called Ellicott Rock (about 3.5 miles). Ellicott Rock is a stone marker at the point where North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia all intersect.

The Chattooga is a hatchery supported river with the South Carolina State hatchery located on the East Fork of the Chattooga. The Chattooga is known for having very large brown trout, some up to 27 inches!

It is also famous for being the location where the hit movie "Deliverance" was filmed.

I did not catch any large brown trout but I did catch one small brown and a couple of nice 11"-12" rainbows.

I am trying to learn to fish using nymphs. So this day was nymph only day. I caught all the fish using a #20 WD40 nymph.

Here is a nice paw print left in the sand near the waters edge. It is from the black bear which is native to this area.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Upper Davidson

I went to the upper section of the Davidson River yesterday. It is designated "wild- catch and release only". I had a good day, a total of about 25 fish, but I quit counting around 15. The "fish of the day" was this wild 11 inch brown trout. He made a good account for himself on the light #2 weight rod.

I caught 3 other browns, 2 of which were nice size.

I still have not gone back to the "secret" stream. I want to wait to after a nice rain, so the fish will be more active and not so stressed from the low water levels.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Appalachian Slam!

What is the Appalachian Slam? This is what fishermen call it when they catch all 3 species of trout of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in a single day. Yesterday, I fished the wild section of the Davidson River in the morning and caught a small brown trout and a 10" rainbow. Another angler was fishing downstream of me and wanted to pass. Normally, fly fishing etiquette would require that he walk around me and go far upstream. But, because I had already caught two pretty fish and he had been fishing after me, I told him to just go ahead of me.
I decided that I wanted to try for some Brook trout so I left the Davidson and went to a new stream that I had been wanting to try. The stream requires a difficult hike and climbing up 2 waterfalls. But it was well worth the effort. The stream had many small brookies at first. The further upstream I went the larger the fish got. At the back of a large pool there was an undercut rock that looked like a perfect holding area for a brookie. I took my time and tried many different patterns including nymphs. Finally, a large 10" brook trout took a #16 Royal Coachman and gave a nice fight. Unfortunately, I was using a barbless hook and I did not have net. So, he escaped right at my feet! But, I was very happy! I hooked atleast two more large brookies a little upstream and lost both of them. The point is, I have found a new stream with large sized brookies and I think it receives very little fishing pressure. I can't wait to go back with my net. Normally I don't like to use barbed hooks but I usually shallow hook the brookies and they are really good at shaking the fly from their mouth.

I'm afraid I am going to have to keep the location of this new stream a secret. Sorry!

So after fishing the "secret" stream for a few hours, I headed back to the Davidson to fish the evening rise. I found a large, deep pool where the Davidson and Looking Glass creek intersect. Just upstream of the pool is a nice riffle on the Davidson side. I knew this would be a likely spot for the evening rise. I waited until about 5:30 pm until I started seeing trout rising to insects floating on the water. My first cast was about 60 feet to the top of the riffle with a large grasshopper imitation. It drifted naturally for about 10 feet and was sucked under by a very large rainbow. I struggled to keep him from getting into the rocks at the head of the riffle, but I lost him. Usually the largest fish in the area gets first dibs on any food floating by. I'm guessing this one was about 20". The fish continued rising and I caught 5 more medium sized rainbows (10"-12") out of the same riffle and pool.

So, for the day, I had my first Appalachian Slam. Can you identify the three species in the following pictures? Sorry the picture quality is not very good, I forgot my camera and had to use my cell phone.Well? If you're not sure the answers are below.









1) Rainbow Trout

2) Brown Trout

3) Brook Trout

><> Tight Lines

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jackson Hole Cutthroat

On my return trip from British Columbia, I made a pit stop in Jackson, Wyoming to meet up with some other friends from Japan (Take-san, Ongawa-san and Kawasumi-san). We stayed at the ranch home of Hamano-san located at the base of the Grand Tetons near the National Elk Refuge. It was a beautiful log cabin with amazing views! Here is a view from the back yard.We stayed in the guest cabin. Take-san relaxing before heading back to Flat Creek for more fly fishing. Saturday morning Hamano-san took us to meet one of his neighbors, Yvon Chouinard. Yvon is a famous mountain climber, author, fly fisherman and business man. He is most recognized as the founder of the Patagonia clothing and gear company.

Take-san and Koichi-san discuss fly tying techniques. We were all a bit star struck. For outdoor enthusiast, meeting Yvon Chouinard is like meeting the Pope.

I had to sidle-up for a picture. (-:

After our brush with celebrity, it was time to head to Flat Creek. Flat Creek is a slow moving spring creek that winds through the Grand Teton valley. The banks have been undercut making perfect hiding places for the skitish cutthroat. We used terrestrials flies such as grasshoppers and ants during times when there was no mayfly hatch.

But around 12:00 noon there was usually a large hatch of grey drake mayflies. This one was nice enough to pose for a picture.

Clouds of mayflies can be seen rising into the sky as they hatch from the water. This drives the trout into a feeding frenzy, a situation every fly fisherman hopes for.

It was during a may fly hatch that I caught my first cutthroat.

Notice the red marking or "cut" under the head from which they are named.

After a few photos we released the cutthroat to fight another day. I caught 4 cutthroat in total for the two days. Not a lot of fish but I was happy.

I owe a special thank you to my new friend Koichi-san, who guided me on Flat Creek.

Koichi-san is a professional fly tyer and expert fly fisherman. I learned a lot during my two days of fishing together. I hope you will visit his blog...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

BC Steelhead on the Fly

Last week I had the great fortune of reuniting with two of my good friends from Japan (Dr. Kawano and Mr. Sakai-san) in British Columbia. We met in Vancouver and flew to the Kalum River Lodge in Terrace, BC for 6 days of guided steelheading on the world famous Skeena River. The Skeena has the largest run of wild steelhead in the world and currently holds the world record for the largest steelhead.

The first day, Dr. Kawano landed the first steelhead of the trip. The guide (Andrew Rushton)estimated it at about 20 lbs. He said this is a "dream fish". The fact that it was taken on a fly rod makes it even more special. Steelhead are protected and it is illegal to keep them in Canada, catch and release only. So after a few quick photos we allowed the trout to continue his journey upstream to spawn. Unlike salmon, steelhead do not die after spawning, they return to the sea and will spawn many times in a lifetime.

Mr. Sakai-san caught this beautiful steelhead. It measured 40 inches long and had a 20 inch girth. According to the steelhead weight formula, it weighed 21 lbs. It had great coloring around the gills. A steelhead is actually a sea-run rainbow trout. So they often have greenish backs and red/purple on the sides, especially during spawning.

I caught this steelie on a single hand 9 wt fly rod. Estimated weight is 13 lbs. These fish are incredibly strong. Most anglers consider the steelhead to be the strongest sportfish in the world pound for pound. I can believe it! I landed 5 steelhead for the week, size ranged between 12 and 15 lbs.

Mr. Sakai-san doing battle.

Nakamoto-san, another guest at the lodge, caught his first ever steelhead.

Arimoto-san shows off his first steelhead.

This is a chum salmon (in spawning colors) caught on the Kittimat River.

Coho salmon.

Tony, the assistant guide caught the largest steelhead of the week, about 25 lbs!

Group photo wearing our Skeena 2008 commemorative shirts. Me, Mr. Sakai-san and Dr. Kawano

Everyone caught a lot of fish and had a great time. We have already started discussing our 2009 fishing trip. Some possibilities include New Zealand, Patagonia and Christmas Island. But who knows?

If you would like to take a trip to BC for steelhead fishing, I can highly recommend Andrew Rushton's Kalum River Lodge.