Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Laurel Fork

I returned to Brevard, NC last Friday to try a different stream for the ellusive Native Brookie. Friday evening I fished Avery Creek and caught two small wild rainbows. The stream was very small and the water level was low.
Both rainbows were caught on a #18 Light Cayhill Mayfly.

Susanne and I spent the night in Brevard and I tried my luck again on Saturday morning. I started fishing about 6:30 am on Laurel Fork. Laurel Fork is a main tributary of the Davidson River. The conditions were much better than Avery Creek. There were many small plunge pools and pocket water. Laurel Fork is a "Catch and Release" only stream. It contains both hatchery raised fish and wild trout. Because it is a "Catch and Release" stream there is less pressure from fishermen.
I caught a nice 9" (23cm) brown. This was my first brown trout in the US.

I also caught several nice wild rainbows, the largest being about 10" (25cm).

That night we visited some friends in Highlands, NC and had a very nice meal at the Fire Side restaurant. I had pan-fried rainbow trout and spicy grits. They get the trout locally in Andrews, NC.
I still was not able to catch a Wild Native Brook Trout (brookie). My fly fishing mentor Dr. Kawano is very eager for me to catch a Native Brookie. I have been researching native brookie streams in North Carolina. Here are a few of the things I have learned so far.
1. Brookies require pristine, clear, cold mountain streams. Pressure from acid rain and silt from improper development have led to a decline in brookie habitat.
2. Brookies do not compete well with the non-native trout species (rainbows, browns and northern brook trout) that have been stocked in the mountain streams of the Appalachians over the past century.
3. As a result of habitat destruction and competition from non-native species, the native brookies can only be found in the most remote high elevation streams in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.
4. Native Brookies will likely be found in streams at elevations above 4000 ft that are cut-off from lower streams by a natural barrier (such as a waterfall) that prevents the non-native fish from traveling upstream.
I discovered a research paper from Western Carolina University where DNA testing was performed on wild brookies in Jackson County. It found many streams where the brookies had interbread with non-native northern brookies that were introduced through stocking. It also found several streams that still have pure Native Appalachian Brookies. I will not publish the names of these streams here, but if you promise to catch and release I might email them to you.
I can't wait to try to catch some of these little jewels.

1 comment:

  1. Hi David:
    Now you are coming closer to a real fisherman.
    I am expecting to see a picture of native brookies you caught.
    Take a time and chase your dream, David!