Two Saturdays ago, we decided to try our luck at the Walhalla Fish Hatchery. No, not the hatchery itself, that’s a big no-no and you’ll get busted in a heartbeat. The East Fork of the Chattooga had received a write-up in my recent TU calendar and I thought it would be fun to take my little Redington 6’6″ and see how the stockers liked it. Had to share the spillway pool with a couple of bait fishermen, but I got below them into the tail of the pool and just began trying flies at random. So, the upshot of that was connecting with 3 trout before I got bored with it. Plus my foot was hurting – that’s why I really didn’t want to do any more than was necessary.
Another reason for going there was to see how bad the hemlocks were doing. It’s not looking good. Those little critters are just killing magnificent trees left and right. The Forest Service is going in there and dropping them before they have a chance to do harm. They are adding some woody debris into the East Fork, which benefit the fish in the long run. It will probably have the effect of discouraging all but the most determined corn users. One can only hope…
Last Wednesday, Rhee and I decided to spend a day up on the Chattooga. It was an absolutely beautiful day, though a little breezy at times. As usual, she wanted to get some fresh pictures, and I just wanted to tangle with some willing trout. Both of us got our wishes.
The water was up with a pretty good flow, but not so bad that it kept the trout from feeding. There was even a smattering of a few mayflies periodically coming off the water. I managed to stick a gray nymph pattern in the first rainbow and then a brown nymph in the second. The second trout was bleeding from its gills and I hope it survived when I released it. I tried to be quick and careful, but I’d be willing to bet that it would get picked up by one of the several bait fishermen sharing the water.
That was at the Burrels Ford bridge. I decided to take a look farther up the river with Rhee and Angus, our Scottie, so I climbed out, crossed the bridge and we went on up the South Carolina side. Found a likely spot where the river was a little broader and decided to wade upstream and out in the middle to reach some slightly quieter water. That was not one of the best ideas I ever had. The current was much stronger than I would have liked, but I persevered and finally got there. Thank God for that wading staff! At any rate, I received a few taps on the fly but was unable to make a connection. Decided that was enough for the day, and came out of the river much tireder than when I came in. Very strong currents, whew.
Well, actually I have, but it was on an outing with MBTU members to the East Fork of the French Broad in November. And it was a pretty good day overall. Started out landing a chunky 11″ brown that went several rounds and actually got out of the net the first go-round. Luckily the fly didn’t release its grip and I got a second chance to improve my fumbling net handling. Even captured all the action on camera, except for the netting part. Why? Simple. Have you ever tried to take a picture while playing a fish? That part is not too hard. But handling a camera while doing the same while netting or even landing the fish requires the installation of another hand and arm. But if anyone out there managed to do that, I’d sure like to see THAT.
But, Lady Luck was my silent partner (well, in addition to Wes – but he was up the river under a bridge) that day. After a few more uneventful casts I moved downstream and noticed a crudely trimmed stick that had obviously been put to use as a wading staff. Being without one at the time, I picked it up, cleaned it with my pocket knife, and used it the rest of the day. And it came in handy as a camera monopod later on. When I got home with it I had the inspiration to add a threaded rod onto each end to mount a camera and provide a point on the end for sticking in the ground. The small camcorder has a remote control that I plan to use for recording my activities, good or bad, on the stream. Later, in another stream of consciousness (pun not intended), I made an improved model from an old cedar fence post. But that’s another story…
The rest of the day provided a few more trout here and there, but by that time I was more interested in catching up to others and recording their exploits. So, I need to do a bit of video editing and throw that evidence (heh, heh) in here.
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…for my first big fish on the Davidson. This could easily become an obsession with me. To be able to stand anywhere in the river below the hatchery with trout of all sizes swimming around me and not get a strike? I may need professional help here, with the only question being what kind of professional help.
Asking fellow anglers (who are getting strikes and playing fish) what they are taking, and they are very helpful. But the same fly on the end of my line gets ignored. It’s like an out of body experience, almost. I don’t think my pants legs would get wet if it were an out of body experience. Would they?
I’m not giving up. I will be back.