Skip to main content

A Trout Stream of My Own



Late evening haze, the warm glow of sun on the surface riffles of the North Fork finds me casting a hare's ear soft hackle, mending the drift downstream, trying to keep from hanging up in the tangled arms of a half-submerged yellow poplar tree that fell sometime in the squall of late winter, strong icy winds blowing across the lower mountains, at the foot of the Blue Ridge escarpment.

There are not very many trout here, in fact, I don't know if the state DNR even stock this stream anymore like they once did. What fish I do catch here are usually good ones, though, and put up one hell of a fight to match the struggle an angler must endure to locate and catch one of these wild, holdover fish. 

This stream is moody. At times, she is as calm and lazy as a summer day, water slow as a glass of fine wine. Other times, she becomes a handful, rough and dangerous, full of pent-up rage, making it difficult for even the most skilled of waders to stand in her powerful current. The waters of the North Fork are cold and deep, sometimes glacial when you're standing waist deep, trying to keep a foothold and at the same time fish the runs around bank edges, the green pools, and under the thick, overhanging brush on the stream's edges.

The North Fork is not a wide river, casts must be short, but have to be calculated, executed with precision. An angler will lose many flies to the low-hanging trees, the rhododendron, and deadfalls all along her banks. The prospect of catching a fat rainbow or brown trout keeps me going, helps me press on through the rapids cutting between massive rocks, and deep sand in the bends around thick brush.

******************************************************
Any local angler reading this knows exactly where I am talking about when I mention the North Fork. Many fly fishers will turn their nose up when they realize what trout stream I'm talking about. I gladly fish that stretch often for two reasons: 1) It's close to home, and 2) not many people fish it, opting for stretches of river that holds more fish, and is easy to navigate. 

I don't care if no other angler would want to fish there, in fact, I am happy the North Fork doesn't get any love from most fly anglers.

Slightly altering the name is not my attempt to try and disguise the location from other anglers, but to keep from mentioning it to what I call the "general recreationalist," non-anglers that crowd the ground around any trickle of water they can find when the weather turns warm. Those better-known stretches of trout water not only attracts fly anglers, but also picnickers, large families looking for a "natural" area to have a barbeque, and probably some folks who use the water as a trash dump, or a place to do their laundry.

All I am saying is, find your own place, and try to make it yours. Sometimes, especially in these parts, you will have to share the waters with other anglers, maybe a Sunday tourist or two. Be willing to fish places that other anglers wouldn't be caught dead fishing. Find a place so far off the beaten path that no sane person would ever try to find. And once you find one of those places, keep your mouth shut.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Survival: For Real

In my library, I have several books on foraging and survival skills. One of my favorites is Camping and Woodcraft by Horace Kephart. There are many guides of edible and medicinal plants, water purification, and magazine articles on shelter building skills. But having all of this information at my fingertips doesn't do me any good if I don't get my hands dirty from time to time, practicing these skills. Not only does it make me feel more confident in the woods, but it is a lot of fun, too.I would like to think that if I had to, I could survive and provide for my family from the woods and waters around here. I could probably kill plenty of squirrels or catch enough fish to feed us for a little while, but it would be a full time job, especially with a wife and kids.On The Fourth of July, though, I witnessed something that gave me a whole new perspective on survival-- actually watching someone having to forage for food on the streets of Greenville. This is what I like to call A Ch…

A Letter To My Father

Two years ago, this very night, you were still here among the living. You had no idea of what was to come in the early hours of the morning, but I know you had some inkling. You'd been talking about it for a while, and the Sunday before, I was told that you 'd made things right.Your mind and body were weak from fighting to hold onto your spirit, but your spirit was so much stronger, and it was determined to be set free. Your pain would soon be over, but you liked to fight, always did. You were the most stubborn human being that I have ever known, and I know that at the end, you were no different. I'm sure it wasn't your choice to go, despite all those times you cried, saying you wanted to die and be put out of your misery. When the medics had worked so long on you and decided to give up on you, your heart started back beating, as if out of spite.  I wonder sometimes what those last few hours were like for you. I wish I could've been there for you, like all the time…

After Dark

I stayed up way too late last night. Chase called on his way home from work and told me that we were going catfishing. That's usually how things like this begin.

My brand new son- in- law Bryan was going too, although my daughter wasn't crazy about the idea. No worries though, she would stay at our house and await his return. She ended up asleep on my side of the bed until we got back. Apparently, their agreed upon curfew was 11:30, and he did his best to keep it despite Chase's nudging him to stay longer. My son has no concept of time when it comes to fish, whether they are biting or not.

So there we stood in the dark, on a bridge that crosses the Tyger  River. Every creature that flies or creepeth upon the ground was out. The noise from insects and frogs in the surrounding swamp was deafening. Chase was our catfish guide. He'd brought all the rods, bait and any tackle we might need. Chase's bait of choice was chunks of chicken breast marinated in his secret formu…