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.


Popular posts from this blog

A Fisherman Remembers Jocassee Valley

In my search for information on the history and tradition of fly fishing for trout in the mountains of South Carolina, I was extremely fortunate to have made the acquaintance of a true all-around outdoorsman and native son of the Appalachians, Dr. Thomas Cloer.  Our correspondence so far has been by telephone only, but I hope that once this current health crisis dies down, we can get together in person. When I first contacted Mr. Cloer, I didn't know what to expect. Why would he be interested in anything I had to say? But I was pleasantly surprised when he returned my call. Within the first moments of our conversation, I felt as if I had known him forever. Maybe it was the kinship felt between two fly fishermen, or perhaps it was his kind voice, warm and familiar, a voice steeped in the tradition and language of the Southern Appalachians. "Joshua, I would be more than happy to talk to you about fly fishing." Dr. Thomas Cloer is Professor Emeritus of Furman Univers

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 times

Love Letter

I wake this morning, to find your scent still lingering on my skin. With sleep in my eyes, I try to shake the heady buzz from the hours of being entwined with you the day before. I feel your residual energy flowing all around me. I step into the shower just to feel the rivulets of water wash over my body. You are all I can think about this morning, and I know that I will not find peace until I return to your side. I am completely, utterly, and desperately obsessed with you. When I look upon you, I am captivated. I am enamored by your beauty, by your natural sensuous movements. I follow every curve, trace all of your soft edges with my eyes, immerse myself in the rise and fall of your breath. You whisper mysteries known only to the deepest parts of my consciousness, and the narrative you speak to my heart is as old as the earth. I have watched you suffer mistreatment at the hands of so many before. You have been taken advantage of, used and abused, stripped of your purity. I