Well, I haven’t been home long, but I’m ready to tap out my fly fishing report. It’s rare I want to run outside and do some cartwheels to celebrate the catching of four trout in one weekend, but that is a vast improvement over the last couple trips. Seeing as how cartwheels would probably prove fatal, I’m going to settle for an unspecified beverage in my tin cup.
I started out in NC on Saturday 2/19 by scouting some more wild trout I haven’t fished. Due to some road closures I had to do a little hiking. I jumped the gate and walked up the gravel road a ways, and then did my usual slide down the mountain creek entry with a backside 540 fakie. The point at which I hit the stream was about five to six feet wide. Not a bad little piece of wild water. I worked up it about 100 yards and it had narrowed to about two feet. Since this was primarily for scouting purposes I didn’t spend too much time here fishing, and moved on to some more familiar wild water. I had made up my mind I wasn’t going to fish anything smaller than a #20. That’s the approach I took. I fished several flies including #20 and #16 beadhead nymphs and #20 BWO parachutes. Dries still weren’t producing, so it was all about nymphs. Yay! (sarcasm) I missed at least four fish and managed to catch one small rainbow. Its always nice to run off the skunk on day one. I finished up by fishing some C & R water and missed one there too.
Sunday morning rolled around and the plan was to head back into SC to jump into Eastatoe Creek. Sometimes I see it spelled Eastatoee. The SCDNR designates the Eastatoee as wild trout water, so it was going to be risky. It was a five mile out and back hike just to get in and out, and that excludes the fishing. When I woke up Sunday morning I really wasn’t feeling it. Thanks to some more Sunday Tippets which had many points, but one point of emphasis was determination, and that is what I needed. That being the case, I got a move on and stuck to the game plan for the day.
As I made my way along the trail, I came to a fork, and rather than take the current access I took the road less traveled. It was an old logging road that looked like it might drop into the gorge a little quicker than the trail I was on. I wound my way through some switchbacks and it turned out to be an old trail that is no longer maintained. Some of the blazes still remained on some of the trees, and there were still a few wooden foot bridges and steps here and there. To make a long story slightly shorter, I came out at the same location I would have if I had stuck to the real trail. Its nice to deviate occasionally though. So I make my way down and there are two other guys fly fishing where I wanted to start. I gave it a few minutes and started in not too far downstream from them. I went with small nymphs for starters with not much happening there. I moved upstream and found a pool with some nice rainbows in it. I threw my tiny nymph in there a few times, and nothing. That’s when I decided to go big or go home. I tied on a #14 hare’s ear and went to work, resulting in one very nice rainbow landed. The action spooked the biggest one but I was still satisfied. I continued to fish with my “Black Ops” hare’s ear and caught two more on the day. I call it my “Black Ops” fly because its not a conventional hare’s ear. Want to see it? Too bad. Actually there is a picture of it on the internet somewhere, but I’m not telling where.
All in all it was great day of catching. I ran into the other two dudes, and they had caught one between the two of them. The one guy seemed pretty knowledgeable about the creek so I didn’t want to insult him by telling him maybe he shouldn’t wear that bright cardinal red jacket. Just a thought. After that I packed it on out using the new trail, and all was well.
So what flies worked? In NC the #20 and #16 beadheads worked the best. There were lots of bugs in the air on Saturday, but still no risers. It looked like some Olives, and maybe a Blue Quill, but its hard to say when they’re airborne. It could have been black stoneflies. In SC the hare’s ear is about I fished. An ordinary hare’s ear probably would have worked, or possibly a #10ish woolly bugger. Very few insects flying down in SC, but I did see three or four black stoneflies and one yellow stonefly. No rising trout here either, yet.