Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wilson Creek Trout
I'd had it up to here with Frau Nature. I've been trying for weeks to get in a trip to the hills to chase some trout and every time a plan got close to execution she'd rain on my parade. Monday was the last straw as the Geezer and I resigned to the postponement of the next day's trip to the North Fork of the New because of high, muddy conditions.
Pushed over the edge, I made a call to Bo Cash, owner and proprietor of the Table Rock Angler, a small shop tucked in the hills above Morganton, to see what conditions were like in the Wilson Creek area. While he hadn't been on the water for a few days, Bo said he did have a couple of clients hitting the creek that day and, if I'd call back after dinner, he'd have the lowdown.
True to his word, when I called back Tuesday night he reported that, while the water was up, the delayed harvest stretch of Wilson was clear and wadable. That was good enough for me so I threw some gear into the truck and planned an early departure. (Thanks Bo!!!!)
The four hour trip was quiet, as such trips should be, and the day broke cloudy and overcast with spits of rain on and off during the ride. Bo had nailed the conditions; plenty of water, but crystal clear and very wadable. I trotted out my 7'6" 4wt Redington CPS and, also at Bo's suggestion, tied on a weighted olive woollybugger (with a little flash in the tail) and started swinging it through the fast water, edge to center stream. Something quite surprising happened. I caught fish.
As I have said many times here, I am no trout fisherman and, for that reason, sometimes I feel like a fly fishing fraud. Don't laugh. I think that most people, when picturing fly fishing, imagine crisp mountain streams and the beautiful fish that live there. Look at the literature and you'll see it too. My vision of fly fishing is throwing fluffy flies to finicky trout; my version of fly fishing is throwing big dearhair poppers to southern bucketmouths. And I'm pretty good at my version, I'm not ashamed to say. That I still feel unaccomplished as an angler, though, suggests I've bought into someone else's romantic alpine stereotype. Silly me.
Today, though, was a good trout day; my best ever. I spent about 6 hours on a half-mile of water and actually caught trout in numbers; nothing big, most falling in the 8-12 inch range, predominantly rainbows with a few beautiful brookies thrown on for variety. I brought to hand some thirty fish, hooked but lost as many, and missed bumps from three times that number. Bo had suggested nymphing and egg patterns along with the woolly, but the bugger was working and I stayed with it for the day, loving every minute.
As the sun began to settle, I wandered back to the truck, grabbed a quick snack (a bagel and a tasty tangelo) and strung up the new bamboo, figuring to see if it still had the chops. Back on the stream, casting the 'boo was a disaster. It probably wasn't such a good idea to throw a whippy little 4wt graphite all day and then expect the stiffer, shorter, heavier stick to feel right in my hand. But despite my struggles, it was a joy to swing the rod and it did have the cache to bring home a couple of decent rainbows, despite my awkward manipulations. It makes me wonder how many fish this venerable old rod had brought home over the decades. The good news is that it may yet bring in a few more with me.
I left Wilson Creek with the sun and with the tantalizing taste of being a real fly caster, swinging bamboo and catching trout. I don't kid myself, one decent day on a hatchery supported stream doesn't make me a trout fisherman. But I've gotten a sniff and, as I suspected I would, I love it. And the saying goes, trout don't live in ugly places, so I'll be back, for the fish and the surroundings both.
Oh yes, I'll be back.