What do you do when your recent western trout trips have been, how can I say this nicely, a bit short of stellar? You simply turn the other way and head east, of course, and chase trout of a different kind.
One of the joys of living in the heart of North Carolina, the Variety Vacationland, is that by driving but a couple short hours you can find yourself on a tumbling Appalachian mountain stream or along the grassy inlets and surf of the eastern seaboard. For a fisherman, it's a delightful dilemma - which way to go? But after the battering I've taken on my recent excursions to points west, a change of scenery made perfect sense. And the deal was closed with a call from my buddy Troy who invited me down to his place on Emerald Isle to chase some speckled trout and, with luck, a redfish or two around the grass and oyster beds of those intercoastal waterways.
|Sunrise, In My Windshield!?|
So I loaded the kayak and hit I-40, heading east, though the Ridgeline, out of sheer habit, tried to turn west at every opportunity. It was odd to watch the sun rise in my windshield, and not in my rearview mirror as it does at the outset of most of my fishing expeditions. Maybe my luck would turn around as well.
And on the smooth salt waters near the southern end of Emerald Isle, it did, as we paddled the weeds and caught trout - speckled trout - by the dozen. It felt good to catch fish in numbers once again, despite my usual lame protestations that it's the fishing, not the fish, that puts me on water. And, after weeks of waving a wispy 4wt in still mountain air, slinging an 8wt from the seat of my pants in 10-15mph coastal breezes was work, but I labored happily through the day.
The redfish did not appear, but the host of specs provided hours of entertainment. Though we caught mostly dinks, in the 12-to-16 inch range, Troy did manage one decent specimen, perhaps three pounds, that kept us hopeful and anticipating each cast to be the one. If fishermen weren't ridiculously optimistic they'd be simply miserable.
We stretched the day to its limit, beating the sun off the water, though only barely, then loaded the yaks and I turned the truck west, this time into the sunset, instead of away. My arms and shoulders were comfortably sore from a day paddling, swinging a big rod in coastal winds, and dragging in willing trout.
And if those western browns, brooks, and 'bows don't get a little more willing as well, I may just find my way east a bit more often.
It felt good to smell like fish again.