Research and Development

Yesterday I took the day for some research and development on a section of stream I’ve been aware of but haven’t ventured to explore yet.

Stella keeping her eyes peeled for water.

My goal was not necessarily to fish but to scout for future fishing opportunities. I did, however, take a rod with me just in case I found an appropriate circumstance to fish.

First of all, it was a lot of work. Which is part of the fun about discovering new places. From scouring maps to driving on dead end private and forest service roads and bushwhacking. This area is in a known area of brook trout drainages off the Blue Ridge Parkway but I’ve not been able to find information about this particular stream. The beauty of autumn along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a definite bonus though and it's a perfect time to explore new water.

An old nondescript logging trail ended into a thicket of laurel and rhododendron.

I saw no signs of any recent human activity and there was no established trail though I did see old overgrown logging trails, fords and piles of stones that had a purpose at one time.

An old stone foundation or ambush point?

Saw some good sized brook trout and caught a bunch of sub 4”ers along with one accidental 8”er. I tried to stay out of the water and leave the larger fish alone as they looked to be starting to pair up for spawning. And though I didn’t see any redds, I didn’t want to disturb anything I could not see.

First signs of water

When I first reached the stream the first fish I saw was about a 10” brook trout. I was floored!  Not at all what I expected to see. The water was extremely clear and the sun was bright so he spooked quickly. He and a few other friends were in skinny and well protected water at the headwaters of this stream. I saw several more this size or smaller and all were feeding actively.

Clean and clear water

I bushwhacked downstream for about two miles and then walked up the stream bed, staying out of the low and clear water looking for fishy holds. The fish were everywhere they were supposed to be. I occasionally fished tail outs and riffles where the smaller fish would be to see what would be there. After one fish I’d stand up and look more carefully to see who else was there and would often see larger fish scatter. Usually every first cast produced a 2-4”er - barbless hooks and a little slack and I was usually able to release them quickly.

First fish on the mystery stretch

Walking around I saw that a recent rain washed a lot of the fallen leaves downstream, clearing out what I imagined would have been a lot of leaf jams.  Evidence of higher consistent water levels, plenty of holds and hides for the fish, and a healthy growing fish population with quality forage opportunities show promise for an excellent fishery.  

I brought along an old beat up Featherweight reel loaded with a WF3 from 406 Fly Lines and a rod I’m developing that I’ve nicknamed the Blue Ridge Special - a 6’8” 3wt. This place was an ideal test for it. Research and development indeed.

I accidentally left my main fly box at home but found a size 16 black ant imitation in the Jeep that I took along.  Simplicity at it's finest.

There was a healthy population of yearling brookies everywhere

It was a fantastic and totally exhausting day, especially given that I wasn’t sure what to expect. And now I can’t wait til I can go back to fish for real!

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Thanks for reading!