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Tyler Legg
Charlotte, NC, United States
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Monday, July 5, 2010
The Davidson River is always a great place to fish. It's one of the best fisheries in the state. Stable and self-sustainable are two words that fit the bill when describing the "Big D". It's also an absolute zoo on Fourth of July weekends (which happens to fall between the busiest time of the year: between Memorial Day and Labor Day). A lot of folks have the day off, so I was expecting it to get pretty bad in terms of the crowds. The Davidson along 276 was producing a pretty big inner tube hatch. Looked like they were about a size 100/0. I didn't see any trout rising to them though. I think they put the fish down. Driving up the road, more inner tube hatches and more people. As we approached the curve in the road right before the hatchery, there were cars crammed into a small parking area. That gave it away. The resident 5 foot long black snake sprawled out across the road wasn't happy with all of the cars and people! He was striking at every car that passed him. They seem to do that a lot! I saw one in Cherokee sitting in the middle of a busy intersection biting tires as cars went by.

Anyways, it was an absolute zoo as we crossed over the bridge at the hatchery. Anglers were spaced out every 80 yards (or less). Managed to find a vacant parking space behind 2 activity buses. I took a hike a good ways downstream and fished. The Davidson was getting low and if we don't get any rain soon, it'll be very low in the coming days. A #30 midge attached to 7x and 8x tippet seemed to produce the most interest in the fish. The water was very clear, very low, and the fish were pressured. Big time. Within an hour, I threw in the towel. I made my way back to the truck, took a look at the Gazetteer, and quickly got away from the madness! Instead of turning right on 276, we took a left. Higher up on the mountain, the fish would be less pressured. As the pavement turned to dirt, the first parking lot at Cove Creek was packed. We continued on. The next parking area was filled to capacity with hikers, bikers and campers. Pressing on, we crossed a bridge that sat above a promising looking wild stream. At first glance, it looked like a classic wild brookie stream. You know, high gradient, small waterfalls creating plunge pools, narrow water squeezed between 2 walls of thick rhododendron, a classic southeastern brook trout stream. In an excited dash, I tied on a #14 Chartreuse Humpy. I swam through the rhodo and within minutes I was crawling into position for a cast. The first toss of my fly yielded a few short strikes. I thoroughly worked the pool over with a #12 Green Weenie. Eventually, a fish chomped down on my fly and I was able to make a proper hook set. It definitely didn't look or act like a brook trout. Upon closer inspection it was a wild 8 inch rainbow. Fun is an understatement. Although Jaws pictured above is only 7 or 8 inches, he put up a heck of fight. By the way, that big, green thing hanging out of his mouth is the infamous Green Weenie.




Progressing upstream, I began to see a few brook trout sporadically mixed in. Rainbows are light colored trout with dark markings. Brook trout are dark trout with light markings. Also, the rainbows were always found in the faster water. It's in their genes to flock towards faster, more turbulent water. Brook trout on the other hand, sit and wait in calm water. This stream has it all, plenty of slack water and it's fair share of fast riffles and short runs.


Then it happened. When I least expected it, I was starring at an absolute monster (well, for this tiny stream). I watched as a 14" wild rainbow sat in the tailout of this pool (left picture). I was shocked to see a fish of this proportion thriving in an 8-10 inch deep pool, only a few feet across. Of course, I had to see what his reaction was when I placed a Green Weenie in front of him. He had the fly in his mouth the second it hit the water. I had to remind myself to set the hook. In a split second, he wiggled off. Then, in a desperate search, he did laps around the pool trying to find the fly he just lost. I made another cast right in front of him and he nailed it once more. I set the hook this time, blinked, and he wiggled off again. Then he had nothing to do with me. I called it a day. I hiked back with the company of a half a million gnats that followed me all the way back downstream for half a mile. I'll be back for sure. I may even pass up the Davidson in it's entirety and fish this little Appalachian stream next time I'm in that area. Lesson learned, never, NEVER pass up a small stream. You never know what's in them!

2 comments:

Mark said...

Now that's my kinda stream. It will surprise you what you can find. Very little fishing pressure on that type of creek too. They'll jump on just about anything that hits the water.

Tar Heel Fly Fishing said...

I love these small streams too. IMO, they're much more fun than biting your teeth on a crowded, pressured river. I think the adventure is the best part.

For some reason, it was surprisingly tough on this stream! In a lot of the pools you only have one shot at a fish. They don't rise to your dry a second time. They would usually hit a nymph a few times, but not dries. It was fun for sure! I'm definitely going to explore this stream a little more next time.

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