Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Taking Tenkara To The Mountain Before The Snow

    I was so inspired by my recent trip to the Fly Fishing Show up in Winston Salem that regardless of the weather I was going to hit the mountains for a bit of secluded river fishing.  I had been wanting to hit this little known blue line way off the main road so with my trusty Tenkara rod and a small box of flies I made my way up stream to start off on one of the hardest fishing trips I have made in the past few years.
  For two hours I battled my way up river fighting and yet thoroughly enjoying the dense stream side vegetation, frequent downpours of cold rain and sleet, cascading waterfalls, and crystal clear waters.  Without a fin to show for my effort, I came to realize that the fish that live here are few and extremely skittish.  In my mind I knew they were there - they had to be, It was just to beautiful of a habitat for trout not to live there. Then, finally, through one of the most remote gorges in the area, I stalked my prey until eventually I came to this beautiful bottleneck with a bend that ran into a long plunge pool.
  Crawling on my hands and knees I approached the bank of the pool and tossed a black bead head stone at the waterfall.  As it emerged from the boiling head of the pool I saw a flash from the deep and instantly knew I had hooked what I was hunting.  After a fun fight with the fish, the Tenkara rod, and an overhanging rhododendron I soon had one of the crown jewels of back country fishing.  A perfect stream raised rainbow; brilliant colored cheeks, deep green back, and a set of crisp fins that were as close to perfect as you can get.
   I ended up fishing for another four hours, struggling with every bend in the river and downed tree, to make my way up stream four miles where I thought a trail crossed.  Eventually I came to a waterfall much to large to climb so I decided to pack it in for the day and set off cross country in hopes of hitting the trail.  On the way I came across some interesting signs of wildlife.
   In the picture to the left I came across a termite ravaged tree which in itself isn't that interesting but as I looked around the tree I saw what appeared to be claw prints all around the tree.  It may not show up in the photo but this large claw print was eight feet up the tree with a whole lot more even higher.  I suspect a black bear was eager to get at the tasty termites.  Scat around the area confirmed this for me. (My wife is going to cringe when she hears this since it is not a piece of information I shared with her.  No dobt she is going to pitch a fit the next time I hit a remote blueline.)  Needless to say, as I beat my way through the brush trying to locate the trail, I made sure to made a whole lot of noise just in case.

  Eventually I found the trail on the opposite side of a large ridge and made the easier hike back down the mountain to my car.  Its amazing how one perfect fish can make the day and effort all worth it.  I love hooking into big fish as much as the next guy but a stunningly beautiful wild trout is in a category unto itself.  Add to that the knowledge that the place he was caught was so remote that maybe only a handful of anglers (but probably less) a year make the effort to reach it and I leave with a large smile on my face.
   Today, as I write this post, the snow is coming down in large flakes covering everything in a blanket of white.  School is of course cancelled - because in the south we share our one snow plow with the whole state - the kids are itching to go play, and I feel blessed to live in a land so filled with beauty everywhere I look.
   This coming weekend the temperatures will again be in the high fifties and spring will be coming around the corner soon.  The fishing will pick up, the bugs will hatch and nature will again be alive with new growth.  Until then I am going to adapt the philosophy of embracing the day.  A warm Irish Coffee and my fly tying bench is calling.... right after I finish building a snowman with the kids.


Bill Trussell said...

That was a rugged outing for sure; but take heart spring is just around corner. So impressed with your header image--thanks for sharing

Brk Trt said...

Beautiful rainbow.
The snows are a coming.

Mel said...

Really enjoyable read. You certainly paid your dues for that fish.