Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the Blue Ridge

Freestone Blue Ridge stream
For years we've been talking about poking around the environs of Asheville, NC. It's one of those places that's on our list of retirement locales. So, we had to check it out.

Part of the research, of course, is in the fishing. For that, we enlisted local expert and Orvis Endorsed Guide Brown Hobson. Brown guided out of Jackson Hole for a bit and now resides outside of Asheville. On Tuesday, he brought us to a fishery that's south of town (you know, between Asheville and Tennessee. That one.). In short, a good day of fishing.

Brown Hobson and the boys
scout the tail of the pool
The stream we were on was one of those beautiful freestone streams that originates somewhere where wood sprites and pixies live and gathers steam and fortitude as it slices through beautiful forests and fields. By the time it got to where we were fishing it was a couple of yards wide and had lovely pocket water followed by deep runs. And in those runs lived Brookies, Browns and Rainbows.

This stream was amazing. Two days after a dumping rain turned other rivers brown but this one was running very clear. When the sun got on the water we could sight cast to fish holding in the deeper runs. This water was testament to how important good land use practices are to keeping the streams in good shape. Of course, a couple of miles downstream is a paper mill that pretty much ruins the water (keep yer yaps shut if this clue helped you figure out the river), but up here it was clear and cold.

As one son said, "Dad, I don't think
that's going to fit in the net." That's
what you want to hear.
We fished two locations that were popular spots given the number of footprints in the sand and gravel as well as the well worn paths through the woods. The nice thing was that we had the water to ourselves so it was truly a family affair. My oldest seemed to be the fish magnet as he was on fish first and consistently. My youngest took a bit to find fishy water by with Brown's encouragement and his dogged persistence he got his Rainbow too.

Most of the fish were taken on nymphs though late in the day I had a fish come up and take a swirl at my strike indicator. Knowing that at least one fish was looking up, I swapped out the nymph rig for a #14 Rabbits Foot Emerger. It took me a few tries to get the drift correct, but eventually the fly got in the lane and a Rainbow surged from the gravel bottom and slammed the fly. Very satisfying.

The only Brown of the day. A
wild eight inch trophy.
I'm so pleased to see my children on the water. If for no other reason than they're not staring at some electronics screen. My youngest is a madman with a fly rod in his hand. He's the one that's been bugging me to fish the local pond and he was very pleased to catch his first trout on the rod he won at the TU auction a few weeks ago. He casts well, has intense focus and as Brown said, once he grows another foot he'll have even better skills. I look forward to his growth as an angler.

At one point, my oldest tired for fishing (yeah, I'm not sure I know what that means either) so I pointed out a big boulder in the middle of a long riffle and told him that would be a good place to go sit and listen to the river. I'll be damned if he didn't spend a good thirty minutes doing just that. Perhaps there's hope for the younger generation yet.

Pretty mountain stream
On Sunday, we took a hike out by a place called Graveyard Fields. It's now a high altitude meadow environment (thanks to logging and forest fires) but it did have a very pretty trout stream rolling through it. Since it was a camera day (as opposed to a fishing day) I didn't have a rod with me but I'm told there are Brook Trout in that thar stream.  We hiked along if for a good hour or so and it was perfect riffle, run, pool structure. Definitely on my list of streams to come back to.

I also got to play with the new camera. The Optio W90 I picked up a few months ago has sat in my vest waiting for fair weather (and warmer water) so that I could play with its underwater capabilities. While I won't be winning an Oscar anytime soon, here's the first Rainbow I caught. All of eight inches. Nailed a soft hackle Lightning Bug on the swing.


  1. Sounds like a great time on the water with the kids. Sure is nice when y'all have a location to yourself. Hopefully I'll have the same in a couple weeks for our opener.

  2. I wish I could spend more time sitting on a boulder, listening to a river! Very nice post.

    I like that area, too. I spent a week back-packing the Pisgah Nat'l Forest back in college.

  3. Pat - we saw other folks but always in the coming and going. Almost like shift work. But the good kind.

    T.J. - There's so much water in that region it must be a spectacular place to linger.

  4. Glad you're enjoying the area. It's why I call North Carolina home.

    Good stuff!!!

  5. Mike, great place! Came home last evening. We're already plotting a return. Spent far too little time away from civilization poking about the hills.

  6. Great post Steve and this is definitely one of the places on my list to check out. The smokies and the blue ridge sounds like a place I could live as well.

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on a great outing.
    Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

  7. Thx. Yup, definitely worth the trip.