10-19-2020 New Creeks in Madison County
After a morning of catching cookie-cutter stockers in the Delayed Harvest water on Laurel River (I'm right about the name, NCWRC and USGS are wrong), I got the urge to catch some wild trout on dry flies and headed up to Little Laurel Creek. Little Laurel used to be a Hatchery Supported stream, but now the roadside stretch is undesignated. Regardless of designation, it is chock full of wild rainbow trout, and there are a couple of easy-access (and no posted sign) stretches that I fish when I'm in the area. I had tried a couple of the tributaries in the past with no luck, but because the water levels had been so good this fall, I decided to try again. I started with Pounding Mill Branch, which begins in Pisgah National Forest, but flows through a short stretch of private property before running into Little Laurel. Not far upstream from the mouth, there used to be posted signs and an honest-to-goodness Native American sweat lodge, but the signs and sweat lodge are now gone. There is also an old trail that follows the creek and eventually reaches the Appalachian Trail, but after the lower access was blocked by the property owners, trail #297 has not been maintained very well. I fished up to the National Forest boundary and caught three wild rainbows to make Pounding Mill Branch new creek #986.
After that, I fished a stretch of Little Laurel and caught lots of rainbows on a dry fly, including the nice one below.
At the point where Little Laurel turns east and away from the road, Allen Creek forks to the left and follows the road towards Tennessee. I only fished up Allen creek for about 30 yards, but that was far enough to catch the two trout required to make it new creek #987.