6/18/22 Blue Line Fishing in the High Country!
Bobby and I camped a couple of nights at Big Horse Creek, and I got five new creeks, including one from the bucket list! All of these creeks could be considered "blue lines", and three of them are not recognized as trout water by the state. None would be considered a "destination" stream, but I had fun anyway, achieving a NC wild trout "slam", or as I like to call it - a "hat trick" (brook, brown and rainbow) both days. We also took a side trip to an old favorite so Bobby could catch a brookie.
Peak Creek has been on my bucket list for a while, mainly because it is listed in the NCWRC regulations as a hatchery-supported stream, and I had fished it once a few years ago with no luck. We fished a stretch near the Parkway, and I caught wild browns, a spec, and a wild rainbow.
Dog Creek is an undesignated stream that runs into South Fork New River - I caught wild browns to make it new creek #1018.
Little Phoenix Creek is another undesignated South Fork New River tributary that runs right beside a state road as it flows off of Phoenix Mountain. I caught rainbows and specs to make it new creek #1019.
After breaking camp the next morning, we headed over the hump to the North Fork New River.
Rich Hill Creek is an undesignated stream that runs into the hatchery-supported section of North Fork New River. I caught wild browns and a nice rainbow that would not cooperate for a picture to make it new creek #1020.
From there, we followed the North Fork up into the headwaters in Watauga County. It is designated as wild trout water from where it begins at the confluence of Maine Branch and Mine Branch down to the Ashe County line. Both of the headwater tributaries originate in Elk Knob State Park and are regulated as wild trout water. Bobby fished up Mine Branch and caught some specs. I fished up Maine Branch and caught some small browns and even smaller specs, and then I caught the beauty in the pic below.
After Bobby left, I headed back home through Boone, planning on stopping at one more creek. I made it as far as Grandfather Mountain on 105, when I decided to try the wild trout section of the Watauga River. My plan was to fish a couple of hundred yards upstream from the bridge until I reached a tributary that would be a new creek. Up this high, the Watauga is a small stream with crystal clear water and really big boulders. I mentioned in my previous post that the wild browns here are some of the hardest to catch - just thinking about casting will send them scurrying under rocks. I did manage to catch one on a dry fly on my way to the tributary.
Green Ridge Branch is a tributary that flows down the north side of Grandfather Mountain and into the wild trout section of the Watauga River. It has a very steep descent, with big boulders and plunge pools, but there is not much water in the summer months, I had tried it twice before with no luck, and as I fished up it this time using a dry fly, I spooked every fish in every decent hole. After doing all the boulder climbing I cared to do, I sat down and smoked a cigar to rest the fish a bit. Then I tied on an old Southern Appalachian stonefly nymph pattern called a Coffey's Creeper, which looks more like a caddis larva, or even a wasp larva to me. I fished my way back downstream by lowering the fly straight down into the next pool below, letting it sink down below the rocks I had seen the trout go under, and just vertical-jigging it in place. It felt like cane pole fishing with bait, but I was using a 2-weight fly rod, and of course I had tied the fly myself. The wild browns rushed out from under the rocks to take the fly, one even coming from under a rock on the other side of the pool! I missed a couple, but then caught three, including the nice one in the pic below, to make it new creek #1021.