Good weather and a week off equals a new fishing buddy, a trip with Bobby Kilby, and 12 new creeks! Ben Wilson from Murphy listened to the Dads on the Fly podcast about me and decided to become the next person to take the Bobby Kilby Challenge and try to catch trout in 1,000 NC streams. We did a little fishing in Maggie Valley on Monday and he got a "Smokies Slam" and four new creeks, raising his total to nearly 200. If he keeps up this pace, he will reach 1,000 quicker than Bobby did.
On Tuesday, I knocked four Hatchery Supported streams off of my bucket list! I caught wild browns in Bledsoe Creek and stocked rainbows and one wild brown in Pine Swamp Creek (Little River tributary) in Alleghany County. I caught stocked brookies in Nathans Creek and a stocked brookie and a small wild brown in Beaver Creek in Ashe County. Pine Swamp and Nathans Creek have very little public access - most of the time they flow through fenced-off pastures. I'm not sure why NCWRC still stocks them. Bledsoe was the best of the four as far as wild trout populations go, but it flows right through Sparta and except for a short stretch in a park, is full of trash.
On Wednesday I got two new creeks in Ashe County and two new creeks in Watauga County. I caught wild browns and rainbows in Elk Creek, a South Fork New River tributary that begins in Ashe County and actually becomes the Ashe-Watauga County Line at Todd. Elk is undesignated, and most of it is inside fenced pastures or posted.
I had a blast catching bunches of wild browns and specs in West Fork Pine Swamp Creek. It was my favorite creek of the whole week, but it too is undesignated and mostly fenced in or posted. I was able to find a short unposted section in the woods between a Christmas tree farm and some houses. The two biggest browns (9 inches) and the biggest spec (7 inches) would not consent to be photographed!. I also tried a short stretch of the Pine Swamp Creek (South Fork New River tributary) in Ashe County that the West Fork runs into, but struck out.
I caught wild browns and specs in undesignated Gap Creek, which begins at Deep Gap in Watauga and flows north into Ashe. I had fished it several times before beside 221 in Ashe County with no luck, which is where Bobby fished it, but I caught fish this time behind a church in Deep Gap. No one in Haywood County would believe you could catch wild brookies in a creek that runs right through a town and right beside a major highway, but that's why I keep going back to Watauga and Ashe!
I had a seven-new-creek day back in 5/27/13, including Linville Creek in Watauga County, but somehow or other I did not put Linville on the list. If you look at my excel list you will only see six new creeks on 5/27/13. I just discovered this omission last year, so I had decided to go back and make it official before I added it to the list. This is a great example of how creeks change over time. There was more water ten years ago, and I caught lots of rainbows. This time, I caught lots of chubs and two wild browns, but no rainbows. It is also undesignated, but the short stretch beside the road where it runs into Brushy Fork (Hatchery Supported) is not posted.
On the way home, I stopped off at a favorite Avery County tiny blue line long enough to catch a good brown before I took my boots off for the drive back to Canton. This one is classified, but all I have to say is thank God for churches!
On Thursday, I met Bobby in Sylva to head west for some more new creeks. We went to Standing Indian first, and Bobby got two new creeks (Yellow Patch Branch and Mooney Branch) in the same day, which is hard to do when you have already fished well over 1300! I will have to go back and edit my list because what I thought was Hemp Patch Branch turns out to be Mooney Branch.
From there we tried a couple of creeks in the Buck Creek watershed with no luck, then headed over the mountain to the Shooting Creek watershed, where I caught wild rainbows in Thompson Creek. Thanks for the suggestion, Ben!
Friday we went to Cherokee County following up on another suggestion by Ben - South Shoal Creek. It had rained some by then, and the creek was moving pretty good, but the wild rainbows still wanted my bead head.
From there we headed over to a blue line that Ben had suggested that neither of us had fished - those are rare! Two wild rainbows in Allen Branch also liked my nymphs.
Finally, with the rain coming down pretty steady, we drove up to Garrett Creek, another Ben Wilson suggestion that Bobby had fished many years ago. This was the only creek I fished all week that was actually on public land - Nantahala National Forest. It was very pristine, being just across the ridge from the headwaters of Tellico River, and there were fallen hemlocks everywhere, making fishing a challenge. I fished until I heard a loud thunderclap, but that was enough to catch two wild rainbows, one of which was the biggest wild rainbow of the week.
Dang, this was a long post!