The trout above was caught in an unregulated cow pasture stream that runs into another unregulated cow pasture stream that runs into an unregulated section of the Pigeon River. I used to subscribe to Fly Fisherman and American Angler, and it seemed like every magazine had a cover picture of a fisherman holding a 30+-inch trout caught out west or from some exotic location around the world such as New Zealand or Argentina. Part of the progression most fly fishermen go through involves chasing big trout, and I felt the pull for awhile, but it never became an obsession. I no longer have the urge to fish club water full of pellet-fed torpedoes. If you invite me to yours, I will politely accept, but it is not something on my bucket list. I still occasionally enjoy fishing delayed harvest water, where there is a chance of catching a trout that grew large in a concrete raceway, but that can't hold my attention for very long. I get more excited about fishing a new wild trout stream, no matter how small the water or the fish.
In the process of catching trout in 1,025 NC creeks at the time of this writing, I have become a firm believer that size is a relative thing. I have caught some surprisingly large fish from some very small streams - in a couple of cases, the trout was as long as the creek was wide! I have posted a link to my "Tiny Creeks, Nice Trout" video below. Only four of the creeks in the video have ever been listed as trout water by NCWRC. Some of the creeks are tributaries to trout streams, but many are completely unregulated. Most fishermen would call them "blue lines", but I still contend that if it has a name, it ain't a blue line! All of the trout are wild fish, and the brook trout are only around 8-10 inches, but that qualifies as big for wild brookies, and down right huge for the tiny creeks I caught them in. The only information you get in the video is what county I was in.