For some reason, it had taken me years to get to Wilson Creek...I'd always heard about the fishing, the miles of uncrowded, catch and release waters, but I'd never managed to wet a line there until May of 1998. Suffice it to say that I'm now a convert.
A few miles below the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sam parked his car at a turnout beside the stream crossing. We wanted to fish dry flies, so we both were carrying 3wts. Navigating the streamside tangles is tricky business, but we carefully bushwhacked downstream to the conflux of two forks in the drainage. The large pools of the combined stream beckoned, so we walked a ways down before turning to fish upstream. It was early in the day and there was no sign of rising fish, but then that's not unusual on NC freestone streams. I was determined that I was going to hook up on a dry, so I started with an American Express (a sort of a tan, general purpose fly...don't leave home without it!). Didn't budge a fish in the big pools. Rose a couple near the conflux, but couldn't hook up. Sam was less fixated on topwater action, so he changed to a Tellico nymph and we continued up the larger branch of the stream.
Soon after changing to the Tellico, Sam started catching fish. Not big, but nice fish...9 and 10 inch fish, browns and rainbows, brightly colored and very feisty. He landed one that went about 12 inches - a fine wild trout in my book, with the best coloration I think I've ever seen on a brown. I gave in to temptation, and after fat-fingered fumbles with my tackle (don't try to nymph with a 7x tippet and a weighted fly...I quickly lost my Tellicos and started bumming Sam's), I started catching fish. In one incredible pool, we must have landed a dozen trout.
We decided that we needed to turn back and head up the smaller fork, since that was nearer the car and offered the promise of dry fly action. I switched to a female parachute Adams, one of my favorite ties. What an afternoon! Every spot that should have held a trout did, eagerly rising out of the pockets and riffles to a well placed cast. This is pocket water (read the chapter Pocket Water in Gierach's book, "Even Brook Trout Get the Blues" - he says it much better that I can) that demands precise flicks with high-stick drifts. When we'd hook a fish, there was a short, intense fight as the trout ran around the few square feet of water that was its home pool. A gentle release and the fish went to back to business and we moved upstream to the next likely lie.
Much too soon, my watch showed the time that I had to leave to get home for my wife to make an appointment...What a day...I'll be back as soon as I can.
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