This past November, I hosted a Fly Fishing trip to the perfect waters of Western North Carolina. My guests and I had the pleasure of being guided by Headwaters Outfitters. This is a fish story that happened at the end of the float day, of our last day of our fishing week.
Ending the day. In a creek near a cow pasture. Everyone joins in to cast to MegaTron- this log like figure in thin water near a swing. Identify the position, note the flow of water, guesstimate the depth. We decide it’s a tight line swing and each person gets a 10 cast shot to end the day. All other rods get thrown in the overgrowth, and I take first swing at Megatron. Wasn’t my day, and next up is John. Watch him tease the fish a bit more but it wasn’t his day. Final up was Phyllis- the newbie. Had that newbie luck written all over her. Got a swim and a look…and that’s when I saw the rise down river around the corner. Checked in with Chris, to tell him I was taking a rod over to the rise, and I left the gang. I popped around the corner, through some more overgrowth stuff and saw the ripples again.
This is when my story begins. The most amazing fish I have ever had the pleasure to cast to. A five weight with a chubby/girdle bug dropper setup. Late afternoon, calm weather. It was my second cast from the bank to the rise. I was certain that I hit a leaf because of the big swoosh- that lasted a micro second. Line peeled off and that brown was down the creek. I had been a tried and true striper fly girl before the week started but by week end, I learned not to touch the reel or the line and let that fish run.
I am the wader type who needs a wading stick, gentle toes, flat rocks, cautious stepping- but in that moment, I went into a full on solo run down the creek. I knew immediately that this was a special fish. And, grateful, that Chris heard the slurp and popped out of the woods overgrowth and jumped in to chase down the chubby eater. Then John popped out. Then Gavin. Then Phyllis I heard looked over her shoulder and said- where did everyone go? So there we all were, Chris and I in the creek, and the What the heck is goin on crowd on the banks.
Lots of yells of Don’t Touch The Line! I almost never did, and I kept the rod high, running down the creek. Honestly don’t know exactly how long it was, but it felt like forever. Chris had the net, and the brown knew he did. So almost every time he very carefully went in for the head shot, brown ran. Then, he bolted- upstream towards me. So the new found technique of walking backwards while reeling in line without falling down was put in place.
Then that noble fish was in the bag. You know you have something special when the head flops on one side and the tail flops out the other side, and it’s a big boy net. My favorite moment is the expression caught on Chris and Gavin’s face when it was over- and take a look at cameras already in hand. Just a minute with this beauty before he is gently released back to its creek that is its home.
I don’t know if its the colors, the solo cast to it, the hopping up and down the creek dancing with it, its magnificent colors, its tail, its shoulders- all of it. I will never forget it
Fearless Fly Fishing is will be returning to the creeks of North Carolina in 2021. Join in on the adventure, www.fearlessflyfishing.com