We have all been conditioned to measure angling success in terms of fish size and quantity. Trust me, we’ve been misled. The best fish is the one that leads to the best experience and that has nothing to do with fish size or numbers. Our native Brook Trout is absolute proof of that. Beautiful, elusive, spooky and always hidden deep in the beauty of the Appalachian forests, it provides, in my humble opinion, the best angling we have in our region. Yesterday we spent the day scrambling up the streams of the National Forest and were rewarded, but only when we did everything right, with the chance to catch, admire and release some of these rare jewels. Hike five miles to catch a six inch fish? Sign me up any time!
There are probably as many reasons to fish as there are anglers. In the end though, most of us fish for pleasure. That pleasure may take the form of mastering a new skill set, earning bragging rights with “the big one”, enjoying time outdoors on the water, eating a fresh caught fish or simply spending time with friends and family. Whatever the source of your fishing fun, it should be bounded only by your imagination, courtesy for others and care for the precious natural resources that make it all possible. Take a look at the picture above. You can guess why these guys like to fish…and it’s got nothing to do with the fish. Whatever your reason for fishing, embrace it, share it and treasure it.
I admit, trout aren’t really necessary for dads and their sons to enjoy time together, but if you’re tenkara fishing, they’re a nice addition! Trout were in plentiful supply yesterday when I had the pleasure of sharing an outing with this delightful father/son duo visiting our area. The day was cool and the fishing was hot. Throw in two tenkara aces and you’ve got the recipe for a lot of netting and photographing, which is what I was happy to do all morning. No matter how you spend it, here’s wishing all you dads out there have a happy Fathers’ Day!
I will always ask clients what they hope to get out of our fishing time together. Answers are as varied as people themselves. “Catch a fish” is probably the most common aspiration but many folks also have general goals related to learning stream tactics, finding new fishing waters, fly fishing in general or techniques related to tenkara. This smiling angler was more specific than most. He said, “I want to catch a big fish and I want to catch a Brown Trout.” I promised we’d do our best but ultimately, we’d have to see what the stream offered up. As fortune would have it, we managed to do both. The bruiser of a Brook Trout pictured above certainly ticked the first box and the handsome little Brown pictured below was one of a number of his species that we were fortunate enough to get to take a dry fly. Of course the ultimate goal is to have fun and enjoy time on the water. I’m happy to say, we met that goal too!
I really do. I love all the incredible creatures that occupy our streams but these guys are just cool. Properly known as a River Chub, this little fish plays a vital role in many of the same streams where we find trout. The “Hornyhead”, as it is affectionately known, builds a spawning nest by collecting and piling up pebbles. It lays its eggs in these pebble mounds where they gestate, protected from hungry predators. A number of other native fish take advantage of the Hornyhead’s hard work and use the same pebble mounds for the same purpose. If anything ever happened to the Hornyheads, it would decimate a number of species and mean the end of an entire tier of the aquatic food chain. They will take a fly, so if you are ever lucky enough to catch one, make sure to release it unharmed to continue its vital role in our beautiful Appalachian streams.
Spring fishing in western North Carolina always brings the chance to catch a big fish. But sometimes things work out even better than expected. These three fish were caught right in a row, which even on hatchery supported water is an incredible piece of good fortune. To have brought them all to the net on tenkara with 5X tippet was a bit against the odds, too, but we managed it! Our delayed harvest season is rapidly coming to an end and starting the first of June we’ll be switching gears to hike-in Brookie fishing. It requires us to re-calibrate our size-ometer but it’s incredibly fun, challenging and beautiful. In the meantime, check these out!
Who would hike 4 miles and spend hours crawling over boulders to catch a little fish like this? I would! And so would the smiling tenkara ace picture below. You might think that’s crazy and it is…crazy fun. You’re looking at a true jewel of the Appalachians, the Brook Trout. It is our only native “trout” here in Western North Carolina and it’s not even really a trout (it’s a Char.) They depend on clean, cool water and sadly, that’s not available in as many places as it once was. If you’re going to have the chance to catch, marvel at (and please release!) one of these beauties you’re going to have to work for it. If you’d like to give it a go, grab your day-pack, fill up your water bottle and give me a call. I’m ready when you are.