Fall colors are at the peak in some parts of the state, but in this drainage they were a little past peak. Still, a beautiful day on the stream. I pulled over with some French Roasted coffee and took a short break to take it all in. Such an ephemeral time of year and easily my favorite.
I worked my way up the drainage, catching a few fish here and there. Today wasn't about numbers, just enjoying an area dear to my heart.
This little guy was hanging out on a rock. I say little, but he was four inches long, outstretched. If I had found a bunch of these, lunch might have come early. I made the mistake of leaving lunch at the car, and by late afternoon, hunger got the best of me. Walking back, I noticed some tracks I hadn't seen on the way in. A deer was using the trail, but more interestingly, a black bear. This was the first bear track I have seen while fishing. My photo isn't the best, but I think the reader can make it out. I was excited, but disappointed to not to see said creature.
That night, my wife expressed an interest in going up to what has become one of my favorite creeks in North Carolina. We got up early Sunday morning, grumpy because of the time change, and made our way across the border. The colors were amazing on the drive up, with some of the most even blending of oranges and yellows I have ever seen. The little glass three weight was the rod of choice that day. We gathered our goods in the parking lot and headed up the trail. We weren't out for a hike per se, just happy to be "out." My wife sketched as I took my time fishing deep little runs and pools. I had on a dry/dropper consisting of a Butch Caddis and a soft-hackled pheasant tail. On the second run we stopped at, the little caddis made an unnatural veer off of its drift. I lifted the rod tip, utterly surprised at what I felt on the other end. To say that this guy was outsized for his environment would be an understatement!
This scene repeated itself a little further upstream. There was a deep, green pool that formed at the bottom of a small pour-over. Though this looked good, I knew I couldn't give the run a proper go with the rig I had on. More tempting was the deep, broken water beneath an overhanging branch just below. I crawled up the side of the bank, which was fortunately an open gravel bar, and cast up into the deeper pool. With the proper mends, the caddis drifted back down until it was parallel to me and up under the branch. At the head of the broken water, the caddis disappeared. Again the tip of my rod bowed deeply.
These fish led me to assume that they use this feeder stream to spawn. I didn't see any redds however, as I wouldn't have fished over them. Extremely satisfied, we sauntered out of the woods and hit up a local brewery, reflecting on what had been a very memorable weekend.