Great Day of Fishing in Good Company

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NCHillbilly

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I was joined yesterday on the water by @northgeorgiasportsman: The man, the myth, the legend. Hillbilly philosopher, fly fisherman par excellence, appreciator of good music, searer of scallops, and all-around vermin extraordinaire. And one of the few people on this planet that this old hillbilly curmudgeon will share a trout stream with.


We headed back into a couple of my favorite local wild trout streams back on the national forest and wilderness lands. The first stream is a sizeable creek for its elevation that holds only native southern Appalachian-strain specks, thanks to a big waterfall downstream. It heads up off mountains like this:

mountain.jpg

We jogged up and down the side of that mountain a couple times to get warmed up (not.)

We started fishing at nearly 5,000' elevation up among the spruces and firs. The temp was in the 40s at that elevation yesterday morning, so that first step into the creek was refreshing, to say the least.

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Catawba rhododendrons were in full bloom:

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Creeping bluets carpeted the streamside rocks:

bluets.jpg

Along with miniature forests of haircap and sphagnum moss:

moss.jpg

Huge old yellow birch tree growing on a rock cliff:

birch.jpg
 
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NCHillbilly

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After the sun came out, the air was full of hatching yellow caddisflies, little green stoneflies, and big brown mayflies:

mayfly.jpg

We caught some huge specks:

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But, even in the midst of a morning of catching more 10" specks than most folks catch in years, something was amiss. We hit long stretches of creek with apparently no fish, and there was a complete lack of small specks, in this creek that is usually absolutely teeming with fish of all sizes. I'm afraid that the bad floods we've had in the last year have done a real number on this creek. Hopefully, it bounces back. I'm optimistic, because these fish have lived up here for tens of thousands of years, since the Pleistocene.
 
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NCHillbilly

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After a few hours, we decided to climb back out to the road and try another creek a little lower down the mountain.

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This creek is mostly populated with wild browns, with specks intermixed and taking over a couple miles up above some falls.

We caught a bunch of colorful browns:

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This hole in particular was good to us. We took turns at it, working up from the tail of the pool, and wound up catching a slam out of this one hole.

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Nice little brown:

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This fat rainbow (which are very rare in this creek: )

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And this hawg of a speck?/brook that I caught in the head of the pool:

giantspeck.jpg

He was in the 12"-13" range. There are native specks in this creek, and it isn't stocked at all, but I don't know about this one.

Either

A: He is a holdover stocker brook that swam up from some stocked water a few miles down the creek that this creek flows into (if so, I don't blame him, and this is the most likely scenario,)

Or

B: This is the biggest, and least colorful wild speck I have ever caught. Maybe they're like cottonmouths, and their spots fall off when they get big and old. :)

He had a #16 beadhead hare's ear nymph broken off in him. I took it out of him and put it in my fly box before releasing him. Ad Victorem Spolia and all.

Wild fish are purty.

brown4.jpg
 
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NCHillbilly

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Several miles of wading and climbing over boulders, cliffs, and blowdowns works up an appetite, so we dropped the tailgate and fixed up some standard fishing lunch fare:

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A yuppie mountain biker came up and asked if we caught that in the creek there. I told him there was a good yellowfin tuna spawning run up the creek ever spring. He said Wes was vermin. He's pretty astute judge of character, apparently. :bounce:

All too soon, the day was over. I had a great time, and I'm ready to do it again,as soon as my legs get back to working.

Fin.
 
Man that sounds like a great trip ! Beautiful pictures ! I carry a sling pack just like that green one. Great for hunting and fishing. Thems some beautiful fish pictures. (y)
 

WaltL1

Senior Member
Maybe a dumb question but.....
Whats the difference between a wild speck and a wild brook trout?
 
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NCHillbilly

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Maybe a dumb question but.....
Whats the difference between a wild speck and a wild brook trout?
Not a dumb question, but there is a huge difference. All specks are brook trout, but most brook trout aren't specks. :)

The native mountain specks are southern Appalachian strain brook trout, an isolated and genetically distinct variety/subspecies of brook trout that have been trapped in the higher elevations of the mountains of NC, SC, and GA since the climate warmed at the end of the Pleistocene. Industrial logging and the introduction of non-native browns, rainbows, and northern-strain brook trout almost wiped them out in the early 1900s, and they have been driven back to the highest, coldest, smallest streams in the mountains, usually ones with a big waterfall or other barrier that browns and rainbows can't get over. Often, due to genetics and habitat restrictions, a full-grown, mature speck may often top out at 4"-5" in length. A 12" speck is about the equivilent of a 15 lb largemouth, or maybe more rare. They are very colorful, and extremely wary and hard to sneak up on. They require extremely clean, cold water to live. They are also almost impossible to raise or grow in captivity.

The northern-strain brook trout are native from Virginia to Canada. They grow a lot bigger, are less colorful, and less wary. They are also easily raised in captivity, and are stocked by the thousands in hatchery-supported streams. It's not unusual to catch stocked northern brooks over 20" long.

Native Specks in spawning colors (full-grown size in a small creek: )

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Average northern-strain brook trout:

brook4.jpg
 
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NCHillbilly

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Great pic's and great trout,,,,I've got a pack similar to yours also,,,,funny about the yuppie,,,,
That's Wes with the green sling pack. I've got a gray one. And I'm much more handsome. :)
 

dwhee87

GON Political Forum Scientific Studies Poster
Nice thread. Thanks for posting. Makes me want to learn to fly fish.
 

Paymaster

Q Cookin, Fly Tyin, Mod
Staff member
Really good stuff. Thanks for taking us along!!
 

WaltL1

Senior Member
Not a dumb question, but there is a huge difference. All specks are brook trout, but most brook trout aren't specks. :)

The native mountain specks are southern Appalachian strain brook trout, an isolated and genetically distinct variety/subspecies of brook trout that have been trapped in the higher elevations of the mountains of NC, SC, and GA since the climate warmed at the end of the Pleistocene. Industrial logging and the introduction of non-native browns, rainbows, and northern-strain brook trout almost wiped them out in the early 1900s, and they have been driven back to the highest, coldest, smallest streams in the mountains, usually ones with a big waterfall or other barrier that browns and rainbows can't get over. Often, due to genetics and habitat restrictions, a full-grown, mature speck may often top out at 4"-5" in length. A 12" speck is about the equivilent of a 15 lb largemouth, or maybe more rare. They are very colorful, and extremely wary and hard to sneak up on. They require extremely clean, cold water to live. They are also almost impossible to raise or grow in captivity.

The northern-strain brook trout are native from Virginia to Canada. They grow a lot bigger, are less colorful, and less wary. They are also easily raised in captivity, and are stocked by the thousands in hatchery-supported streams. It's not unusual to catch stocked northern brooks over 20" long.

Native Specks in spawning colors (full-grown size in a small creek: )

View attachment 971161

View attachment 971163

Average northern-strain brook trout:

View attachment 971164
Very interesting. Thanks for the info. You learned me something today (y)
Very beautiful fish and I really like that you included pics of the various flowers/plants etc.
 
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