Black Friday On The River

The water was clear on the morning of Black Friday and The Eastatoee River was void of fishermen. I thought that the lack of fishermen was due to the 27 degree weather but Dawson believed the other fishermen were taking advantage of Black Friday fishing gear sales. We kept the car’s heat running in the parking lot while we strapped up in our waders and selected flies. I told Dawson to be careful not to hook a tree because our hands would soon be too cold to tie another knot.
Dawson walked to the river bank and shouted with excitement, “I see the trout!” I rushed to tie my knot so I could reach the clear water. We started fishing just down river from the parking lot where the delayed harvest section begins.
Delayed harvest is a designated section of the river where fishermen are required to practice “catch and release” from fall through the spring. Catch and release fishing gives anglers the joy of catching the fish while preserving the fish for another person to catch another day. The water was clear and I could see a hover of trout stacked over the rocks facing up stream as they watched for insects drifting by.
Dawson and I took turns casting our flies at these fish and both of us caught rainbow trout. Our early success helped me to warm up a bit and we worked our way down stream as we fished. We stopped at a stretch of river that was full of trout and split to fish opposite sides. Dawson and I both caught nice sized rainbow trout and even a few of the famously aggressive brown trout. As I removed the hook from a brown trout, I mentioned how cool it would be to catch a grand slam of trout. A grand slam for trout in our area would be a rainbow, brown, and brook trout. I turned back to the river and saw a red glow underwater. The red glow had white lines coming out where the fins were and the only explanation could be the presence of a brook trout. The fish was lit brightly with spawning colors and was larger than any of the fish we had seen today. I cast my flies at him repetitively but could not trigger any reaction. Other rainbow trout were eager to take the fly before it reached the fish I was targeting and I didn’t have time to warm my hands between releasing the smaller trout. The only fish that was not hungry was the one that I wanted.
Dawson and I decided to walk farther down river and I was ready to give up on the brook trout. We reached a bend where a giant rock cliff made up the mountain face on the other side of the river and Dawson quickly caught another rainbow. By this time, Dawson and I had lost count of how many fish we caught.
We could see the fish as they approached our flies and sometimes accidentally set the hook before they bit. I foul hooked a few fish in spots besides the mouth which I hate to do because it is like an accidental shot in a game of pool. The fish was not fooled by your presentation which reduces the catch to luck rather than skill.
The sun light was creeping down the mountain side and the temperature warmed up dramatically. More fishermen hiked the trails along the river and we decided to head home. Hiking up the trails, we passed and spoke with fishermen hearing mixed reports. We were close to the parking lot and I remembered that the brook trout might still be in the same place as before. I hoped that the trout had not been too disturbed by other fishermen as I waded out to my position. I cast a fly into the current and that’s when I saw my brook trout looming under the rocks. I was glad to see that he was still present but the same problem remained that he wouldn’t eat. I tied on new flies over and over until I was walking to the bank on the verge of giving up. “You’ve had a good day today” I told myself. I had caught plenty of fish but a skilled fisherman can prompt a bite even from the most selective fish. I tied on a streamer and moved up stream from the trout. I took several casts and stripped the line back in. I could not see the brook trout using this method but after a few casts, I felt pressure and set the hook. The rod was shaking and I knew a fish was on. The fish rose to the surface and rolled exposing a bright red belly with the bold white and red fins. I had the one and I needed a photographer.
“DAWSON GET DOWN HERE, DAWSON, RIGHT NOW!” Dawson dropped everything and sprinted across the rocks to where I was fighting the fish. The brook trout raised his mouth and I saw the hook in his bottom jaw. I was glad to see that he bit the hook instead of being foul hooked because a foul hook would have discredited the catch. I followed the trout around the rocks carefully to keep minimal pressure on the line and his soft mouth.
I reached my net towards the fish and raised the rod to bring the trout closer. I couldn’t reach the fish and raised the rod a just bit higher over my head. My fly rod was vertical and the hook popped out of the trout’s mouth. I wasn’t going to let this one escape after being so close and I lunged into the water to get my net under him. I felt weight in the net and when I raised it from the water, the prize was inside.
Dawson arrived just in time to see the action and was able the take pictures while we marveled over the fish. The brook trout was beautifully lit with spawning colors and was larger than he appeared to be while in the water. The fish was safely released and we hiked back to the car.
People are not looking for size when fly fishing for trout. Between the mountain settings, methods used, and the trout that are caught, fly fishing my be the prettiest form of fishing. Dawson and I have caught many trout over the years and some of the catches stand out from the others. The brook trout that I caught on the Eastatoe River was a huge fish (relative to trout) and had the prettiest colors I had seen. The trout was extremely selective in his choice of flies and the fact that I had to work for it and learn his appetite made me appreciate the fish even more.
Call Capt. Lawrence Jordan at 843-632-1749 to plan your excursion.

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