Tag Archives: Bluelining

I am a fool for small streams. I love them. I can’t get enough of them. I’ve got to fish them whenever I get a chance. So of course I had a day planned on a tributary to the river system we were staying on and day 3 was that day. The idea here being that the tributary may be colder than the main stem of the river and perhaps we’d have a better opportunity at a bull trout there due to it being a sort of thermal refuge for the juveniles. I would have been ecstatic catching a bull trout of any size on this trip.

An empty parking lot is always a welcome sight on any of my fishing trips and, expectedly, that was the scene when we pulled up to the trailhead that morning. The idea was to hike up a ways before we hit the creek and that’s what happened, but I cut my hike off much shorter than I expected to after I came across the hole pictured above right off the trail. I had visions of big bull trout sitting under all that timber, but I was only able to pull two small cutts out of that spot. Unfazed, I continued fishing my way upstream from there.

Fish were on the smaller size to start as Blake and I played a loose form of fisherman’s hopscotch working our way upstream. Fish size, for me, increased as we kept moving on up. I began the day fishing an oversized dry-dropper and had several fish just nose the dry. Downsizing resulted in far more committed strikes and hooked up fish on both flies.

At some point after my next fish I would lose my net. I don’t keep it on a zinger, just tucked behind me into my waist pack, so I’m not sure if an overhanging branch snatched or if I just left it on a rock after netting that last fish. Either way, I didn’t have it for the rest of the trip and probably need to ask for a replacement for Christmas (hint, hint to whomever wants to make that happen).

No matter the trip, there are always the “fish that got away” stories and mine happened just upstream of the big rock in the pic above. The creek had split and I opted to fish the side with less water as I could see there was a big tree laying down in the creek making a deep pool, ideal habitat in a place like this. I cast my dry as far up and as close to the tree as I could get and sure enough a monster fish came out in a flash to eat it and instinctively I set the hook far too quickly and pulled that fly away from the fish too soon. I never got a hook in him, but he never gave me another shot either as every subsequent drift came up empty. It looked like it could have been bigger than the big cutthroat I caught the day prior, but we’ll never know and because of that it will probably keep growing.

We ended our blueline day trip at the nice hole that Blake pulled his fish he’s pictured with from. Blake caught a few in that spot and I managed one there as well after catching a couple of nice cutts in the runs leading up to it. Unfortunately we didn’t come across any bull trout in this stream. Maybe they were higher up or maybe we just didn’t throw the right flies, I don’t have any experience with them so I don’t know. After busting my leg earlier in the day while wading I was just happy there was a trail running alongside the creek that we could take back down.

Wading can be dangerous and I had a scary moment earlier in the day. I was trying to work my way up above a rock ledge from one pool to the next and I took a step in the wrong spot and had my leg punch threw some loose rock and settle much further down than I anticipated. I was briefly stuck with my leg lodged in the rocks and I had to holler at Blake for a hand. Once I handed off my rod and backpack I could focus on pivoting my foot to the right angle that I needed to slip it out. It came out once I applied enough force. I’ve been wading for a long time and that was a first. My shin was bloody and would stay that way the rest of the day. I applied bactroban later back at camp, but had I been taking my time I could have avoided being in that situation altogether.

I’m taking some liberty here with the term steelhead, but the creek behind the cabin has several rainbow trout in it that certainly look the part. I caught a few of them when I was last there and missed many more. These fish aren’t migrating up from anywhere, so don’t let it be mistaken, North Georgia does not have a known steelhead run, lol.

It seemed like the size of the fish I caught decreased as the week wore on, but I began to size my flies down too, so that outcome could have been predicted. I began to pick up river chub when I did, which are always prevalent. I’ll never complain about a tug on the line, especially when it’s from a native fish.

I just wanted to share a few fishing shots from the trip North Georgia. It’s always special when we head up there and this year was no different. We fit in a ton of excursions away from the cabin this time around and I think the kids really enjoyed it. The whitetail population is doing very well up there as this is the most we’ve ever seen, lots of mommas with fawns.

We just recently got back from a family vacation to North Georgia. I was able to get a little fishing in on the creek behind the cabin while up there and I even snuck away to a blueline one morning to fish for some brook trout. The southernmost native range for the brook trout is found in North Georgia. Don’t mistake that for being fringe habitat, Georgia is a great place to target little wild brookies.

The water was low and clear the entire week we were up there, making fishing on the creek at the cabin a little more technical and a bit tough. I figured I’d be in dry fly heaven on a blueline trip, but waited all week to go and overnight a bunch of rain dumped in this little watershed that’s a tributary to the Toccoa River. I really didn’t know what to expect heading out to fish, but figured at worst I’d have a nice walk in the woods, so I was heading out to fish regardless.

Upon walking up to the creek, it was obvious the water was high and stained, but I could still see bottom in areas so I wasn’t completely disappointed. I just had to change up my dry fly expectations and focus on something subsurface. I tied on a jig bugger and went to work.

I’ve never fished this creek before so this was also a bit of a scouting trip. I knew it had brook trout based on research, but I really wasn’t sure how far up I had to go before I found them. I planned out my access from a topo map and would fish up to a road crossing from there.

The creek was a bit of a mess early on. Lots of downed timber and tight casting windows through rhododendron tunnels. Lots of bow and arrow casts were made. Water that would be perfect for a dry fly had the conditions been there for it. There were spots where it opened up a bit and eventually, maybe an hour into my trip, I even missed a strike. That was the glimmer of hope I was looking for!

A few holes later and I actually had my first fish on. When I got it into the net I could tell it was a brook trout and had validation that this indeed was a good place to access the creek.

It was a little guy, but a native brook trout nonetheless, mission accomplished. Pressure was off now, but I wasn’t done fishing. I kept climbing up the holes and the further I got upstream the better the water started to look. It could have been time since the last rain, passing up a big feeder creek, or a combo of both, but eventually I felt like I may be able to now catch them on a dry-dropper rig, so I re-rigged.

The re-rig wasn’t a failure as soon after I landed another brook trout, this one a little bigger than the last. He ate the dropper nymph, which was a little BHRLHE (beadhead rubber-legged Hare’s Ear). It was a good fight on my 3/4wt TFO Finesse glass rod.

Things were going pretty good, I was continuing to work my way upstream, and I felt like the fishing was picking up. It was about this time that God decided I needed a little excitement in my life. As I moved around a live tree that was downed in the water I went to cast to the next hole and got buzzed by a big fly. Next thing I know this sucker lands on me and I feel a big punch on my eyebrow. It was a big ass hornet! He wasn’t alone either. I threw down my rod, started swatting around my face with my hat, dropping my sunglasses in the process, got stung two more times on my left hand, and tore off upstream a short distance until there was a logjam I’d have to navigate over or around. I was hopeful this was far enough away that they were done chasing and thankfully it was. I swiftly and calmly recollected my things and nursed my wounds as I traversed the logjam now keenly aware of my surroundings. As far as I knew I wasn’t allergic to hornets and when I didn’t see any significant swelling on my hands I figured I could press on.

I was glad I didn’t panic and kept fishing because things were heating up. I caught two in a row shortly thereafter and then my biggest fish of the day. It happened while I was fishing a tight run under some overhanging rhodos. It was a good fish, longer than my hand, which was saying something for a North Georgia native. The sky darkened up on me just as I was landing the fish so the pics don’t really do it justice – it was so dark out that my phone was in night mode taking pics.

It was only a matter of time before the skies would open up, but for some reason that wasn’t much of a concern to mean until they did. I failed to pack a rain jacket or even an extra pair of clothes so it was sure to be a wet ride home. I managed one more little guy before I got to a massive barrier falls. I didn’t even know it was here as it wasn’t labeled on the topo map. It was impressive though. It was here that the rain started falling and it fell hard.

It was raining, it was lunch time, I had reached a surprise waterfall, caught a few brookies and survived a run in with some hornets. It seemed like as good a time as any to head out. It was cool catching brookies below this barrier falls, perhaps there was another one downstream. I know there are plenty of rainbows in the mainstream of this watershed so something has to be preventing them from getting up this far. I’ll have to re-visit this blueline next time I’m in town and see if I can find that point further downstream.