Tag Archives: Small streams

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.

The first three days of our Georgia trip were devoted to bass fishing.  We were able to wrap up our redeye bass slam and as a bonus I was able to get the Georgia bass slam as well.  Now that we had made it to the cabin it was time to switch gears and target trout.

We hit the creek at the cabin early Saturday morning.  I had two rods rigged up; one with a big honking streamer that Blake tied for me and another with my standard hopper-dropper rig.


I had a follow on the streamer in the first spot I fished, which had me excited, but then things were quiet as I fished subsequent spots.  Blake had an eat from a big fish, but it spit the hook early on in the fight.  It was beginning to look like we might skunk at the cabin that morning, but I finally made it to a spot I could effectively fish and I had another fish follow and even an attempted eat, but I pulled the fly out of his mouth.  I stuck with it though and luckily got another good eat and I stuck him with a strip set this time.


Not the biggest rainbow we’ve caught at the cabin, but it was cool to get one on the big ass streamer.  I released that fish and went back to work and just downstream of my first eat I got another one.  This one was a little better fish.



Getting to watch fish chase down and eat a big streamer was very cool, but it was obvious that throwing one was not a great way to fish every spot on the creek.  Hell you couldn’t fish every spot with one because there really wasn’t enough room for it in most places.  For the 3 or 4 spots though where it seems like it will be effective I’ll make to sure to have a streamer tied up every time I fish them from now on.  We headed up for lunch shortly after that and then hatched a plan to fish some wild water that afternoon.  Blake had brought a 1wt on the trip that needed to be fished.

After lunch we headed up the road to what has become our favorite small stream in North Georgia.  We were looking forward to some wild trout on dry flies as we had not had much topwater action this trip.  After a short hike into the stream, we dropped down off the trail and toward the bottom of the valley into the creek.  It was a little disturbing to see as much hog sign as we did on the walk down, but what are you gonna do, feral hog are everywhere now.  I let Blake fish the first good looking pool so I could tie on a nymph dropper and he took advantage of the opportunity and hooked a nice wild rainbow.




It’s not often you get into wild trout over 10″ on North Georgia small streams, so this fish was pretty special.  We continued working our way upstream catching tiny rainbows in pocket water and nicer fish in the plunge pools and deeper runs.














I hooked a fish in one pool that gave me a heck of a fight on the glass 3wt.  I was standing on the downstream side of a debris filled logjam fishing the pool upstream of it when the fish came up and hit the dry toward the back of the pool.  He ran all over the pool and under the logjam.  Thankfully I was able to keep the line tight and he wasn’t able to shake the fly.  I was able to pull him out of the logjam and back into the pool to land him.


It was a heck of a wild rainbow that pushed 12″.  One of the best blueline rainbows I’ve caught in a long time.  We fished for a little while longer hoping that maybe a rogue brown trout would show up.





No browns showed up, but it was a heck of a trip for 8-12″ rainbows.  The fish looked fat and happy too, which was nice to see because there are other concerning things happening in the valley.  At one point while we fished we saw a small pack of hogs which confirmed the hog sign we had seen.  We saw them again on the hike out.  It’s kind of a bummer they’ve discovered this valley.  Besides the hogs the hemlocks are continuing to die off due to the hemlock woolly adelgid and there is not much we can do to prevent that as treatment involves treating individual trees.  My hope is that other canopy trees will fill in for the dead hemlocks and continue to provide the shade these trout need.


We headed back to the cabin to catch the Tiger game.  We left Sunday before dawn as it’s a long drive back to Louisiana.  We had a heck of a time fishing in Georgia.  This was the most diverse fishing trip we’ve ever done in Georgia and it was awesome.  I plan to make more of an effort to fish different bass water from the cabin.  Coosa redeye, shoal bass, and smallmouth bass are all fairly close.

I want to extend a big thanks to all the folks who helped us as we completed the redeye bass slam.  I came up with a plan of attack for the slam, but then bounced it off as many people who were willing to listen.  If you listened, thank you.  Thanks to Matthew Lewis, who wrote the book on redeye bass fly fishing.  His passion for the fish is infectious.  He was the inspiration for me to tackle the slam.  He completed it last year and when he and a couple buddies put a formal slam together this year I knew I had to give it a go.  I’m glad Blake was along for the ride.  Thanks to Andrew Taylor, a Georgia boy in Oklahoma, who was very influential in helping us decide where we needed to target these fish.  He has done some really great research on bass in Georgia.  Thanks to Jon Hummel, fellow Jackson teammate, he completed the Georgia bass slam last year and gave some great suggestions on where we could target fish in North Georgia.  We ended up spending most of our time further south, but his help was not in vain – I did get my shoal bass!  Thanks to Chris Lynch, Mark Miller, Josh Tidwell, James Eubank, and Josh Rhodes, these Alabama guys were more than willing to help point us in the right direction as we fished our way across their state.

Day 4

Our last full day at Georgia was spent fishing at the cabin. Hard to argue the decision after the success we had our first day there; we were basically having withdrawals not hitting it the the day before. It was another good day with some quality fish caught, though not quite as many as on day one. On day one trout were holding all over the place, by day four water levels had dropped and clarity improved a good bit. Instead of getting hits on lousy drifts, you actually had to concentrate and work the water over, hitting every seam where they might be holding. When you got a hit though it was usually a quality fish. I finally lost the Upper Colorado rig that worked well the first day, but Blake had tied up similar stonefly patterns that worked nearly as well, one of them I’ll have up for an SBS pretty soon.

The first fish I tied into on the day was a strong fighter, made several jumps and ran me downstream to the point where I had to actually follow the fish (not quite River Runs Through It style).  It may not have been the biggest fish on the trip, but I’m really happy I didn’t screw it up and was able to bring this fish to hand.




Then Blake got in on the action with a couple nice fish, the second one on actually came on the dry. Always a treat to watch a big trout rise and sip (or clobber) a big dry.





The day went on like this as we picked our spots and worked them over. The first (and only) snake encounter we had on the weekend was with a black rat snake that just wanted to be left alone.








Later on I landed a brookie, a rare treat on this stream which gave me a slam on the day.


After that we grabbed a beer at the cabin then headed to the spot where we doubled on day one and I tried (and failed) to document with the GoPro. We approached the hole a little differently as the fish weren’t holding in the same spot. These fish were stacked up under some rhododendron so Blake stood on the bank and told me where my drift needed to go and after a short while I was rewarded with a good eat.



We let the spot settle down, then tried our luck drifting through again, this time a bit further downstream. It wasn’t long before I had another eat and this time it was a better fish. The fish ran sideways and after a very short fight my tippet gave way. What a heartbreak. We pushed further down, beating the bank with nymphs and streamers. Blake threw at a downed tree and I remember telling him that looked like a good spot. I threw at it and had a massive take, then as I laid into him to set the hook deep, I came up empty. My entire rig broke off above the dry! Not quite sure how it happened, there was a lot of structure down there, so it could have run me up into there, all I know is that this fish seemed larger than any other we caught all weekend, now maybe he’s sporting some lip jewelry. Another heartbreak, I really wasn’t in the mood to tie anything else on after that. Blake fished on and caught one last fish before we went back to the cabin.


It really didn’t take much to convince me to rig up again and I was able to land one more before it got too dark to see.


Day 5

We woke up a little bit earlier to fish before the long drive back to Louisiana. Not much doing for me on the day, but I did land a couple of fish of note – another brookie and a “trophy” bluehead chub.





BBQ and Lazy Magnolia at The Shed in Ocean Springs put a nice touch on the end of the trip – I forgot how good this place was. Another successful trip to North Georgia for Memorial Day weekend in the books. It’s too bad we caught a year when my parents were out of town and the girls couldn’t make it, but that certainly freed us up to do a ton of fishing. It was a good year for it too because the creek at the cabin is fishing better now than I ever remember. Hopefully it fishes the same next time I head that way, not sure when that will be, but I always look forward to it.