Monday, September 9, 2013

Landon on the Nantahala

I fished the upper Nantahala (DH section) Saturday afternoon. Fishing was pretty good as they had stocked fish in the river for the holiday weekend but also caught plenty of holdovers and small wild rainbows and browns.  I fished the DH section on my Greys 11 ft. 3 wt. rod and boy was it fun!  Little fish bend that rod really well so long as they have a little room to run from the initial hookset.  It really made high-sticking the boulder fields just that much easier and more fun.  I fished a size 14 Hares ear soft hackle tied on a jig hook and a 16 "Frenchie" nymph with an orange hotspot.  The water came up, even on the DH section, as they were apparently releasing for a whitewater canoe championship down by the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC).  

Sunday morning we fished the lower Nantahala down by the NOC and, man, was I surprised by the number and the size of the fish down there.  There were pods of fish everywhere that you could see and they are spooky as heck.  Those who do well with sight fishing would love this area.  It was a hands and knees or hiding behind the boulder affair for much of the time.  I could usually get 1-2 fish out of a pod before they shut down, excluding some of the deeper pockets.  I caught a handful of chunky 12-14- inch long rainbows as well as quite a few smaller wild fish.  Once the water comes up from the recreation release, you get out!  You can keep fishing but often it's from the bank or just a few steps to fish the many pockets near the bank that fish will hold in.  Also the side channels of the islands are very likely places to find fish.  

The same flies were working for me from the day before.  However, fish on the lower Nantahala act completely different than one would expect. When the flow increases from the recreation release, the majority of the fish suspend in the water column and are looking for food.  Dredging in the traditional sense is not nearly as effective as high-sticking with a fairly short leader with a light 6x tippet.  Many times it seems you almost have to drag the flies slightly faster than the current to keep them in the right zone and not under the holding depth of the trout.  Hits are usually very noticeable but also very quick.  Even with a quick reaction time, it still seems like you miss quite a few. It's a fun place to fish, except for a raft going by you every 2 minutes with some flatlander saying something along the lines of, "Catching anything?"

Your flatlander who wants to be a hillbilly


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