by Landon Williams
If you have been like me the past few weeks, then you’ve been stuck in a rut. The cold has been getting us down. Whether it was the ice storm that knocked out power across North Georgia or the five inches or snow, it was just not very much fun to be outside, let alone fish. Not to mention the fishing was following a rut as well. There were certainly fish to be caught but it mostly was the same general pattern involving deep nymphing with protein in the form of a stonefly or leech while trailing a small nymph or midge behind it in the hopes of bouncing it into the baseball sized feeding window of a sluggish trout hugging the bottom. It certainly can be effective and fun but it can also quickly become boring and repetitive.
Fortunately, this weekend marked a stark change in the weather pattern. We had beautiful blue skies and the first series of days with temperatures hitting the upper 50’s and 60’s in quite some time. And the fish responded nicely. We hit the Nantahala DH on Saturday and things were looking optimistic from the moment we got on the river. The water was a little high from the rain a couple days earlier but it was warm in the sun and I seriously questioned my choice of jacket over my waders. The fishing was nothing short of phenomenal throughout the course of the day and my buddy and I easily stuck over 100 fish in the net between the two of us.We nymph fished exclusively using a Czech setup and caught fish on a variety of flies, although a team of #14 and #16 hares ears caught the majority of my fish. The fish were sitting in the boulder fields the Nantahala is famous for and we often caught several fish out of the same pocket. We even saw a glimpse of what was to come in the next couple of weeks. Bugs! We saw a handful of Quill Gordons, grey caddis and what was either a small black stonefly or a black caddis. Unfortunately, I only saw two fish rise all day. I was completely satisfied with the catching, but still not fully satiated for what I was hoping for, the first dry fly fish of the year.
Well, that changed Sunday afternoon. I did a walkabout after church at Smith Creek then ended the day with the last hour on the river in Helen. When I got out of the car, I saw a few grey caddis fluttering around close to the water. That’s when I saw it over against the far bank, the all too familiar splash of a caddis-chasing trout! My #14 grey caddis soon flew towards the seam where the fish was holding and was quickly engulfed. She wasn’t a big brown but she was wild and absolutely beautiful! I thanked her and sent her back into the hole to keep doing what she does best. Afterwards, I called it a day, fully satisfied!
The moral of the story of this weekend is to start thinking positive as Spring is finally upon us. The wet weather this week may set it back a bit but it is only a matter of time. Click here for what is to come. Got Caddis and a big parachute Adams?!