1-12-05 - "Brookie Surprise"!
Waters Fished: Paradise Springs, McKeawn Springs,
Fish Caught: 10+
Outing Date: 1-21-05
Air Temp: lower 30's
Water Temp: 46F at the springhead of McKeawn.
Water Level: All springs are flowing now.
Water Color: Clear!
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Tucker Nymph, Egg patterns, Midge Patterns
Pattern Color: varied
Fishing Quality: First Class!
I'm not even sure where to start! SDH said he'd
be out shortly after sunrise. Last I checked, I was a night owl.
So, going on my same old schedule, I worked until around 4:00 AM
on rods and only got up around noon. Would Sean still be out? Between
the snow and cold I was hesitant to go, but in the end the lure
of fishin' and the promise that I'd meet up with Sean got me on
I showed up at Paradise Springs probably after
1:00 PM and found Sean walking towards me, getting off the water,
as I stepped onto the casting pier. I suggested that perhaps we
stay a minute, I'd catch a fish, and we'd split. First cast in I
had a fish on, then off. 2nd go around, I hooked up and watched
a huge bend form in my 7' 5wt.! As I peered over the edge, I saw
not one, but TWO fish on my line! Another DOUBLE!
Well the excitement was short lived; the lower
fish managed to shake off and I landed only one. The usual stocker
bow for Paradise, Sean and I agreed to head over to McKeawn Springs.
I had suspected, and Sean recently confirmed, that
the wet fall and winter we've had would get McKeawn flowing. McKeawn
holds many interesting fish at times...Sean has recently spotted
a northern or two in there, both very small. I was all for hunting
down a northern.
As we approached the springhead, something moved
in the water. Rather than start up top, we turned our attention
to the larger, mostly ice-covered pond "downstream" on
the other side of the road. As Sean stalked up to the water's edge,
something moved on the surface. "I think that's a baby pike"
The hunt was on...there are definitely some small
fish in the pond. I focused my efforts bringing 2 tucker nymphs
along the ice edge. More than once I saw a flash at my flies, but
nothing connected. Finally, after much patience, I hooked up with
something small. Only when I got it to shore did I realize that
it wasn't a panfish or a bass, but in fact a small brook trout!
Back up at the springhead, Sean and I stopped at
the shore. Sean was insistent that a small ripple on the far shore
was indeed a fish. I looked down at the water and there at my feet
was the body of a now deceased brook trout...fairly good sized too.
We both wondered if perhaps this fish was someone's botched catch
and release effort?
Rather than muse about the demise of a single brook
trout, Sean and I took up positions at right angles to each other.
From where I stood I couldn't see much of anything in the water,
even with my polarized glasses on. Meanwhile, from where Sean was
standing, he swore he could see several trout. When his flies landed
right on top of them, they scattered, disturbing the water's surface
and revealing their location.
It was ON! Sean and I took turns hooking brookies.
We honestly lost more than we landed...many short strikes and at
one point, the bend in my hook was completely straightened out.
I'm guessing that these brook trout were recently stocked; their
size suggests they were yearlings.
What these trout lacked in size they made up for
with eagerness to strike and gorgeous colors. I easily lost over
2 dozen brookies in our short time on the water...heck Sean and
I probably hooked each fish at least once, if not twice...it's not
like there were that many of them. The ones we did land were quickly
released...it was starting to get cold and our guides were icing
After perhaps an hour of fishing the bite was simply
off...we'd definitely educated most of the trout! Even after a 15
minute rest, the bite never came back to what it was...heck we had
to start changing patterns just to get looks. Rather than continue
to harass these fish, the plan was to head over to Scuppernong,
scout it out and see if it has been stocked as well. After Scuppernong,
perhaps I'd head over to the tribs...either that or back to Paradise
to give some more respectably sized trout another go.
Now, you may not know but the hike back to Scuppernong
Springs is long. Not to mention it's difficult this time of year
with a foot of snow on the trail! Rather than hike for 2 hours on
a whim, I opted for the cheater's way....if you go to Scuppernong
you'll realize that the road is literally only 100, maybe 200 feet
above the springs on the ridge.
Well, this time of year the springhead is easily
spotted from the road. When I got there, I pulled off on the nonexistent
shoulder, grabbed my camera and scurried down the hill. In moments,
I was at the springhead taking pictures and confirming my suspicions...unlike
McKeawn, Scuppernong Springs wasn't holding any trout. SDH and I
went separate ways (rather than pull the U-turn) but both arrived
back at Paradise.
Sean had noticed that a rainbow landed earlier
in the day had been spewing tiny (2-3mm) orange eggs. Of course,
my trout boxes are in complete disarray, but my steelhead box is
relatively full. Working a hunch, Sean and I both tied up with tiny
We both cast, our flies hit the water and the stockers
went nuts. Another short lived feeding frenzy ensued. I was determined
that today would be my day for a double, and on my third cast I
had it on....and they both came off..with my flies and most of the
tippet. Darn 6X!
Watching Sean whack fish after fish reminded me
of how Tim must have felt back on New Year's Day...I hurried to
retie with 3x. In the end, I managed at least a couple rainbows,
most small, before the fish finally figured out that these were
not actually eggs.
Sean and I tried the egg patterns on some of the
other residents, including a 20"+++ brown trout. The problem
with the brown was in getting down to him...and again, the Paradise
Springs fish really have all the time in the world to look at an
offering before deciding.
In the end though, it wasn't darkness that chased
us out of Paradise, but the cold. After a fantastic day of fishin',
I was left to bid Sean farewell rather quickly as my fingers were
rapidly approaching frostbite stage. On the drive back, it took
half an hour before they felt "normal".