Wednesday was here. I was recovered from the weekend of road miles. I was at wits end negotiating my way out of underemployment with people who define shortly as: three months. I wanted to put in some more miles, get the Niner out in the woods, and do some fishing.
Cue Avery Creek.
A few weeks back I had finished off a larger loop in Pisgah with a descent down Avery, and passed a fisherman within the last two miles. We talked tackle, and this very novice fisherman put it in his head to have a go at it next time the opportunity arose.
With a lite load of fishing gear, and some extra clothes, I headed down to the White Pines area, intending to go up Maxwell, and push over the top of Black. A downpour commensed at the Horse Stables and changed my mind. I was here more for the fishing, and if the forecasted storms had already started to reach us, I wanted to get on with it. So up Clawhammer in the rain became the plan.
The rain stopped along the upper section of Black. Spring is ready to explode up here, with crocus, wild flowers, ferns, and some lillies all in various stages of their cycle. The trail was in great shape, the rain having offered great traction on the steeper sections.
I stopped at the Black/Avery intersection to sure up the gear. The last thing I wanted was for my rod to go shooting off my back, or to catch a low branch and take me with it. The section of Black leading into this point, and the very beginning of Avery define Pisgah riding for me. Sections of steep, loose, rocky trail; water bars dropping off into V shaped gulleys; black organic mud turned to primordial ooze by a nearby spring; improbable downed logs made just passable by the impromptu engineering of a fellow trail rider. I don't ride it fast, but selecting a clean line down the whole trail has taken some time. Now that I wasn't just on a riding day, I took the time to hike down to the falls that you can hear down in the ravine after making most of the descent. Pretty impressive, and still flowing strong. I saw some tiny tiny Brooks swimming in the pool at the base. At least I knew there were fish up here. I wasn't alone in the wet forest. The area surrounding the base of the falls was littered with snails, probably enjoying its forever wet environment. They seemed to like Rhodo leaves, and there was no shortage of them down here.
On to the fishing. I ditched the bike a couple times and walked into the headwaters. I fished a few very technical little pools, doing little more than dropping a fly in for a few feet of drift. There wasn't much room to cast, and I was often almost sitting in the sprung branches of a Rhodo or Mt. Laurel to do so. Surprisingly I got a couple rises, and a bite, but was spooking fish two easily in the tight corridors.
Onto a larger pool, where I had some clearance to roll cast a bit, keeping my distance from the target. On my third cast I got a bite that stuck, and popped a small Brook a few feet above the water, and swung him back to me. I had him in my hand, and in an effort to get a photo, lost him. I threw a few more casts, and got nothing, and moved on.
Hit a few more pools down stream, going back to get my bike from time to time in case the storms hit. In a last ditch effort to actually land a fish, I returned to the pool where I had the bite. It had been over an hour, and everyone was feeling safe and hungry again. I got 3 or 4 instances where the fly was gulped from the surface of the water, but I was two slow, or had too much line out, to set the hook. And then finally; got one.So its definitely no trophy catch, but it is my first wild caught trout. Avery isn't hatchery supported, so these are genuine North Carolina trout, and its early in the year. They tend to spook easy, but bite on a less picky diet.
Feeling like I had had a full day, I switched back into my riding shoes, packed everything up, and finished off the rest of Avery, looking off to my left at all the stream left to explore.