Whenever I go to Boone I have to make at least one trip to a trout stream. There was word that the Watauga River DH has been stocked last week. The report I read said some huge brookies had been put in. I decided to try my luck. Since it had been over a week I figured the fish had seen a fair amount of flies. The usual's should work, bead head hairs ear, pheasant tails and copper johns. I tried to think of something they hadn't seen. For about a year I've had a bead headed pink wooly bugger in my fly box. I was told it is a great smallmouth fly. I figured if the trout had seen a bunch of wooly buggers they probably weren't pink. Even with all this logic I was reluctant to tie it on. I cast into the far edge of a pool and started making quick strips. Nothing on my first two casts. Then on my third cast I started stripping really fast, a buttery flash and huge swirl went around the fly. Then the bump that can only be a fish. The fly came loose instantly. The next cast was the same a few bumps and splashes but the fish seemed to be hitting short. My next experiment was to slow the fly down or pause the strips all together. The next cast went out then I did about 6 inch strips. Strip pause, strip pause, strip.... BUMP! Then the line went slack, strip............ Bump! This time the resistance didn't stop.
My rod kept bobbing and I wasn't gaining anything on the fish. I figured I had it wrapped around a log. Then the fish moved from side to side and I could tell it was free and not hung up at all. I couldn't see how big it was because of the glare and distance. The fish didn't take line but it bull dogged and kept a good bend in the rod. Then it did what other big trout have done it slowly swam up stream. It did this almost as if it thought it could tow whatever hooked it. Eventually it realized this wasn't going to work and it back tracked downstream. From the way the fish seemed hooked I wasn't concerned with playing it until it shook it's head above the water and I could plainly see all of my pink wooly bugger. I started to really pressure the fish and tried to pull it into slack water. It would move to the slack water then bolt to the fast water, it did this over and over but was coming closer each time. The worst part is I didn't have a net. I was able to land it and get some pics.
I fished up stream and downstream but no spots were as productive as where I started. I fished for two hours and probably landed 10fish. I was really working on my nymphing technique. I got rid of going with wooly buggers and went with a egg pattern and a hairs ear as a dropper. Fish were taken on both flies. I love this combo because I think the pink of the egg attracts the fish then if they turn that down the nymph goes by and they slam it just out of instinct. This technique seems to work very well. When they get smarter I switch out the egg pattern for a different nymph. The main thing I've been working on lately is the trigger effect. I've been working on this with bass, bluegill, pickerel and now trout. The thing I've come to understand between all the different fish with the attack trigger was based on the fall rate of the fly. If the fly fell at a certain speed there was an instant attack. If it feel too fast or too slow I would get interest from the fish but not a attack response. It was almost a curious type behavior. If the fall rate was at a certain speed the attack was instant. There was no doubt or fluke in what happened. I'm trying to experiment with this more but I'm hoping I can get to where I can film the exact fall rate to trigger the attack.
The rain was pelting me the whole time and I couldn't ignore the cold anymore. It was in the mid 40's and every time I landed and released a trout I kept saying ok just one more. After releasing one fish I soaked half my arm and jacket. That was it. I called it a day but what a day it was. Pretty productive for a short time on the water. That is what's great about DH streams. They stocked a lot of brooks this year. Usually I catch a nice mix of Browns, Rainbows and Brooks. This time every fish I caught was a brook. That doesn't make me feel very skillful. They definitely aren't the smartest of the three. I took a few videos while I was on the water. The big brook I caught took a rest right between my feet.