I remember an anti littering campaign growing up similar to Smokey the Bear. The motto would be "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute." As silly as it was the message stuck. Littering has always bothered me. Especially when it's blatant disrespect for the environment. Triangle Fly Fishers has a clean up on the Haw River every year. We were prepared for one of the worst. Recently there has been bad thunderstorms and tornados that have thrashed the area. We all figured trash would be washed down and plastered around the banks. What we found was the opposite. There must have been a clean up done a couple weeks prior to ours. The river banks were the cleanest I had ever seen them. Usually I can walk maybe 50yds and half way fill a trash bag with bottles and other trash. This year I had to literally hunt for trash. Even things as small as gum rappers. I was really pleased at the conditions but also that others are taking the initiative to keep the river clean. It also gave us more time to fish.
There is a friendly fishing tourney after the cleanup. Points are awarded for certain species that are caught. That tallied with your trash total weight makes you eligible for a prize. Trash is worth more than fish because after all it is a clean up. So you really want to find as much trash as possible so when you weigh in you have a good amount of points. With the small amount of trash abundant the focus really turned to fishing. A friend who knows the area pretty well broke off with me and told me he knew a hole that always held crappie. After about a half mile walk we came to this section.The rocks on the Haw are treacherous. If you're not careful you can find yourself over your head fast. The terrain varies quickly and current is deceiving.We fished the section for a bit with no luck. There was a pretty good hatch going off of something that looked similar to a caddis. The wings looked a little different than a normal caddis, the color was mottled and when the bug settled it had more of a moth wing pattern than anything. In flight it looked exactly like a caddis. They are on the river but the numbers this day were huge. I saw fish rising to the bugs downstream. I worked my way to where they were feeding and tried the smallest fly I have ever used for the Haw. Usually I fish bass flies, clousers, poppers, and rabbit strip patterns. This time I was going to with a sz14 elk hair caddis. I'm rusty on my drag free drift casts. I figured since these were most likely panfish they wouldn't care. Turned out they did. On my one good drift I had a fish on. The way the current swirled it was hard to get a good drift every time. I decided to try something different. I cast at a 45 degree angle down stream let the fly go under water swing it then near the end give it 2 short strips while retrieving it. This was the ticket. I caught fish after fish this way. I was really targeting white bass or other fish but the sunfish were a good way to just get something. They were the only fish I caught and I probably caught over 10. When we came back and tallied our fish totals no one had caught more than 3 fish. I wasn't too proud of catching only sunfish so I just said I got 6 gills. One guy had gotten 3 white bass so I think he was a shoe in to win the tourney. It was a great day to just be outside. The only bad part was the amount of ticks. This area is known for ticks but this year seemed to be especially bad. I'm kind of glad there wasn't that much trash because I would have been covered if I ahd to off the trail. I saw some of the largest ticks I've ever seen. Ever after going home and changing cloths about 3hrs later I found a tick trying to burrow into my leg. I got it off before the head got in. I hate those things. Over all the day was great and I look forward to our next clean up event.