Oconaluftee River Journal:

November Oconaluftee River Trout (5/20/07):
It was cold day in November, 2006, but it had not been cold long enough to bring
the water temperatures down very much in the Oconaluftee River. The water
temperature was showing 55 degrees on my thermometer although the air
temperature was only about 40 degrees when we started. It was too cold for
Angie this morning so, guess what? I got to fish for a change.
Angie was going to run the camera and therefore, she was insisting that she
have the best possible conditions under which to do that. In other words, she
would only do so if she could stay near the vehicle along the road. No wading for
her that cold morning if she was not going to fish. That being the case, I selected
the absolute best place for her to do so. It is a very long parking area on a curve
along the highway that follows the river. The longest parking lot on the river, in
case you want to find it. In the warm months, it is a waste of time to fish there
because the visitors stop and walk up to the stream to watch you fish and spook
the trout ahead of you. Are there really fish in here? How big are they? That is
all you hear.
On this particular day there was little traffic and no one interested, thank
goodness. I begin at the end of the parking lot and fished upstream, of course.
Angie followed along the wall which also makes a good seat. My thoughts were,
that if I could manage to keep her behind me rather than in front of me trying to
spot fish, I might have a chance to catch one.
I noticed some blue-winged olives in the air. It was cloudy and a good day for
them. I didn't know which kind at the time, but I new they were probably baetis, or
maybe one of the larger - little blue-winged olive species. I tied on a size 20
blue-winged olive dun "Perfect Fly" pattern of ours and proceeded upstream.
To make what could be a long story short, according to our video tape logs, I
caught fourteen rainbow and brown trout before I reached the other end where I
could get back out of the stream. This did not include one very large brown,
maybe 18 inches or so long, that took the dry fly (which don't happen often) and
then managed to break my 5X tippet. It came from the deepest hole (you can't
miss it) to made a fool out of me.
You can't climb that wall and once you start you either finish the trip or return
back. It reminds me of the joke - "I swam across the lake and was within a few
feet of the bank it when I decided there was no way I could make it. So, I had to
turn around and swim back". Well, I wasn't going to make that mistake, so I
finished fishing the long wall.
Now after reading what I have written so far, it sounds like I am bragging about
catching some fish when that is not the point I am trying to make. Other than just
telling you about a good place to fish, I am trying to point out that mayfly hatches
occur in October and November (November in this case) and fishing can be
great. That is not the only time I have had good results in November. It happens
often, even when there are no hatches.
The water temperatures are usually very good and the fish are usually very
active. In this case, the blue-winged olives were not thick, but there were enough
of them to keep the fish interested.
Remember also that the air temperature don't always reflect the water
temperature. It will follow closely, but it takes a little time for the changes to take
place. Even though that morning as late a 11:00, it was only about 45 degrees
(which is not bad at all) the water was still about 55 degrees. That may have
been a good day for watching football on TV or bird hunting but it was also a
good day for fly fishing in the Smokies.

Copyright 2007 James Marsh