Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fly fishing in the Tunnel of Doom

The sky was alive with dancing, happy clouds. Gone were those huge puffy piles that turned angry black in the late afternoon.
With the lawn mower broken, it seemed a perfect time to return to Avery Creek, where I had fished about 10 years ago. It’s a nice little stream, full of little native rainbows. It empties into the Davidson River, which is invariably crowded this time of year, and there are campsites and a horse stable, so weekends are to be avoided.
I chose Monday. Most of the campers had gone back to the city. Only a few vehicles dotted the sides of the dirt road.
Now, a good portion of the creek is wide open, perfect for casting a dry fly 30 or 40 feet without some dumb bush grabbing your fly on the backcast.
The trout are willing but not easy, for they are quicker than a New York second. And an angler has to be sneaky. These guys spook like squirrels in traffic.
With a yellow caddis dry fly, I managed to catch some little rainbows, one the size of my little finger, in a section near the horse stable, then moved on downstream to where the sun drenched the banks.
Along this stretch, you can’t see the water from the road because of all the vegetation, which made it all the more interesting. I had to try it. With all that bushiness, there had to be some shady holes with trout of substantial size.
That’s the theory, anyway.
My decision proved a wise one at first. I caught a couple trout, moving slowly and quietly upstream, hidden by overhanging laurel and rhododendron.
The water was low, but I found some puddles deep enough to hold trout, and they eagerly splashed at the now-ragged fly. I missed more than I caught.
It was tough wading, but fun anyway.
Then the creek began to narrow to the width of a sidewalk.
The limbs hung lower and heavier. I was on my hands and knees, crawling in the low water, dodging limbs. There was nowhere to walk on the bank, so I was caught in a green tunnel of doom.
"Would I be able to get out of there," I thought. Upstream, the laurel thickened. My hat got knocked into the water. I slipped on a rock. Bugs ate my face.
Boy, was I having fun.
My mind drifted back about 15 years when I first heard the story of Casius the Bull, who many years ago got his horns caught in the rhododendron. He never got out. They named the town after him, and called it Cashiers. Go figure.
Would I ever emerge? Or would they find my cold, dead body next week? And name a town after me?
The limbs seemed like thick snakes stretching across the creek trying to wrap around me and squeeze the life out.
Regaining my composure, I noticed light at the end of the tunnel . Breathing harder than a fly fisher should, I stumbled up the bank as the berry bushes clawed more blood from my arms and face.
The Troutmobile never looked so inviting.
Catching my breath in the car, I thought about the deep, shady pools I had stumbled through.
I feel lucky to have survived.
So, I’ll go back today.


Mike said...

Wow! I fished that exact spot about a month ago. As you said, missed more than caught, and absolutely shocked at how big some of those rainbows are in such a tiny stream!

Hugh Koontz said...

You said it. I went back (see next blog) and scored some great mushrooms but only one little fish. Middle of the day. Low water. High sun. Love that Chicken of the Woods, though.