Monday, June 12, 2006

my roll cast and bow-n-arrow cast are bombproof

And so are my media prep skills bee-atch. I've been doing nothing but pouring plates and pipetting stuff. AND...the elk poop collecting mission was postponed.

Ahhhhh the life of a lab scientist.

But I did get to go outside yesterday and it was during this time in beautiful southern Jackson county where I realized that my short game is indeed bombproof. And by short game I mean ways of presenting a fly when you're fly fishing without a back cast. Often times you need to cast when there are a lot of trees and bushes around, and because of these impediments you can't make a standard cast, so you use techniques like the roll cast, or, when things are really tight as they were yesterday, the bow and arrow cast.

Roll casting is a pretty standard way to cast the fly. I do it sometimes even when I can make a full back cast. It's less work. You just lift the rod up straight, wait for the line to fall back past the rod (this is important), then snap the rod tip forward about 50 degrees and voila! A nice tight loop is formed and you fly goes zipping out right where you want it to...usually.

The bow and arrow cast is a little more obscure. When things are extremely tight, like you can't even lift your rod up straight for a roll cast tight, like the rhododendron branches are only 4 feet above the ground and you're hunched over into a sweaty little mosquito molested ball of frustration tight, that's when you use the bow and arrow.

Anyway, you pinch the bend of the hook between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand (if you fish right handed), making sure to be clear of the hook. Then you stretch the rod as far out as you can in front of you with your right hand to create a nice bow in the rod. Then you let the fly go. Definitely only good for casts of no greater than ten feet or so, but when you're fishing very tight water, it works quite well. In fact, I caught that big brookie on a bow and arrow cast.

So anyway, I worked on my short game at my new favorite trout stream. I won't say where it is because I think one reason why it is so awesome is because people rarely go there. Its not hard to find on the NC Wildlife map if you look at my pictures and know a thing or two about southern Jackson County. This creek is pretty far from anywhere and there are four miles of one lane dirt and rock "road" to get there. But that is the weird thing about this creek (actually there are many weird things, but this is one of the weirder): you can drive right to it. Most great wild brook trout streams in the southern apps are hike in only. In the park, Shining Rock, most of Nantahala and Pisgah, Panthertown etc. But not this one. You can drive right up to it. But like I said, its far from anything. You take 281 a good ways to get there. 281 takes you way out. Mostly following the edge of the Nantahala National Forest.


This creek is also weird (in a good way) because it has never been stocked and therefore is all southern strain brook trout. Southern strain brook trout look exactly like northern strain brook trout (and while Dr.Peter Galbreath, for example, kept looking for physiological differences between the two strains, nothing has turned up yet), but there is (at least) one locus that reliably predicts the trout's origin and recent history. Trout homozygous for the CK-A2*100 allele are southern strain. I'm not sure where the northern boundary of the southern strain is, but I will soon find out as lots of the research on these fish was done here at Western Carolina University. Anyway, take a stream in Jackson county that was never stocked and still has a brook trout population and it will be fixed for the CK-A2*100 allele. In fact, they now use that allele to infer stocking history.

There are several creeks here in the southern apps that are pure southern strain and the one I fished yesterday is supposedly one of them (I say supposedly because I read it in a guide book. I'm going to look up some hard data later and will post it here). Thus the fish I caught yesterday are legitimately native fish. The creeks of Panthertown Valley, while containing brook trout only, are of mixed origin as they were stocked with northern strain hatchery brook trout during the first decades of the 20th century. They haven't been stocked for at least 40 years, so all the fish there are wild, but not all are native.

The creek is also weird because there isn't very much gradient, at least where I was fishin. It was very much like the creeks in Panthertown valley in this respect. And this might explain why the trout in Panthertown are so big and why I caught that fairly big trout yesterday: the fish don't have to constantly fight the current, thus they can pack those calories into body size instead of movement.

Here are two pictures of the very flat water and two pools where I had to employ the bow and arrow cast...and from which I caught beautiful wild (native?) brook trout:

I hiked about 1/4 mile down the creek and started to see some steeper gradient:

There is supposedly a huge 100 foot waterfall upstream from where I parked, but it'a a bit of a hike I suppose.

OK, so without further ado, the feesh:


This is the big mo-fo that I caught...he/she was really stressed out when I released it (bummer the picture is blurry). It took the poor little buddy about 5 minutes to regain its composure and get the fuck out of dodge. It's like they all the sudden realize that they are being cradled by something large looming over them, think about it for a minute like "what the hell, this things helping me out now?" then all the sudden they recover and ZIP they're gone.

I love you the trout.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are truly a student of life Big Daddy. when you started talking about your short game, I thought that you had taken up golf, but then I realized golf is lacking in the cache department.
Glenn Rank
Fourth Grade Science Teacher
East Bradford Elementary School