I wish I could say that my trout and striper pursuits were more fruitful than they actually were, but I can't lie. I can however proudly say that no boat/improvised floatation was used in my endeavours. After a day in the hills in East Tennessee on my home rivers, all I have to show is this one rainbow caught at the buzzer.
This little adventure was fun even despite the outcome. I got to hit the water for the first time in a long time with my good friend Zak, one of the only people in this world crazy enough to join me on my many half-baked fishing adventures. Good company is just as key to a solid fishing excursion as the tackle itself in my opinion.
For the striper, we tried just about everything we had on hand. They wouldn't touch a thing. My list of baits tried in the approximately 3 hour timeframe I was there is the following: Texas rigged Zoom Superfluke (White), 3/4 oz Krocadile Spoon (Silver), 1 oz Bucktail Jig (White/Silver/Green), Curlytail Grubs on light jig heads (Chartreuse/White), and finally some large live shiners fished in and around deeper holes and current breaks. The only real taker came on a shiner fisher in deeper water on the bottom, but whatever took it never even seemed to know it was hooked (no headshakes or speedy runs). In fact at first when Zak set the hook we were sure his line had gotten stuck in the rocks, and didn't even stop to think it could be a fish. This cluelessness lasted for a good minute while Zak contemplated the unfortunate loss of one of our last good live bait hooks. Then while I was staring at the tightened snagged line thinking of what strategy to try next, I noticed it began to slowly move up-current towards the dam. Zak let whatever this beast was swim and chew the bait for a few more seconds before giving it a solid pull back, only to have this oversized triumphant bastard give him its first giant headshake. And it was with this headshake that the fish let us know we were no match, spitting the hook immediately...and alas, The Kraken was gone back to the depths from whence it came.
This frustration was enough for us to decide to pack up and move to the Caney. Afterall, I can catch striper in South Alabama, but I don't think I could find a trout stream down here if my life depended on it. Before we got to the Center Hill Dam exit I decided to pull off at the rest stop just to see if I could locate a suitable fishing spot in case the dam happened to have both generators going (very common in the Winter months due to construction on the dam). I had heard a while ago that there was a small fishable area a short walk down from the parking lot. What I found was a nice stretch of very hikeable shoreline with a deep cut rock bank on the other side of the river.
ENTER STAGE LEFT: Bone-chilling torrential downpour.
As the last glimmer of daylight began to slowly disappear, we found ourselves soaked to the core with only one curious trout that short-struck Zak's spoon and got off. The realization began to set in that all this gas/gear money may all only result in a skunk and hypothermia. I began the solemn ritual of taking the last cast (which usually means my last 10-20 casts if we're honest). I think all of my frustration went into these last few casts, because for some reason these seemed to have just a hair more distance to them. It was these extra couple of feet that helped me reach the deeper channel of the carved out rock wall of the opposite bank. As I watched my spoon on its wobbly return from the other side, I noticed what looked like a fish following it closely. Next thing I know, I'm setting the hook on my lures stalker; and in a bout two seconds I had him flopping on the bank. I don't think I have ever been this excited about a fish this small in my entire life. He was the day saver, the anti-skunk, and my justification for waking up early and spending more money than I needed to. By my reaction you'd have thought I'd either just landed the world record or won the lottery. A quick picture and smooth release later, both me and the fish were on our way.
Till next time,