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6-28-03 - Alex puts in a good, dedicated effort, wading to clear himself of the surrounding trees.
YEEHAA! After Alex helped me land this guy I asked him to take a couple pics; this is my personal favorite! (Photo by Alex Jensen, Copyright 2003)
Another shot of this TREMENDOUS 15"+ Paradise Springs Brown likely to be in the top 20-30 of the spring pond's population.
The Hike through woods along the Scuppernong Prairie isn't short; but I did see the DOUBLE RAINBOW along the way as the rains subsided.
My first look at the upper stretches of the Scuppernong River. It looks muddy, but actually it's CRYSTAL clear...what you're seeing is the sandy bottom.
Hotel Springs, one of several springs in the area that feed the headwaters of the Scuppernong River, flowing at a constant 47 F.
Immediately downstream at Scuppernong Springs; this is the birthplace of the Scuppernong River.

6-28-03 - I gave the demon in trout hell a THOROUGH THWACKING!

Waters Fished: Paradise Springs, Scuppernong Springs / River
Fish Caught: 1/2
Outing Date: 6-28-03
Weather: Sunny with rain in the evening
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Griffith's Gnat, Copper John (Red & Black), Brassie, other assorted patterns
Pattern Color: as per the patterns above
Fishing Quality: Tough as always but today I'm on top!

I decided for once that a low-pressure, not so hurried weekend was in order, so we started off Saturday right with a store-bought Rainbow Trout Fry, TASTY! After a lazy afternoon with my family I finally made my way over to Paradise Springs for some afternoon fishing.

I arrived to find the place deserted at 4:30 PM. It seems that in the recent weeks the population of fish has been decreasing somewhat, and I think I know why. More later.

Around 5:00 I was surprised to meet Alex J., a guy who I've been emailing with for some time and had even seen out once, but we never made the connection. Finally he walked up to me and said "are you Matt?" AHA! I hadn't been doing much luck; Alex waded "uppond" and we both had at it. Shortly thereafter another angler showed up with spinning gear.

I spent much of my time casting to larger browns that were sitting underneath the trees occasionally sipping at the surface. I got a few looks and FINALLY connected on a Griffith's Gnat. Here's how it went down. I had cast out far and very slowly retrieved and then paused the fly. Another retrieve and pause, continuing this process back to shore as occasionally the movement would put the fly in better position OR draw the attention of a fish. No hits. Well, finally I notice a brown cruising to my right, my fly a good 10 feet out of his path. I pull the fly under and bring it into position, and with the slightest strip the brown turned 6" and nailed the fly!

The battle was ON. This was no small brown, and I wasn't about to lose it on 2lb (7X) tippet! I was screaming with joy as I played the fish, taking care to keep it out of all the submerged tree-limbs and such, as well as the dock. Alex got out and made his way down to see what the excitement was about...he was pretty excited too after he saw the fish on the end of my line!

I recently replaced my net and was fortunate to have it with me, but since I had been fishing from the dock it wasn't LONG enough! I asked Alex to give it a shot; he got down and got pretty close, but it spooked the fish and it got tangled up in a branch! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! I kept barely any pressure on the line; if the fish was going to run I wasn't going to add stress to the tippet and have it sawed in two by a stick! Alex decided he'd wade out to it; he took the net and eventually we managed to bring this guy out of the water!

Alex shot a couple nice pics with my camera, I got a couple more and then took this guy down to shore and spent a few minutes reviving. Eventually he came too and was on his way!

Alex went back to fishing the midpond, and I decided that based on some recent info I'd check by the springhouse for brookies. Nope, none there, but there was a gorgeous fish IN the springhouse. Unfortunately the 2 browns and one brookie were all VERY skittish, I wasn't going to see any action there.

Alex and I talked for a while about Paradise and other locations. A few of our mutual observations included that neither of us had see the big red Rainbow Trout in a few weeks now. Normally it seemed he had a pretty set path that he swam around the pool; I'm wondering if perhaps something (i.e. someone) happened to him. I've also noticed a visible decrease in the number of smaller trout. Alex commented that he has seen anglers in there fishing with waxworms (although he didn't give any specific dates). In any event, it sounds like Poaching, and that would really STEAM me. I have the DNR Poaching Hotline programmed on my cell phone...and well, the Eagle Police are literally a minute away. If you are at Paradise Springs (or anywhere) and you noticed Poaching of any kind, REPORT it by calling 1-800-TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367).

Anyways, around 6:45 I managed to connect with another similar sized brown, but I cut the battle all to short when I set the hook as he jumped; tippet snapped at the fly. DARN. It would've been a really good day to bring in #2, although I must admit I was already TOTALLY satisfied for the entire weekend.

7:15 saw rainshowers starting, and I decided I'd let things cool down a bit. Despite what I've heard, I wanted to check out Scuppernong Springs and Scuppernong River for myself. I got there about 7:30 and made a donation for a trail map (get one if you go..it's helpful and only $0.25).

Suffice it to say that the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail isn't exactly short...based on time I'm guessing I hiked about 2 miles back and forth. The area is very nice; spotted a strange looking owl that was gray, with horns, yet only 8" tall, and he was ONLY 4 FEET away from me. I *ALMOST* got a picture, but as I raised the camera the movement sent him flying off as silent as I've always heard they fly!

The stream in this area is small, smaller than Bluff Creek but larger than Tichigan...to give you an approximate idea of size. The bottom is sand, with little structure. Therefore, based on my observations the stream isn't likely to hold fish IN THIS AREA. I did notice one smaller riffle section, and several Great Blue Herons were stalking the stream, so there must be some aquatic life (maybe it was frogs they were after???). PLUS, Scuppernong Springs used to be a Trout Hatchery in the 1900's with ponds in the wetlands that held over 1 million trout, so some conditions are right (i.e. the springs flow at a constant 47F).

Scuppernong is 5 MILES in length, so with more searching there MAY be some good trout water, and it is supposed to hold natural populations of Brown and Brook Trout despite being classified as Class 3 over it's entire 5 mile length of trout water. Furthermore, much of the river is on Public Lands, so with some diligent searching you may find some nice water here. However, I drove from the Springs at 8:30 and tried to find the "end" of the trout water which occurs all the way back over at Paradise Springs; I just never found the bridge where the river goes underneath (or maybe it's just a culvert and I missed it among all the prairie grasses). I'll have to keep looking for that tail end just to see what I can find. Might be worth a better look in the fall if I can ever tear myself away from the Salmon Runs!

  MP 

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