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1-12-05 - "Brookie Surprise"!

Waters Fished: Paradise Springs, McKeawn Springs, Scuppernong Springs
Fish Caught: 10+
Outing Date: 1-21-05
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temp: lower 30's
Water Temp: 46F at the springhead of McKeawn.
Water Level: All springs are flowing now.
Water Color: Clear!
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Tucker Nymph, Egg patterns, Midge Patterns
Pattern Color: varied
Fishing Quality: First Class!

I'm not even sure where to start! SDH said he'd be out shortly after sunrise. Last I checked, I was a night owl. So, going on my same old schedule, I worked until around 4:00 AM on rods and only got up around noon. Would Sean still be out? Between the snow and cold I was hesitant to go, but in the end the lure of fishin' and the promise that I'd meet up with Sean got me on the road.

1-21-05 - This rainbow, 1 half of a double, was my first for the day at Paradise.

A quick look back at Paradise as we head out to scout other open water.

I showed up at Paradise Springs probably after 1:00 PM and found Sean walking towards me, getting off the water, as I stepped onto the casting pier. I suggested that perhaps we stay a minute, I'd catch a fish, and we'd split. First cast in I had a fish on, then off. 2nd go around, I hooked up and watched a huge bend form in my 7' 5wt.! As I peered over the edge, I saw not one, but TWO fish on my line! Another DOUBLE!

Well the excitement was short lived; the lower fish managed to shake off and I landed only one. The usual stocker bow for Paradise, Sean and I agreed to head over to McKeawn Springs.

I had suspected, and Sean recently confirmed, that the wet fall and winter we've had would get McKeawn flowing. McKeawn holds many interesting fish at times...Sean has recently spotted a northern or two in there, both very small. I was all for hunting down a northern.

As we approached the springhead, something moved in the water. Rather than start up top, we turned our attention to the larger, mostly ice-covered pond "downstream" on the other side of the road. As Sean stalked up to the water's edge, something moved on the surface. "I think that's a baby pike" Sean muttered.

The hunt was on...there are definitely some small fish in the pond. I focused my efforts bringing 2 tucker nymphs along the ice edge. More than once I saw a flash at my flies, but nothing connected. Finally, after much patience, I hooked up with something small. Only when I got it to shore did I realize that it wasn't a panfish or a bass, but in fact a small brook trout!

Surprise, there are brookies back at McKeawn Springs.

Back up at the springhead, Sean and I stopped at the shore. Sean was insistent that a small ripple on the far shore was indeed a fish. I looked down at the water and there at my feet was the body of a now deceased brook trout...fairly good sized too. We both wondered if perhaps this fish was someone's botched catch and release effort?

Rather than muse about the demise of a single brook trout, Sean and I took up positions at right angles to each other. From where I stood I couldn't see much of anything in the water, even with my polarized glasses on. Meanwhile, from where Sean was standing, he swore he could see several trout. When his flies landed right on top of them, they scattered, disturbing the water's surface and revealing their location.

Surprise, there are brookies back at McKeawn Springs.

Sean walks around the upper spring head scouting for fish.

Yeah, a fat little brookie!

It was ON! Sean and I took turns hooking brookies. We honestly lost more than we landed...many short strikes and at one point, the bend in my hook was completely straightened out. I'm guessing that these brook trout were recently stocked; their size suggests they were yearlings.

What these trout lacked in size they made up for with eagerness to strike and gorgeous colors. I easily lost over 2 dozen brookies in our short time on the water...heck Sean and I probably hooked each fish at least once, if not twice...it's not like there were that many of them. The ones we did land were quickly released...it was starting to get cold and our guides were icing up!

Sean's first brook trout of the day, landed on his sweet bamboo rod.

Can you see the fish in this picture?

Another brookie comes to shore...

Check out the fantastic coloration on this little male brook trout!

More brookies...

Sean lands a brookie from McKeawn Springs.

After perhaps an hour of fishing the bite was simply off...we'd definitely educated most of the trout! Even after a 15 minute rest, the bite never came back to what it was...heck we had to start changing patterns just to get looks. Rather than continue to harass these fish, the plan was to head over to Scuppernong, scout it out and see if it has been stocked as well. After Scuppernong, perhaps I'd head over to the tribs...either that or back to Paradise to give some more respectably sized trout another go.

Now, you may not know but the hike back to Scuppernong Springs is long. Not to mention it's difficult this time of year with a foot of snow on the trail! Rather than hike for 2 hours on a whim, I opted for the cheater's way....if you go to Scuppernong you'll realize that the road is literally only 100, maybe 200 feet above the springs on the ridge.

What the heck...one more brookie from McKeawn.

Scuppernong Springs...no fish here!

A quick look down the valley at Scuppernong Springs.

Well, this time of year the springhead is easily spotted from the road. When I got there, I pulled off on the nonexistent shoulder, grabbed my camera and scurried down the hill. In moments, I was at the springhead taking pictures and confirming my suspicions...unlike McKeawn, Scuppernong Springs wasn't holding any trout. SDH and I went separate ways (rather than pull the U-turn) but both arrived back at Paradise.

Sean had noticed that a rainbow landed earlier in the day had been spewing tiny (2-3mm) orange eggs. Of course, my trout boxes are in complete disarray, but my steelhead box is relatively full. Working a hunch, Sean and I both tied up with tiny egg patterns.

Back to Paradise for some fantastic Rainbow Trout action...this time egg patterns worked wonders!

We both cast, our flies hit the water and the stockers went nuts. Another short lived feeding frenzy ensued. I was determined that today would be my day for a double, and on my third cast I had it on....and they both came off..with my flies and most of the tippet. Darn 6X!

Watching Sean whack fish after fish reminded me of how Tim must have felt back on New Year's Day...I hurried to retie with 3x. In the end, I managed at least a couple rainbows, most small, before the fish finally figured out that these were not actually eggs.

Sean and I tried the egg patterns on some of the other residents, including a 20"+++ brown trout. The problem with the brown was in getting down to him...and again, the Paradise Springs fish really have all the time in the world to look at an offering before deciding.

In the end though, it wasn't darkness that chased us out of Paradise, but the cold. After a fantastic day of fishin', I was left to bid Sean farewell rather quickly as my fingers were rapidly approaching frostbite stage. On the drive back, it took half an hour before they felt "normal".

  MP 

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