**Warning long post and lots of pictures**
On Friday night Elijah, Parker, and I went up to the mountains for my birthday trip. Stayed up late tying flies and getting prepared for Ravens Fork on Saturday. We woke up and drove up to WNC and were greeted by an elk herd.
We went to Rivers Edge and got our permits along with some shirts and flies. Drove up the river until we reached a bridge. We parked and got rigged up. As we walked over the bridge, we could see the trout just stacked up in the river. Elijah went down while Parker and I watched from above, directing his casts and alerting him of a bite. He caught 2 in maybe 5 minutes and moved downstream so I hoped down and caught a little bow on my first cast. Elijah then hooked up on a sweet 17" bow he sight-fished to. Elijah and I both caught a few more 12-14" fish before going up on the bridge to direct Parker. After 10 minutes I spotted a big fish on the the side of the river and just messing around dropped my flies in front of min from on top of the bridge. Lo and behold he ate it and I was suddenly attached at a 19" fish from on top of a bridge. 5 minutes later and he was somehow in the net. Mom got some of it on video.
Proof its off the bridge
We moved upstream and fished some riffles with no results. There was one nice run/pool that I let Elijah and Parker fish while I moved up more. Nothing. Came back down and they were gone so I walked down and notices a little trout in 3" of water. Dropped the fly in front of him, sucked it in, set the hook and instantly the fight was over. Walked down and they were back at the bridge. I ate lunch and saw some guys walk over. So I went and talked with them and it was the kids from Wildfly! Small world. Turns out one of them has the same birthday as me. Elijah copied my technique from the bridge and caught a 17" that took him into backing.
Then Parker finialy caught his first fish and things turned on for him after that. Must have taken my luck because he out fished me 3:1 after that.
The Wildfly guys took us to a secret hole and we fished that for a while. Elijah and Parker were pulling fish out left and right while I couldn’t buy a strike. Elijah hooked a nice fish and I landed it in what I believe it record time. He hooked it and barely had time to give a shout before it was in the net. Parker found one and finally got him to bite after 20 minutes. I fished to a rock that I thought was a palomino for longer than I care to admit. Wildfly left and not 5 seconds after they turn around Elijah hooks a monster. Fought him for a while before Parker and I netted him. Taped out to be a hair under 20".
Soon after I took a fall and managed to swim about 50m down the river and through 3 palominos. Needless to say I was cold and wetter for the rest of the day. We went back to the bridge and right after I got in the river Parker gets a fly stuck deep in his thumb (not his fault). He starts screaming for my knife (I don’t know why, it would hurt more to cut part of your finger off). Anyway that cut into the fishing time but we got it out.
Then we walked down to an awesome pool where a beast was busting minnows on the surface. Parker caught a few on a fly he made up and I got another. Elijah caught one from under a rock and thought I looked fishy so he threw another cast in. Boom indicator shoots under and a big bow is on. Somehow he threw the hook and came off. That ended the day and we drove back to the cabin, stopping at Cooks country kitchen for come awesome burgers.
We woke up early Sunday (my b-day) and drove over to Dukes. We got there and the water seemed a bit high but super clear. Remembering yesterday, we rigged up with stones and a natural dropper. We rode in to section 3 and got in the water. Elijah and Parker headed down a bit while my dad and I fished the hole where we went in. 5 cast and I had my first fish in the net. Next cast and another was in the net. I moved down and my dad took position in the run I thought I had cleaned out. Apparently not. He caught a chunky bow and then caught a nice brown, his first real fish a dukes and for the time being, our biggest dukes brown.
Parker had lost a few pigs we moved up to the slow flat water to try and catch some there. No luck but not far away I spotted 4 fish under a bush. First cast and I saw the biggest of the bunch move and eat my fly. I set the hook and we all knew it was the biggest fish any of us had ever hooked. He took off into a root ball and I put more pressure on him then I thought was possible. Turned at the last second and took off under the tree. I’m thinking "I’m screwed, there is no way I land him now." Elijah and Parker thought differently and lifted the trunk out a foot so I could slide my line under the tree. Line was clear and we all thought "Ok we got this now" when he changes directions and comes off leaving me with smashed dreams but both flies. Worked up stream, caught some more smaller fish and Parker spots a big brown? I didn’t see it, he'll confirm. It must have been quite a fish because he fished to it for a while and lost another fish as well. Left him to that fish and fished a run above the bridge. Hooked a sweet bow and during the fight my drag decides it doesn’t want to work. So I have a big fish who wants to run and no drag. Somehow we got him in the net and snapped a quick picture before fixing my reel.
Dad and I leapfrogged up and I left him the gold rush hole. I fished a nice spot and caught four in four casts including my prettiest fish if the trip.
Most fish from both days were about this size.
Found another spot and spooked a monster out of the bottom. Oh well. Caught a small bow before hooking anther fish. This one felt different and I knew soon enough that it was a brown, and a nice one as well. Fought him with my rod tangled in a tree and managed to get a diving net on him. It’s hard to take pictures of fish alone but I think I solved the problem.
Elijah and Parker found a nice hole but somehow didn’t catch any from it. I got a few more from a shallow riffle and Elijah got one from the plunge pool. Parker and I walked to the bridge and I missed a big fish below the bridge. Parker fished the bend while I Hooked logs in the improved run. We switched spots and he went up and I went under the bridge. Caught a nice fish just as dad arrived. Elijah and Parker met us there and the warden checked us before getting on the bus.
That was pretty much it for the day. The afternoon part we only caught 2 fish, the biggest being 3". I had a tiny tiny hook get bent open and Parker got hopelessly tangled so he looked for flies (and found a ton in a tree, ~30). Right before leaving Elijah hooked a beast and got his line wrapped on his reel. Gone in an instant. While he was retying the fish jumped twice after it came off and will continue to haunt our nightmares. I ended the weekend with around 30, and Elijah was not far behind. Parker caught around 20 total after a slow start both days. All in all a successful birthday trip. And I’m looking for places to add to my list as I am getting my license in a few days.