I have been fishing for trout for at least 55 years and even though I have had many trips that were extremely memorable for the number of fish or the size we caught, I can say that there have been fishless days and some trips plagued with problems.
It seems that the more a person fishes the more things can happen. I can remember several winter trips to Cherokee where a two day trip resulted in limits of fish with several fish weighing three or more pounds. There were also trips with dead van batteries, ice covered streams too frozen to fish and streams flowing so fast and high that it was impossible to fish.
There have also been days with beautiful conditions yet no fish were caught. You must understand that no matter the skill of the angler, some days the fish win.
A group of Coosa Valley TU anglers fished Cherokee, North Carolina, last weekend and chapter president Ed Palmer filled me in on how things went. The Chapter rented all the cabins at Ol’ Smokey Log Cabins in Cherokee with most of the folks arriving early enough to fish Thursday as well as through the weekend.
Ed said that fishing was real slow on Thursday and not much better Friday. Things got better fish-wise on the weekend, but the weather got worse with freezing rain Saturday night. Many of the guys, fearing that the foul weather would keep them from getting home on Sunday, left early Saturday for Rome. Those that stayed caught a lot of fish with Andy Edmondson catching the largest fish measuring over 21 inches on a small gold Rapala, and Tim Looney and Ronny Cooper both getting their limits.
There are a couple of things that I can say about Cherokee trout angling and the rivers and creeks there.
First of all, Cherokee has so many beautiful large holes that will hypnotize almost any angler. These large, deep holes just scream out to the fishermen, “the big ones are here,” and an angler can spend way too much time trying to cover all the beautiful water, and it seems that “just one more cast” can turn into many more.
My suggestion, especially in winter, is try a few well-placed casts to the prime locations within the pool and move on if you do not have a hit or even see a fish. The large holes usually have narrower areas where water enters and leaves these large pools, and these areas are usually overlooked by anglers.
On days that are pleasant, over half the anglers in all of Cherokee will fish the large pools and never attempt the small pools near the larger ones. To catch more trout, try the smaller pools.
Second, almost all the trout in Cherokee are hatchery raised and stocked weekly. The trout are stocked in locations near the road, and it is usually obvious where the truck drops off the trout. If there is an easy spot for a vehicle to pull off the road near a creek or river you can rest assured that from time to time the stocking truck will toss the fish in or near that spot. With 26 miles of streams within Cherokee that are public waters, there are just many more spots that are not stocked each week than those that are stocked.
To improve your chances it is best to move if you are not catching fish. Sometimes it is better to fish your way a few hundred feet above and or below the stocking location. The fish that were stocked and not caught will move from where they were put in just to get away from the honey holes and the pressure from multiple anglers. If you are not catching in the obvious places, try upstream or down.
Trout Expo Feb. 24
If you really want to learn more about trout fishing, and especially trout catching, you need to plan on attending the Trout Expo at the ECO Center at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome. There will be a bunch of seasoned anglers as well as outdoor professionals that will share their knowledge with you.
Learn their favorite lures or baits. Try fly fishing. Learn about the best locations, and how to get there. Doors prizes will be given away throughout the day. We will be selling chances on the fishing trip for two to a private cabin in Idaho that includes all meals, a float trip, and complete rigged fly fishing rods and reels for each person. Over a dozen runners-up prizes will be given away as well.
The Expo is free to the public and lasts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The next meeting of the Coosa Valley Chapter of TU will be today at 6:30 p.m. at the Rome Floyd River Education ECO Center at Ridge Ferry Park in Rome. The focus of the meeting will be preparation for the trout expo. The public is invited.