Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dukes Creek Report 6/5/11

Reported by Bryan Crumpler

There is just something special about the feeling an angler gets when he pulls into the Dukes Creek access of Smithgall Woods. Maybe its because it is a rarity for me to be able to fish this little slice of heaven since I am a landlocked Alabamian, but last Sunday I got the chance to head that way on a lovely morning with little fishing competition.  As I rigged up my rod with the special attention to detail that is required to succeed at Dukes, I pondered my fly choice. The thought had crossed my mind that perhaps due to the warmer weather there could be chance that I could fool some willing participants on a hopper pattern, and what a thrill to fish terrestrials on a small stream to rising fish!  Soon after preparations were complete, I made my way to the bottom of section 1 and immediately began to get into 4”- 6” wild rainbows.  The coloration on these stream born fish is beautiful and a welcome sight for eyes that have seen a large proportion of stocker rainbows with their ubiquitous presence in most North Georgia streams and rivers. A methodical dissecting of each run and riffle lead me upstream inch by inch until I offered up the hopper/dropper to a nice little run that meandered by a submerged log against a cutbank. Almost as soon as the hopper struck the water's glassy surface a good brown announced his presence and hammered the fly, leading to brief but thrilling acrobatic upstream run.

Several more vividly colored small rainbows made their way to hand as I continued upstream and each one was a pleasure to observe as they inspected the hopper before ultimately falling to the offering.  One nice rainbow briefly teased the end of my line before ultimately coming off, which was a repeatedly occurring event on this day, but I didn’t mind because it was all great to experience on a beautiful stream on a beautiful day, and on a hopper nonetheless. 
After a small break to retie and re-strategize I set out upstream again. I quickly got back into more small bows again before making my way to a nice looking deep run with some fast water beating down into it creating a scene of crisply folded current and foamy water. Several casts yielded more of the previously noted fish, but I just knew there had to be a larger specimen lurking in the darkness of the run.  The tumultuous current kept swallowing my now smaller hopper and taking it down to the depths of the run. Instead of pulling it out, I tried a few drifts with a tight line highstick technique to let the bead head prince dropper bump the bottom. The line became tight and a much larger fish appeared in the shallows of the run.  To my surprise, he was attached to my line! After a brief staredown between him and myself (I honestly don’t think he realized he was hooked), he fully grasped my incompetence and fragility and took line screaming off my reel as he torched his way downstream.  A frantic and acrobatic man vs. beast battle ensued culminating with the beast relinquishing power to my net, just in time for me to slack line and scoop as he flopped for one last moment of glory, and my barbless fly was hurled upwards as he mocked me and swam away back to his lair.  Proof?  I have none. Sense of accomplishment for “landing” a good Dukes fish in the “16- “18  range, I have!  You’ll have to take my word for it!
Overall it was a great time to be in the water, and what a place to experience. It is getting hot up that way with the water temp reading 62 by mid morning, so get on up there if you want to have some luck. Hoppers and princes along with a peach Y2K were the ticket for me. Tight Lines!

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