Backcountry Brookies

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Something about the unseasonably warm weather has me thinking about one of my favorite ways to spend a day fishing in the Southeast; hiking deep into the backcountry in search of native brookies.

The Southern Appalachian brook trout appeals so much to myself and other anglers for a couple of reasons.  I think everyone agrees there is something special about catching a wild fish, one born in the stream.  For me there is something extra special about catching a native fish, whose ancestors roamed these streams long before humans were chasing them around with fly rods.  Native brookies do not get big, but their attitude makes up for what they lack in size.  Brookies don’t subtly sip a dry fly, they search and absolutely destroy.  Perhaps the thing I enjoy most about brook trout fishing is the places you venture to find them.  Crawling over big boulders well off the beaten path in search of crystal clear pools is all part hunting these wild gems.  Here are a few tips for a safe and successful backcountry brookie trip.

Before heading into any backcountry adventure, especially if you’re out by yourself, you will want to be sure you are well prepared.  Whether exploring a totally new area or one you’ve been to countless times before, bring along a detailed map and know how to use it.  Google maps on your iphone will not get you out of a jam if you find yourself lost in the woods.

It’s a wise idea to bring along a few other items in a survival kit should you have to spend an unexpected night out under the stars.  I usually bring at least 2 liters of water along with a small bottle of iodine tablets or a trustworthy water filter that can purify water from the stream.  I also carry a first aid kit, a headlamp with fresh batteries, a small backup supply of food, and a lighter in a waterproof bag with a small amount of dry tinder.  If you get lost or injured out there, these items will make life a lot more bearable while you wait for rescue.

An overwhelming majority of people that end up lost or injured in the backcountry for extended periods of time have made one simple but potentially fatal mistake; not telling anybody where they are going.  Let someone know of your intended plan so if something goes wrong, rescuers know where to start looking.  Don’t get intimidated as backcountry accidents are relatively rare.  Just remember the “seven P’s of success;” prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance!

Although you will be carrying some extra weight in your backcountry survival kit, the good news is that you don’t need much in the way of fishing supplies for a successful day of brookie fishing.  I would recommend leaving your net at home, most of these fish are under 10 inches.  Brook trout fishing is at its best in the summer so you usually don’t have to worry about waders.  A short, (6-7 ½ feet), 2 or 3 weight rod with some good bushy dry fly or terrestrial patterns and a small selection of nymphs is about all you need.  Don’t forget some floatant and maybe some split shot for getting to the bottom of deep plunge pools.  Lastly, bring a camera.  You will want to snap a few pictures of these beautiful wild fish and the wild places they call home.

If you would like help planning a backcountry brookie adventure or would like one of our experienced guides to take you into some of our favorite off the beaten track places, gives us a call at the shop, (828) 877-3106.

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