After checking the phone message once a day for the past three weeks and all it said was “No recreational releases scheduled for the next three days” yet every time I drove over the river I noticed they were generating. I then decided to check the new USGS gauge at Bridgewater, I quickly noticed several days in a row with one wheel running. PERFECT, overcast skies, several days of generation and I had the itch for that familiar tug on the line! Absolutely didn’t care it was January, I needed to not only fish but was also ready to float. We dropped Chad’s oar frame raft at the put in and headed for the take out. Once we arrived at the take out we found something we surely didn’t want to find… a LOCKED gate! I quickly began making a few calls and a few calls later I had the Glen Alpine Chief of Police on the phone offering to come unlock the gate for us. Apparently the board voted to close the access for the first 3 months of the year. Of course I kept his cell number for future reference. Finally around 10 am we were on the water. BTW the Chief was super nice and very helpful.
First fish to hand about 500 yards into the 7.8 mile float was a solid 12-13″ colorful brownie. Soon there after I starting noticing how the clouds were breaking up and the sun was breaking through. Ummm nice warm sun on my face in early January. Even though it felt great I would have preferred to keep the overcast skies. Our first half of the trip was very typical for the Catawba Tailrace. Several nice strikes at our streamers and a few of those fish brought to hand. We always say 10 hits to 1 fish is a good ratio but today it was more like 4 to 1. Unfortunately it wouldn’t stay like that. As the skies cleared the winds picked up and the catching slowed to a very slow crawl. By mid day the wind was blowing what felt like 100 mph dead up stream. And eventually Chad and I decided we had enough and began rowing towards the take out.
Finished the day out with 8 or 9 fish brought to hand (2 bows, the rest browns) and a few more released next to the boat. Like always a few LDR’s (Long Distance Releases) also.
Technical info for those who care…
Size 4, 6 and 8 Catawba Buggers (fancy wooly buggers – look for the tying recipe coming to our site soon) in black and olive. We decided early in the day to stay on the move and chunk big heavy streamers rather than slowing down to nymph fish.
River was running 1150 Cubic Feet per Second, 3.68 Feet on the USGS gauge. River was running very clear as usual.