First I want to say thanks to Jackson Sipperly, a Friend of the FSF crew, for joining us as well as making a blog post for the trip. Hope everyone enjoys!
Fresh Salt Christmas Special
Monday, December 22nd,
The Fresh Salt crew set out to Western North Carolina in an effort to shoot enough footage to produce their first freshwater fly fishing promotional video. The plan was for a three day excursion: the first afternoon and night would serve as time to scout choice fishing spots for the next day as well as find a camp site. The majority of the fishing and filming was planned for the second day, and the third would serve as a morning fishing session before heading back home.
Fresh Salt founders Colin and Westin Buchanan, along with myself, departed Charlotte around 1 pm. After meeting up with the Buchanan’s brother Nate and his outdoorsman friend Brad in Asheville, the team was finally ready to enter adventure mode and get the winter expedition underway.
Unfortunately due to the crew meeting Nate in Asheville, we were way behind schedule after acquiring fishing licenses at the local Wal-Mart in Sylva, NC. This unforeseen turn of events meant we had no time to scout potential fishing sites and had to move straight to finding a camp site. After driving through Sylva and Dillsboro multiple times and following directions to random sites pulled off Google Maps, a site was finally located in Sylva. We reached Pinnacle Peak, a hiking trail littered with camp sites, around 7:30 pm Monday night.
After locating a site on the trail to camp and getting ready to gear up, Nate, the only one included in the adventure who wasn’t a true outdoorsman, suggested we stay the night at a local Best Western. While we all initially resisted, Brad came up with the best argument: the trip was more about fishing than camping and staying in a hotel would give us a much easier start in the morning so we could squeeze in as much fishing and filming as possible.
After a good night’s rest and a substantial breakfast, we were itching to get on the river. Our hotel was located right on the Tuskegee River, which made it easy for us to get out and gear up for the day. On the river by 7:30, we hiked downstream for an hour, crossed the river and finally started fishing.
Westin dropped a line first and proceeded to get a couple good hits on his first few casts. This was a good looking stretch of river, with many riffles, pools and pillows where we thought many fish would be lying dormant waiting to feast on our flies.
Unfortunately, after Westin’s first few hits, we didn’t see much action at all. We fished up stream for the better part of four hours with absolutely zero luck. Despite the lack of bites, our effort wasn’t deterred and we kept throwing cast after cast, trying many different flies in order to change our luck.
Eventually we figured out what was causing our lack of action. A local man pulled up and complimented us on how brave we were for fishing this stretch of river, as its reputation was that of having almost no fish in it. He informed us of a spot that promised to be much more rewarding for us. Armed with the local’s knowledge, four hours of fishing behind us, and a hunger to make up for lost time, we headed out to see what the other fishing hole had to offer.
Our new spot immediately started paying dividends. Even though we arrived a little too late in the afternoon to do any serious fishing (we got there around 2 pm) we still ended up fishing for over two hours. Westin caught an eight incher in the first five minutes, and then I landed a seven inch fish a few minutes later using a black wooly bugger.
Westin caught two more fish in our time here and all the fish caught resulted in some great footage for the first Fresh Salt freshwater video. We took underwater Go-Pro shots of fish being released and we used a Sony HandyCam mainly used to take close up shots of the fish caught. I filmed the whole fight of Westin’s last fish caught. From when he set the hook to when we released the fish, the entire battle was captured. This ended up as some of the best footage shot during the expedition.
We left the spot at four and went to the camp site we planned on camping at the previous night on the Pinnacle Peak trail. After setting up camp, the rain picked up leaving us unable to start a fire for over an hour. After weathering the storm and finally getting a fire started, we cooked brats over the fire and proceeded to rest up for one last fishing session the next morning.
After breaking camp in the rain, we were on the river by 8:30. Unfortunately, the heavy rainfall throughout the prior night made the river very muddy and a lot higher than the previous day. Due to the conditions, we packed it in and went home early.
We came into the trip expecting to slay trout consistently as Westin had information about this spot in Dillsboro where trout feasted on wooly buggers all day long. While it didn’t work out that way, we gained valuable experience about the location and the fishing spots it has to offer. As Colin would say, “you learn something new every time.”
The Fresh Salt team still had a great time on the river and camping despite the conditions. While we probably could’ve found more productive places to fish, we still shot plenty of footage for the first fresh water fly fishing video. With this experience in our rearview, the Fresh Salt crew eagerly awaits the next fishing trip and accompanying video.