Monday, April 14, 2014

Rainbow & Falling Waters

We'd mostly stopped at the pull-off to get a better view of Cullasaja Falls, which crashes dramatically just to the side of U.S. Highway 64 in western North Carolina but well down in a gorge.  Then we noticed the path that obviously led to the base of the falls. It wasn't truly a trail, and parts looked more like drops than slopes. Still, we were curious what it looked like at the base of the falls and whether any trout lived down there and we were ready for some exploration.

Turned out the vantage from the bottom more than justified the steep hike in and even the climb out and that at least one trout does indeed live in one of the first deep runs below the waterfall. Based on its small size and brilliant markings, I'm fairly certain the fish I caught was a wild rainbow. We were fishing in Hatchery Supported waters, but many of North Carolina's stocked streams also support some wild fish, and the mot likely places to catch them are well away from where hatchery trucks can venture.

After exploring the base of the falls a while and climbing back out of the hole, we started up the gorge, by truck, pulled into pretty much any vacant pullout and looked to see if the river looked worth visiting at that point Usually it did. A couple of times we parked nearly at river level beside a flat section of the Cullasaja. More often, we were well above the river and had to descend a steep pig path. We only caught a handful of trout (all rainbows), but exploring the Cullasaja would have been big fun even without a fishing rod.

We capped the day of fishing with a couple of short waterfall hikes. One was to Dry Falls, also on the Cullasaja, which pours over a big overhang that a trail cuts beneath. Seeing a waterfall from the inside is pretty cool. The other was to Glen Falls, a tall series of falls on a small stream in the upper watershed of the West Fork of the Chattooga River. That creek contains native brook trout, from my understanding, but you couldn't have fished in the section we saw. Inches of water racing over steep

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