William O. Huske Lock and Dam #3

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Long story short, I got into a pretty serious car accident, totaled my ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and ended up with a concussion that was worsened by being active afterwards. So Dan and I haven’t fished in a good few weeks. Well, this morning, I was feeling good (finally a day without a headache), and decided to do some research on carping in the area.

We were huge into carping (as anyone who has read any of our previous Korea posts) when we lived in Korea, but not once we moved back to the states. Sure, we gave it the ole college try a few times, cane poles in tow, but hung it up in favor of sport bass and multi species.

That is until today. Scouring the bowls of fisherman forums led me to the beautiful William O. Huske Lock and Dam #3, between Fayetteville and Tarheel, North Carolina. Off NC-87, down a well padded down gravel road, we were greeted with a slew of picnic tables and benches, and overhead cover areas. The parking was spacious and the area consisted of the large dam itself, and a very well kept boat launch. Stone breakers lined next to the dam on the left of the launch, and on the right, a slight hill of mud and rocks.

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Unfortunately, when we first arrived, there was a good amount of people there with poles just lined up all along the landing. We sort of awkwardly scoot ourselves just to the right of the boat launch, looking around for some real estate, when the fellow upon the small hill picked up and left. We didn’t skip a beat in grabbing his spot.

Carp angling isn’t the most popular type of fishing around (though more popular in NC than other areas in the U.S.), and especially not wild carp. There’s a bunch of pay-lakes within an hour or two of Fayetteville, but we’ve never delved. Anyways, due to this, the types of bait we used to use in Korea (The powder we’d mix into doughs) is a little tougher to come by so we did what good angler do and we improvised the shit out of it.

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A quick “How-to” for making effective carp bait with simple household ingredients! We took Betty Crocker insta-mashed potatoes, Wonderbread Hot dog bungs (torn into pieces), and Quaker Oats minute oatmeal, and tossed it into a bowl, mixed with water. The result was a paste of similar consistency with your run-of-the-mill carp bait.

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It was a little too sticky with the first few casts, so we added extra water. With this concoction, we made fist-sized dough balls to throw onto our method feeders. We also forgot napkins, so had to skip on over to the shore to rinse our hands every time.

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Our method feeders were tied to these pre-tied carp hair rigs from Korda that came with a size 6 wide gap hook. On the loop, we threaded fake corn.

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Brand was Enterprise Tackle. Slung these bad boys in a little past the … not sure what they were… stilling basins? The big structures in front of the actual sluice gates on the dam. We set our poles on our Rod Pod, which has light and sound indicators for when the drag begins to pull. Our drags are set pretty low for this, both reels with a bait runner setting.

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Then the waiting game begun. It was a beautiful, but blazing hot North Carolina day. We were lucky to have a little bit of shade from the nearby trees. We brought our lawn chairs, so sat and chatted about life. About an hour after arriving, we still didn’t have any action.

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I had brought a regular medium-action rod to fool around with in the mean time, just to pass some time. At this point I had sat back down with Dan and he was getting a little grumpy. After all, I’d dragged him 45 minutes away on a 100-degree day to a landing untested… and we weren’t catching shit. He cast his doubts with his usual line, “so, when do you want to leave? I’m so hot. I’m getting bit.”

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And I said, “Damn, I just want that thing to go off and start beeping like crazy.” And no kidding, a minute after I said that, the rod pod started going berserk on one of the lines. Dan jumped into action, reeling wildly to get that baby and and man, it felt huge. Sadly, whatever monster lurked below spat out our fake corn and carried on with his life. It was a disappointment, but it was also a signal: there are fish here, and they’re biting our weird mixture of household foods. It wasn’t too long after recasting with a fresh “dough ball” that it went off again.

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Dan pulled up the first golden bonefish of our outing. An absolute textbook common carp. We were a little too excited and forgot to weight him, but he was fairly good sized, I’d estimate in the 8-10lb range. This guy was hooked perfectly too. The purpose of the fake corn being on the hair rig, slightly below the hook is because carp suck in and blow out when feeding. So they suck in the fake corn, and when they blow it back out, the hook gets caught right on their lip. He pulled this beauty in better this time, angling the rod against the direction of swim. Landing was a little difficult because we forgot our landing net and were on a bit of a ledge. Nevertheless… it was on. Baited the line back up, and casted into a similar area. The zone they seemed to be swimming in was fairly shallow (I would estimate less than 8 feet) under a tree that was rooted in shallow waters.

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This time I had the honors. This was a brutal fight and the adrenaline was shooting through my veins. At one point, the carp began swimming toward me, and I lowered the line in disappointment, declaring, “I lost the fish!” Low and behold, when reeling back in, I realized the thing was still attached. I had to move onto the boat launch to land this bone, and when he came up, he was still fighting. He weight in at 9lb 6oz, now my personal best catch. Pretty happy about this one, and another textbook, gorgeous common carp.

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Dan brought in the last one on a line I had cast out fairly shallow right in front of the stilling basin. He didn’t want to weigh it because “it looked smaller than the last one,” but still a stunning koi. All were released to swim another day, and we packed it up because our dogs were at home waiting. Pretty incredible day of angling for a couple hours at the lock and dam, and we are absolutely back into carp fishing, with a vengeance. It’s good to be back!

 

Ice Hunting

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Woke up to some freezing temps, and a layer of snow in Connecticut. Being early in the winter season, not all bodies of water are locked up yet, and some are thicker than others. I decided to take measurements into my own hands, and head out to see if I could find my own “honey pot.”

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Of course I brought my partner with me, who was very excited to experience her first real snow. First stop, a small lake on Gulf Road, across from Soapstone Mountain access lot.

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To measure the ice, I dig a hole with my auger ever ten steps, then scoop out the slush. I place my tip-up spool at the bottom of the ice, and measure up. The spool begins on the 15″ mark, so I just count from there.  Unfortunately, freezing rain put about an inch of water over the ice and it was incredibly uneven. Didn’t have much luck here.

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So we moved onto Hurd’s Lake which was shrouded in an incredible and blinding fog. Again, it was layered in rainwater, so I stayed fairly close to the edge. If you look at the picture, it actually looks like open water, but it wasn’t. There was a good 4-inches of ice locked up beneath the slushy top. Again, though, no luck here.

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Finally, just by nature of wanted to catch a fish after skunking at all those different lakes, I just headed to my old favorite honey pot, Dennis Pond. The pond itself was covered in snow, without any sign of human tracks on it. Made a trail of holes 10 feet apart out toward the middle, and two rows of two holes across. Ice was easily 3.5-inches in all the spots I tested.

I began jigging with 2-lb test line and little red wigglers.

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Brook was excited by all the snow and ice and just being outside in general, so naturally, she completely went berserk, getting a huge case of the zoomies. She ran around like a wild animal all over the ice, much to my disdain, because the ice was untested. She ended up with her two hind legs in a hole and I had to put her in time out in the car to thaw out the rest of the time.

But in the mean time, I did manage to pull out a chain pickerel from one of the holes, successfully ending my skunk streak.

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Had to pack up the rods and reels and head home after the sun went down and my feet turned into popsicles. Hoping to find another honey pot in the future, still searching!

Georges Pond

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We had a week of leave to spare, and went up to “Down East” Maine in order to visit and fish near Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. We struck gold and ended up staying at a Lakefront House in Franklin, Maine which had the beautiful Georges Pond right in its backyard. The pond was known for its Smallmouth Bass, which we had never fished before, but we were excited to delve into something new.

Dan and I have been experimenting in hard plastic lures as of late, and with the overcast we faced in the first few days, we gave topwaters a try.  As soon as we arrived that night, we hopped on a canoe and threw some lures in.

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As usual, Dan had some luck from the get-go and caught both a smallie and a LMB using his favorite tiger striped top water. I was trying to jig, and ended up with nothing. Part of it was technique, part of is was that we didn’t have an anchor and I was busy rowing us around all over the place while Dan fished. I called it quits for the night and went to bed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dan was determined to grab that late night lunker, inspired by tall tales of monster fish and straw-ber-ritas.

The next morning, I saw something strange. Dan’s entire outfit from the night before as you see above — the shirt, pants, socks, hate and even his underwear, were all strewn across the outdoor deck. Upon confrontation, Dan, cheeks glowing with chagrin, offered a harrowing confession. Apparently, in a partially drunk stupor, he tried to take out the canoe himself, in the dark, after I’d retired. Instead of a big fish, he got a big black bruise. When he stepped into the canoe, his footing was off, throwing the boat off balance, and he completely fell in the water near the dock, the canoe flipping upside down beside him.  Gave me a good laugh but also I was like WHAT THE HELL DUDE because that was a really dangerous thing to do.

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The next morning, back at it and again, Dan’s hauling in some great fish using a spinner bait. This time, we attached the 3# anchor from our rubber raft to the canoe so we could stay in one place. The wind was no joke. After coming up flat again, I give in to his advice and try a top water myself.  And this time I forced Dan to row while I trolled off the back.

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At long last, I brought in my first Smallie and it was a beautiful one at that. I was using a Heddon Tiny Torpedo in Fluorescent Green Crawdaddy.

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A couple other greedy little fish seemed to want a bite of the lure as well.

That’s a gill and a baby small mouth.

Brook was terrified of the canoe because of the way the slighted move shook the boat side to side. She was standing most of the time, frozen in place, but finally laid down.

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The prop bait started to slow down so I moved onto an Original Rat-L-Trap crank bait in Lake Fork Special color. This thing vibrates so hard you can hear it no matter how far you cast it away. I ended up only pulling a little baby yellow perch on it, however.

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Dan continued to catch some little smallies, and I switched it up to a popper. We were both utilizing a similar technique for the top waters. Basically, you cast out, then holding your rod parallel to where you cast, twitch the rod away, causing the lure to pop and bubble toward you. Then you reel in, to tighten the line and let it sit for a little bit. By varying the twitch strength and the length of the pause, you can draw in the attack. The fun of it, especially for smallies, is seeing them jump out of the water to grab the lure.

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BAM! My record smallie! Dan and I JUST got a scale before we went on the water this day, so I was able to measure it in at 2.5lb. This fish fought HARD. Didn’t help I was using an ultralite rod, hoping to catch some lake trout. We fought for a good 3 minutes, and she jumped straight out of the water. I couldn’t help but let out a loud “WHOAAAA!” when that happened. It was really exciting!

Sadly, that was the last hog Dan or I brought in on the lake, but we did scoop up a couple of smaller fish.

All the while we were out in the canoe, searching for flats and weed beds, my Dad, who I brought an interest in fishing to, was on the dock, casting out into no more than 2-3 feet of water tops, using his classic shallow bobber-night crawler combo. As usual, he was hauling in tons of little bluegills and green sunfish, and a lot of juvenile white perch.

He did this into the night, and while I was sitting at the table, conversing with my mom, suddenly my Dad comes running to the door, frantically. I run out, thinking he’s stuck with a hook or something, and he holds up this:

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A FAT small mouth. Weighing in at 3.4#, my dad, who I always make fun of for never bringing in a big fish, has snagged the biggest catch of the entire trip. But there’s a reason! He was using the secret technique, and not his bobber. The secret technique is how Dan and I first learned to fish in America: a weightless treble hook with a nightcrawler, slow pitch jigged across the bottom. I had been trying to get my dad to use this technique for ages, and finally, it seems he conceded– and it paid off, big!

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It was incredible staying at a house with this beautiful pond right in its back yard, and we were floored by the top tier smallie fishing available at our fingertips! I would highly recommend Georges Pond for any Smallie fishermen or those looking to get into catching them. And with the fight these fish put up, you will get addicted in a heart beat.

Texas Pond

We hadn’t taken out the raft in a while so headed to Texas Pond right outside Fort Bragg. The water was surprisingly low, seeming to average no more than two feet in any location.

 As usual, little B was ready to go in her outward Hound life vest and boat shoes. Dan had been researching and experimenting with different types of hard plastic minnows and spinners/buzz baits. I really never got into using these so it was a bit of a learning curve for me.

One lure he used was a white Mistsuo popper. The method was to toss out, then twitch the bait causing it to splash back and fort, and pause while reeling to retrieve the slack line.

Dan seemed to have pretty good success with this. He used the same method with a black lucky craft topwater bass lure. In the mean time I am not catching anything and getting fairly frustrated. Dans been watching a lot of videos and doing a lot of research, so really its no surprise he has gotten a lot better. Nevertheless, I am butthurt at this point.

Poor poo dog still hasn’t gotten used to being in a boat. She continues to cling to my leg and get in the way of rowing. Not sure how to get her used to it outside of continuing to bring her though. It’s sort of cute how she will conquer her fears to be with us though!

Dan also hooked a decent sized chain Pickerel! This one was snagged utilizing a jerk bait. The method here involves holding the rod at a 90 degree angle from where you tossed the lure, then jerking the lure toward you and reeling in between as you go. There are a many ways to retrieve: aggressive, twitches, long pauses, continuous… you simply have to try different speeds and levels of aggression until one attracts the bite.
Of course when I tried this, I seemed to attract nothing. Finally, I got a big hit on the jerk bait and I was hoping to see a Pickerel or a bass!

Thanks to Dans extensive research, we are breaking into the world of hard plastic lures and there’s so much to try. Though often harder than live bait, it’s a fun challenge to work and finesse the lures to get that bite. We will continue to update with different lures and methods.

Topsail Inlet

Happy Independence Day Weekend to my American Readers! #Brexit1776.

Given the long weekend, Dan and I decided to head down near Wilmington Beach and try our hand at surf fishing. We had previously attempted saltwater fishing off a pier/structure over at Wangpal’s Restaurant  on Jeju island, but this would be our first try on good ole American soil. First order of business, of course, was to find a dog friendly beach with fishing. It actually sounds harder to find than it was!

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Cannot go anywhere without that goofy face.

Topsail Island is about 30 minutes to the Northeast of Wilmington Beach in North Carolina, and consists of a few miles of both ocean front and inlet front. The entire island is inhabited with what looks like summer homes, and a few stores/bars/restaurants. The whole thing is only about three streets wide! You can see water on both sides while driving down. We headed toward Topsail Beach– it was advertised as dog friendly as well as a “lesser travelled” beach location, both of which appealed to us. Stunningly beautiful! During the off season, apparently you can drive your car right onto the beach.

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We did have a little bit of trouble finding a bait shop, however. It would have been wise to pick up bait in Surf City, which is the neighboring town, but after asking around we managed to find a place: Jolly Roger’s Inn and Pier. It’s about halfway to the end of the island,on the left side travelling toward the end, and the only large fishing pier. You can get some food, limited fishing supplies, beer, and your choice of shrimp, sand fleas, squid, and an assortment of minnows/mullets. We picked up a pound of shrimp, a half pound of squid, and a quarter pound of sand fleas. Not knowing much about the local fish, the shopkeepers let us know that drum were pounding the fleas, and squid/shrimp generally are an all around good bet. For a price, Jolly Roger’s lets you use their pier to fish, but no animals allowed, so that was a no-go for us. Instead, we made our way to the right-most road, all the way to the end of the island where there was a small parking lot. We ditched the truck, loaded up our gear and trekked down the beach on the inlet side. Side note, we also picked up some sandwiches and meat (for Brook) at a small Deli toward the town center.

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No kidding, as soon as we got our umbrella stood up, and Brook tied down (dogs must be leashed during the on-season), we heard thunder. Planted down our rod stand, got the first rod set up… cue enormous downpour. Not talking about a light rain. Talking about flash flood, crashing thunder, lightning and high winds. All three of us huddled under our umbrella (it was basically a half-dome tent style umbrella– protected us surprisingly well) and just prayed that it would pass. No way we spent all this time and money getting down here for nothing. We were going to fish, damnit! People at this point were legitimately fleeing the beach– coolers and towels in tow, running back to their cars. After maybe 20 minutes, it started to clear up, so we quickly rigged up our rods.

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We used our Korean carp rods which double as saltwater rods. Rigged up was 20lb braided line, with 6-inch 50lb test wire leaders. Attached to that were two size 8 baitholder hooks, with a 2.5oz weight at the bottom. To be honest, the weight was probably too light for the current we were fighting. We ended up losing quite a few rigs that got stuck on a wooden structure about 50 yards out. We experimented with the bait usage. Dan was definitely favoring the squid, and for good reason.

His first cast got a huge hit!

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That’s an Atlantic Croaker, a member of the Drum family. Apparently, it was a common food source for Native Americans. This one was about 18 inches long.

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Not bad at all for a first cast! It was fun to watch the rods twitch on the stand with each bite. I had trouble setting the hook, for sure, but Dan was having a lot better luck.

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His next catch was a tiny Black Sea bass. They’re recognizable by the coloring, and large scales on the body, while naked on the head. Sea bass are a highly sought after recreational fish, though this fella was a little juvenile. Back to the sea he went! And finally, it was my turn.

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After losing what seemed like countless potential catches, at last, I pulled up this little beauty. Hilariously enough, this turned out to be a Surf Bream. Basically, the saltwater equivalent of a sunfish or bluegill. It had these creepy little teeth though.

Darkness crept up on us pretty quick, and before we knew it, the crabbers were moving in, and it was time for us to head back. For a first experience surf fishing, I’m very glad we were able to pull up a few fish and I am excited for next time. Something about having your feet in the ocean, waves lapping up onto shore, and casting out, not knowing what sort of interesting fish you’re going to pull up… it’s just amazing. The view was worth it alone!

Broken Arrow Creek

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Equipped with a new pole, and some newly gained American catfishing experience from NC, I set out to try the Chattahoochee River again, this time at a landing near Broken Arrow Creek. This was behind the “Pet Cemetery” at Fort Benning and I had heard good things about it from others. To get there, you have to navigate through a maze of unimproved dirt roads, often flooded over with water, so a off road capable vehicle is a must. The lift on my ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee was good enough, but I could see it being impossible in a rainier time.  When you reach the end, there’s a couple of different landings to fish, some on the creek itself, and some on the river. I decided to set up on the river.

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Naturally, using a worm as bait for my first rod, I come up with a gill. I was trying to set up my other rod, but kept getting tags on the first one. Next was this little guy:

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That’s a baby channel! Cute little guy. I was using a medium action rod, and the issue was that I didn’t have enough weight attached to it to cast it as far as I wanted. So basically, I was catching the little guys. This next one was a bit of a surprise though since usually they only go for live baitfish!

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Yup, that’s a schoolie! My very first striped. These guys fight like hell though; it was hard to get him to stop flopping to even take the picture.

Unfortunately, after I got my second rod set up, I really didn’t come up with anything so I packed it in after a few hours and called it a day. Definitely will check this spot out again and see if I can catch a true striper!

Johnsen Lake

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On the way home from Nimblewill Creek, we decided we wanted to get some bass fishing in, and took to Fishbrain to scout out a good lake. Right off SR-19 near the town of Cumming, there was Johnsen Lake. Though it appears to be right off the road, there’s actually no access to it from there. You have to swing around, go down Northgate Pkwy, and park at the roundabout at the end of the road near Cladding and Compound Solutions. From there, there is a dirt path that is fairly easy to follow.

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It’s only a couple minutes walk, just take caution in there’s a lot of wood and metal scraps on the ground in the beginning. Once you cross a small stream bed, you’ll run right into the southern tip of the lake. Right away, there’s all these downed trees and logs that just look perfect for bass to  be lurking under.

20170618_120115Today, Dan went with a light green senko on a 6/0 offset hook, wacky rigged. I decided to get rid of our remaining live bait, and toss some worms and crickets out there on a 14 treble hook. Both of us were slow pitch jigging. No shit, on the first cast Dan comes up with a bass!

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Little fella, but a bass nonetheless. It took me a couple more ins and outs to finally get one. myself.

20170618_121552Pretty skinny.  Couple reasons a bass could come up real skinny in an otherwise healthy lake. Too much algae/vegetation, not enough food/insects/small fish, harvest slot fish, an old timer on his last legs of life, or even swallowing too many soft plastics that clogs up the fish’s digestive system. Regardless, he got a worm today, and we were playing C/R.

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Dan ended up catching a total of four, alternating between a wacky and a texas rig.

 

As usual, I caught a ton of gills.

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But at last, a second bass. And a pretty healthy one at that. Caught on crickets.

Johnsen Lake was a hidden gem by the expressway that had a lot to offer. Definitely a great bass population in that lake that are eager to eat up!

Nimblewill Creek

Get ready, this is going to be a long post! It was easily one of my favorite trips so far. Dan and I decided we wanted to try our hand at trout fishing in Georgia again. We did extensive research using the Fishbrain App (A great app for finding where folks have caught certain fish, as well as more or less the angler’s instagram– my user is shipyard if you want to follow me there!) as well as other online resources. Our first stop was the Chattahoochee just South of Lake Lanier since it was about 2.5 hours from Columbus, where I live. Well, as it turns out it’s solely Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area down there which does not allow primitive camping… or DOGS! They had campgrounds such as Sawnee on the Southern portion of Lake Lanier, but they were all booked up anyways. Besides, the no dogs is a deal breaker. Seriously? It’s the 21st century! Dogs are people, too!

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I mean look at that face. Side note, since moving in with Dan she’s gotten a little chubby (Or as the vet put it, she’s on the “upper end of where she should be”) so she is on a diet.

Anyways, we scrambled around all over the place to try and find a new location that wasn’t too far away from where we were. Dan honed in on Nimblewill Creek– a creek that advertised primitive camping areas all along a trout creek only about an hour north into the Chattahoochee National Forest near Dahlonega. Just what we were looking for!

A note on the advertised directions– know that google maps will NOT lead you to the creek and will instead take you down toward Bull Mountain parking area. You can use the directions off Dahlonega.org  however, FS 28-2 is not indicated on maps other than local maps. Instead, if you’re using a google map or something similar, FS 28-2 will be listed as “Nimblewill Gap Road.” There ARE signs on the road that say FS 28-2 once you reach it, though, and it’s no the same as FS 28-1…It took us a good 45 minutes to an hour of driving around aimlessly to figure this one out. It’s also a no service area, which is great for being unplugged, not so great for navigation without a local map. Feel free to contact me if you want more info about getting there.

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Finally, around 3p we arrived. The creek parallels a long dirt road with multiple pull offs on either side that serve as primitive camping sites. There were a few other folks there, so we just drove until we found a free site.

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Here’s what it looked like; A sectioned off area for the tent, and a rock fire pit. Ignore that bottle, that’s avocado oil that I brought along. The tent we use is a Coleman 4-man pop-up tent that I got off Amazon. It’s weathered through massive rainstorms before, even with just the small fly it comes with. Also it pops up which is really neat and sets up in 3 seconds. We went for the 4-man because Brook sleeps in there with us and she really likes to sprawl out.

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We could head in maybe 50 feet from our campground and the creek bed was right there. We grabbed our fishing supplies, which today consisted of my Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo Light and Dan’s Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod Ultralite. We used 4# test line, and size 14 treble hooks with 1/16th inch split shots. I prefer to use a split shot, but you do not have to use any weight when trout fishing. For bait, we had dead crickets, Berkeley Powerbait Trout Nibblers (In neon green, yellow, pink and orange) as well as general canned corn. This is all valuable stuff we learned from my friend when we went to Dick’s Creek the last time we went trout fishing.

Directly in from our campsite, the creek was shallow and clear enough to see directly to the bottom and not see any fish. So we headed downstream through a small goat path. The whole area was empty enough that we could let Brook loose. We were actually the only people we saw fishing out there. It didn’t take too long to start getting nibbles and catch the first rainbow, even though we were skeptical that there was even trout in the creek!

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Key was throwing the bait into pools beneath small waterfalls, as well as near overhanging rocks. I didn’t even see this guy; he was hiding in a small cave. One thing we realized quickly was that we forgot a trout line. Easy solution here– tie a bowline using paracord, thread the free (long) end through the gill, and then back through the loop.

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We continued moving downstream and throwing into these pools. Brook was so well behaved, sticking by us the entire time. The score was 2-1 Dan at this point (we always end up competing…) Eventually, we came to an area where there was a family camping nearby. A woman told us that yesterday, anglers were having luck in this particular spot so we decided to cast our lines. From the side I was working with, I had to cast through branches which was a little tricky… not to mention I’ve lost countless lures and rigs to the trees. But from here I could actually see dozens of trout resting in a pool. 20170617_165748

Quickly caught two more, but the family took notice and then the little kids started wading into the area I was fishing, wanted to toss their lines in. I would have stayed longer, but of course I wanted to respect their space…and not hook a small child, so we moved on. After approximately 2 hours, we called it a day and returned to our site to clean the fish. Victory poses:

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We ended up with a total of six trout, which wasn’t bad at all, especially for starting so late in the day. We went to the creek bed by our site to clean the fish and prepare it for cooking.  Here is our guide on How to Clean a Fish in Three Steps which is the method we utilized. Here is the end result:

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It was then that we realized I completely forgot some of our supplies at home… namely, butter, salt, pepper and tin foil. We threw some ice on the pan, tossed it in the cooler, and had to make an almost hour round trip into town to the gas station to get the supplies.

Once we returned, we were ready to go. Dan is the primitive cooking guy, so he seasoned and primed the trout with simply butter, salt and pepper, wrapped them up in tin foil and tossed them onto our camp grill.

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We lit up a fire as well, consisting of one tee-pee fire and a second long fire. We had local logs, and ignited it using the twig method, along with toilet paper as our manmade tinder (it was pretty wet everywhere, since it had been raining the past few days).

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While the trout was cooking, we sliced up some potatoes, threw them in a pan with avocado oil and tossed it in the long fire to cook. A quick explanation of the long fire– basically an extension of your main flame, only you make it horizontal instead of vertical. We used two logs and braces, with kindling and twigs in between (on a lower plane) which we lit. The fire is kept contained by the braces, that way you can place a pan atop the braces, directly over the twig fire.

We covered the top of the pan with tin foil because potatoes tend to take a while to soften. When the trout was done, we just placed the foil packets aside, added fresh diced onions, cheese and mushrooms (STORE BOUGHT! In general, even in a survival situation,  if you can prevent it, it is not wise to consume wild mushrooms. Often, highly poisonous mushrooms can look strikingly similar to edible mushrooms and cause a host of ailments, including but not limited to death– both from consumption, or the inhalation of smoke produced from attempted cooking).

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Once it all cooled down, the meal was complete and ready to eat.

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Nothing is more satisfying than a catch and eat meal. If only we had grown the potatoes in our own vegetable garden as well! The trout was cooked absolutely perfectly, though. It was falling off the bone. Trout does have a lot of pin bones to avoid, though.

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Yes, we did bring out plastic cutlery, but rest assured we brought in and hauled out a contractor bag with all of our trash.

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No feeling quite like the peace and calm of a night out in the woods, no cell phones, no internet, and nothing but us and our dog. The stars were stunningly beautiful above, and the silence breathtaking.

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Had to bust out the marshmallows to complete the good ole American camping experience. Good thing I also brought napkins because as you can see, Dan got it all over his face.

Now, what was Brook doing during all this time? We fed her the same time we ate; we brought her special food from home. She was off leash, and is smart enough not to go near the grill or fire, luckily. For the most part, she spent her time right behind us. Brook is a great dog to have in the woods at night. She goes into full guard dog mode, and literally stands at her post all night until bed.

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There’s her guarding right behind Dan.

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Here’s her guarding next to our tent. She looks/listen/smells what we can’t and always alerts us of human or animal movement at night. Knowing that we have no phones, and are fairly isolated in this area, it’s a reassuring habit.

At around midnight, after chatting, talking, laughing and enjoying the wilderness all night, we bunked down in our tent. Equipment wise, we brought thin inflatable sleeping pads and thin blankets. I brought sleeping clothes, though Dan didn’t. I’d recommend it if not just for feeling cleaner and more refreshed in the morning. Brook sleeps in the tent with us because she is our daughter.

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She stole my blanket… she also absolutely loves that spot right behind my knees when I sleep on my side.  But in this picture, you can also see the sleeping pad and blanket I brought.

For protection, we had our knives and bear spray. Probably all you need. Georgia’s population of bears is only about 2000 total, and stick to distinct portions of the state (including the mountainous region of North Georgia), so the spray is reserved for any unwelcome visitors… bear or not. Personally, I believe in preparedness without paranoia. Do I think being isolated and without signal in the woods could be dangerous? Potentially, but not in how folks that don’t do a lot of camping or backpacking would think. I will always argue that you are far more likely to be hurt or approached by unwelcome human contact in the populated city center than the middle of the woods. Sorry, that a bit of a rant!

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Fast forward to the morning. We woke up as the sun rose at around 7a. Dan was still asleep, so I poked out of the tent and went for a walk down by the creek. There were a few fly fishermen down there. The soft bubbling and morning view was so tranquil. Funny thing, Brook managed to get the tent unzipped after I left, and came running toward me 100mph to my surprise while I was down there. She found me!

By the time we made our way back, Dan, the camp-chef, had breakfast in the making. Breakfast was things we brought with us– eggs, steak, and cheesy potatoes o’brien. Eggs and potatoes cooked over our portable charcoal grill in a pan, while the steaks were sizzled over an open fire atop a steel camp grill.

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Talk about a feast. It was a little much for me so early in the morning, so Brook got the remains, little spoiled dog. We took a bit of a food coma nap after that. When we woke up, we packed everything up into the truck, made sure the site was left a little better than we found it and began the 3 hour, 40 minute trip back (to which I was the driver, ugh).

I highly recommend this area for trout fishing and camping. It was absolutely perfect in terms of the experience we were looking for. The sites are all right along the creek, so you hardly even have to walk (definitely don’t have to drive) to fish the creek. Most of the area was very clean, though we did spot some scattered beer cans, etc in the woods. Best of all, it was unplugged, and not crowded at all. Truly one of my favorite fishing trips thus far.

 

 

 

How to Clean a Fish in Three Steps

 

A few months ago when I went camping and fishing at Dick’s Creek with my friends, a friend of mine showed me this extremely simple way to clean a fish (in this case, a trout) without fileting. It’s great for a serving the fish in a way you can eat the meat off the bone. You can’t quite make a sandwich with this method, but it’s a very simple, very tidy way to do it. Here are the step by step instructions with pictures from my trip to Nimblewill Creek. It takes no more than 2-5 minutes per trout depending how good you are with your knife.

Tools You Need: A sharp knife, a source of water for rinsing, something to contain the cleaned fish, and a place to dispose or discard the parts you will not use.

Personally, I used my Khukuri knife and Dan his Rogue Survival Knife.

 

We just did this all by the creek for washing and discarding, and had a pan for the usable parts.

Step 1: Remove the Head

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Find a hard surface like a rock, and simply cut the fish through right behind the gills. Be careful of your fingers because a fish like a trout can be very slippery. You can keep the head if you wish to use it, or cook it that way, but I just discard it.

Update: It has been pointed out to me by RawSkillsBushcraft that a rock is not the ideal surface due to the potential for damaging your knife. Instead, find something like a piece of wood that will not dull your blade. Additionally, as I have done previously at Bongam Lake, you can absolutely keep the head to eat the meat from the cheeks or use in a soup. In a survival situation where every bit of protein matters, you need to do this.

 

Step 2: Cut Lengthwise from the Anus and Peel Open

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Make the cut beginning at the anus, and ending at the severed head deep enough that you can get your thumbs inside to peel the fish open cleanly, revealing two filets on the side, and a bunch of organs. Careful not to pop the gall or anything.

Update: For clarification, as a reader suggested, there are specific ways that eases this process. As tomcatHoly  explains, position the knife nearly parallel to the fish, angling it so the top quarter inch or so of the blade is pressing against the skin. Push forward to split open the thin membrane on the belly, which will split open as you go.

Now, alternatively, you can insert the knife point perpendicular to the fish at the anus, blade toward the “head” just enough so the knife penetrates through the  membrane: a quarter inch or so depending on the size of the fish. You need a sharp knife to do this method. At this point, just angle the knife with blade bent slightly toward the fish, and carefully cut the membrane in the direction of the “head.”

Step 3: Remove the Organs, Push out the Blood

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Pull the organs out carefully and discard. Last, press your thumb hard at the base of the spine and push out all the blood built up. Then just dunk the fish in water to wash it off, remove any extra blood or goo, and you’re done!

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Voila! Trout cleaned and ready to cook!

Thank you to the readers who provided suggestions to make this guide more detailed and easier to follow. I am open to any and all suggestions, critiques or anything else you wish to say either by comment or using the contact button at the top.

 

 

Wyatt Lake

Following our couple of bass (but no carp!) out at Kiest, we decided to amble down to the adjacent Wyatt Lake. Wyatt is not labelled on most maps that we saw, but it is to the direct East of Kiest, which is labelled. It’s a relatively small pond with a lot of landing areas to fish from. The entire pond feeds into the Little River.

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This is more of  a catfish pond, but the word on the street is that because most don’t fish it for bass, there are some lunkers sneaking around, little detected. At this point night was falling though so we decided to just get our cat gear set up. In addition to the single spin reel pole I threw out, Dan went ahead and cast out a couple of our traditional Korean cane poles. Depth wise, I was able to cast way further with the spin reel. Dan was maybe a few meters in front of the landing.

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But he ended up being the one to catch! With the cane pole, it’s important to have a landing net. The hooks used are much, much smaller (so more easily escaped), and since you have no reel, you bring the fish to you by tiring it out,  and raising the tip of the rod, basically fighting the fish intil it’s close enough to snag with the landing net.  I have explained this in my Korean fishing posts, but the cane pole rig is attached to a thin vertical bobber, which sinks and moves when the fish is grabbing the bait (raw chicken in this case).  When the bobber sinks all the way in, you set the hook by giving it a quick and forceful yank up. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and a lot of fun to fight to get the fish on shore.  This was the next catch for Dan:

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Yup– another turtle! They’re rampant around here. This poor little guy was hooked by his arm. He was obviously stealing the raw chicken and ended up caught in the act. And by the looks of it, he’s a little alarmed by the whole ordeal. And one more to complete the night:

It was nice to go to another lake after Kiest, and to get Dan catching a few! Nothing quite like the frustration of your fishing partner catching when you can only seem to pull up weeds and lose your lures. It was also really cool to break out the cane poles again. Still my favorite way to fish!