Monday, July 23, 2012

Fishing Calderwood Lake

"The guy did a Peter Pan right off of this dam, right here" Deputy Gerard (The Fugitive 1993)
We decided to take a trip to Calderwood Lake on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina for a few days of trout fishing. Our campsite was just downstream from Cheoah Dam, which was made famous in the 1993 movie "The Fugitive". Calderwood is a lake controlled by a dam, which makes it somewhat like a tailwater and somewhat like a lake,although it fishes completely different than either.  This body of water is stocked with trout, both rainbows and browns, and there is rumor of lake trout in the deepest parts. Largemouth, smallmouth and red eye share the water with the trout and have been known to bite such flies as Wooley Buggers and such. The campground is primitive but clean and most campsites are waterfront. The people who shared the campground with us were nice and also there for the fishing. 
Jim Tried the Other Side of the Boat
On this trip the fishing was tough for the most part. The lake did manage to give up some prized fish and on the first full day of fishing we made our mark, compared to the other reports in the campground. The morning started with Gary catching a nice smallie up by the dam. Then he caught another one right after that and we thought we had something figured out. Then as is sometimes the case with scouting a new piece of water we entered a long dry spell. We banged the banks, threw terrestrials and dries, then we ended up fishing nymphs with the small amount of flow from the dam. There were slow drifts, super slow drifts and most over 5' deep. Jim decided he would try the "other side of the boat" and hooked up with a nice bow. Then another and another. I tried to Bogart his water, but he continued his streak. Then it was time for lunch. The count was Gary a few, Jim several and well that was the count...
We Fished That Spot Right There
After lunch we went back to the well and continued long, deep, slow drifts with nymphs. The fish continued to come to the stoneflies and drown the indicators. We got the appropriate photos and ventured off for new water as the other folks in our group arrived. 
Gary With Some Smallmouth Goodness
The View From the Front Casting Brace
The others arrived and set up camp, then they went to try their hand at the waters of Calderwood. We pretty much fished every style of fly we could find in the box and had some fish to show for the efforts. We fished in the sun, rain and the storms. The small campground was spared the worst of the storms that crushed Tennessee, the first evening as we rode them out in our tents.
This evening was still young and the storms were building. We built a fire and grilled some stripe that were caught on a warm water river in the Spring. We had guitars and watched shooting stars. There was good conversation that solved some, if not most, of the worlds problems. The night was young as the storms continued to build. The rain finally sent us to our tents. 
Base Camp
Fish Tails
The Only Brown of the Trip.
Jim Took This Photo...Really He Did
Note to Self: Always Try the Other Side of the Boat
The next morning was unusually tough. Everyone's ego took a beating. At lunchtime we regrouped and changed some tactics. Gary got on the oars for a trip to Slickrock. Barry and I pounded the banks with streamers. After fishing the mouth of Slickrock (hey everyone needs to do this, if for nothing else but the scenery) then  we started pounding the banks back up the lake. We had hits here and there but nothing to write home about. I even took a musky fly and fed the fish with that for a while. It drew only a halfhearted strike from something deep in the lake. Soon we were on saltwater flies of which we didn't even know the name. They were sleek minnow imitations made of Puglisi and flash and finally we saw some action. It was a tough day but a good day.
Lake Front 
The Eyes Have It
The Drifter at Work
Fishin's Hard
A Quick Stop at Chilhowee
 I could go on about the fishing and what all was used to catch the fish of Calderwood. But, other than a morning and early afternoon of nymphing we did not crack the code with any regularity. The views were outstanding and the camping was good. The company was good as well and the stories were entertaining. If you go to Calderwood take a variety of flies and techniques. Be ready for some dry spells as this lake/tailwater is a difficult nut to crack. When a fish does decide to eat it is usually a quality fish and picture worthy. 
Revived and Released

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