The Creek that Shall Not be Named…

25 01 2011

…is named Noontootla. It’s Cherokee for…well, who knows? But I do know this…it will flat out kick you in the teeth if you’re not on your toes. I just read a post on NGTO about two fellows that decided to go up to the area where the ‘Toot is located and fish. The second guy says something like “ wish I hadn’t broken my rod, but things happen for a reason.” Yeah, and that happened because you were stomping around up there around Noontootla in the middle of winter, when every wild trout with half a brain is hunkered down and almost comatose. Go back in April, when at least you risk catching something while putting life and limb in danger. Geesh.

Noontootla is the state’s only wild trout stream with a length limit on it.  16 inches or less, and it has to go back. Now, before you all pile in your cars and grab your maps, I’ll tell you the dirty little secret that the fishing regulations don’t spell out for you….just because there is a 16 inch size limit on the creek, that doesn’t mean the creek is full of 16 inch fish. Or 14 inch fish for that matter. Oh sure, they’re in there. Last spring…or was it the year before…anyway, I was up on the ‘Toot with Coelacanth, from BRTB and we were having a pretty nice morning. Weather wise, at least. I think we’d caught one or two each. Well, we came to a nice deep pool and Coel motioned for me to take a turn. I cast a little caddis up into the run and plop! A nice little 4 inch rainbow took it and began to flop around on the surface. Suddenly, he dove deep and hard toward the bottom, then shot back up toward the sky – clearing the water at first, then hitting back down and slicing off again all willy-nilly across the surface. You see, that little guy was about to be lunch for a monster of a rainbow that was using the bottom of that pool as his lunch counter. The trout was easily 15 inches on a conservative estimate and Coel and I both stood there and laughed, gasped for air, and laughed some more. Of course, we then eased back away from the pool and threw all manner of streamers into it without even the slightest threat of an attack from Jaws. So we moved upstream and kept fishing. I think we both felt very fortunate to have even seen the big fish and had I not hooked an easy meal for him, we probably would have missed him altogether.

 

Lil' Joe, standing in what can only be described as an anomaly on this creek.

On another trip there some years ago, I was carrying a fly rod that my buddy Lil’ Joe made for me shortly after 9-11. The rod was marked “Freedom” and was one of my favorite rods ever, right from the first time I fished it. It had a birdseye maple insert and a matte green blank. It looked alot like a high-dollar St. Croix but with the loving touches of personally wrapped guides. I slipped on a slanted rock as big as a dining room table and fell, and promptly broke the rod in half. Speaking of which, last year I did almost the same thing in the GSMNP and broke “Freedom II.” Sorry Joe. I didn’t have the heart to tell you at the time.

When I was younger, I talked my young bride into going with me to Noontootla one Sunday morning. I got out of the truck, leaving her to the heater and a good book, and immediately stepped over a large log. When my foot hit the sand, it slid no more than five or six inches and put what we call a “crik” in my shoulders and neck that would end up keeping me out of work for two days. Of course I fished all that day, and paid for it dearly on the way home. The pain was almost unbearable and my poor mountain-novice wife had to drive all the way down that long forest service road, and then all the way home in the dead of night because I couldn’t do anything but lay my head against the window and writhe in pain.

A much younger Owl with a brown trout from the Toot.

So, yeah. Noontootla has a length limit and that’s a rare thing in Georgia trout fishing. But it will also kick you in the head and laugh at you when you cry. It’s not a place for fly rods you love, delicate souls, or poseur anglers. It’s the cold, hard reality of Southern Appalachian trout fishing, times ten.

But then….maybe it wouldn’t be so special, even with the chance to catch a true wild trophy trout…if it was easy.

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4 responses

26 01 2011
Ivan

i have never been able to coax a big piscivorous fish to take a streamer after it flashes at a smaller fish that has been hooked. the bull trout out here are legendary for taking hooked fish. If they flash at a hooked fish, no matter what I have tried I can’t get them to eat again. frustrating.

26 01 2011
Owl Jones

it is! and you know he’s in there – makes ya nuts!

26 01 2011
Joe

What! You broke Freedom II also! Man……………I’m heartbroke..

26 01 2011
Owl Jones

I’m afraid so. I hated it too, so I just didn’t tell you. But I had to come clean with it sooner or later, so while you’re 6 hours away. . . I mean, I figured it would be better to tell you now than in April when you could put a fryin’ pan over my head. Maybe this will give you time to make Freedom III so I can break it too. haha? 😦

Just a FYI – don’t make me any more rods, ok? Unless you can make one out of steel or iron or something…

If it makes you feel any better…that story where the snake crawled up my rod tip… So, I mean, it’s not like I sat on it like I did Freedom I. 🙂

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