Backpacking Trip Report

A friend of the family joined us on my last family backpacking trip, Reunion 3.0, he and I talked about making a trip into the headwaters of a local stream that both of us enjoy fishing. There is a trail neither of us has explored that supposedly makes an easy trip into this section of the creek and a plan was hatched to try it out. As we were planning the trip we realized that the amount of time we had available to do this may not be enough. The headwaters trail is over 10 miles from start to finish. We wanted more time to fish so it was decided that we would scrap that idea for another time and just take a couple of days and walk into our normal camping and fishing spot, about 3 miles to our favorite camp.

We walked in at about lunchtime on Thursday and for the first time in a while the weather was perfect, daytime temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s with lows in the 50s, fantastic! There had been a front come through the day before with hard thunderstorms and the creek was still up just a bit, worrying me that the fishing might be a bit slow. My worries were well-founded, at least on the first day. After we got everything set up I grabbed my rod to see if I could catch a few fish. The outfit I used on this trip was an 8'9" TFO finesse 3wt, a Lamson waterworks reel, and Cortland peach 3wt line. Fishing was very slow, I caught a total of 3 fish, none of which was very large. Patrick, my partner on this trip, had the same luck only catching a couple. That did not upset me too badly, just being out in this gorgeous part of western North Carolina is good enough, fish are just a bonus. I did have high hopes for the coming morning though. Even though we did not catch much fish, there were tons of interesting things to see.

The next morning dawned cool with a few scattered clouds. When I went down to the stream to get water I noticed a fish jumping in the small pool close to camp, a really good sign that fishing would be better today. After breakfast, I grabbed my gear, walked up the trail about a half a mile, and then dropped off through the laurel into the creek. I caught a nice rainbow on my first cast and lost count after that, I caught fish or missed them in every place that looked likely. None were very big, they were average for this stream, but what they lacked in size they made up for in beauty. I even had the good luck to accomplish the Appalachian wild trout grand slam, a rainbow, brook, and brown trout on the same day. The brown was a little fatty, it is obvious he was feeding well. I fished for several hours up to the base of a large waterfall and too tired to go any further climbed back up to the trail and back to camp, a fantastic day!!

I used the same old gear for this trip with one exception, Warbonnet Superfly tarp, Dutchware gear 11' netless hammock, and an Enlightened Equipment Revelation top quilt. The exception was my underquilt, I recently bought an Arrowhead Equipment Jarbridge underquilt. It is insulated with Apex insulation and made right here in the US. At $108 shipped it is a bare-bones quilt, it has the features you need and none of the things you don't. I have to say I was very impressed, the quilt is rated to 25 degrees and even though it got nowhere near that, the coldest it got on this trip was 47 degrees, I stayed warm and toasty. The build quality was tip top and there were no issues with any of the suspension or adjustments and at 20 ounces I know this quilt will be in my bag on many more trips. A little of a disclaimer here, I am not sponsored or an ambassador for any person or company. All of my gear is carefully selected by myself and bought with my own money. The gear I mention or review is all gear that I personally use and trust.

Even though we did not get to explore the headwaters trail, this ended up being an outstanding trip with fantastic weather and fishing. Thanks for reading,  and as always if you have any questions or comments just hit me up in the comments.


  1. That is a fat little brown! What is that dry fly in his mouth? Looks like some kind of a full-hackled attractor pattern.

    1. This stream has a great stonefly population and big stones are really common, so bigger than normal flies are super productive here. The fly in the brown's mouth is an orange stimulator tied on a size 12 Tiemco 200r. The only other fly I used was a fly I sort of invented, sort of cause I am sure someone did it before me but I have never seen it. It is a typical Adams tied on a barbless dry fly hook, super cheap green caddis hook, with one big exception, instead of grizzly wings it has a deer hair wing.

    2. Hey, thanks! This is Matt O (Savage Flies). I'm not sure why Blogger tags me as Unknown.

      Anyway, this sounds like a cool pattern. Post a picture (or tweet one) and maybe I can make a video of it. If you come up with a cool name we can make it famous. :-)

    3. Awesome!! It is a pretty simple little dry fly but it floats well and is effective so I use it a lot. I will send you a pic.


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