Thursday, June 29, 2023

Silver Run Falls

We can't visit Cashiers, North Carolina without spending some time at Silver Run Falls; see our previous visits here, here, and here. In places, Silver Run is placid, and from these spots I believe it derives its name, with abundant flakes of mica giving the sandy bed a silvery appearance. 

In other spots, where the gradient is a bit steeper, it picks up a bit of speed and texture.

Of course, the ultimate gradient is at Silver Run Falls itself, where the creek drops twenty feet or so.

The plunge pool below the falls, though I've only had occasion to fish it twice, has become one of my very favourite fishing locations, for both its trout and its scenery. On our most recent visit, we lucked out once again and had the place to ourselves—late in the day, but all ours.

It's good to have the right tackle—here a Moonshine Revival 3-weight glass rod, click-and-pawl reel, and Cortland 444 in peach—but more critical is the right fly at the right time, and I changed a couple of times. 

I started with what had worked last time, a small streamer, but that was then and this was now. Try again. 

Noticing a foam line emanating from the base of the falls—"foam is home"—I tied on a black caddis, and put myself into position to make short casts into the conveyor belt of the foam line. This was an improvement, to a point: the dry fly got fish rising, but no takers.

As the light started to fade a bit, I started seeing a few mayflies in the air, creamy yellow: pale evening duns. I tied on an imitation, a bit smaller than the naturals, and immediately started catching fish. Not just any fish, but southern Appalachian brook trout—darkly colourful in the hand, but when one of them took temporary refuge in the shallows near my feet after being released, it appeared much lighter than it had moments earlier, not quite disappearing against the sand and mica but taking on something of the light background. 

Brookies, I've decided, are like peregrines: gorgeous themselves, and with excellent taste in real estate. They sure know where to live... 

Photos by Jessica Farrell-Churchill.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Bridal Veil Falls

Sure, we've been here before, but you don't step into the same river twice.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

White is the new grey

Jessa and I recently travelled through Brevard, North Carolina, known for its white squirrels; obviously, we had to spend some time looking. By happenstance, we were there a few days prior to the White Squirrel Weekend, but didn't feel we were missing out on anything. ("Festivals are bogus, man. This is so commercial; it should be all about the bushytails!" In truth, we're just not much for crowds.) 

We already knew of a few white-squirrel hotspots, so we started with Brevard College, where we saw a couple of standard-issue greys but no whites. Then over to Silvermont Mansion and Park, where again we only found "normals". Franklin Park was altogether a bust, so we began retracing our steps, and on the edge of the Brevard College campus Jessica spotted a flash of white on the lawn. We'd already had one or two false alarms of the Styrofoam-cup variety,  but this one did in fact prove to be a white squirrel; we both got good looks, albeit brief, and Jess even managed a photo as it went up a pine tree, but of a quality usually reserved for Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster:

Fortunately, we still had a bit of time, and found more cooperative squirrels in a residential neighbourhood not far from the college. 

Brevard's squirrels are not albinos, nor a distinct species or even subspecies, just a population of grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) with a high incidence of leucism; it is estimated that approximately thirty percent of Brevard's squirrels are leucistic. Whites and normals interact freely, and most if not all the white squirrels we saw had some grey markings, usually on the head and often running down the back as well.

In this sequence, a squirrel runs across the lawn with what looked to be a peanut, and caches it in the ground: pat pat pat pat pat.

The rest of the photos—a mix of mine and Jessa's, mostly hers as usual—tell no particular story; just a gallery of shots we liked. Enjoy!