(8.1) THE SOUTH: Southern-Fried Coldwater Trout
The Paul Nosca
Southern-Fried Coldwater Trout
Photo Memory Gallery
An Information, Opinion, Photos, & Sources Report
Compiled by Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
With the assistance of Captain Erika Ritter
Created: 01 February 2013
Last Revised: 04 March 2016
A US Army veteran and lifetime outdoors-man, Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca is an accomplished stream angler who has caught nine different varieties of bass plus three different species of cold-water trout along with many other fishes from the flowing fresh-waters of several Southern states. His outdoor interests include river-bass and stream-trout fishing, canoeing, hiking, exploring, ecology research, camping, firearms and hunting. He usually practices those pursuits in or along the Ocklawaha River basin of north-central Florida--but his higher cathedral for worship has always been the Blue Ridge Mountains!
"There are lake fishermen, and there are river fishermen, and seldom do the twain agree!" - Author unknown.
"Walking up a falling creek, adding trout to the creel!" - Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca.
"I ain't seen it all but it's plain to see, I just might be an endangered species!" - Waylon Jennings.
"We used to joke that being in the Army was not a matter of life and death. It's more important than that!" - Alan Caldwell, Lt. Col., MPC, United States Army.
NOTE: Click-on individual photos to enlarge them!
Ocklawahaman has many fond memories of ultra-light spinning tackle fishing with in-line spinner (Rooster Tail or Mepps type) 1/8th ounce treble-hooked lures in coldwater streams for the trout of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains and Oklahoma. These delicious fish would include stocked and/or naturally reproducing stream-bred (but still exotic) rainbow and brown trout--plus the true native brook a.k.a. speckled trout (actually a char) usually only found in the coldest and purest freestone headwater rivulets of the Southern highlands above the canned-corn line (perhaps 2,200 to 3,000 feet elevation), high-barrier waterfalls, and the waters where the hatchery trout are stocked. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett could only have caught these mountain specks--the exotic rainbows and browns were not yet in Southern Appalachian waters during the lifetimes of those legendary frontiersmen.
My largest mountain stream trophies were 19-inch long rainbow trout. Stocker trout usually run about 9 to 12 inches in length. Wild, stream-bred (naturally reproducing) rainbow and brown trout (if present)--which are called natives (even though they really are not) by most anglers--usually range from about 6 to 10 inches long. Rarely an even longer hook-jawed (adorned with a kype)--for spawning season purposes--wild male rainbow or brown trout will be encountered. The true native mountain specks will likely measure even shorter at maybe 5 to 8 inches. But whatever any of these stream-caught fish may lack in size, they will more than make-up for with their game struggle after being hooked and their scrumptious taste. If cared-for and dressed properly, just about all coldwater mountain trout are excellent in the frying pan or aluminum foil!
Occasionally while fishing in Southern mountain-coldwater streams using in-line spinner lures, I have also caught redeye bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, creek chub, and fallfish. Some of these other fish species may inhabit the lower, warmer portions of the same trout streams.
Blue Ridge Mountains
Northeastern Georgia contains the southernmost end of the beautiful but rugged Blue Ridge Mountains with elevations ranging between 1,500 to almost 4,800 feet above mean sea level. Georgia's segment of the Appalachian Trail closely follows alongside the crest of the Blue Ridge range. This connected ridge top usually also serves the Peach State either as the Eastern Continental Divide or as the Tennessee Valley Divide for surface water resources. Some of the most commonly found metamorphic rocks of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains include gneiss, schist, and quartzite. Camping, coldwater trout fishing in tumbling streams, hiking or mountain climbing, hunting, photography, seeking refuge from the summertime swelter of the Piedmont or Coastal Plain lowlands below, and wildlife viewing can all be enjoyed in this gorgeous region of the Southern Appalachian Mountains which is very closely linked to the similar geography of neighboring eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and northwestern South Carolina. Dixie's moist and splendidly forested highlands are the ancestral home of the proud Cherokees (and also some of the Muscogee Creeks), along with being the home of those legendary frontiersmen Daniel Boone and David Crockett, countless other self-reliant hillbillies, and the first gold rush in any of the United States.
These are some of the north Georgia trout streams in the Chattahoochee National Forest that I have enjoyed bank-walking/hiking/wade fishing-in (they are not very canoe-friendly)--listed from the northeast to the northwest: West Fork of the Chattooga River, Holcomb Creek, Smith Creek (above Unicoi Lake), Upper Chattahoochee River, Chestatee River, Frogtown Creek, Dicks Creek, Waters Creek, Blood Mountain Creek, Etowah River, Jones Creek, Rock Creek, and the Conasauga River (in the Cohutta Wilderness via Tearbritches Trail). Many of these streams are primary trout waters--meaning that trout (mostly rainbows and browns) can naturally reproduce (successfully spawn) in these flowing streams.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Georgia
Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) in Georgia
Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in Georgia
One of my favorite north Georgia Blue Ridge trout-fishing creeks descends 1440 feet in elevation in the first 5 miles (on a topographic map) from its extreme mountain spring headwaters down to the public Wildlife Management Area boundary line. This is a steep and cascading stream gradient of about 288 feet of drop per linear mile!
Whenever I hear either of those songs--Georgia On My Mind or Atlanta Blue--I just can't help but recall those many nights sitting by the crackling fire (after a day of 4 or 5 miles of hiking and trout-fishing) at my favorite north Georgia Blue Ridge campsite (near the Tennessee Valley Divide): that gurgling mountain brook in the background, listening to the radio play-by-play of the Atlanta Braves with the great John Smoltz #29 on the mound, bubbling baked beans from the pot, sizzling fresh-caught rainbow trout and browned taters from the frying pan, and an ice-cold O.M. beer in my hand. Man, it doesn't get any better than this!
06 January 2015 CONGRATULATIONS to Atlanta Braves #29 JOHN SMOLTZ for being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot!
"BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAIN BLUES AND NORTH GEORGIA PINES"
By Ocklawahaman Paul Nosca
19 April 2014
6 Rainbow Trout
Mountain spring flowing pipe for drinking water
Above the falls is the habitat of the native Brook Trout (Mountain Speck)
A native Mountain Speck (Brook Trout)
Getting a drink from the highest headspring of the Chattahoochee River drainage
Brown Trout and 2 Rainbow Trout for lunch (Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains)
A 19-inch Rainbow Trout
Blue Ridge Mountains
Brown, F. and Jones, N. 1991. The Georgia Conservancy's guide to the north Georgia mountains. The Georgia Conservancy, Atlanta, GA. Longstreet Press, Marietta, GA.
Jacobs, J. 1993. Trout fishing in north Georgia: A comprehensive guide to public streams and rivers. Peachtree Publishers, LTD, Atlanta, GA.
The driving mileage from Eureka, Florida to the Blue Ridge Mountains of north-eastern Georgia is about 450 to 500 miles.
Blue Ridge Mountains
In the 1980's, I had kin-folk that lived in Roanoke then New Castle--I trout-fished when visiting them. These are some of the (Western) Virginia Blue Ridge Mountain trout streams in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests that I have enjoyed bank-walking/hiking/wade fishing-in (they are not very canoe-friendly): Back Creek, Meadow Creek, Wilson Creek (above Douthat Lake), Bullpasture River, and Cowpasture River.
6 Rainbow Trout
The longest Rainbow Trout on this stringer was 18 inches
Cowpasture River bridge
Cleaning the trout for dinner
6 Rainbow Trout
Blue Ridge Mountains
Fears, J. W. 1979. Trout fishing the southern Appalachians. East Woods Press, Charlotte, NC.
IS IT REMOTELY POSSIBLE that somewhere in the south-central part of the Sooner State there could be an Oklahoma version of a Shangri-La for stream anglers? A clear-water, free-flowing, spring-fed paradise for river fishers who enjoy wading and bank-walking where there are so many waterfalls over limestone ledges that about the only boat traffic you’ll ever see are college kids floating on air mattresses in the crystalline pools during the hot Texoma summer? Cool, tumbling waters containing 3 varieties of black bass and at least 3 bream (sunfish) species, plus 2 kinds of catfish along with a wintertime bonus of rainbow trout? Could this Okie oasis possibly have free campsites and plenty of swimming holes to boot?
ALL OF THE FOREGOING WAS PROBABLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE and cried-out for expert evaluation. But who could possibly take-on this dirty job? Only a dedicated stream angler, accustomed to using man-power instead of horse-power fishing methods and skilled in the use of buzz-baits, spinner-baits and in-line spinners, would possess the unique qualifications that would be required for this type of rigorous examination! So it was that Ocklawahaman, obeying the orders of Uncle Sam, was in the right place back then to conduct an independent investigation of the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area to determine if it was FOR TRUE.
6 Rainbow Trout
Does it get any better than this?
6 Rainbow Trout -- longest is 18 inches
Non-native rainbow trout are stocked into the tumbling waters of the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area during the cold weather months making it a designated Oklahoma trout stream from the last Saturday in October until the end of March. The cold-water rainbow trout are strictly a put-and-take fishery as they cannot survive water temperatures above 70 degrees F for very long. Local anglers told me of the supposed existence of a large river pool named The Glory Hole, with cold springs in it, below a waterfall downstream in a long stretch of private property. Rainbow trout reportedly could survive the hot summer here and carry-over. I know NOT whether this Glory Hole was actually for true or just a myth!
I used 1/8th ounce treble-hooked in-line spinners as the lure of choice during the 5-month winter trout season. I caught about 100 stocker rainbows from 9 inches to 18 inches from Blue River. That 18-inch rainbow was taken on a Thanksgiving Day during a 3 non-duty day camping trip of mine. It was not that unusual to catch your limit of six. Although rainbow trout are delicious, I just couldn't eat six per day--so I released most of them.
MORE ABOUT BLUE RIVER, OKLAHOMA AND ITS SPRING-FED WATERS
The headwaters of south-central Oklahoma’s Blue River, supplied by the pure Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, are located near Ada in southern Pontotoc County and part of the Chickasaw Nation. Blue River then flows south-southeast through Johnston and Bryan counties some 95 miles, mostly through private property not accessible or navigable to the public, until it empties into the Red River (Oklahoma-Texas border) many miles DOWNSTREAM of the Lake Texoma Dam.
JUST HOW RARE A TREASURE IS BLUE RIVER?
VERY RARE INDEED! There are NO man-made structures controlling its water. Blue River is a totally free-flowing, spring-fed stream (one of the last in Oklahoma) from its source to its mouth at the Red River. There its contribution of pure waters flow-on many hundreds of miles down the Red River into Arkansas and Louisiana then on to the Mississippi River emptying at the Gulf of Mexico un-impeded by any dams along the way!
Reading about this extremely rare STILL-FREE-FLOWING-FROM-SOURCE-TO-THE-SEA quality of the Blue River got me to hearing Burt Reynolds speaking part of that line from Deliverance (1972) that goes something like this, "[J]ust about one of the last un-dammed, un-polluted, un-******-up rivers in the South." It also had me thinking about a 2-word term that is still spoken from time to time which goes something like this, By God.
THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN FAVORITE FISHING STREAMS FOR A MINUTE. Do any of them flow un-dammed from their headwaters to the ocean? I wish that I could say that about my Ocklawaha River of Florida, but I can’t. Rodman (Kirkpatrick) Dam blocks the Ocklawaha’s Silver Springs Floridan Aquifer headwater to most all By God fish migration from the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean.
The USGS Blue River near Connerville, OK stream-flow gage located upriver from Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area reports the river’s discharge usually between 40 to 160 cubic feet per second from a 162 square-mile basin--along with a winter-summer water temperature range of 48 F to 80 F. I seem to recall measuring Desperado Spring, an artesian outflow north of the Blue River designated campsites, at about 64 F during the summer. Blue River is a Texoma cooling-off oasis in the summer and a popular coldwater trout stream in the winter!
The approximately 4 miles of the stream that flows through the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area that I knew back then is full of limestone and granite outcrops. Blue River is a steep gradient artesian spring-fed stream with an average drop of 31 feet per mile. The end result is beautiful pools, riffles, and waterfalls along with scattered islands of bushes and cedar or sycamore trees that separate the river channel into a braided multi-channeled stream in many sections.
YES, Ocklawahaman was a proud Okie with an Oklahoma resident fishing license for a couple of years back then (even though I had a Florida driver license) all thanks to the Be All That You Can Be United States Army.
The aesthetics of BLUE RIVER, OKLAHOMA and the quality of its fishing experience were comparable to that of the finest spring-rivers that I have bass-fished in Florida or coldwater freestone streams that I have trout-fished in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia and Virginia. Blue River just might be south-central Oklahoma’s Shangri-La for stream anglers!
Blue River is a steep gradient artesian spring-fed stream with an average drop of 31 feet per mile.
NOTE: The driving mileage from Eureka, Florida to the Blue River near Tishomingo, Oklahoma is about 1100 to 1200 miles.
REFERENCE AS: Nosca, P. 2016. "The Paul Nosca southern-fried coldwater trout photo memory gallery" webpage report. "Paul Nosca's bass fishing photos" website. Paul Nosca, Eureka, FL. https://sites.google.com/site/paulnoscasbassfishingphotos/southern-fried-coldwater-trout