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May 30, 2014

On The Rebound: Still trying to solve mystery of the creek

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The 13th Region Baseball Tournament has taken me to Harlan County several times. This also happens to take me almost directly past Clear Creek, give or take a couple of turns and about 10 miles.

I couldn’t stop thinking about last week’s trip, the peaceful valley and beautiful stream that theoretically held trout. I also kept thinking about the two fishermen that with all the truth a fisherman can muster said all it takes to catch them is a copper colored Trout Magnet.

In the past week I had looked high and low from Wallins Creek to Flat Lick, from Turkey Creek to New Circle Road for a Trout Magnet. Turns out no one has ever heard of a Trout Magnet. Maybe the man who said his bicycle tires were on backwards wasn’t being honest after all.

The bait he showed me looked a lot like a Beetle Spin without the shiny blade. So I looked for a Beetle Spin in the closest thing to copper I could find. I stopped at Barbourville Wal-Mart, but left empty handed. I’m not sure what kind of larceny takes place in Barbourville, but their soft plastic lures were locked up behind a glass case. I don’t want to ask for customer service and wait for someone bring a key to unlock razor blades, decongestant, or fishing lures. I pressed on.

I did find a small gas station near the greater Pineville metropolitan area that touted itself as a bait store. Knowing there would be no more chances before the creek, it warranted investigation.  The bait store turned out to be a few shelves of outdated and unwanted randomness. Each package turned a dingy color from a combination of age, the heavy grease of sausage biscuits, and cigarettes. Tucked away in a corner were a few Beetle Spins, including one that would pass for copper.

There were no other cars at Clear Creek, so with Merle Haggard singing in the background I prepared two fishing poles. My fly rod would start with a Parachute Adams. Tied to the Adams’ hook with a 12-inch piece of tippet was a pheasant hair nymph with a bright copper head. The Adams would attract the top water strike and hopefully the nymph would work below the surface.

Then I opened the Beetle Spin and it turns out they were not nearly as copper outside of the dingy package. The color could best be described as egg yolk yellow.

I made a few casts with the fly rod first because I would rather catch a fish on a fly rod. Something about it is just more romantic. The only things I caught were a few low hanging mountain laurel in the claustrophobic tightness of the forest.

The first cast with the Beetle spin was different. There was a flash and a tug. Something darted from behind a rock and briefly made contact the lure. We had a fight on our hands for about three seconds.

With one shake of his head the trout tossed the lure back to me. There would be several more bites before I ran out of time. Each ended basically the same way. Maybe the ultra light spinning rod was just too light. The rod is weaker than a willow switch. Next time I will take something stronger.

I didn’t came away empty handed. One cast seemed to get no offers, but when I reeled in I had a catch. It is the first and hopefully last time I catch a snail on a fishing rod.

mhoward@sentinel-echo.com

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