June 6, 2014

On The Rebound: Where the blacktop ends, adventure begins

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I was told it was a remote outpost where trout would be stocked there this week. The directions sounded remote. Take Highway 92 in Williamsburg for 20 miles until you cross the Yamacraw Bridge. Then take KY 1363 11 miles until the blacktop ends. You are still about 5 miles and two U.S. Forest Service roads from your destination.

Rock Creek is officially a wild and scenic river. Although trout are stocked in its cool waters, there is also reported to be a population of trout reproducing there as well. The scenic part is without question. Wild, well let’s consider that there are several definitions of wild.

The first place I stopped looked like an entire congregation was being baptized. Although no upstanding Christian would have been seen in the variety of cut offs and undergarments being worn. And since no upstanding Christian should ogle such things I pressed on.

There were several more turnoffs that held promising fishing spots. Each time I was turned away by naked children, growling pets, or rebel yells.

Drive far enough down a gravel road and you will run out of people or run out of road. Eventually you might reach a remote place where illegal activity takes place. The task at hand is to find the tipping point between the rowdy families and those that are just plain rowdy.

I passed numerous promising, but crowded spots before finding success. I pulled over and listened to make sure there were no hoops, hollers, or pistols being cocked. I could see a boulder shading a deep pool of water that would surely hold trout. Just upstream were strong rapids with several breaks that would be prime real estate for a trout ready to ambush prey.

It is a little disappointing to reach the edge of the water and find you are not the first human to touch this soil. The first clue was a bulging dirty diaper. Unfortunately that is usually the calling card of families that take their children to lakes and rivers. It also appeared they had eaten well on their picnic and they tried to catch trout with canned corn. Most of the corn was still spilled on a rock.

I thought about packing up and driving further. More cars had driven past me so this might be as good as it gets.

I tried a small spinner bait and a few different flies on the fly rod with no interest from below the water. I even tried some of the leftover corn.  It didn’t really affect me when I started to hear laughing and yelling, until it got closer. And closer.

Rock Creek is truly a creek. In most spots it is not much wider than I am tall. I waded much of the creek with my cell phone in my front pocket and it never got wet. It is not a place you expect to see four people on kayaks. They screamed as they dropped down the one-foot waterfall into the pool where I was fishing like they were on a roller coaster. They truly seemed concerned that they had interrupted my fishing. I told them I didn’t mind because I didn’t. Everyone needs to get out and have fun. Since I kayak a bit myself, I asked them about the creek. They said they had to carry the boats a lot. I asked where they would take out of the water. They said there was a bridge just down the creek where people get baptized. I said, “Yeah, I think some got baptized today.”

After they passed, I started wading further up the stream. I cast into a fast ripple not expecting anything. I watched the Parachute Adams float down the stream with a tiny Copper John tied below it. The Adams disappeared and line started flying off my reel like it was tied to a rocket. The 13-inch trout I landed is the largest I have ever caught on a fly rod. I would catch two small redeye and lose another nice trout.

It was getting dark, so when I heard racing engines near where I parked I called it a day. Turns out two old boys had run their rides into the ditch. The first while trying to avoid someone. The jeep then got stuck trying to pull out the truck. I asked if they needed help and they didn’t. They were having as much fun being stuck as I was fishing. He floored the gas pedal on the jeep and cleaned out the ditch line for 50 yards before he popped back onto the road. He was hooking up to the truck when I left.

The kayaks were being loaded at the bridge amid the congregation.  As I pulled back onto the blacktop, I let out a nice Rebel Yell.

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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