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  The bait store turned out to be a few shelves of outdated and unwanted randomness.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.

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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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