As part of our Special Feature on Brigadoon this issue we have included
an excellent piece by one of the Brigadoon guides, Paul "Turbo" McGrath.
"To Strike or not to Strike"
I've had the distinct pleasure of spending hundreds of hours pursuing the Trophy Trout which patrol the sacred waters of Brigadoon. There are many questions about how to be successful on the magical Soque River. One of the most frequent questions is "Should I use a strike indicator?" I'd like to address this question and share some insights and ideas with you.
First, what is a strike indicator? A strike indicator can be just about anything that is positioned at some point on the tippet. Its purpose is to identify when a trout has taken the submerged fly. Strike indicators can be another fly tied above a nymph or wet fly. There are many styles of manufactured indicators. Sticky foam, yarn, little plastic floats all can be used as indicators.
I'll be the first person to tell you, "You do what you do best." but I also have my opinion. I've seen some fisherpeople who were flawless in their technique. There is nothing wrong with using a style which has been perfected. On the other hand, lets talk about the other 98% of us who have not reached this stage of perfection and look at the options.
First, let's discuss some of the most frequent problems. The indicator is positioned at some point above the fly, this in itself determines the depth at which the fly will sink. Unless the indicator is moved constantly it will limit how effectively you are fishing. As all of you know, we have a wide variety of water. There are plenty of deep holes and lots of shallow fast water. Ml of the water is very fertile and can hold the huge fish that Brigadoon is known for. From my experience, the most successful anglers are those who can keep the fly bouncing off the bottom, although there has been plenty of fish caught on dry flies. Everyone will see some top water feeding but don't forget this fly is also passing over hundreds of bottom dwelling, nymph feeding trophy fish. Second, let's talk about casting. Those of you who I've had the pleasure of sharing some time with know that I say "If you get the fly there you will get the strike". I've tried to fish strike indicators but I can't consistently get it where I want it. The indicator lobs and floats through the air erratically. Consequently folks end up not getting the fly into the feeding channel or strike zone.
This leads me to my tip in this issue of GuideLines. I prefer floating, high visibility fly lines. More importantly, I like very bright nylon braided butt sections. Since I frequently fish weighted nymphs and split shot, this requires a different approach. Heavier fly line (5 - 7wt.) and shorter tippets. This setup allows you to get the mass of the line closer to the fly. Long tippets and heavy flies collapse the line and make casting very difficult.
Hope you enjoy your next trip to the hallowed waters of Brigadoon and when the question comes up about using a strike indicator try getting your flies to the bottom and watch the end of the line. Remember, keep your rod at about ten o'clock and follow your fly downstream. Try this tip and I'll see your smiling face with a huge trophy trout in the Brigadoon scrapbook.
While visiting Brigadoon in August I had the great pleasure of speaking with Rebekah Stewart, the owner of Brigadoon, here is what she had to say!
Can you tell me a little about the history of BRIGADOON, how did you acquire the land?
I spotted a "for-sale" sign on the road as I was driving home from Lake Rabun one Sunday afternoon nine years ago. I pulled over, scrambled down the bank and walked up the river bed to view the land since it was impenetrable with virgin forest. Thinking it was a bargain I bought the property the next morning. I was wrong about the "bargain" part.
Who was first to realize what a gem you had here at BRIGADOON on the Soque?
I knew the property was the most breathtaking piece of land I'd ever seen the day I first waded up the river. Originally I built the lodge as a weekend country home. Fishing for profit never entered my mind. Friends who visited and fished here urged me to open the river for catch and release fly fishing only.
Since BRIGADOON first opened in April 1995, you have enjoyed great success. What changes, if any, have you made in the management of the stream?
There are 5 or 6 small streams and springs that feed the river on the opposite side. We've cleared those to feed directly into the river. Expendable trees have been felled across the river to aerate some sections. The grounds and trails were "underprured" to maintain the cover.
Who are some of the more outstanding individuals who have visited BRIGADOON since its opening?
All of our guests are outstanding individuals! To a man, (or woman) everyone has been unfailingly courteous and appreciates what we're trying to do here. We have a 100% re-booking rate. Needless to say, we mad a lot of good new friends too.
The big question, what is the record fish here at BRIGADOON and who was the angler who landed it?
The largest rainbow was landed by Ken Barwick of Atlanta. "Alabama" is 33 inches - 14 pounds. Too many 30+ inch fish have been caught to enumerate here. Almost without exception every guest lands at least one fish over 24 inches.
What do you see in the future for BRIGADOON?
We would like to become known as the finest trophy trout stream in the south. BRIGADOON is a very strictly managed river and our guests appreciate what we're doing with our conservation efforts.
What advice would you give someone planning a trip to BRIGADOON? Gear, etc...
Bring a spare rod. At least once a week one will snap in two on these monsters. Wear dark clothing - white spooks the fish. Speak with your assigned guide prior to visiting for which patterns have been most effective lately.
BRIGADOON has quickly become one of the best native trout streams in the Southeast. With all this publicity you must worry about poachers. What measures do you take to prevent poaching?
Although some of my neighbors just shoot poachers, BRIGADOON has a full-time security guard.
From past BRIGADOON visitors it is said that the trout here have somewhat exotic taste - red San Juan worms, brightly colored wooly worms, how do you account for this?
Although that is true to some extent many of the conventional patterns are very effective. Some examples: wooly worms, muddler minnows, bead-head prince and a variety of other nymph patterns. With the concentration of fish in the water any exotic pattern can spur a strike. Many patterns are effective - for whatever reason.
What role, if any, has the DNR played in your success?
The DNR is very conscientious about patrolling the Soque and ticketing trespassers. Brigadoon is exceedingly well posted. Further, 2 of our local game wardens live within 5 miles of Brigadoon. A phone call will bring them instantly - anytime day or night.
Is there anything else you would like the readers of NGTO to know?
BRIGADOON is now offering 3 day lodge and group fishing packages. We are happy to invoice your company for the conference/fishing package. For tax purposes too. Big screen projection system, modem connections, FAX are available for our corporate group. The lodge only is available for private parties on a day rate and will remain available throughout the winter. A lovely spot for your company Christmas party!
Phone: (888) 4-BRIGADOON or (706) 754-1558
Home page: http://www.brigadoonlodge.com