A few weeks ago I had managed to snag two spots for Dukes Creek in Smithgall Woods, which are pretty hard to come by these days given the way this little creek in Georgia has been producing big fish lately. The thermometer read 15 degrees at my house that morning and with the blue bird skies overhead, I knew it was going to be a tough outing. None the less, I packed the truck and headed over the mountain, which was still snow and ice crusted from the few flurries the day before. I arrived at the parking lot around 11 a.m. to find my fishing partner for the day, Pat Brechbill of Team Dead Drift, already rigged and ready to go. I wasn’t in any particular hurry this morning, my thinking was that the fish would be waiting on the water temp to rise a few degrees, and that sounded like a good idea to me.
We decided to fish section one, since it was the closest walk and Pat had never fished this section. Arriving at the first hole I gave Pat the nod and a half dozen drifts later he landed his first Dukes pig. I had actually caught this same fish a few weeks earlier and it was nice to see him again, and after a quick Kodak moment, we watched him swim back to his deep liar to be caught another day. This hole has always been good to me, often producing several trophy fish with each visit, but not today, instead we caught a few dinks and moved on.
The next hole, which was waist deep, fast moving water with some big boulders, was not as kind to us as the first. We must have re-rigged a half dozen or better times a piece, some due to trees and the rocky bottom, but mostly just looking for what these boys and girls wanted to eat. We could see at least five or six bows over 20 inches stuck to the bottom among the boulders, but they weren’t the least bit interested in anything we were selling. Finally, Pat ties on two huge Hares Ears with 4 mm beadheads and gets a take and shortly thereafter and empty leader. Yes it was just one of those days at Dukes.
We basically hole hopped the rest of the day, looking for deep water with pink stripes. We only landed dinks after the first fish and nothing pisses me off more than hooking dinks on a trophy stream, well not really, but I wanted a bruiser. We decided to hit one last hole that was occupied on our way in and after a few drifts I managed to hook and break off what could’ve been my best fish to date on Dukes, Pat said it was 25 inches or better. I later found out that we had been fishing behind a guy that had a pretty good morning. This could be part of the reason for our slow day, but more than likely it was just one of those days. No matter what the reason though, it was one of those days that will keep me coming back to the best little creek in Georgia.