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By Jim Porter

One thing the Western North Carolina (WNC) mountains have plenty of is trout. Predominately, there are the Rainbow, Brook and Brown varieties. Many of the cold, tumbling streams running down the topography of the Smoky Mountains have native trout, while others are also supplemented by heavy stocking by the Game and Fish people. The accompanying photos show a couple of the small streams we found that hold good fishing.

If you are as unfamiliar with trout as I am, one of the first things you note is that the water is shallow and clear, but you will rarely see the fish. So, you must learn WHERE to place a lure or bait for them. It is just like fishing for bass or crappie - knowing the places the fish like to hang out is most important. (Like we say on our web page - 'Catching fish is easy; finding them is the hard part.')

Another item we noted is that trout are very, very fragile. They are soft and delicate and must be handled as though they were the finest glass crystal in the World. Releasing them unharmed is a task that must be learned. However, occasionally keeping a few to eat is a fine goal, as well.

The rules and regulations on trout can drive you up a wall. It appears every stream and brook in the mountains has a different set of rules - from what lures/bait can be used, to the seasonal period that you can fish, to what can and cannot be kept. This means you had better be a REAL GOOD map-reader and know EXACTLY which water you are fishing! Otherwise, you're going to be in a heap of trouble, boy.

Trout like something small - VERY small - whether you are presenting bait or artificial lures. In order of bait preference, we noted they appeared to go for live red worm pieces, wax worms, whole kernel corn, and sharp cheddar cheese. In artificial offerings, they liked our Bitty-Bite worm (see photo) very well (we found that last year, as well), then tiny spinners, and finally the little Power Bait bits (lime green and hot pink).

The most important thing we learned, however, was that Rainbows are absolutely wonderful prepared as follows:

Scale, head, and gut the fish. Wash the cleaned trout carcass thoroughly. Take a square foot piece of heavy aluminum foil and grease it with a little olive oil. Lay a slice each of Valdailia onion and tomato on the foil and lay the fish on top of that. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the fish and lightly salt and pepper it (use coarse ground or cracked pepper). Add another slice each of the onion and tomato to the top of the fish and seal the foil. Place the sealed packet on a medium grill for 15 minutes and allow the contents to steam well. Open the packet and check the contents. If the fish flakes easily and the onion and tomato are starting to get real soft, leave the packet open and place back on the grill for 5-7 more minutes. This will allow a good bit of the liquid to evaporate off. This is really good stuff (see the accompanying picture)!


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