Finding Copperas Rock
After a strenuous six-mile ride made even more difficult by heavy packs and a healthy dose of skin-shredding doghobble, we finally arrive at our intended destination— Copperas Rock.
This imposing rock feature soared high above the west side side of the South Mills to the tune of some seventy feet while a plentiful population of wild trout danced in the gin-clear pools below.
Dusty was the first of our group to wet a line. Like Aaron, he’s a devotee of the trustee tenkara method, but since his rod had been compromised by an overhanging limb during the grueling ride in, Aaron set him up with his 12-foot IWANA rod from Tenkara USA, complete with the deadly combination of a size 12 Parachute Adams and Frenchie nymph dropper.
Within a matter of minutes, Dusty had hooked the first wild Brown Trout of the trip. The trout, which sported colors more vibrant than those I’d seen on more familiar delayed harvest haunts, was ultimately enticed by the Frenchie, attacking it with a type of aggression unique to brown trout living in remote, wild places. Dusty’s fish set the tone for another 24 hours of stellar fly fishing, top notch mountain biking, and priceless camaraderie in one of North Carolina’s finest national forests.
Looking to organize a bikefishing excursion of your own? Consider one or more of these ideal destinations.
Whitetop Laurel Creek (accessed VIA the Virginia Creeper Trail)
If you’re looking for a more moderate bikefishing adventure, you’d be hard pressed to find a better destination than Whitetop Laurel Creek via the Virginia Creeper Trail. Stretching for 34 miles through the heart of Southwest Virginia, just outside the Appalachian Trail town of Damascus, the Virginia Creeper Trail has long been famous among bikers, but it also offers quick and easy access to Whitetop Laurel, one of Virginia’s best trout streams.
New River Gorge
The New River Gorge National River is home to some of the best fly fishing East of the Rockies, and the trail systems found along its banks offer unrivaled opportunity for bike-in angling. Try the Glade Creek Trail, which provides streamside access to 5.6 miles of the popular Glade Creek trout stream. For more info visit nps.gov/neri
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina side)
Typically, mountain biking is not an option within the boundaries of a national park, but the Deep Creek area on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a rare exception. Both Deep Creek and Indian Creek are accessible by way of moderate, stream-side trails where mountain biking is permitted. Set up a base camp at the Deep Creek Camping Area and enjoy these two pristine Smoky Mountain streams in conjunction with a mellow mountain biking journey. For more info visit greatsmokies.com/deepcreek
North Mills River Area
Like its South Mills counterpart, the North Mills River Recreation Area of Pisgah National Forest offers ample bikefishing opportunities. Set up a base camp at the Mills River campground before setting off to explore the North Mills and its multiple tributaries such as Big Creek, Middle Fork, Fletcher Creek, and Spencer Branch.
According to Andrew Gates of the Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Getaway in Ellijay, there are few trails in the area that combine biking and fishing better than the Mountaintown Creek Trail. “Mountaintown Creek trail is a must do for fly fishing as well as biking,” Gates says. “It is one of the most remote and beautiful trails in our area, and it has a thriving population of native trout.”