View Full Version : Fishing along the AT

06-26-2011, 15:53
I was just wondering if there are any good fishing opportunities going Southbound. Is there too much water running off in the Northeast to fish up there. I really don't care too much about catching trout, but I'd sure like to get into some smallmouth bass along the way. Any suggestions on when/where?

Also, any suggestions on gear to bring/leave behind? I've got a really nice 4 piece St. Croix spinning rod that I've been packing on weekends, but I'm thinking about going with a Shimano 50 (either Curado/Calcutta baitcaster reel) because of their packability/durability (of course I'll have to invest in a 4 pc casting rod to go with it). The bail on my spinning gear always seems to get bent.:-?

This also begs the question - is it worth it for me to learn how to fly fish just for this trip?

kayak karl
06-26-2011, 15:57
you do know you need a license for every state, right?

06-26-2011, 16:27
Are you planning a thru-hike? Or will you be hiking a section? For a section up north, it might be a great idea. For a thru ...

I considered this for my thru. I was intrigued by the lightweight Tenkara fly casting concept promoted at backpackinglight.com. After previous discussions here, I discarded the concept ...

I'd have get licenses along the way. An added expense I don't need for an occasional opportunity to fish. (I understand rangers can be brutal about hunting down, and fining those who don't.) While some here are cutting excess tags off their gear in order to make hiking more enjoyable, to lessen the impact on their knees, to reduce the calories they need to consume and carry for any additional effort ... I'd be carrying the extra weight of the gear up and over every mountain top. Then there's the question of time. Can I afford to spend time fishing, cleaning, and figuring out how to responsibly dispose of the offal, when I could be putting more miles in? I decided against it. Maybe I'll carry a short coil of line and a fish hook or two ...

06-26-2011, 21:55
I don't remember a whole lot of good fishing spots along the trail.

06-26-2011, 22:14
This is a good opportunity to bring up a long dormant idea I had. I would like to lobby our Federal Congress and Senate to pass an A.T. fishing license bill. The bill would authorize the federal government to issue AT Hikers a fishing license good in all states as long as you are within either 1/2 or 1 mile of the trail. Charge $20.00 and give each state $1.00, the rest would go to the ATC or administration costs. I would like to hear some comments.

06-26-2011, 22:49
well you could do some aquablazing in VA and use it as an opportunity to fish and float the Shenandoah River. It has really good Smallie fishing. You could also try contacting Tangent Outfitters in Pearisburg to see if there are any wading or float oppotunities when you cross the New River in VA. Im seriously contemplating doing the aquablazing on the Shenandoah. I'll hike the trail to Front Royal and then go upstream and float back to Front Royal and then continue hiking from there.

As for the AT fishing license...they would never go for it, the parties involved would never get enough money to agree.

06-26-2011, 23:35
I do know I would need a license in every state, and I would have no problem paying for that along the way to support each state's game and fish commission. I am planning on attempting a southbound thru hike starting in June of 2012. I actually hadn't thought of getting a ride upstream on the Shenandoah and then paddling back - and then hitching a ride back to the put in. Thanks for that idea!

I'm an avid fisherman and if I can break this hobby down into only a few extra pounds, it's totally worth the weight for me. The thing that would be even worse for a guy like me would be to be constantly walking along a river/stream full of fish and not having the gear to catch a few brownies! I definitely don't plan on rushing this hike. In fact, during my "nero" days, I'd ideally like to spend them fishing instead of in town and just let my wife do her own thing.

While we're at it, if anyone has any recommendations on how to work in a little hunting on a southbound trip, I've got open ears.... I don't think i really want to deal with something as large as a deer or elk because of trying to process and freeze that much meat, but a fall turkey hunt or squirrel hunt would be a lot of fun for both of us. I know there are some on this site that are probably opposed to hunting or hunters, but let's please not go down that road on this thread. Thank you.

06-27-2011, 00:09
If yer bound and determined, Tenkara is an option that will keep the weight down, fit in/on your pack, and offer all kinds of fishing opportunities.

Tenkara is traditional Japanese fly fishing. The rods are 11-13 foot long, but collapse down to about 16", weigh about 3 ozs. They use no reel. You attach around 10' of line and tippet directly to the tip. The action is very much like a traditional fly casting rig. You land the fish by raising the tip to the vertical, bringing your catch right to you. Poles are rated by their action for the type/size fish you're after. A minimalist outfit for trout and panfish could be under 6 ozs.

Backpacking light sells a pole they had produced for them by Tenkara to their specs, along with line, tippet, flies and fly boxes. They have a batch on sale now that were incorrectly labled, but are otherwise perfect. Otherwise, you might be able to do better by going directly to Tenkara USA.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/sf/Accessories/Backcountry%20Fishing/index.html? (http://www.tenkarausa.com/)

06-27-2011, 09:09
If you know how to fly fish with proper techniques you can do it with a 1 or 2 foot rod and still cast easily. Then you can pretty much hand fish for anything you want. I used to use the shaft of an old broken fishing pole has a hiking stick. The handle felt nice

06-27-2011, 09:47
I am a fisherman and thought about bringing a rod on my thru-hike. In the end I just brought 25 yds. of mono line and some hooks. Fished a couple of times down south but most of the time I was just too tiard after a day of hiking to fish. I did camp on the shore of a nice pond in Maine. Cought 3 nice native brook trout and cooked them for supper. Man, were they good.

06-27-2011, 10:03
Cought 3 nice native brook trout and cooked them for supper. Man, were they good.

That, to me, is the draw. How'd you cook em? I'm not planning to carry a pan, but I figure they could be done in tin foil in a fire, or wrapped in green twigs over one ...

06-27-2011, 13:33
There is some sort of ultralight fishing rig that is a version of what southeast asian primitive/native fisherman use. It looks something like what you'd haul a kite in with, was blue plastic, would pack easily, and if you know how to use it supposedly you can cast and fish pretty well. I spent a few minutes goggling and couldn't find it--you may need to spend some time searching if you want to look it up.

06-27-2011, 15:04
This year's Fish-for-Free Days (http://www.fish.state.pa.us/fishforfree.htm) are Memorial Day and Labor Day. The timing might be perfect for an early Southbounder who enjoys smallmouth bass fishing.

06-27-2011, 23:50
I carried fishing gear on one trip and found it just wasn't worth the weight for the oppertunities on a hike not aimed toward fishing as a primary activity. If I carry fishing gear again it will be to do some serious fishing. Good info Emerald, thanks.

Migrating Bird
06-28-2011, 08:04
I carried a fly rod on my SOBO hike in ME last year. I had a blast at many streams and ponds. There was a canoe to use at one pond. Hurd Pond was a great day. I zeroed in Andover and fished the Ellis River and caught some nice brookies. I am not a fly fishermen, but the fish I caught were more than willing.