by Matt Canter
Because of its geographic location, the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is located on the southern edge of where trout can survive.
Even though we sit high atop a mountain, our summers can still get pretty warm. Off the mountain, at lower elevations where most of the bigger rivers are, it is even warmer…sometimes by eight or 10 degrees. What does this mean to the Fly Angler? Being that trout are a cold-water species, they are happiest when water temps are 65 degrees and cooler. So, when temps start to rise in the summer, you want to find that cooler water in order to have successful fishing.
Large rivers are typically lower in elevation, and the wider a river is, the less protection it has from direct sunlight. This means that as a general rule the bigger rivers get the warmest in summer. Trout can still survive in larger rivers, but they almost go nocturnal in the dead of summer.
For these reasons, in the summer experienced local anglers will focus their attention on smaller waterways known as creeks, or better yet “blue lines.”
A “blue line” is a term that has more or less been created by anglers referring to streams and creeks so small that when you look at a map you can’t even find a name for it …. it’s just a “blue line.” The beauty of fishing blue lines is there are a ton of them in our area. Just break out a Nat Geo map and take a look. Another fun fact is knowing that as long as it takes more than a long step to get across a blue line, and it doesn’t ever dry up, you can pretty much bet it has trout in it if it’s over 3,000-feet in elevation. This opens up more than a lifetime’s worth of exploring.
At this point, I am sure that a lot of you are thinking that this sounds like no fun at all…small creeks, small rods, small fish, and lots of flies hung high in tree limbs. At first, yes, all of the above is true. If you put some effort into it, and learn the different types of casts and techniques designed for this style of fishing, then it grows on you, and then all of a sudden, it’s all you want to do. If you have ever had the pleasure of watching someone that knows what they are doing fish a small stream, it’s almost magical…they can become one with the environment and are able to get up close and personal with wild trout in their habitat…and fool them into biting their fly.
As the old saying goes “trout don’t live in ugly places”…and when “blue linin,” you can expect to have it all to yourself!