Doughton Park Backpacking and Fishing

Doughton Park Backpacking and Fishing

The weekend of October 17 - 19, 2014, Friday through Sunday, Chip Wiles and Robbie Russell led a backpacking and trout fishing trip to Doughton Park. They graciously invited me, Bob Laney, to go along. We car pooled from my house to the Longbottom Road parking lot where Basin Creek exits the southern end of the park. If you go there, remember the new rule: you must have a permit from the Park Ranger, and there is no self-registration kiosk there like some other parks. You should call or write the ranger station several weeks in advance.


We backpacked up the Grassy Gap Fire Road to where Cove Creek and Basin Creek converge. This area is a large, flat, wooded spot adjacent to where Bluff Ridge Primitive Trail and Basin Creek Trail join Grassy Gap Fire road. Primitive campsites are provided here, the only camping area allowed in the park. Recently added amenities at each camp site include metal lantern hanger poles, fire pit rings with cooking grates and metal bear proof food boxes.

Chip brought his usual collection of delicious, healthy, homemade dried foods. I brought a wood fired cooking stove that I invented several years ago. It includes a firebox with a strong draft, a chimney and a wind screen for the pot. It works astoundingly well, burning only a handful of finger sized wood chips and heating a pint of water to boiling in a couple minutes.

The main task was fly fishing for trout. To accommodate that schedule, we stayed in the same camp site for two nights and fished up and down Basin Creek Saturday morning and afternoon. Both Chip and Robbie brought Japanese Tenkara fly fishing equipment. This outfit is a design based on the Oriental traditions of simplicity and efficiency. The rod is about as light as a soda straw and when stored is as long as chop sticks. Then it extends out to 8 feet. There is no reel or eye loops. The thin fly line ties to the end of the rod, like old fashioned southern can pole fishing. The fly line and tippet are shorter than standard fly fishing. The tiny flies are specific Tenkara flies, based on a few classical designs, not attempting to match the hatch.

I did not take my fishing gear, since the regulations there limit tackle to barbless single hook flies, which I do not own. Both Chip and Robbie kindly insisted that I take turns borrowing their equipment. We all caught one or two 4 inch to 6 inch rainbow trout. It was a great, relaxing outdoor trip with a lot of fresh air and friendly camaraderie.

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Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.