Essay Tenkara Trout & Char

Bucket List: Sliding Rock Rainbow

This fish here has been elusive to me for 35 years. I’ve known it was there. I had stood there and looked at them a dozen or more times over the years. The fish were near untouchable in the eight foot deep pool. The conditions here can be brutal.

A Mountain Destination for Generations

Sliding Rock Rainbow - Sliding Rock NC
Sliding Rock on Looking Glass creek in the Pisgah National Forest just outside of Brevard, NC.

The water temps are typically in the 52-55 degree range which may seem ideal if it were not for the incredibly over the top commotion that transpires in the pool every 34 seconds in all of the warm seasons.

The Water is Cold

This phenomenon for the sliders is a short series with three distinct markers: “The Sit Down” where the cold flow wraps around your body and you realize how cold water in the low-fifties really is. “The Slide” kicks off once you start moving down the slick rock. This feels like adventure and you are forgetting about the cold because the excitement is hitting you.

The Awakening

Then there is “The Splash”, when your bodyweight falls off the rock and plunges you into the eight foot deep pool at the bottom. Everyone tries to get out “OH OH OH” at the same time they are gasping for air. It is the international language of full human submersion into extreme cold. It will wake you up for sure.

This is where Looking Glass Creek flows over The “Sliding Rock” in the Pisgah National Forest outside of Brevard, North Carolina. This has been a mountain tourist bonanza for 70+ years.

Sliding Rock Rainbow - Tenkara Angler - Down the Slide
The crowd lines up and watches everyone second guess themselves as they push off.

You wade across the creek and up the left side of the rock face along the steel rail. The rail is on the newer side of time as I recall it being a thick natural fiber rope when I was a young one. My mom recalls no rope at all in her day. The cold water excitement this stirs up can’t be good for fishing and the flying hooks are kinda discouraged. There is a bonanza of good memories happening here all summer long.

During a family reunion in 2014, our group of daughters went down the slick rock in a group.

Yesterday morning I was there in the area waking up at the crack of the crack of dawn. I rolled up in the parking lot of the Sliding Rock facility with a hot coffee and a confusing bit of excitement. Was I really going to be able to wet a line here after all these years?

Sliding Rock Rainbow - Tenkara Angler - Fishing the Pool
Tenkara fly fishing the plunge pool at Sliding Rock on Looking Glass creek in the Pisgah National Forest.

It was 38 degrees in the air and I wasn’t fully prepared for that and I bundled up with what I had. I made my way to the pool at the bottom and made my first cast into the bone chilling flow.

Before long I was tight-line with a nice little wild rainbow from this sweet water. It was happening. I was placing a single horizontal line over this fish on my bucket list.

Sliding Rock Rainbow - Tenkara Angler - Bucket list Fish
Rainbow trout from the plunge pool at Sliding Rock on Looking Glass creek in the Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina.

✔ Sliding Rock Rainbow – Checked off my list.

Where is a location or species that had made it to you bucket list?
Tell us about it in the comments or submit your own story.


Do you have a story to tell? A photo to share? A fly recipe that’s too good to keep secret? If you would like to contribute content to Tenkara Angler, click HERE for more details.

3 comments

  1. I have two bucket list fish I’d like to catch – California Golden Trout & Grayling (would be rad if that Grayling was the fruits of of the Michigan repopulation efforts). Neither particularly exotic, but still have never been to the proper watersheds. At some point a Japanese-caught Iwana might be nice too. 🙂

    Given the time (and proximity) to really give it a true go, I’d like to travel the US to catch the various native trout and char species… but not sure they’re “bucket list.”

  2. Wonderful post. I’ve forwarded it to several friends, including those who do not fish. It’s all about living life . . . Just keep on fishing . . . Maybe every fish in some way is a bucket list fish . . .

Let's Discuss in the Comments:

%d bloggers like this: