"Grinnin' like a mule eatin' saw briars."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Do NOT Feel the Burn!

Three weeks after my father-in-law's heart attack, he was back on the river today at Metcalf Bottoms. We moved a lot of spawning brown, but none were agitated enough to strike. Regardless of actually catching fish, it was great to see him wading around with his awkward cast and the uncanny knack of catching something when no one else does. Except for today; the skunkage attacks. Glad to have you back on the river, Scott!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Faces, Old Places

It's time to talk turkey, and not just at the dinner table. As my wife prepares the house for entertaining, I sit and daydream about big bucks I'll never actually shoot, or the fish I could be catching if I wasn't daydreaming. And just about the time I quit daydreaming get around to those fish, I'm reminded that I could help with the chores of cleaning and rearranging, too. It's just that time of year. But within this time of year is that one special, long weekend.

I'm no stranger to being in the backcountry, but generally I'm alone. After Thanksgiving, however, my extended family and I will gear up for an extended weekend of rifle testing and food so good that the American Heart Association would pack-up and claim the South is a lost cause. And like our cholesterol, and the son's the of the C.S.A., we will rise again each morning and start all over. This is what hunting is all about for me. Family and friendship, laughs and lies. I've never taken a deer, might never, but I'm always there with my my cheap .30-06 Remington, a good book, some hot soup, and an extra coat lining for a pillow. During times like these I think life can get no better; but then I think about a nice mountain stream and Appalachian strain brook trout and kick myself.

This year my younger cousins will be riding with me. They're 11 and 14 and I've known them for three years. Let me explain. I have a small family that is made-up of me, my dad, my mom, two uncles, an aunt, and two cousins. That's it, and all was well. Then I meet the one who decorated my life, and bedroom, and living room, and.... you get the point. She's the best thing that ever came down my path, but trudging right behind her were her parents, her father's thirteen brothers and sisters, her sister, her mothers family, and nearly 60 first cousins and counting. Overwhelming to say the least. Christmas parties are a blast and every third person is amazed that I can even remember what letter their name begins with.

So, the two younger cousins will be with me on the ride to Grundy and I feel privileged to take them to their first actual hunt.

My dad was never a hunter. Maybe a squirrel or rabbit for some gravy, or a quail or two, but nothing big game. My dad is a fisherman. But I can still remember well those early mornings of my youth, gearing up and hitting the water. Not unlike a hunt, save the biting cold. I hope my cousins will feel the same way I did when they meet their dads at camp, but I'm pretty sure there's really no other way for a kid to feel.

So, here's to a successful hunt, and even more successful fun.

Keep it rural,
The Griz

Friday, November 20, 2009

That Grand Old Cold

With the weather cooling off, and thanks to a lot of rain tons of leaves washing out, we're on the fringe of some fine fishing. The brown trout will be hungry post-spawn, and best of all, the tourists are nowhere to be found.

I love winter fishing in Appalachia. It provides an opportunity to fish the lower elevations with little to no competition, and is one of the finest challenges in trout fishing anywhere in America. Of course tailraces are nice, too. Larger, easier trout are to be had in places like the South Holston, Clinch, and Watauga, with little pressure from other anglers -- but let's be honest, sometimes easy just ain't fun.

If you're in the Great Smoky Mountains in the winter, fishing is state of mind. Fish big, fish deep, fish slow. Larger nymphs and streamers will be the way to go. Try olive, black, or red woolybuggers from #10-#6; Prince Nymphs, Legged Tellico Nymphs, and Stone Flies, all from #12-#8. With trout metabolism falling to a near stand still in waters below 40, feeding is opportunistic at best. But still, trout will eat. And it's during low stream pressure times like these that you may just take that trophy trout that eluded you during the heavily trafficked Spring, Summer, or Fall.

Get your cold weather gear ready! Get your mind set on some slow, deep fishing, and enjoy yourself. You'll see unparalleled sights, and you'll see them mostly alone. And that's the plus to sometimes slow fishing.

Keep it rural,

The Griz