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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jumpin' Jehosaphat

Not much to report, as the second verse is indeed same as the first. The water in East Tennessee is still skinny, but benefited slightly from some light rain that bumped up the CFS by a whopping 20 feet.  But, 54 is better than 34, and I'm pleased to see it tick upward.

Fishing isn't that bad, for all the low water talk. Big fellas are spookier than usual, but trout from 7-10 inches are feeding pretty regularly on dries and nymphs.

Fishing with Smoky Mountain Troutfitters owner and head guide Sean McKay was interesting. We decided to hike into a relatively unknown stream, all of our research (reading a thirty-year-old trail book, bravado provided by Guinness) suggested that this hike was "easy" on the scale from easy - to - strenuous. Mistake number one was believing anything written about the Smoky Mountains, number two was, as usual, extremely low water. The trail was easy for sure, if you're one of the few that can take the Alum Cave to Le Conte in three hours. For a fat guy, hauling up and down one mountain, only to see another peak ahead, was a bit shocking. Of course when we finally found our prize, it was perilously empty. We hiked out and landed at Tremont, fishing below the institute. Fishing was fine, but jello legs weren't. On the way out we noticed a bruiser, a stocked fish for sure, pushing the 25inch mark. We weren't even willing to climb down to chase... that's how tired we were.

Yesterday evening, I jumped Newfound Gap to visit with John Dollar and his son Aaron. We shared some stories into the night with some particularly vivid imagery thrown in like only Mr. Dollar can. Great folks, good times. John said they saw some fish but it was slow. It has been, but it will pick up and I can't wait to get over to WNC for a weekend at Wilson or the Davidson. Wish I could've stayed the night -- especially after nearly running into coyotes all over 441 on the way home at midnight.

Hope you like the links, I just figured that out and thought I'd abuse it. Stay wet, folks, and tight lines!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Low water, fun times, and litterbugs

Wow, we've got some skinny water. And while it poses its problems, it's also opportunity time. Sure, there are still plenty of fish to be had, but if you find yourself spooking more fish than you're catching, take time to survey your surroundings.

During periods of low water -- especially during the dangerously low levels we're experiencing --  it's a perfect time to scout. You can easily negotiate waters that may be impassable when the water is at normal-to-high flow. You can spot holds, crevasses, slots, and boulders that are perfect trophy fish hiding spots, make that mental note, and test your knowledge later. I've been doing just that for the past few years, and it's paid off. I have a notebook full of tidbits that chronicle my scouting. Now if I can only find it... Good thing I remember most. I think.

Yesterday, dad and I hit the water. Dad taught me a lot about being outdoors, but now I'm teaching him about fly fishing and it's been fun. He's a micro-light, rooster tail kinda guy. And he's caught some nice browns in the Smokies that way.

 Today, I decided to tackle Little River along Little River Road below Metcalf Bottoms. Some nice fishing if your patient enough to stay low, control drag, and stay out of the water (especially in low water).

 On the way to the Smokies.

Had it all to my little lonesome self. Nice fishing today, too. Above average 'bows, but didn't manage a brown today.

It doesn't pay to litter. Who would do it anyway? Morons.

Have a great week, folks. If you want to join us on one of our wacky adventures (yeah, I said it), contact Sean McKay at Smoky Mountain Troutfitters (www.smokymountaintroutfitters.com or 865-567-2441). Get out, get wet, and stay cool.

Keep it rural,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fishing has been great this past week. I've heard reports from Little River and Little Pigeon sheds to the South Holston, and all are promising. With dry fly action being off that proverbial wall, I ask you, what's your favorite type of fishing? If it's fly fishing, do you prefer dry flies or nymphs? If you're a spin fisherman, do you like slow moving jigs, or cranks? Here's my two cents (and in this economy, that's a lot).

Fly fishing: I spend 99% of my rec time with a fly rod in hand. When I began, it was all about the dry fly. The main reason was, it's easy. I was young and it was what I'd always seen pictures of, fish taking big dries on the surface. But then something happened, I put on a nymph. A big, ugly helgramite. And guess what? SLAM. A trophy brown in the Smoky Mountains. Yeah, it was luck... then. But now it's how I hunt the big boys. That doesn't mean I don't dry. Some of the nicest browns I've caught have been off dries. In fact, I guarantee I fish dries more than anything else, unless I'm after smallmouth. So, I guess my fly swings both ways, if you catch my drift. 

Spin rod in hand, which isn't often, I set in with jigs. It's always exciting to feel that first hard knock on a slow retrieve. And my go-to is a crawfish pattern, brown mustard or chartreuse. Crank baits, well, they have their time. But it's too fast for me.

Hope y'all have a great week, and stay wet!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Benign State of Fall (Pin It Down)

Fall is not my favorite time to fish. It pales in comparison to early spring and winter, but yet it has its charm, the biggest being "it's not summer."

But when does it turn on, so to speak. In Autumn on Western streams, the fish will feed voraciously preparing for spawn or winter (or both). In the Southeast, it can be a bit trickier to pin down. Cold weather doesn't set in until late November, although it's not too unusual to see snow by late October. This gives us a month, sometimes longer, after the spawn before trout metabolism drops off the radar. And this is the time to really pound the banks with meaty flies like buggers, mudlers, and slumpbusters. Given that winter in the Southeast has its own timetable, prime fishing dates are TBD. This is where the specific science of Appalachian fishing comes into play -- fingers to the wind, color of leafs of poplars, and how many cows are left standing in the pasture. Hey, it works. For the fortunate few, these fleeting days can present amazing fishing. So, why don't I like it as much as spring or winter ...? It just doesn't last long enough. So, if you can pin down the benign state of fall, hit the streams. It may be the week of your life -- or the best three hours you've ever seen.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The weather is here...

No fishing this weekend! Instead, I enjoyed some Tennessee football (probably the only exciting game as the schedule doesn't look great), food, and being lazy. Many will be headed to Knoxville and the Tennessee River's banks for Boomsday, the country's largest Labor Day fireworks show. Me? Nah, I'll sit here and enjoy the laziness.

Have a great holiday, y'all! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A [Fly] Fishing Manifesto

What is it about a man that makes him perceive nature in such a way that he, and he alone, is its sole solicitor, defender and protector? The passion some have for God is as stridently evoked in our fly fishing community -- in our rivers, and on our streams. They, in the vain of proselytizing zealots, create an aura of impenetrable righteousness and foaming hatred toward change. The only difference between the self-righteous fly fisherman and the Holy See is that the former does not wish conversion. Instead they worship at an exclusive altar built by like-minds and egos. Constant is his droning, resisting change and advancements, all while believing himself to be progressive, a healer of his country's (if not world's) backward ways.

And why you'll forgive me ....

It certainly seems like everyone wants to "be the best", the most knowledgeable, or possess some arcane talent that befuddles the average angler. I think there's a severe case of hypertension in fly fishing and our sport is slowly dying. All the "don't dos" and "have to dos" come from the armchair moralists who, while not baffling us with such spectacular feats (dare I jest?), are home watching reality TV, whether they enjoy it or not. I suggest they fish their way and not obsess upon recreating decades passed. If you want to live with one foot in the past and one in the future (a future which further strips away my rights), then by all means do. But I'll be damned if you change me, no matter how much you write in your blog, stamp across your website, or write in some magazine... Keep looking down your nose, you'll find me, smiling and having a good time.

So, what will I do?

I will continue to enjoy my sport each day, regardless of industry changes. I will not complain about "yuppies." I will ignore the online and on-stream communities that bemoan and belittle other anglers. I will not participate in photo contests or make hero videos. I will simply fish. And the rest of the slovenly progressive fishing bastards can get as angry or indignant as they like.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Minute to Win It (A Condensed Version of Nearly Everything That Happened)

Bradley Fork, Smoky Mountains. A 45 minute drive for fine fishing. What keeps me away? This relative after-thought offers fine fishing and a quick chance for the slam ('bow, brown, brook).

Coming down 441, or Newfound Gap, two elderly women jumped out in front of us. I stopped and asked if they were OK, apparently not. Broke down since one A.M., and no one stopped for them. Who wouldn't pick up old ladies? Dropped them off at Smokemont, hoping my decency (really, I thought this) would bode well for fishing. Apparently it did.

Got to the river after 7AM, breath fogging for the first time in what seems like years, I was committed to dries all day; turning over large dries is hard enough on a 2wt, droppers be damned.

Bradley Fork is flat -- an oddity that only North Carolinian's are used to -- an easy hike-in or wade-up for any angler. Especially if you're from the Tennessee mountains. Our streams are so steep you'll skin your nose walking up 'em.

We caught tons of fish, nice sizes too.

I'm recovering for tomorrow. Seems like the fishing and hiking refractory periods are a smidgen longer than they used to be.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Something new?

Heading up to Bradley Fork, a tributary of the 'Luftee, tomorrow morning. I'm going to try my hand at more video and posting pictures. Wish you all could come!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another thought ...

Sitting here, as most days, I'm thinking about fishing. That's what I do at work, and I work right next to the Pigeon River. The BP, or the Dirty P, as we call it, is as diverse a river as there is. At it's head waters you'll find native Appalachian strain brook trout, mid-ways, down you'll find nice wild bows, a little further TWRA stocks bow, and below that the best smallmouth fishing in the country (not to mention HUGE red horse and gar, and if you've never fished for either red horse or gar on a fly rod, I highly recommend it).

Tennessee holds some nice fishing records. The world record smallmouth came out of Dale Hollow, weighing in at 11 lbs 15 oz. I know I've had some wild times with 6 pounders on the Pigeon.

Which makes me think of other records.

The record brown trout, from the Clinch River (arguably the countries finest tailwater) is 28 lbs 12 oz.

Even an unusual record. A mere 6 oz cutthroat was pulled out of the Obey River in 1969. Now, either the boys stocking had a sense of humor, or that little guy swam a damn long way.

From a from a 90lb carp to a 75lb paddlefish, there are almost too many fish in Tennessee to list. I'm glad I've traveled all over, but the minute I'm home I think "I could've caught better in the backyard." Well, but then it's all about experiences, really, and I can't catch Apache or Golden Trout here. So, all's fair in fishing.

Here's a short video I shot of Sean McKay of Smoky Mountain Troutfitters and me fishing (well, just Sean and a picture of me). I guide for Sean when I can, and this fall looks to be great. It's smallouth on the Pigeon. We know there has to be a world record smallmouth in this river -- we've seen 'em. Now, to entice them...


check out http://www.smokymountaintroutfitters.com

Things we think about ...

Chasing some small stream 'bows at Tremont yesterday morning, I had to laugh. Not at the size of the eager little turds, but at what I was thinking about. TV. I've never watched too much, but my wife loves shows. Good ones at least, so there are never "reality" shows on in our house, unless it involves cooking. So... here are some musings on TV entertainment.

Best shows: The only time I really watched a lot of TV was in college. And that was only because I had to stay home and study, and didn't like to study at all. So TV was a great way to bide my time. Here's my list of shows that I really came to enjoy.

Frasier. Could there ever be a dynamic like that on TV again? Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce played snobby socialites to perfection. No show has ever made me laugh so hard. I've even bought all 11 seasons on DVD. Can't get enough, wish there was a reunion show in the works.

Seinfeld. We actually had a finale party my senior year in college. Well, three of us did. Seinfeld reminded me of everyone in my life; I thought of myself as Jerry, not that I was funny, but I seemed to date girls that were way too good looking for me. Just like Jerry. But even he was more of a failure with them, and that made me glad to watch.

X-Files. Probably my favorite. Not only did I watch religiously, but I even dated a girl only because she looked like Scully. The conspiracy buff within was made whole by X-Files, and the show was even pretty deep when you began to see the big picture.

Nowhere Man. Didn't last long, but it was superb. Again, another X-Files type show that didn't quite hit the big markets. If you're unfamiliar with the show, I'll give you a quick rundown. A documentary photographer named Thomas Veil took a photo of a war crime -- when "they" find out, he loses everything and no one seems to know who he is. He secures the hidden negatives and sets off to find the truth. It was a great show and I'll always think about what could've been.

Honorable mentions: Twin Peaks and Everybody Loves Raymond. Loved 'em. But not as much as those mentioned above.

Anyway, I promise not to talk too much about TV or movies, unless I have another day on the water where I think about it. It's funny what comes to mind when fishing alone. Maybe it's reminiscing, maybe it's thinking back to simpler times in your life. I don't know. I don't get too deep about things, even with nymphing lines.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Everybody's Workin' on the Weekend...."

I've decided to come to the office on Saturdays. After a week long mental debate, I think taking Sunday/Monday for a weekend will be much more pleasant, especially for fishing.

So, what days do you like best for fishing? I know for many of us, the weekends are sacrosanct. But I can't take the Saturday/Sunday fishing routine. If I work Saturday, my wife and I can still go to the movies or dinner at night, and I can fish Sundays and/o Mondays. Then again, what about a Wednesday/Thursday weekend?

And while your busy mulling over the best days to fish (save weather, stream conditions, et al), how do you like the new look at the blog? I'm not tech savvy, so it took a long time to change.

Have a great weekend, y'all. See you on the water soon, fish on!

Keep it rural,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shout Outs

For all my new blog friends:

Check out Seven Bridges Road by John Dollar. John's a Western North Carolina dude (right over the hill, as we say) and an outstanding fisherman. He takes great pics and videos, too. An all around great blog to follow.

Then mosey on over to 365 Fly Fishing by Austin Campbell, he's a Yankee transplant in North Carolina, but we've accepted him as an honorary Son of the South. He's been pursuing his passion in a blog, one solid year of fly fishing, either on the river, on the road, or in theory. And Austin ties beautiful flies, too. I had the pleasure of fishing with Austin and John Dollar late last year, a great day that ended in frozen feet and home brews.

Then have a gander at Compleat Thought by Kyle Perkins. Kyle is a Colorado kid who his holds true to his Western sensibilities in fine form. Kyle talks about everything from videos, to felt, to movies. (He's also a pretty darn good fisherman.)

Then there's Tyler Legg at http://www.tarheelflyfishing.com/. Tyler's destined to be the next superstar in our sport. When I was his age I was too busy acting a fool on the river and wasting time, but his calm and cool talents are already being noticed -- and he ain't even in college yet, folks.

All right, just wanted to send up some shouts. I hope to read everyone soon!

Keep it rural,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Busted flat in Cherokee, lookin' at the rain ... Or, goodbye, Tooby Tuesday

Apologies to Mr. Kristofferson and the Stones.

Early to bed, early to rise. Or not. Late to bed and groggy on the road, but as long as I make it Bryson City by 7AM, I should be fine.

And I did, but what was the beginnings of a fruitful day of fishing turned into a busted trip (who hasn't had one) and a few dollars less than I had when I cussed the tourist traffic. Seriously folks, you can drive faster than 15mph, even on curves.

Made it to Deep Creek only to find I didn't bring my camera, which is usually preamble to fine fishing reports -- if that was only always the case. Regardless, I was pleased to see only two cars in the lot and no fisherman in sight. I've always wanted to fish for the wary browns in the lower sections of Deep Creek, so I began. At 7:30AM, on a Tuesday. I missed the first strike of the day -- a slow roll of disinterest -- and while I was busy chiding myself, I caught something orange out of the corner of my eye. And I'll be damned. Tubers. This early. 7:30AM on a Tuesday. After a short 3 mile hike, well above where tubers are allowed, guess what I saw? That's right. More tubers. Dismayed and watching the skies slowly fade to gray, I decided the hell with it, let's go to Ravens Fork, the Cherokee Tribal waters now a trophy section. But I'd need some flies appropriate for these monster stockers, and a tribal license.

Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing, located for years in the heart of downtown Cherokee, is closed. What? The sign politely told me I could proceed another 18 miles into Sylva for Hunter's new fly shop. No thanks. Now I'm not even angry, I'm laughing. The first sign of insanity. And just when I decided I'd just drive there, the skies opened up. Well... there's always the casino.

40 bucks, a new friend, and a complimentary drink later, I left for home. It was actually a pretty fun day. I wouldn't say I'd do it again, but at least I wasn't at work.

Anyway, moral to the story? No, this isn't your zen station salad. Just fish when you can, play when you should, and don't complain about the rain. Fish love it. And so do casinos.

Oh, and what's with all the Chinese comments on my blog? I can't read that stuff, you communists. So stop it.

Keep it rural,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Second Verse, Same as the First ... ?

How many of us in the South are still whining about the weather? Hands up. I count... all of us. Well, all of us anglers, anyway. I see you pool puppies and lake wakers are still somewhat happy.

The CFS are up slightly due to some unexpected (and who knows where from) rain in the mountains yesterday, but the temps are soaring. Hovering around 75 degrees in the lower els, the water is perilously close to fish kill temps.

North Carolina streams that boast large fish rely on more stocking that Tennessee waters. Not that I'd harp, I wish Tennessee's management was similar. But stocked fish turn to floaters more quickly than their heartier native cousins. And that's what we've been hearing a lot about -- floaters in the Davidson and other surrounding streams. It's only a matter of time until the natives go belly-up as well, thanks to what's going to be the hottest Summer on record for the past... who knows how long.

I haven't been fishing much. I don't like to stress fish, or myself for that matter, in this hot weather. But if you do go...

7x even 8x would be preferable. Be stealthy, wear muted colors, and fish the fast water with the longest casts as possible. Fly selection won't matter much, stressed fish aren't as picky. But if I were you, I'd stay home and let them recover. I mean, I have to recover too. Man, we need a week of rain and 10 degree drops.

Have a great one!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ain't that Quaint, or Isn't That Quisn't?

As I sit in my office, my back turned to Clingmans Dome, I think "ain't that quaint." We seem to be in a standoff, my mountains and me, and that probably won't change for a while. It's a classic love story. That which offers intrigue and desire can be the same object that seems too big to conquer, no matter how well you think you know it.

While the Ohio plated convoy passes through, I sit in resentment. These folks see only what is passable by minivan, never knowing the ethereal beauty possessed in even the shortest walk or breathed in during briefest of engine stops. In short, I'm part of the select few that realize what lies beneath my girl's gorgeous exterior surpasses even the hardiest mountain mans idea of grandeur. It's a seasonal love affair, and I hate it. No, that's not right. Actually I need it.

So, if you're with my girl this week, don't get too attached. She always comes home to me, she just likes to have fun.

And if you commune, be sure to commune in the high country. Fishing will be good, but it will be better early and late. Dries with small droppers, you pick the pattern. You'll do well.

September is right around the corner, then the next thing you know it's winter. And we all know that winter fishing, for those of us who are lucky enough to live where that's applicable, is the best fishing of all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Once every blue moon

Social media is a wonderful annoyance. No other form of media can make me so ill so quickly, but then, I could be alone with no on-line friends, basking in the misery of talk radio. Been there, still go, but let's not talk about that.

Let's talk about the weather, women, sex, and fishing.

It's been hot. Damn hot, or, as Robin Williams said in Good Morning Vietnam,

"The weather out there today is hot and shitty, with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the north. Basically it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut."

Walter Cronkite couldn't have said it better. And I'm over it. But the one thing that has been pleasing is the amount of rain. July was the wettest in many years, and the streams are looking to be in prime shape for Fall fishing. August has seen rain too, and that means September should be dry. Or so the old folks say.

I've been a bit of a wuss, and a broke one at that. With bills piling up as quickly as the heat index, I've taken to fishing lightly. Forced, anyway. Oh, sure, I get out some in the evenings, or early mornings, but I lack the desire to stay all day, hike, and face heat stroke. I'm sensitive to the heat which means that being from the Southeastern mountains, that are more like a tropical rain forest than anything else in the U.S., the father land isn't always too kind to this devoted son. But I persist. And regardless of what those scrawny westerners say, I'll take humidity over high desert any day.

I just got back from a trip, a family jaunt, more or less, during which I'd planned some fishing. Well, I got to fish, but on a stocked pond for large mouth and blue gill. Not the fun I'd intended, but that's what family is for.

Euripides said that one loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives. That wouldn't sting if it wasn't true.

And about women and sex... well, you got this far, didn't you? Pervert!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Classic encounter #2,239

Perilously close Yankee: "So, whatcha usin'?"

Me: "Brains and muscles."

Yankee: "Hahaha, yeah. I've not seen many fish."

Me: "Probably because you're fishing right behind me." (at least 20ft away)

Yankee: "Well, I had one hit my Blue Wing Oliver."

Me: "Trout will do anything for you, dear, anything."

Yankee: "Say?"

Me: "Have a nice day."

Don't hassle me, I'm a local.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yeah, how smart is your phone?

TVA.org has a new mobile app that, supposedly, let's you view the upcoming dam generation schedule for tailwaters. Well, I can't figure it out. The screen is a mess and the way the releases are listed makes no sense. On top of it all, not all the dams are listed. Maybe it's just my phone? Maybe it's the fact that I'm betraying all that's holy and right about fishing... taking a phone. True, there's not a lot of service around on the local waterways. But, why can't I just go? Figure things out when I get there.

Monday, February 22, 2010

... and boy are my arms tired!"

What a weekend. Temps close to 55, water temp rising above 42. Beautiful spring day, a brief respite from the bitterly cold temperatures we've had for the past ... well, seems like forever.

We began the morning early anticipating crowds on a spectacular stretch of the South Holston known for its gently rising bruisers. My favorite part about fishing this section is the flat water. While most people fish riffles, slots, and runs, (but mainly riffles) I stick to the slick, flat water. Why? Out of necessity. I learned long ago that if you're gonna catch the big fish and have the most fun, you're gonna have to learn to fish where no one thinks there are any fish, or you have to be incredibly sneaky; sneaky is an art forgotten by many fisherman, most practice the splash and wave. But to avoid a lengthy diatribe, I'll get back to the point of this post. FUN!

Wow, what a day. I brought at least 30 fish to hand, lost about as many. Most all were caught on BWO comparaduns #'s 20 and 22. A few on split case BWOs, and even a couple of sulphur dries. The average fish was 15" with a few pushing the 20" mark and one over 20.

OK, back to the flat water. It takes a long, delicate cast in flat water. And it's important to study the water from the bank, looking for the good holding spots and cruising fish. I love flat water. But I love riffles to, there I can dive right in and save the crouching back. Have great week, y'all! I'm tired... let's get back on the water!


typical brown from the South Holston

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chill Out, Homes

The Crackberry said we had a sweet little warm front moving in, giving us partly sunny skies and 40 degrees. This was confirmed by local meteorologists; so finally there'd be a day where I didn't freeze my behind off or become a prime candidate for frostbite.

The reality was more snow and a high of 27. But, what the heck, it's only ice and snow.

Austin Campbell's Slumpbuster did the trick and close to 20 fish were taken and released (delayed harvest time). Had some pigs hooked, but two knots failed. Can't complain, though, it was a great day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the best laid plans ...

often go awry. So is the story of fishing in the Southern Appalachians this year. You've heard me piss and moan about the water releases, heavy rainfall, and bitterly cold temps. Now it seems the snow and ice have found us. We're usually fairly well protected on the windward side, adjacent to the valley. But this week it caught up to us. At this time the snow has blown away to leave lovely ice. Fun!

Some of the best fishing I've experienced was in the snow. Since we're not in Minnesota, ice fishing has yet to catch on. The plans were to meet John Dollar at a local DH stream, but he had to cancel. Like that's never happened to me! That's fine, I'll go with my father-in-law. Austin Campbell tied some nice patterns for me with some still in the experimental stage. Well, they'll have to wait too.

I guess we could take the drive to Oak Ridge and fish Bull Run, as suggested by Sean McKay at Smoky Mountain Troutfitters. Then again, I may just stay home and catch up on some housework. Ha!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

With Friends Like These ....

The fly fishing industry is filled with characters. Some old and set in their ways, some young and gunning for the latest technique or gear. But all have one thing in common and that's a respect for the angling community. Well, maybe not all ...

As reported over at Compleat Thought there's apparently a thief lose in the Denver area. A guy, or dolt, or scum, like this once hit our local shops. Our guy would take advantage of busy days and walk out with tres expensive gear. He was caught and begged for forgiveness. He got none. And this wreck of an idiot in Denver shouldn't either.

Hope we can keep the word spreading and catch this loser.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Slip Slidin' Away ....

I decided to take the break in the weather as a sign to cast about. Had a relatively productive day, bringing 6 to hand and breaking off some rather good sized ones. I think getting over a cold and pushing myself to "have fun" kind of backfired. I didn't have a great time and that's breaking the cardinal rule of fly fishing (or any outdoor sport, for that matter). Fortunately I realized this and began to take my time. It was relaxing and I felt I wanted to drive around to see some other areas.

Typical bow for the day.

So I found the mountain pond pretty quickly. It was a rough drive, simply because of the potholes and mud ruts, but hey... a Jeep can handle it. Held some nice fish, moved a helluva Smallie off a brush pile, but she wasn't interested. So, time to move on, with a little haste because some grunting and growling was a tad bit disturbing, particularly when I couldn't pin down where it was coming from. Back in the Jeep, up the hill we go.

Off to see some American Indian drawings along the rock cliff... always nice.

Then, the decision came. It's 5 miles back to 107 if I take the forest service road, or 12 if I take the creek road. Simple math, less is better, ever more so when you're tired.

What, the road is closed? No way, gates would be shut... they forgot their sign. A quick 3,500 feet and all was clear, if not a little wet and muddy. No prob. Keep in mind this is one of those roads that should be one-way, when a body meet a body in this rye, then someone's gonna have to back it up. Very few pullouts. I counted two. And no rails, of course, it's a service road, and the drop down is anything but gradual. I get to the crest and all was well, until down the south side, which obviously has seen no sun, it was completely white and icy. Oh, crap.

So, after a tumultuous reverse for a few hundred yards, I found the one pullout I needed (which is still barely large enough for a Jeep).

Anyway, I guess it's one of those "you had to be there moments," it was tricky and not fun. It was dark, I was alone, and for one who doesn't freak out often, I had a moment. Maybe it's age catching up to bravado? Maybe it's thinking about what I could miss. Maybe it was the joke I told my wife as I left, "Hon, I am X Creek, in case I don't come home, that's where they'll find my bloated, bloodied corpse." Maybe I should keep my mouth shut and not take closed roads. They're closed for a reason, and so is my mouth.

Keep it rural,

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Early in the mornin', I can't sleep ... wait. Not the Rod Stewart song. In this case, I'm rockin' out to cane. Or bamboo, if you're one of the snobby folks. From West to East, has there ever been another type of equipment so often revered and under used? But I don't have anything particular to say other than this: you probably look more like an idiot fishing your 7 foot boo than you did shelling out twice what the damn things worth. Take solace in that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wet Enough?

The one prevailing wind blowing through the Tennessee side of the Appalachians isn't really a wind at all, it's rain. To think, this time last year, on the heels of two years of drought, this would seem like a blessing. And it is! Don't get me wrong, but with the watershed at peak, any amount of the wets brings high water and murky bottoms. Not an altogether unpleasant day fishing, but it makes things interesting, to say the least.
Fish are there, and the browns are big. Our local fly shop, Little River Outfitters (http://littleriveroutfitters.com/) reports that many old locals are pulling in some hawgs. Which brings me to this: Never ask an old timer or a local to tell you how! One of the constant mysteries to fishing the Eastern Mountains is, if you're not from here, if you're a novice, you won't get into the pigs. It's a secret that's left to those of us who call this area home and see, in some cases, too many people fishing what we consider our water. Now I know that's a loaded statement, it's EVERYONE'S water, but realistically, it's in our backyard, we pay the taxes, we've seen our land and farms bought for pennies on the dollar for larger for pre-fab communities, and we can get a bit testy over the idea of anyone other than a neighbor pounding our trout to death. We're nice, though, and we won't say a lot about it to your face. We'll even share some patterns and some "not so great, but good enough" places, and shake your hand wishing you well. It's just how we are. But don't ask us how we pulled a 22 inch brown from an ankle deep run while you're catching fingerling bows in beautiful pools. That's one secret we'll never let go.

Now, if you're reading this and want to fish with me. Let's go. I'll share some secrets and put you on some nice fish. Because I know, if you fish with me, you're a person I like and respect... but too I probably know you won't be back with a hoard of friends every weekend.

Note: the water temps are rising along with the CFS. It's time to catch some pigs and down a brew or two. And if you're an angler like me, the brews can redeem any slow day on the water.

Keep it rural,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Anchors Away

Thursday morning while pumping a painfully slow tank of gas, I was reminded of Robert Hayden's poem "Those Winter Sundays." And though today there would be no austere and lonely office, there would be the blueblack cold. With that cold, however, there came a promise of blue skies and unseasonably warm afternoon weather. Oh, and some fishing, too.

I love crossing the the Tennessee/North Carolina mountains during sunrise. When you crest the border, you can see for miles... and in those miles is a nothingness that brings a healthy amount of comfort to we few anglers who strive to maintain a thriving trout population, but also our mountain heritage.

After the obligatory cup of coffee, John and Austin met me at the Coffee House in Morganton, and off to Wilson Creek we went. Now, I'm not a naysayer, but there are certain conditions that limit the possibilities for chubby trout. One, anchor ice, and two, frigid water. I sighed a little to myself, but put on my positive hat, geared up, and away we went. Within minutes my feet were numb, a new sensation for one that used to wet wade in October waters in the Smokies. To say the least it was cold, and blood pressure pills don't help that.

Austin, John and I fished relatively close. Giving one another wide enough berth to fish comfortably. Before I knew it, John had collected two fish in a sweet run, Austin had one on his new pattern Wonder Woman, and I pulled in one as well. With the exception of a beautiful Brookie, that would be the extent of Fish On. But not the last of the fun.

I had one of the best fishing trips I've had in many years. It was full of laughs, trading flies, lying, making fun, and tag teaming some hogs that would have nothing to do with anything we had. John and Austin are fine anglers, but there also great guys to have a homebrew with. I know I'll make that trip again, hopefully soon... and hopefully my felt won't freeze to the ground!

Keep it rural,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Big Chill (2010)

According to IMDB.COM the Big Chill (2010) remake is not on the radar. And for good reason. The baby-boomer-turn-30 forward glance film gave us a glimpse of that particular generations wont for post-marital stress and mid-life crises. Something with which every Gen X'er is already intimately familiar. However, if you check DOPLER.COM you will find the Southern U.S. is in the updated version of the real Big Chill (2010). My generations bane. At no point this week have we seen the temps rise above 28. And the future cast looks just as bleak. Coupled with supernumerary amounts of water and cold, winter fishing in Southern Appalachia isn't worth mentioning.

TVA too has its hands full. With dams generating around the clock, tailwater fishing is, even in a drift boat, nearly impossible. For the first time in recent memory, dams are sluicing 24/7, even opening flood gates. So, with the good the bad surely comes. The good being that Tennessee offers some of the finest tailwater fishing in the U.S., the bad being Tennessee lacks in delayed harvest waters, of which there are few, and to be honest, I'm not fishing when it's single digits and I am four miles away from the forest service road.

But if the Romans were right, then for sure "astra inclinant, non necessitant." The stars incline, they do not determine. So let's all ride that idea for 2010. Surely with all the limitations we see before us when looking at our fishing conditions, we need not fret, it is simply an opportunity to discover new ideas and new places.

Keep it rural,