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

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,