Feast or Famine

15 04 2009

It has been a busy week of fishing here in Bent Rod World where every fish leaves completely satisfied with the encounter.  The Caddis hatch is on in E. Tennessee and things are getting silly.  This isn’t just any Caddis hatch but the big daddy Black Caddis hatch on the Watauga River. This is the time of year that epic days are made and the past few have not disappointed.  

Sunday

Ryan and I met up with both boats, wives, friends, and my dog, Traveler, in tow.  The expectations were high as the day was bluebird and the bugs were out in full force.  We saw huge numbers of Black Caddis in a size 12, early Sulfurs in a size 14, BWO’s, and midges.  The trout on the other hand must have been wrecked from a late night kegger because the first 6 hours were slow…real slow.  

The dog and I learning a lesson in futility.

The dog and I learning a lesson in futility.

Angela, Ryan’s wife, once again proved that she is the Shera (don’t act like you don’t know who Shera is,  He-Man’s rockin’ hot mistress of the cartoon world…hello?) of piscatorial pursuits.   I saw another emasculation developing and was none too happy about it.  

Angela, surveying her vast fishy kingdom which she rules with an iron fist.

Angela, surveying her vast fishy kingdom which she rules with an iron fist.

We rolled into the “ledges” section feeling as if somebody had run over the dog. I am not a man that easily gives up however (my academic, social, and business life being the exceptions). I gritted my teeth, cursed the gods, re-rigged the rod with a soft hackle pheasant tail and let out a barbaric yop, “Not again, no not again Lord. I am a man, I am a man!” Well I guess the big guy was smiling down on this godless heathen on a beautiful Easter Sunday because the trout started eating in my favorite manner…recklessly.  

 

My wife Lindsey giving Leroy, the brown trout, a good old fashioned bum rubbing.

My wife Lindsey giving Leroy, the brown trout, a good old fashioned bum rubbing.

We all proceeded to catch them hand over fist till there were big shit eating grins all around (except for my friend Greg who must have missed 30 strikes and long distance handshaked at least that many fish in half an hour…stupid bastard. The last six hours were forgotten as if they happened a million years ago.  

Yours truly with colored up bow who was stupid enough to fall victim to a guy like me.

Yours truly with colored up bow who was stupid enough to fall victim to a guy like me.

It always amazes me how a turn in the action can erase the majority of the day’s frustrations and bring me down from the proverbial ledge.  Everyone left that day tired but fulfilled…that is till  Tuesday.

 

 

 

Tuesday

With the Caddis hitting, we decided it was just too good to stay away. Murphy made the trek down from the wilderness that is West Virginia and it was on again. We put in around 11:00am with one thing in mind… an epic day.  Once again we were not disappointed. The first hole coughed up 5 or 6 fish in fifteen minutes.  At this point we realized all we could do was put on our big boy pants and hold on.

Ryan striking a pose with Leroy.  Artistic ain't it?

Ryan striking a pose with Leroy. Artistic ain't it?

 It seemed like every trout in the river was looking up and more than willing to fling themselves at our dry flies in kamikaze fashion.  At some point one of us commented that we must have boated 50 fish between us. That was only 3/4 of the way through the float, and the last quarter of the float might have been the most fruitful (I have been trying to work the word fruitful into my everyday vocabulary as I believe it has nice ring to it. Say it with me…Fruitful…see).  The scariest part about this whole day was that it was in the 50s and rainy — I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if the sun had come out for more than fifteen minutes. Mind blowing to say the least.  

 

Murphy and Ryan are back on the river today (lucky bastards), as I am around the house finishing up finals, catching up on my blogging, and generally itching junky style to get back on the river as soon as possible. Next week the crew is heading to the North Fork of the White River, in the Show Me State of Missouri. We are going to do some filming, chase some tail (trout  and bass to be specific), and eat some corn (I guess that’s what you do in Missouri?).  All I have to say is that I am going to do my best to see if there is any truth behind these farmer’s daughter jokes I have been hearing (Wifey, I am only joking, I could never be attracted to a luscious, milky, corn-raised farm girl..seriously never…I love you, Honey).





Spring is Springing

24 03 2009

The smell of spring is in the air and I am taking a big  ‘ol wiff.  Much like the budding trees and returning songbirds, I feel a stirring in my loins that marks the end of the winter doldrums and the beginning of bugs hatching and our fishy friends rising.  There is truly no better time of year to be a grad student and guide without a 9-5 to go to.  I have been guiding the delayed harvest lately with a couple of tailwater floats thrown in there. Lady luck has been my bitch lately as all my clients  have been drinking at the plentiful trout waters that WNC and E. Tennesee have to offer.  I have found a couple of hours to fish on my own which leads me to my parable for the day children, a tale of two fisherman.  Our story begins with a float on the Watauga with a “dude” from the neighborhood.   This guy is not a fly fisherman but does occasionally enjoy dipping his big toe in the salt with full spinning gear attached.  He shows up at my house an hour late with the bait chuckers in tow.  I am an asshole by many standards but one thing that I am a stickler about is being punctual,  this rule is punishable by testicle tugging when it comes to fishing.  I am new to town and can’t afford to dismiss folks on minor transgressions though so I moved on.  The day’s fishing was somewhat slow as rain had brought the river to nearly unfishable conditions in terms of color and flow.  The lull in the action provide for some interesting conversation that I won’t go into but will say there is no story sadder then when his whore of an ex-wife cheats on him him with his  shit head of a best friend.  A couple of fish were molested but some truly deep emotions were tickled and  came out to play.

A couple of days after that another guide in the shop and I went to scout out some delayed harvest and wild water.  He showed up at the shop ten minutes late (which is early amongst most guides I know) and we set out.  The topics discussed were mostly fishing related and the only time the subject of women was brought up was when his girlfriend called to inform us that she had  stuck a 15lb. rainbow on the private trout club her family belongs to.  (I understand that this last sentence has made some of you moist as it did me writing it)

Well two very different days with two very different folks. I am going to rise above judgement here and  say that they were two days on the river that were still better than anything else I could have been doing that day.  Floating Sunday and will post something after that





The Shortest Watauga Report Ever

12 03 2009

 

My Apologies To Red Stripe

 

HOORAY TENNESSEE

HOORAY TENNESSEE

 

 

 

HOORAY TROUT

HOORAY TROUT

 

HOORAY ANOTHER TROUT

HOORAY ANOTHER TROUT

HOORAY FAT TIRE IS IN THE SOUTH

HOORAY FAT TIRE IS IN THE SOUTH

 

HOORAY NORTH CAROLINA

HOORAY NORTH CAROLINA





Planning World Trout Domination

10 03 2009

It has been kind of busy lately so sorry for the lengthy absence.  The season is so close that I can smell the bird nests a brewing.  I have recently been picking up days at the shop which works out well since I desperately need the money and I get a bigger discount.  These two facts seem to have something to do with each other.  Between school the shop and the rest of the crap that seems to creep onto my calendar I actually did get to go fishing on Sunday.  I met up with Ryan from Bent Rod Media to catch a day on the boat.  This trip was the first time I had seen Ryan since we met on the river a month or so ago.  I checked out some of the short films the guys had done and was impressed.  Ryan and I had proceeded to correspond over email about how I could help out with some upcoming filming and other stuff.  When he showed up at the house I kind of felt like a fly fishing internet predator.  Technology has queered a lot of things.  Thankfully it seems that neither of us are complete douschbags (maybe just a little on my part?) and we headed out.   The Watauga “Trophy Section” was the chosen spot as no where else around was running any water.  I needed to get on it to scout anyway.   We were definitely not the only boats on the water but putting in late always pays off and we wound up being the second to last people off the water.  It was sunny, 70’s and frickin’ gorgeous outside.  We immediately got into a Blue Wing hatch.  The Watauga is the only river I have ever seen where the BWO’s hatch bigger on sunny warm days……weird.  Things started kind of slow as we bullshitted as much as we fished.  The flotilla was strong and we were happy to hang out at the top while the guides made their sprints for the lower end.  We eventually started picking off fish on micro mays, split-case olives, cdc bwo emergers, and soft hackle pheasant tails.  The fishing was not by any means hot but was more than good enough on a beautiful day in early march.  More importantly many plans for future trips to exotic locales were hatched, and sometimes planning can be almost as fun as fishing.  I am going up there again tomorrow and will take my wife’s camera this time (as mine has recently shit the bed) and get some pictures up on this rag.





The Suckers Are Spawning! The Suckers Are Spawning!

15 01 2009

It has been a while since I have been able to bear my soul electronically, mostly due to the recent move to Asheville, but also because of my constant self loathing.  A lot has been going on and not enough of it fishing.  In my internet absence the TVA has ruined one Eastern TN river by filling it with a BILLION tons of fly ash.   I read that the TVA blamed the subsequent Clinch River fish kill on a monster wave that traveled down the river pushing fish outside the natural banks of the river, into the flood zone. When the waters receded the fish were left high and dry on the banks.  Now, I am not calling the TVA liars (incompetent, maybe?), but isn’t it the least bit plausiblethat the unholy amounts of arsenic dumped into the river could have had a little to do with the fish kill?   The damages done to the ecology of the area are nothing in comparison to the poor sons-a-bitches who actually lived in the path way of this tsunami of shit.  The most frustrating aspect of this story is the non-chalance the national media showed for an environmental disaster that rivaled the Exxon Valdese.  To all my brethren that used to make a living on that river, come on down the road and I’ll buy you a beer and listen to your plots to overthrow the TVA with nothing more than an 12 wt. rod and a four foot long articulated streamer.  Vive le Resistance!

Now that I have hugged my tree for the day I will tell you a tale of a man, a river, and a week of rain.  I found out that I was guiding a float trip this weekend and figured I would make the run across the mountain and scout the Watauga as I had not fished it in a couple of weeks.  I did not however find any reason to check the CFS before I left at 6:30 in the morning.  If I would have checked the CFS,  I would have known that due to recent storms the river was higher than it has been in a few years as far as I could tell.  When I say high I do not mean, “Oh…the water is a little off color I better throw big flashy crap.” I mean the water had deposited debris twenty feet into the parking lot of the put in.

The sign on the tree actually says, "No Littering"

The sign on the tree actually says, "No Littering"

I decided there was no need for me to pop a tire so I decided to wait.  Day after day I checked the flows.  The river did not come down for six days straight.  Well yesterday was my day come hell or high water (the pun is completely intended so suck it).  I got to the river early and found the Department of Wildlife Services had brought the backhoe to clean off the boat ramp.  This was a good thing because the snow shovel I had packed, for the very same reason, would have take a wee bit longer.

Put on your big boy pants

Put on your big boy pants

These guys in the raft were nice enough to share their secret after a slow morning.  The secret was orange eggs.  Now I hate fishing eggs, but I like getting tipped by clients.  Weighing these two sides I have decided that the suckers are spawning, so orange eggs for my clients and little American flags for everyone.  I caught fish on orange and peach beads (pinned Alaska style), attractor nymphs, and streamers.  Turns out when you triple the flow and add in the sucker spawn, the Watauga Tailwater acts more like a DH stream.  That’s the great part about what we do though, you learn something new everyday.  Well school has started and I have to go learn how to read,  Ta Ta for now bitches.





East TN and Guerilla Fishing The Spawn

16 12 2008

So my wife was responsible for throwing a baby shower in Kentucky last week.  I left twenty minutes after she did with the boat in tow on my way to the wild wacky world of Eastern Tennessee.  My plan was to fish for three days and reward myself for a whole year of unemployment and my reversion back to student life.  Unfortunately the weather had a different idea and when I arrived  the Watauga was chocolate milk so floating went down the crapper.  I feared this may happen and worked out the South Holston as a backup.  I, like everyone else around here, have been drooling over some of the monstrous brown trout that have been coming out of this river system in the past month.  I know these fish are being caught while either spawning or on the pre-spawn.  I did not however realize that fishing for these browns has turned into a complete shitshow.  I am not a purist or a fly fishing ethicist but this has become less like fly fishing and more like redbirds lined up trying to snag kokanee with grappling hooks when they draw down a lake.  (Which is truly a site to behold and one that I highly recommend) I do believe that if a river system in this day and age is lucky enough to have fish that naturally reproduce in it the resource should be protected.  To me this means I won’t fish on redds because I don’t think i would enjoy someone mouth hooking let alone snagging me while I am trying to make sweet fish love to my special hen.  This part of it aside there is nothing that appeals to me about fishing egg patterns shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of other dudes that have let the prospects of the trophy photo outweigh the parts of the sport that drew me to it in the first place including the challenge, the solitude, and the all around undouchiness that is supposed to be flyfishing.  I say catch a 10 lb. brown during the summer and maybe we’ll talk.  I watched the circus at the weir dam for a while and then promptly moved down to big springs and pulled streamers the rest of the day.  The water clarity was zero and as I am unfamiliar with this section so wading was sketchy and snags were plentiful.  Needles to say I have officially put in my skunk on the South Holston.  Humbling? Yes. Feelings of low self worth? Maybe.  Fishing tomorrow? Of course.  After crying myself to sleep in the fetal position I awoke, put on my big boy pants and headed out for my bread and butter, the Watauga River. But that is a story for another day.  I will say, for any one who cares, there is no one fishing it right now (3 boats on the water) and the BWO’s are lockin and poppin.  Shake and bake!