Friday, June 27, 2008

Thanks My Dear........

Its that time of year.....our anniversary, a time to celebrate and say thank you to my beloved. Sometimes I think I must be the most blessed man on the planet. I love what I do, best of all my biggest fan is my wife and she supports me in pursuing a dream. What a blessing that is too.

We are off to celebrate our anniversary, and will spend some time hiking (Kat loves to hike, I am doing it again to get in shape- - -she walks circles around me and I do it daily with my work it seems). We'll also be fishing, which is actually how we met- - - not many of my customers know that but its true.

We used to fish together a lot, but having a house, two businesses, kids, life gets really busy sometimes and before we know it time has passed us by. A good thing though, and something important to us, is that we still "date" like we once did. And for several days now we are doing to have a "fishing date" again. What a woman who would go on a fishing date....thanks honey! We'll be doing some small stream fishing, some river fishing, hitting some great areas near Roan Mtn Tennessee, and more. We'll be fishing at 5000' or more.......too. And we'll also be getting into some smallmouth bass.
Thanks honey, and thank you Lord for blessing me with such a fantastic woman.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lovin it........Summertime bass that is

One call does it all......not Domino's but a fishing call that is. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon here at home, my wife and I were taking it easy, I was tying a few flies. Our oldest son Ben was away in Ohio on a summer missions trip with our church, and our other son Josh was headed to youth group. Then the phone rang. It was our Men's ministry pastor Rick Trautman, and he had one question...."want to go fishing?"

It didn't take too much more than that to get me going, I replied..."..sure." He said, "we can take the boat over to Lake Higgins for a few hours, or maybe hit a pond or something. What about that pond at your place?" I immediately replied, "...that sounds great, lets try the pond at my place."

I then said goodbye and put the finishing touches on a bee popper I had been tying. I stopped before I was finished and started gathering stuff- - - my fanny pack and rods-- and insect repellent- - -never forget that in summer- - -and after about 15 minutes of wandering around getting those things together I sat back down at my tying table and finished off the soft bodied bee popper. Just as the last turn of the whip finisher took place, Rick walked in front of the window and I knew it was time to go.

We grabbed our stuff and headed over to the pond. It is so great to have a great spot within a couple hundred yards of our home in the woods in Summerfield, NC. Not only is it close, it has some huge fish. After about 45 minutes of fishing, we worked our way around to the east side of the pond, a great hotspot that has a knack of giving up some huge bass. My oldest son Ben had caught a 1o.5 pound largemouth last year in the very spot Rick cast. I heard him exclaim, " one" ...then I saw the deeply arched rod and heard the reel's drag start to sing a sweet tune as the giant bass struggled for its freedom. About ten seconds into the struggle there was a large surface boil, and a monstrous splash as the 10 pound plus bass leaped from the water, and then landed with a thundering splash that sounded as if someone had catapulted a watermelon from the bank into the pond. The fish buried itself in the grass, Rick must have held on for over 5 minutes as the giant bass just sat there. He kept steady pressure, then tried giving slack line in hopes of it swimming out of the grass and breaking free where the fight could be brought to a close. The fish did nothing but lie there. Then back with steady pressure and a steady but precise pull Rick started putting pressure on the fish. It began to move, then move a little more, and we both were sweating knowing that the line had to be near its breaking strength. Thank goodness for good line and great knots, they both held as victory and a landed trophy hung in the balance.

Rick gently steered the giant fish to his feet along with lots of grass, and when he lipped the fish and held it up I was literally stunned. My heart was pounding in my much so I could hear it. I think his was doing much the same. It was the largest bass of his fishing career, and Rick is an avid fisherman. That is saying a lot, and it was a true trophy moment for sure.

I ran back to the house for the camera and photo card, snapped in the card, then hurried back to the pond while Rick held the fish in the water. When I returned we snapped several photos and then Rick released the large fish gently back to its watery domain. We both sat there, still somewhat stunned at it all.

What a great afternoon.... and what a huge fish. What an incredible thing when a giant fish decides to eat.......and what an even more incredible thing to be tied to the thing it decides to eat! Congrats Rick on your trophy.....I am envious!

Monday, June 9, 2008

In Over Our Heads in New River Smallmouth.....Literally

I must admit every year we go through the same old thing, it gets hot, we get low, clear water conditions, and everyone and including sometimes me fret over how the weather is going to affect the fishing. And those are valid issues for sure, but I am all about making the best of a less than ideal situation. The nice thing is, a less than ideal situation for our small mountain trout streams makes for an ideal situation for fishing for smallmouth with a fly rod. So why fret?........Grab your rod and a few poppers and streamers and let's celebrate the arrival of some of our most enjoyable fishing....chasing smallies with a fly rod.
Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting and fishing and getting to know Dr. Mike Martin. "Mikey" as he is affectionately known by me, my wife Kathy, and maybe his wife Ariya- - -has as much passion and zeal for fly fishing and fly tying as anyone I have ever met. His spirit and love for it is contagious, and you know it when you meet him and talk with him. And he's good at it too. Mike is a Dr. in Martinsville, VA, and spends many days chasing trout and other species all over, and especially on his home water - - -the beloved Smith River below Philpott Dam. We both share a passion for that place, and the sulphur hatch and the great terrestrial fishing too.
Mike joined me for a day of smallmouth fishing on the New near Fries, VA. We met early up off 58, and headed over to the river. The fog lay over the river thickly, it was as if the river lay asleep under the moist, layered canopy that would soon enough be burned off by a hot, summer sun. We got in the river, and within a few minutes we were hooked up on a nice smallie on a popper. We fished and fished and caught smallmouth after smallmouth, and I think Mike was hooked on them just like I and so many other trout bums are. The picture above was our late afternoon stop at a large shoal in the middle of the river, and I had an idea for a funny picture. And Mike, being the fun guy that he is, went right along with me. The funny thing is that he actually had a fish on in the above photo. We laughed and joked afterward about how funny that would be to share with my customers. And my customers loved it. In fact, it stirred more interest than any photo I posted all of last year. We laughed about it, but Mike I am sure felt more refreshed than I as it had been 95-97F all day and humid on top of that and it felt good for a second or two to feel relief from the heat. Way to go Mikey!
We fished all day and even into the evening, taking advantage of the popper bite that often happens the last few hours before dark. And let me tell you, it was on. We caught several fish of 2 pounds or better, and even a 4 1/2 pounder that slammed Mike's foam popping bug and then gave an incredible ten minute battle with several jumps that I am sure Mike won't soon forget. After that fish we carefully negotiated half the width of the river in complete darkness and made our way back to the car, putting the finishing touch on one of the best days ever on New River smallmouth.
Thanks Mikey! Lets do it again soon.....that 4 1/2 pounder you caught is still there and guess what- - - - she's now 5lbs plus.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Time is Now....

One of the favorite things for me all year long is what sometimes gets most trout bums "bummed" out, that is the onset of blistering hot sunny days and scorching temps. Gone are the good flows of water of spring, hatches of big mayflies, and easier to catch its gotten low and clear and you are left wondering if our trout will make it through another drought period like last year. As disturbing as it might seem, our trout fared pretty well last year, suprisingly so, and only isolated areas had a significant problem. Our neighbors to the west in Tennessee weren't so fortunate, as some areas of the Smokies lost a great deal of their rainbow trout populations.

When its really hot, I do one of three things when it comes to guiding or fishing on my days off....I put on the hiking shoes and fish some high elevation waters where water temps are more favorable. Second, I love tailwater fishing anyway, and some of my "home water" is the Smith River tailwater, just 40 minutes from my doorstep. The first several miles of it remain "chilly" even in summer.....chilly you say? Yes, try 46-48F even in the worst of summer heat. And the terrestrial fishing is superb and perhaps my very favorite anyway, so I take the summer heat in stride. And then there's the South Holston and the Smith some great fishing is still possible even in the summer heat.....and the Holston even gets a mega Sulphur hatch in midsummer right during full generation. But lastly, a fishing very dear to me is fly fishing for smallies, aka, "black bass", or "bronzebacks", or "a leopard with fins", whatever you call them they are like hooking into a ready to explode stick of dynamite. Often clients wonder why I get so torn up over them........that is until they find themselves hooked up to one. After one, the deal is sealed.......and they are from then on a smallie convert.

We are fortunate to have some of the best smallmouth fishing in the world.....yes , I said world, and its right at our back door. The New and James Rivers are smallie heaven, and we frequently catch smallies up to 4 -5 pounds on flies, and best of all, most of the really big fish are on topwater bugs! Also, for a great summer experience where you won't usually ever see another angler you might try any one of hundreds of small NC and VA streams that have smallmouth. Our state, North Carolina, has numerous great waters such as the Mitchell (one of the top 5 outstanding resource waters in the entire state), the French Broad, the New, the Little River, the Uwharrie River, the Mayo River, the Roaring River, Yadkin River, Watauga River, the Johns River, lower Wilson Creek, and the list goes on and on. That barely scratches the surface. Basically, the Wildlife Commission will tell you that ALL of our trout waters contain smallmouth on the lower end - - - that is the marginal areas that are hatchery supported- - -well those become smallie havens in the summer.

Don't let the hot weather bum you out, a break from the hot weather will come soon enough. In the meantime grab a rod and a few streamers and poppers and find some smallmouth water. You won't be sorry you did, and you might find that they are as worth a gamefish as any trout that ever swam.