Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good Eats...........

I must say that I love traveling, you couldn't do what I do for very long and not like it. Its the reason some quit. I must admit in those travels you always find good eats no matter where you are....funny how either before a trip or after one you always stumble across something that tastes good. Amazing how many of those places over the years get included in your fishing memory bank- - -so much so that they become a part of the trip too. Some of my Escatawba road trips might include a stop at one such place....Dodges Store. Chicken, Biscuits, Taters, etc., you name it and it all tastes good. Not sure what it does to one's cholesterol level, and I am not sure that I'd really want to know, but man it sure tastes good. Just like in the photo, add a box of flies fresh from the vise, a few strike indicators, all your other gear and you're all set.

There are many such places, and if you've never tried some of the local stuff man you are missing out. Near Escatawba there's the Eagles Nest, run by the Nesters. On the South Holston, I can do just fine with an unbelievable cheeseburger from Webbs Store ....they might get title for best burger in the lower 48. I mean you are licking the plate afterward and contemplating ordering another one (which you'd probably do if no one were around). Trap Hill Grill, Stone Mtn Store, Helton Creek Country Store, Mtn Rogers Store, The Bait Place on the Jackson run by Larry Andrews, ....there are so many great places.......

Its where's my Prilosec and Statin medication...? Just kidding of course .

Friday, October 16, 2009

You Can Always Learn Something ....

When I met Chris and his 8yr old son Billy in Boone, NC on the moist morning of October 10 little did I know what a great time I was in for. Chris and I had talked several times on the phone and via email, his 8yr old son Billy I'd never met but been told of his excitement of fishing and his overall enthusiasm.
That was right on the mark too for enthusiastic he was, and a really good caster and good fisherman, an testimony to Dad and the time spent and investment in bringing him to that point.
We rigged up and got in the water. I saw pretty quickly that Billy could cast very well, I mean really well, I mean its just not that often that you have an 8yr old that can put the cast exactly where you say and do it the first time. I was stunned. Only minutes into our fishing I realized I had a real angler on my hands......and his potential is unreal if he sticks with it - -which by the way, won't be an issue given his obvious passion for what we were trying to do.
There's a famous quote, though I love it, I am not sure who's words these are, but the effect remains the same. It goes like this: "Its what we learn after we think we know it all that counts." Ouch. And how true.
With the sound of the bubbling riffle in my left ear and Billy waiting patiently to my right, I took out my fly box and started to reach for another pattern to try. Honestly, the fish were being a little tougher than they usually are and quite honestly I could not figure out why. It was then that Billy stated with authority and confidence- - unlike that you'd expect from an 8yr old- -"...hey those smaller flies right there, I usually catch my fish with flies like that. Maybe we should try one." When you are a guide and hear that there are some choices to be made. Conceding to trying a fly, I mean come on its like admitting defeat or that something isn't working.....but given how the fish weren't responding I was willing to change the game and honor Billy's request. I replied, "so you think we should use a small fly like this one?" "Yes..." Billy replied. So I picked the fly out of the box, tied it on, and I mean if it wasn't the next cast that Billy's fly drifted right down the trough we were just fishing and that I knew held fish--- - and his line dashed upstream and indicator went under. With the quickness and poise of an angler way beyond his years he set the hook, played the fish, and I netted the fish for him. He was happy and I was stunned.........I was thinking maybe Billy needs to be the one guiding me! Needless to say that whole moment impacted me a great deal and I'll never forget it.
I guess we all need to eat some humble pie and learn to be a good listener. It paid off for both of us today.....and Billy was right! Hmmmm.............I'll bet if my lovely bride reads this she'll agree that I need to be a better listener too.........! Oh well, there's work to be done so why don't I finish this up and go eat another slice of pie.
Billy, you can come with me anytime!

Monday, September 7, 2009

2009 Wyoming Trip a Blast...........Again

Every year its a blast to take a group of customers to Teton Country near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Usually its a blast, and I always try to make it a memorable experience for everyone, but somehow every year its seems to get better and better. Sure the fishing is part of it, but everything, the scenery, the unbelievable food (both in town and in the backcountry), the fellowship, sometimes it just leaves you thinking " this is incredible." And for me every trip seems better and better, and the excitement of every trip is just like the first. You get to see first hand that God created some mighty awesome scenery, stuff that leaves you with no other words but ".....Wow."

I departed on Thursday Aug 20th and my plan was to arrive in the evening, usually I get there and try to get things situated- - - rooms, food, final plans with my outfitter, etc., and sometimes a quick drive and "try" on the streams we'll be fishing so the fishing conditions and my assessment are 'first hand' and not second hand from some weeks or months old internet fishing report or even hearsay. Seeing and doing with your own eyes is the best way. That was my much for my plan.

We were an hour and a half late departing Greensboro due to thunderstorms, and we finally got off the ground only to arrive about two hours late in Atlanta, and missing my connection to Denver which meant I'd also be missing my connection from Denver to Jackson,WY. Oh well, it wasn't all bad. I met a really nice guy Joel Coykendall, Sr Vice President of Northmarq Capital of Jacksonville, FL. We had great conversation, both on business, politics, outdoors, fly fishing, my flyfishing business and his Investment business, and also discovered that his mother lives in Boone, NC in a retirement community. Its a small world..............

I arrived in Atlanta, Joel and I saw each other again at the Delta phone counter, both of us trying to get new flights to our destination. With the time, I saw that my day was over, so much for doing anything I'd planned to do. And my bags and tackle....? Well, they ended up in Denver on the plane as they never were able to switch my bags to the last flight I just barely eeked onto to Jackson, Wyoming. While waiting for the flight I got something to eat, and noticed all the soldiers from Fort Benning, GA. It didn't take long to realize these guys were headed for Afghanistan. Made me think of how thankful we should be of them and their commitment to protect us.... which is what they are doing over there......despite the mainstream media's (yes NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, New York Times - that names most of the culprit) inability to report the truth about all of that. But I thanked one of them and bought his meal, and thought to myself "these guys get little affirmation because of the spin job the media has put on our war effort over there." So to all the service guys thank you for protecting us.

I did manage to get a direct late flight to Jackson from Atlanta, and ended up on the ground at around 10:00pm in Jackson Hole. My bags and tackle never made it, so it looked like Jeff would be making a return trip to the airport to get the bags when they arrived on Friday at noon or after. Several of the guys arrived at different times, Pat Burney arrived on Thursday, Mikael Tedeborg and Mike and Steve Lalumondier all arrived on Friday, and Bob Manning on Saturday. One by one I got up with them, and once we all connected we headed off to drop bags off at our lodging and then downtown to get some food and everyone a fishing license. After that we headed off to the Hoback Canyon, the upper portion, and caught quite a few cutthroats on dry flies, some up to 15-16", and then headed back to town. We had dinner at Mountain High Pizza Pie and enjoyed some very unique Pizzas from one of Jackson's best places.

On Sunday, we arose to gray, drizzly and chilly weather......I mean really chilly given what we'd come from. It was in the mid 40's, that's chilly to Eastern flatlanders like us. We had a hearty breakfast at the Virginian Restaurant, one of the best breakfasts in Jackson, and after loading up on some great food we headed south to fish the Greys River near Alpine, Wyoming. We fished the section above Murphy Creek, the fly fishing only section. It was slow because of the weather change. We only saw a few fish rise, then some significant rain set in.....and it got nasty. We caught a couple of fish, had a streamside lunch, then decided to head north to hit another stream. We headed to upper Granite meadows near Granite Hot Springs to the upper Part of Granite Creek, a wonderful small cutthroat stream. Within minutes we were into fish, and we caught a good many nice cutthroats, some up to 16-17", along with several whitefish too. It rained on and off the whole time. We went up to one last stretch of the stream, and it was there that the mother of all thunderstorms pounded us. It was like a wall cloud crawling over the mountain ridge above us, it moved fast (like 40-50mph), and winds of 60mph plus and driving rain- - - -it rained buckets. The last two guys made it back to the van just in time to avoid the worst-- - then it came. It rained cats and dogs, and with that we decided to head back and get cleaned up and have dinner. After all, we had managed to make a decent day out of it with some good fishing on Granite Creek. We ended up having dinner at Sidewinder's, and a few of us had the famous Chicken Fried was it delicious.

On Monday, we got up to cool temperatures (low to mid 30's) and headed over to one of my favorite places, Bubba's, it was outstanding. The guys raved over the food and I heard many great comments about how good it was.......I mean it is great stuff and if you are in Jackson you have to eat breakfast there. To our right was a guy who had moved to Jackson from Marietta, GA and was telling us about Jackson and how it was for him to move there. He mentioned that he'd moved out 10 years ago and how much he loved it now. Having breakfast with him was Frank Simms, the gentleman /fly fisherman who started the Simms Fly Fishing Company from the ground up. A very reserved, quiet gray haired gentleman who looked like he was very much enjoying life. Given how Simms has grown and what he must have been paid for the company I guess he probably would be smiling. But it was neat to know who he was. After breakfast we headed off to fish the Gros Ventre, Crystal Creek, and Gros Ventre canyon. We caught some fish, some on dries - -Mikael Tedeborg had the best fish, a 16" cuttie, but overall the weather was "iffy" and the fishing was slow compared to what it can be. We still caught some fish, fished in a known grizzly area (exciting!), and since we were heading into the backcountry on Tuesday we decided to quit early and go back to town to get dinner and pack our stuff for the backcountry part of the trip. We ended up having dinner at The Bunnery and then headed back to our rooms to pack.

On Tuesday, we rose early and headed up to get a hearty breakfast at The Bunnery. We then headed north on 191 to Moran Junction, then right toward Buffalo Valley on the upper Snake/Buffalo River system. We met Josh Roth, and Scott Leeper his helper, at the overflow parking area at the Turpin Meadows trailhead. There we got our stuff out, put it on the tarp, and watched the guys pack it on horses for the ride in. I and the guys were excited, heading on horseback 10-12 miles in and fishing from there is a treat these days, talk about getting away from it all- - - this is it. Once we got to camp and got unpacked, we suited up and headed down to the river, the Soda Fork of the Buffalo, where we caught quite a few cutthroats and whitefish, a handful of the cutthroats measured 17-19", and all of them caught on dry flies, Schroeder hoppers in Tan size 12 just as I had prescribed during our pretrip preparations. We returned to the campsite on the Soda Fork to a dinner of Elk Fajitas, Cheese, Crackers, Elk Sausage, salad, and homemade Pecan Pie, all prepared in Dutch oven style over an open fire by our camp guide Josh Roth. Believe me, Josh can cook and his magic puts a smile on everyone's faces. After dinner we gabbed around the campfire for a bit and then one by one we all turned into our tents for the night.

On Wednesday, we got up early and had coffee by the campfire, the early morning silence was shattered by the sound of three sandhill cranes doing what they do- -squawking like a raptor- - it was neat to feel so close to the real wild side of this magnificent country. After a spectacular sunrise, we had a fabulous cowboy casserole with eggs, bacon, potatoes, Eggs, and cantaloupe and some outstanding Josh Roth cowboy coffee. After breakfast, we geared up for a ride over to the North Fork, my favorite Wyoming trout stream, for it is full of undercut banks, foam lines, deep bends, flatwater, and rising fish.....and it looks like a trout stream I would design if I were to design one. It is magnificent, and loaded with cutthroats and brookies, some of the former 20" or over. We caught some nice fish, some of the cutties up to 18", lost some good ones too, and also tons of brookies up to 12" . Two of the guys caught 30 each in one spot, to end the day, and Pat Burney had a first ever - a double, that is a rod in each hand and a fish on each one, and another first ever, a 'Triple double' with Mikael Tedeborg beside of him with a fish on as well. Three rods, three fish on, amazing..... We finished up fishing and packed our stuff back on the horses, and headed back to camp and rode in to the wonderful smell of a Chicken Curry dish Josh had prepared for us. Josh's wife Jay Jay is Indian, so he is well versed in spicy dishes, and man this one was out of this world. We had Chicken Curry over rice, Salad, corn on the cob, rolls, and a homemade German chocolate cake, all cooked Dutch oven style over an open fire....delicious. We spent some time talking about the day's fishing by the fire, and talked about other stuff too, and then turned in. Everyone was so tired from a full day that sleeping was not a problem.......

On Thurday we awoke to another wonderful breakfast, some of the stuff the guys demanded a recipe for it was so good, one of those things was the bread and sausage gravy. We had a breakfast of homemade bread, Josh's sausage gravy, Eggs, and fresh cantaloupe. It was outstanding, and I think we all fought over the leftovers. Josh is lucky we didn't lick the dutch ovens was that good. We started our day with a 7 mile ride up to Divide Lake, a blue green jewel tucked away in the shadow of Joy Mountain, and up around 9600 ft. The ride was spectacular, and we spent the morning casting to rising and cruising cutthroats, some of them up to 18-19", and several of the guys caught up to a half dozen or 7 of them before they turned off. We caught them on dry flies, stripping wooly buggers, hand twist retrieving Copper Johns deep, you name it. We caught them all ways and it was great. Added to it was the fact that half of the time you could see the fish before they smashed your fly. And man was the water a few hundred feet deep only 50ft from shore. It was literally blue green. We quit about lunch time, ate lunch, saddled up, and headed down to the lower North Fork to end the day. We found some good fishing there too, everyone caught fish and I had the pleasure of watching Steve Lalumondier catch a nice cuttie that was rising and was being terribly selective....we put a Jeff's South Holston CDC emerger on him.....bang, that was the end of that. The score Steve 1, 18inch cutthroat 0. Well done, and best of all i got a great video clip of Steve fighting him (below). After fishing we headed back to the horses, suited down, packed up, and headed back to camp. We rode in to the smell of big T-Bone steaks (a real steak, a Wyoming slab of beef!), Josh had started dinner and was grilling those big steaks over the fire. The smell after a long day on the trail and water was great..... We had a great dinner of Steak, Cowboy potatoes, homemade Cornbread, and Peach Cobbler. Again, what Josh can do with a dutch oven over a fire is truly incredible....and incredibly good as well. After dinner and a short campfire sit, we all turned in to our tents for some shuteye.

On Friday morning we got up and had another wonderful breakfast, our last in the backcountry. It was kind of sad that our backcountry experience was coming to a close. We enjoyed a breakfast of French Toast, danishes, Link Sausage, and fresh cantaloupe and fruit and it was outstanding as well. We all packed our gear up, and Josh and Scott broke down camp while several of us went down to the Soda Fork for a little last hurrah fishing. I walked down with the guys, Pat and Mikael went way upstream, I stayed downstream with Bob Manning. He caught several large whitefish and also an 18 inch trout that we believe might have been a lake trout from its markings and color pattern. I'll be sending the info regarding the catch to Wyoming Wildlife to see if they can determine/confirm that it is that. It was strange, but I guess if you are going to catch a strange one let it be large! The other guys caught a fish or two, we headed back up to the campsite and unsuited so Josh could pack our gear up for the ride out. We all grabbed our lunches and headed to our horses. With packing complete, we saddled up for the 2 hr ride out. It was great, but everyone I am sure was both tired, sort of down that the trip was coming to a close, but very much looking forward to a nice room, bed, and did I say SHOWER after several days in the backcountry. I am sure we all looked like a bunch of dirty rascals, unshaven and rough to be sure, but we would soon take care of that once we got back into town.

We got back to the trailhead and the cars, and as the guys unpacked our stuff off the horses we one by one took our bags to the vehicles. We thanked Scott and Josh, and I told Josh "see you next year" and we were off. We stopped by several areas on the way back to town so the guys could get some nice shots of the Grand Tetons and the Snake River, several places that are well known and magazine famous for their photogenic beauty. Once we took a few pics we headed back to town and to our rooms. Everyone was able to unwind a little and also take what I would say was one of the best showers or our lives.....I had to quickly unpack and repack some of our bags which I took to FedeX to have shipped home. I came back to Cache Creek Lodge where we were staying and some of the guys walked into town to do some shopping, looking around, etc, pickup something for their families, etc. We planned on doing dinner at 7:45 at one of the places we always hit, usually on the last night, that is Merry Piglets Mexican Grill. It is mexican and tex mex food to die for! After a nice meal, we all returned to the Cache Creek to pack for the trip home.

We got up early Saturday morning, 400am to be exact, and packed our stuff into the vehicle and headed off to the airport as they were recommending everyone arrive 2hrs before flights due to the construction area around the airport and the fact that Saturday morning is a very busy time at Jackson airport. We got to the airport, and all of us were to board flights for home. I left at 7am, all the other guys 7:58 or 8:00am. Mike was the last to leave, he got to sleep in and had to fly out at 10am. I flew to Salt Lake City, UT, had a three hour layover, what a nice airport it is!!! I then flew to Atlanta, had another 3 hour layover, and then arrived home to Greensboro a little before 9pm. My beautiful bride was in the baggage claim was there to meet me, I hugged and kissed her and I'll tell you as much fun as the guys were and as great as Wyoming is this is home. And I was glad to be back! And missed Wyoming too, its such a great place.

Already starting to plan next years trip..............we have a spot for you- - - join us!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hopper Fishing in Wyoming

Next to beetle fishing in the East my favorite fly fishing has to be hopper fishing in the West. Enjoy....and join us next year in Wyoming! Check out more at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Please Wait.......

Good morning Jackson Hole, I arrived on the last flight last night just before 10pm-and missed seeing the sight of all sights, the Grand Tetons, as they were shrouded in clouds and darkness -- arriving much later than expected due to two delays, one in Greensboro, and another in Atlanta. There were bad thunderstorms all about. I had to switch some flights around and finally got a flight to Jackson at 640pm Atlanta much for casting a fly yesterday. Waited in the baggage claim for an hour and no bags.....turned out they went to Denver and never got switched over the plane I was on. Oh well, I hope they get my clothes, stuff, and most importantly rods! Did meet a great guy from Jacksonville, FL on the plane, we talked flyfishing and a whole lot of stuff the entire time and I think I might have gotten a future trip. Also was very intrigued by the # of soldiers, there were several large groups of them en route to Afghanistan. As I saw them I thought of how they are the real heroes today and how the media will never portray them that way......I thanked one of them it was neat to see his reaction. I was thinking of how here they are headed to be in harm's way and I am headed to Wyoming....made me feel silly complaining about all the above. Looking forward to a great day today, mostly tracking my bags down- I had planned several things but they will have to wait until I make sure my bags are going to get here. Will meet the guys one by one as they arrive here with everyone being here and on the ground by tomorrow at noon- - - then the adventure begins!
I guess though through probably 40 fly throughs in Jackson Hole only one issue with luggage is a pretty good all those trips this is the only luggage issue I have had. That's pretty good given how many changes are taking place in a short period of time. But it still makes for some fidgeting waiting on the stuff to arrive so I can get on with the trip.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Photography..........A Bonus to Fishing

I must say that as much as I love fishing and guiding others I also have a deep affinity for photography. I take tons of photos. And the great thing is that many of the places I go regularly are so strikingly beautiful in some way that taking a good could say.....anyone could do it. I mean lets face it, a place like the Grand Tetons is pretty amazing even if you take a bad picture of it. I am not sure you could take a bad one of that place.

Photography for me is such a bonus to being outdoors, enough so that I like it enough to do it alone even if I am not fishing or the fishing is slow. I am not alone in that sentiment. Well known fly anglers and authors Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser, the latter whom I know personally, both love to take pictures. So much so that if the fishing is off or slow, then so be it......its off for a photo shoot. Its that good.

So take a camera and add to your experience...........and I promise it won't keep you from catching a large fish-----just like taking a landing net won't do that either.........I promise

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Its that Time again......

One of my favorite things is catching fish on top...nothing beats a moment when any fish, and especially a large fish decides to eat on top. I don't know if its the surprise factor of the unexpected strike, the commotion and noise that breaks an often early morning, late evening, or moonlight silence....or seeing a large fish come to the top with the express purpose of annihilating your fly. Personally, all of the details matter not, I'll take a surface take over them all.....whether the fish is large or small. Large though is what I about you?

We are entering one of my favorite times, I know , you've heard me say it before about 'favorite times'- - -they are all my favorite times. My favorite time is whenever I can go. But there's something about topwater, whether largemouth bass smashing a bug from beneath a layer of green muck and salad the way they do at our pond here - - - and let me tell you get a bass of 2-3 lbs or more and it will scare the daylights out of you and cause you to mess up your britches-- - - a panfish softly kissing a popper or black ant, or a tiger with fins- - - a smallmouth- - that breaks the early morning foggy silence with a surface shattering strike so swift, precise, and quick that you never even saw the fish- - - at all. I love them. Actually I love them all

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Unbelievably Large Rising Brown

This one is not around here but some fish like this exist here, most notably the South Fork of the Holston in TN. Its not uncommon to see fish like this, over 20 inches, rising to a heavy hatch. We caught one such fish last year, way over 20 inches, on a size 16 dry fly, 7x tippet; it was caught and landed on the South Holston by Lynn Roloff during the legendary sulphur hatch. She did a masterful job of landing the fish.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Down and Across Presentations

We do a good many trips on the tailwater rivers of East Tennessee, most notably the South Holston and Watauga Rivers, and frequently encounter situations where downstream presentations are required. The South Holston is this way. The down and across presentation using a parachute reach cast and with the fly landing slightly to the near side of the rise/fish is hard to beat. I find that whether I am fishing or guiding someone it is the deadliest presentation you can make on a larger, streamwise, mature fish that is rising. The reason is the cast produces plenty of slack which makes for a long drag free drift and it shows the fish fly first instead of tippet, leader, and line. Here Robert Ruzicka scores on a downstream presentation, as he did about 80 -90 times in two days of guide trips with me on TN's South Holston- - - -which could be called the 'Henry's Fork of the East'.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wow Thats a Big Bug.......

These guys come off every year on streams that have them, it is the e.guttulata mayfly, better known as the "Green Drake", and because of its immense size relative to other flies we see it is a real meal for large trout. This particular bug was filmed on an Ashe County stream on May 27,2009 and what is funny is to see smaller fish try to take one down with two or three attempts. For a native trout this is a nice meal, the equivalent of a nice New York Strip for us. This mayfly is a burrower type, that is they are found in streams that have some mud banks or at least some bottom mud/sediments- - - and that is where they are found. The nymph is best imitated by a large Gold Ribbed Hares Ear or a Tan/Gold wooly bugger with the tail trimmed short. They can be from size 8 to 12 but this guy was a size 10. Only a few streams in our area have these flies, and where there's a fishable hatch of them its a known thing.

In our area several Ashe County streams have them, the Davidson River has them, and one of the best hatches occurs on Beaverdam Creek in Shady Valley, TN. In most places the hatch occurs between one week before Memorial Day to Memorial Day to one week after Memorial Day, or over about a two week period is when they can occur. The hatch is short lived. The spinners, a large whitish size 10 fly you'll see at dusk, is normally referred to as a 'coffin fly', and looks like a small piece of chalk hovering in the air. They are huge as well, and as you might have guessed, fish love to eat them. This is one mayfly you can hear fly by as well as see it fly by. For more information on Green Drakes visit Jason Neuswanger's excellent site here .

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fishing an Idaho Early Spring Skwala Hatch

This one is unreal. I remember years ago seeing heads poke out of the water like this eating flies, it was on the Picabo /Nature Conservancy section of world famous Silver Creek, the "graduate school of trout water" that lies about one hour south of Ketchum, Idaho. A past trip with friends Daryl Knight and Brad Frazier was an amazing trip in terms of seeing huge fish and some incredible dry fly fishing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Playing and Landing a Beast of a Rainbow

client Dr. Jim Kaley playing a huge rainbow in the NC High Country on a guided trip with me. He and his wife Martha landed 3 citation sized fish, 2 rainbows and 1 brown, along with over 40 other fish from 11-18 inches, all on a full day guided trip with me. It was a blast, well done Martha and Jim, the fish fear you!

Cause for celebration indeed, a nice fish comes to net.....after wearing Jim's arm out of course...! But a willing price to pay for a nice fish....we'd do it again? Absolutely!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Some Red Hot Rainbows......

Friend and regular Client Dr. Patrick Burney gets into a hot rainbow at Escatawba Farms in Covington, VA. These fish are Shasta rainbows, they are the hardest fighting rainbows you'll catch east of the Mississippi.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wow Thats a Good One......

We have all done this see a big fish, you get excited, you make a cast and there in the middle of your soon to be perfect presentation a nice puff of wind from the wrong direction blows the line and rig into the rod and man what a mess you have. Its one of the joys of fly fishing......well, maybe not. Its probably one of the most stressful things about fly fishing, and on the wrong day it can put you in a bad frame of mind.........know what I mean?

I often get asked how in the world I manage to keep my cool untangling lines and rigs and fixing stuff when either less than perfect conditions or repeated bad casts cause frequent snafus like the one above. The truth is, it is sometimes nerve wracking no matter who you are, guide or no, but I will say the only thing that has helped me untangle some real bad messes has been the fact that I have made a mess of my own so many times and then had to fix it that I have gotten good at it- - -and because of my many mistakes. Mistakes are good after all!

Its great to know that with even a real mess you can learn something. Almost like there's a life lesson in every tangle. A tangle gives you time to stop, reassess the situation, make necessary repairs and adjustments, and rest the fish. . . all things that are worth doing. And sometimes you still get a chance to catch the fish.

Now lets see if I can go out on the water next time and put all of these wise words into action.......

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Its That Time of Year Again.....

Last year it was the Giants and Patriots.... this year the Cardinals and Steelers. Not my Panthers.........hopefully you feel my pain.

But the show goes on. And every time this time of the year comes around I have the crazy idea of creating some flies with team colors like the teams in the playoffs or Super Bowl. I always have the idea, but have never followed up on it. This year I did just that.

About two or three days after it was clear who the playoff teams would be, I took a break from tying some fly orders and played around with some new materials, creating several new fly patterns to try out. Another plus is that occasionally when playing around creating some new flies something actually works.

I had purchased some tinsel materials a while back, in fact it was last Christmas if memory serves me correctly. The materials were closeout stuff, like 80-90% off stuff, and was like packages of icicles - the silver, tinsel like material you buy in a package and that is messy and once you put some on the tree it is a mess and finds itself all over the house. Simply put it takes you months to clean it all up. But the stuff I found was multi-colored, and much like tinsel, and was a neat mixture of red, magenta, green, blue, gold, silver, yellow, blue, and more. It was this stuff that was the main ingredient of my new creations.

Using the famous and effective Copper John fly as a pattern, I went on to tie my rendition of a Copper John in the colors that would match the playoff teams. I tied a Tennessee Titan, a San Diego Charger, a Philadelphia Eagle, A New York Giant, An Arizona Cardinal, A Baltimore Raven, A Pittsburgh Steeler, A Carolina Panther....I think you get the idea. The tying was fun. The trying them out was very interesting........and the results - - -or how the fly performed- - -and to parallel that how the corresponding team performed in their games to come - - - it was both interesting and ironic....

The Tennessee Titan, the Carolina Panther, the Baltimore Raven, The New York Giant, the Philadelphia Eagle....all flopped. We fished them over some favorite holes full of fish on the streams I guide- - some streams like Escatawba/Dunlap Creek and Helton Creek and others- - - so whether or not we were really fishing over the fish or fishing where the fish were- - - this was a non issue. The flies were fished over tons of fish.....and there were clear winners. And I must say the Charger fly showed flashes of brilliance, then floundered. The Steeler fly emerged as the clear winner.

In fact, on a guided trip I met Phil Rea of Raleigh, NC up in Ashe County for a trip on January 9. It was a cold day, post cold front and snowy weather w/high water, a challenging day. But we caught fish, in fact we did quite well. And one hole we got to I said to Phil, "I have been doing this experiment with flies tied in the same colors as NFL teams.....and this one works pretty well....its called the Pittsburgh Steeler fly. " He said, much to my surprise, "....thats great, because I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan." Hard to believe.

And the fly caught fish. After fish. After fish. I must admit in my head all I saw was dollars and cents as this might be a new pattern I could sell to customers. It was working well and worked consistently well. And a new fly pattern was born. The truly amazing thing is that the Steeler fly emerged as the clear winner of them all.

And that is interesting as they are one of the teams that are left in the hunt for the Super Bowl trophy. I must say first that I love the Panthers. Jake we would strangle you but forgive you. Admittedly, deep down for several reasons I am a Kurt Warner fan. Its more about him than the Cardinals, but it wouldn't bother me at all if they won the big game. But that Steeler defense.....Mike Tomlin.....James Harrison.....Troy Polamalu....... And then there's the effectiveness of that Pittsburgh Steeler that a harbinger of what is to come? Will they take home the trophy....? We'll see