Sunday, December 30, 2012

Foxy Red

Road kill fox, recycled to a Foxy Red Minnow, used to lure an 18 inch rainbow to hand.

The fish above is from my last outing... in October.  My second child, and first son, was born Sept. 28 this year; Mills Joshua Jones. Named in part after a river that always entices me here in WNC.  Needless to say, the fam takes precedence over leisure, and my 3 month old and 20 month old aren't ready to learn how to high stick or tie a surgeons knot yet.  I do plan on fishing this week, and if time allows, post an entry. 

See ya in the funny pages. 


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Prose: Mid-Afternoon Crickets

A took a nice wild brown that slipped out of the net in my old stomping ground of Appalachian State last Sunday morning.  It ate an October caddis pupa.  It was a reminiscent trip a day after I wrote the reminiscent lines below.

Two years ago I took my first sip of muscadine wine and I was instantly transported to the row of large leafed grape vines that stood between my grandfather’s garden and wooded, weathered tool shed. Today, the staccato clicks of grasshoppers overpower the subtle mid-afternoon chirps of crickets, and I am returned to a long sandy section of gravel driveway from my childhood. This portion of road parted two hayfields, and I would walk its half mile length from the bus to my house in elementary school.  Grass and dandelions separated the left tire worn path from the right, and I ofen drifted towards the deeper, softer sand of the left side of the road.  As I would draw closer to the edge of the woods, where the road steeply lifted through a tunnel of pine and poplar, each of my small steps forward would send grasshoppers flying from the sun warmed sand which had settled there after years of runoff.  They would disappear into thousands of sparsely spaced, slender stalked, purple heads of fescue that draped either side of the road.  The image of painted grass hoppers dispersing like water before the bow of my third grade body is a clear one; but it’s the sound of those few crickets, chirping not at night, but in full sun, that evokes emotions of the imminent change at hand.  Summer dwindles, and the noisy green of leaf and insect will soon give way to the gray silence of winter.  At this part of the walk home I would have already discarded the meaty remnants of the apple I pulled from a tree in the heavy laden orchard a quarter of a mile back, and it’s sweetness would linger like the blue haze that softened Mt. Pisgah’s distant silhouette over the falling field to my left.
                  Nearly 30 years later, I sit shaded by birch and tulip poplars, pond side and fifty miles from my childhood home in the mountains.  Bass and bluegill regularly disturb the quite, as they snatch stray grasshoppers from the still surface water.  And there are crickets.  You can hear them, mid-day chirping, beneath the birds, hopper clicks, and breeze. The crickets call me to that dirt road, to a season, to God. These are the good days.  These are the dying days.  My hope is in the Creator and Renewer.  Have mercy on me, oh Lord.

Other Images from the Boone, NC Area

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brown Trout for Me Bum

I picked up a couple of uber girly bar stools at a yard sell for the back porch.  They were your standard bar stools that had been painted and monogrammed pink, purple, and other various colors by two sisters for a debutant activity.  I started sanding all the estrogen off the stools and turned them into trout themed deck decor.

Brown trout skin patterned stools.

buttery brown fade base

halo base coat


black gloss legs on stool


Come on in, set a spell.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stuck a Carp

It was just like you plan it.  Walk into a mud flat, peek over the bushes and see 3 or 4 carp in skinny water. Make one cast to the big fish while his dorsal is out of the water. Perfect cast, and the fish makes a b-lline for the fly, eats, hook set, fish on.  Water slashing wildly, rod bent, drag off. Broken hook.

Tied on a vintage Black Pool Brittish made hook
It was a 1x strong hook. Maybe it was my fault for poor hook selection.  I tied this fly a week or two ago, and it's maiden cast stuck my first carp, and that carp was a strong 5 pounder. Everything was perfect...but the hook.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scientific Anglers Mastery Series Review

GPX line on Scott A3 4wt
Scientific Anglers Mastery Series fly line are my all time favorite lines. I have fished the SA Mastery "Trout" series as well as the Mastery "GPX" series and recommend them over other lines for the East Coast small stream fishing I do.  Simply put, they do what you want them to do. The GPX is a half weight heavier, helping you to load faster action rods.

I've fished Rio Trout taper, SA Shark Skin, and SA Head Start and feel that the SA Mastery Lines out performed them all. It's a little easier to explain why I don't like the lines mentioned above than it is to tell you why I like the Mastery Series.

The SA Headstart just performed like a cheap line. Not Wal-Mart cheap, but too cheap to put on any rod that retails over $150. At $50 bucks, spend the extra $20 and get the real deal. The SA Shark Skin was too expensive and noisy.  It did shoot through the guides well, but unless I'm double hauling on a bone fish flat, I don't need that speed, especially on a North Carolina trout stream.  The grooves in the line, which decrease friction, also collect micro debris in the line, essentially creating more drag and slowing the line down over time.  The Rio Trout taper is the most comparable, but I still feel like the SA Mastery is a bit more supple and sensitive. The Rio did do well with distance and wind on big Colorado rivers.

I also have a SA Mastery Bass line on a Reddington 9.5 ft 7wt Cross Water.  I use this rod for small mouth, carp, and redfish.  I don't fish for redfish and carp often, so I got this inexpensive Reddington stick to fill a need for a heavier rod.  This rod is heavy, and with work, I can cast it far and true, it just takes some muscle.  I think this boasts well for the SA bass line, helping the Cross Water to perform out of it's league.

The rods and lines fished on them with my grade:

Scott Voyager 8ft 4wt: SA Trout (A); SA Sharkskin (C+); Headstart (C-)
Scott G 7.5 ft 4wt: SA Trout (A+), Headstart (C)
Scott A3 8.5 4wt: SA GPX (A+)
St. Croix Imperial 9 ft 5wt:  Rio Trout Taper (B)

Headstart on SA English made reel and Scott G

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Extra Terrestrials in the Back Country

It's the height of terrestrial season, and in Western North Carolina that typically means a strange combination of low water, skittish trout, sporadic fishing, and a chance of taking a big fish on a big dry.  Matt Sloan and I hiked into the South Mills River, a stream that is large and remote for NC standards in some sections. My first back packing slash fly fishing trip was on this stream when I was 11 years old.  With dreams of fishing the back country as a much more experienced angler filled my imagination with wild river-monster brown trout, the fishing turned out to be similar to that of my child hood; little wild trout on caddis flies.  Pretty straight forward dry fly fishing produced the most consistent results, and no river monsters were slapping in my net.

The water temp was 68 degrees in the late afternoon and the water was a little off color.  The temperature was 64 in the morning, and the morning fishing was better as well.  I hoped to nail a bruiser in the High Falls pool, but a 10 inch brown chasing my streamer was the closest i got.

Matt fishing High Falls hole
Granted, August isn't prime trout season, and we were fishing during a full moon, but the fishing was mediocre to be on part of a back country stream that receives relatively little pressure. After unsuccessfully trying to solve the riddle of what fly combo would be the hot ticket, I followed Matt's lead and fished a caddis or a trude, and enjoyed catching opportunistic wild trout on the dry much like I did when I was 11.  The mystery of each new piece of water, and watching trout slam dries was pretty stinkin' fun.  I missed more than I landed, and Matt landed more than I touched.

little S. Mills bow

"Monster" brown trout of the back country

Orange spots on wild brown trout

WNC is a temperate rain forrest, and it definitely looks and feels like a jungle this time of year.  Our rugged unmarked trail and camp site were tight, green, and damp.

camp site

vegetation choked trail
After packing out, I was inspired to fish the Davidson down stream of the hatchery, prospecting the stream like a typical wild stream instead of the pressured fishery "D" tactics I usually employ.  A black foam pmx with a birds ear hairs nest dropped of the back was my tandem rig of choice. The fish below ate the birds nest on the swing, and surprised me for this finicky stream at 4:15 in the afternoon in August.

good surprise

15 minutes later my terrestrial gets slammed on a pocket seam in a tiny eddy behind a rock. I managed to set the hook beneath a tight canopy of trees and do work to keep this fish out of a log jam below and from running under a rock ledge to my left on the delicate 6x tippet. I am fortunate enough to land the fish of the trip rather quickly.

Extra Terrestrial afternoon snack

After hiking in a few miles and camping out in the back county, the kind wild fish I was looking for was in a piece of water I had driven by countless times in my 20 plus years of fishing this area.  It goes to further my recent discovery that some of the best fishing is not that far off the beaten path after all.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Three Streams and Appalachian Caviar

Hit the road at 5am to beat the heat and to meet my good friend Matt on the stream Tuesday. The "Hot and Now"sign got me hot and bothered, so I swung in for a buzz while listening to Mountain Mornings on WNCW. Tony Rice was singing "Brown Mountain Lights" when I took my first sip.
Fuel.  WNCW and the Filet Mignon of doughnuts.
The river was 60 degrees at 6:45 am and had plenty of water. The fishing was never hot, but did slow as the day grew warmer. I duped 6 into the net by 11:30, then hit the pavement home. 

riverside shrooms

first fish of the day
Bonus time came after a phone call revealed I was free to 4pm! I swung off the road on the way home, under the steamy miday sun and wet my feet again. This stream was 70 degrees, the air temp was 90 degrees, and the fishing was TOUGH. The little guy below kept the skunk off. I left the water early in search of a watering hole. Thank you Highland Gaelic.

Early this week I made plans to take some guys to a swimming hole today.  This morning I rose at a civil time, and we departed for the swimming hole at 9:30am. I threw a rod in the car just in case I got a chance to prospect the waters for bows and browns.  I dreamed of finding a chunky brown in one of the deep holes.  Third cast, I found the surprise below.

Wild Appalachian Brook Trout
 I fished maybe 30 minutes between 11:30 and 1pm and landed 2 brook trout, a brown, and missed a few including 14 inch brown that ran under a rock and came unbuttoned. I'll be back to fish more and swim less soon I hope. Here are a few more pics.

Salamander Eggs. You can see eye balls and tails. Appalachian caviar.

the boys

colorful brookie.  reds, black, blue, oranges, greens, and white.
I presume the water quality of this stream is great after finding these painted char. The one above looked aged, even though he was small. 

PS.  The fly in the fishes mouth above is a BH flashback CDC Pheasant Tail. I picked it up in Colorado, and it has been a great fly on wild streams.  

Go fish. I probably can't for a while.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crooked Creek, Colorado

Willow Choked Crooked Creek, Fraser Colorado

I was at another Young Life property last week and weaseled in a little time on Crooked Creek that winds through the camp there.  It's a tiny stream that carves it's way through thick willows and is full of beaver dams and little brook trout.

Here is a sample of a typical brookie from the stream.

Colorado Brook Trout

The highlight of what little fishing I did was putting two high school guys onto their first trout.  They were both on the trip with me at camp, and even though we live near trout in NC, they had to travel to Colorado to catch their first. I had them dead drifting and skating a foam yellow sallie.  They both missed a few fish, which was exciting in and of itself.  We found a little run that had a number of eager brookies. After a few more missed hook sets, they both landed their first fish on the fly. They couldn't resist that sallie or trude skating across the top of the water.

Here are some more shots of the creek.

pool above a little beaver dam

light rain on a large beaver pond

another larger beaver pond

one of many crooked bends in Crooked Creek

I found a hitch hiker yellow sallie stone that rode back to the cabin with me. 

Brook trout aren't picky. Great starter fish for any bigginers.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Down in a Holler

deep, dark hills of Western NC
Fished a new stream near the NC/TN border with some friends yesterday.  It was down in a holler with some interesting characters and full of southern appalachian culture, including a little patch of marijuana  by the stream.  I walked under a number of personal drive way bridges, some rather dodgey, creepy,  and old.  Being a native of the WNC mountains, i felt like a "feriner*" in the area on this day.

*foreigner -pronounced fer-i-ner by my grandparents. Meaning, he ain't from around here.

The stream is a hatchery supported stream in its lower stretches, but was full of little wild fish and the occasional migrated stocker.

lingering rhodo blooms stream side

The water was off color, and I fished a double nymph rig all day.  I caught most fish on a red fox squirrel nymph (sz #12) with a hot spot, and the others on a red copper john or a cdc fb pheasant tail.  I hooked two fish over 14" but was unable to land either. I played one for a couple of minutes before it had me all turned around under a low hanging tree and came unbuttoned in the rapid below. All and all, landed about 30 fish in four hours with the fish below being slightly above average size for the stream.

Here are a few of the rouge stockers i found.

A stream worth making the 2 hour drive to another day. And I am slowly learning to look outside of the  national forrest and park boundaries to find quality wild fish. There are THOUSANDS of streams in the NC mountains, most of which hold fish.