Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Unremarkable Day

It was an unremarkable day.

Mary was up with the sun this past Friday and was on the road before Wilderness Dog Sammy and I could rub the sleep from our eyes. She was headed to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro to attend a “Native Landscaping and Water Management” workshop. You see, woodlands management is the equivalent of lawn care around our home and she wanted to get some new ideas on how to make this slice of forestland even cozier.

So I was left footloose for the day and that, of course, means fishing. Afternoon soccer commitments and a late poker game conspired to keep me close to home, so there was no room for a westerly trout trip. Instead, I decided to resume what I had started Wednesday, the exploration of my new Haw River.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nymphing the Shelton Laurel

I don’t know how they do it. How do trout even see these tiny, tiny flies, bouncing through turbulent water along with sand, vegetation, rock debris, and all sorts of other distractions? And not only do they see them, but, in the chaos, are able to snatch them neatly for dinner. It’s a wonder to me and seems akin to my being able to snatch individual gnats out of the air while in a tornado.

I’ve been lamenting the inconsistency in my trout catching results all season and I know that the major hurdle has been my failure to embrace nymphing – the technique of fishing with tiny flies that imitate the larvae of stream dwelling insects. So John’s invitation to revisit his Trout Shack, a short roll cast away from some perfect pocket water on the Shelton Laurel Creek, seemed like a great opportunity to address that shortcoming. No woolly buggers allowed. It was nymphs or nothing for a couple of days.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Pirate Gets it Right

Early last week I spent a pleasant evening catching up on some back episodes of Pirates of the Flats. If you are not aware of the show, it was an ESPN series that brought together a group of "fishing luminaries" to chase bonefish in the Caribbean and to examine the efforts to address the fish's dwindling numbers. The group included fly fishing's treasure, Lefty Kreh, Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard, comedian Michael Keaton, author Thomas McGuane and photographer R. Valentine Atkinson. Also in the group, and narrating the series, was Tom Brokaw, who's voice I could listen to forever. Plucked from an episode, these Brokaw words resonated with me:

"It was so vivid and it was so beautiful and the water was constantly changing character that I was transfixed by it. I spent today, six hours, wading through knee deep water, never got a hookup, and toward the end of the day I thought, you know, I can’t explain it to my friends, or to my family, about why it has been a perfectly good day for me. I really enjoyed it a lot. I’ve been in good company, I’ve had a good time, and I haven’t caught a fish. It wasn’t maddening. It wasn’t even frustrating. It was time well spent."

It couldn't have been said any better.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Hole

The locals are sure to have a name for it. Something like Frustration Pool, Heartbreak Hole, Fisherman’s Folly... You get the picture. There are, no doubt, other names, probably too impolite to be mentioned here. I suspect that if I had a dime for every curse that has ever been uttered over this short stretch of water, I’d be a wealthy man. Heck, I might afford a nice new 5wt with the payout on my discourse alone.

Every angler that’s ever fished this part of the river knows the hole and has stood, bug-eyed and slack-jawed, gazing at the spectacle of trout, big trout, stacked like cord wood in its deep waters. And once the initial shock is over, with shaking hands, each has floated a dry fly, swung a streamer, or bounced a nymph through it. Many have done all three. Few have hooked a fish.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stone Mountain Brookies

Just a brief thanks to my buddies Loki and JB3, along with Bear the Wonder Dog, for allowing me to tag along on their quickie trip to Stone Mountain. I've heard of the place as long as I've been fly fishing, but had never been there. I caught a handful of brookies on, of all things, a white woolly bugger, after everything else had failed. Someday I'll learn to fish a nymph properly.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Missing Winter Already

Joni Mitchell said it well. You don’t know what you’ve got 'till it’s gone. Believe it or not, I miss winter, just a little.

I know, I know. Whine, whine, whine. Yes, I am thrilled spring is finally here and I wouldn’t step back a month for anything, but there are a few things I will miss now that Jack Frost has gone on vacation. Things like:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Catch and Release

I'm not quite sure what possessed me, but I decided to fish the Haw yesterday. Now, that may not seem all that surprising to many of you as it's something I do all the time, but usually not a couple of days after it's tickled flood stage. But spring fever has taken a hold on my soul and the forecast of a perfect North Carolina day in the mid-seventies dictated a walk to the river. And no walk to the river is complete without the 6wt. I told Mary I probably wouldn't fish because of the dicey conditions, but we both knew better.