2013 a Vintage year
My goal for 2013 was to have at least one overnight fishing trip per month for the entire year. And I did better than I had thought; I managed to meet that goal 10 out of 12 months, so I would have to say that 2013 was a very, very good year. These trips included a Group Nantahala trip, multi-day camping trip in the GSMNP, costal cutts in Seattle, Creede CO, Cody Wy, smallmouth fishing in NC, Fall Camping in ancestral Cherokee country, Arkansas White River Fishing and a couple other Nantahala trips for good measure. This coming from a man who hasn’t gotten to fish as much as he would have liked in the past few years, so the commitment to find time to fish paid off. Some of you have shared some of these trips and experiences with me by reading my long winded trip reports, which are really nothing more than a personal log of the thoughts and pictures of the trip for my now fading memory and the sad part is February 2014 will soon be over and I haven’t even wet a line yet this year, oh well at least I will have memories of 2013 to keep me company.
I wanted to write a full report for the last three of my trips for 2013 but time seems to have slipped away from me so I will simply share some thoughts and pictures of each of these 2 trips, October and November, while still holding December’s for a later time.
October was cold and rainy here in the south, not brutally cold but that damp fall chill that takes the body by surprise and brings a chill to the bones without us even realizing that it had turned cold. My oldest fishing buddy and I had decided to backpack into a fairly small but well known brookie stream in the ancestral home of the Cherokee Indians and pay a return visit to the junction. If I said the name nearly everyone would know it and with the hints I have already dropped, those of you who already knew about her have surely guessed it, but then you already knew about it didn’t you … … so it wasn’t letting any secrets out. When I met him Friday night at the hotel staging area for a quick Saturday, Sunday and out on Monday excursion it was already cold and rainy with the weather report calling for more of the same … … cold and rainy … … what is a body supposed to do… … oh I know strap your backpack on and go camping. The few hardy souls who were out when we left the trailhead were chuckling in amusement at the two of us idiots … … but that won’t be the first time that people laughed at me for being an idiot and I doubt seriously that it will be the last time either. The weather promised to drizzle and rain on us as we trudged up the old rail bed trail but thankfully it held off on that promise. After the tents were set up and ready we spent a few hours fishing the creek but not really fishing that hard just picking along the current and drifting a few dries with deep heavy hanging droppers behind. I was honestly paying more attention to the scenery around me than the fishing.
But I still managed to bump into a few scattered tiny … … and I do mean tiny … … but beautiful brookies.
So while the fishing might not have been spectacular the highlight of the day was us managing to scrape up enough dry firewood to start a campfire and after that we even had enough energy to pose for a few of the classic bridge shots that this area is known for. And yes this bridge sure beats the heck out of the old one for those of you who remember trying to cross it in the rain and nearly sliding into the creek 20 feet below. And yes as most of you might have guessed there were bourbon and cigars involved. The first picture is an idiot taking a picture of an idiot, I will let you decide which is which and the second picture … … well to anyone that knows me very well at all or even to anyone who has ever read any of these long ass trip reports I believe it will be self-explanatory… … as a few of my favorite things.
The rest of the night was spent standing around our campfire feeling comfortably warm both inside and out as two very close friends shared many of the challenges that were currently facing our personal lives and tried to help lend a touch of perspective and a friendly ear to each other and as the night got later as guys are want to do we shared memories and a lot of laughs as we discussed our college years at the University of Arkansas … … and yes we did call the hogs as loud as we could and thankfully none answered our call before we feel into a deep and dreamless sleep to the soft patter of raindrops that had begun to fall on my tent.
I woke to the sound of not so soft splats of a gentle rainfall but to a steady drumming of a heavy rain. I had breakfast in my tent to the steady drumming of raindrops on my tent. I dozed for a while and had lunch listening to a steady drumming of rain on my tent. I dozed for a little while longer and woke to the steady drumming of raindrops on my tent. Finally I developed full blown case of “tent fever” so I burst from the bounds of my nylon prison and suited up for a little fishing. Monte was feeling a little under the weather both literally and figuratively as he doesn’t spend as much time in Woodford Reserve country as I do. But I went fishing by myself anyway. The water was rising and starting to color but I was out of my tent and was fishing so what the heck… … I enjoyed it just the same. But as you can see it wasn’t a NC tourist council kinda day.
I did catch enough fish that I could call it a day of fishing before the bottom fell out and it began to just absolutely **** rain. So I slogged my way back to the campsite only to find the campfire ring a small lake, but my tent was dry and I rummaged around till I found a cold but dry dinner and ended my evening huddled under my cowboy hat still in my waders and rain jacket with a cigar’s glow to keep me company and just a small nip of the hair of the dog that had bitten Monte before slipping out of my soggy clothes and into a thankfully dry sleeping bag to fall asleep to the sounds of … ... you guessed it… … the full out pounding of rain on my tent.
The next morning I woke warm and dry and thankfully without the sound of “raindrops falling on my head” … … for those old enough to remember that song. The world was wet but that was from the water on the ground and fortunately not from water falling from the sky. By nine or so the clouds had burned all of the way off and we were basking in warm sunlight. As has happened to me on more than one trip to this particular creek Sunlight refused to show up until the last day of the trip, but at last the sun did show here wonderful face none the less.
And even the brookies were celebrating the sunshine… … rising to dries like it was summer time not October
The hike out was a thing of beauty. The stream was showing off her natural beauty so much that I began to think of a return visit before I had even dried out fully from this cold gray rain soaked visit. Such is the magic the original Cherokee Hideout.
This was the scenery from the bridge at the trailhead after I had dropped my pack … … and yes that is a picture worthy of the NC tourist bureau, just a way for a beautiful stream to flash her brilliance to make sure I keep coming back … … like there is a chance I could ever resist her lure for long. As I climbed into the car I was thankful for the companionship of an old and dear friend and the time we had shared. I reminded myself that we should do this more often as I need the company of old true friends … … but realized next time it better be sunny.
Well I had barely had a chance to get all of my camping stuff dried out and neatly refolded, organized and repacked away … … like that really happened … … insert the sarcastic eyeball rolling thing and envision wet tents and moldy sleeping bags heaped in a hall closet … … but those of you who have met me already knew that as a fact didn’t you. Then it was off for a long weekend fishing with my baby boy Drew for my birthday. I had turned 52 in November, no wait after thinking about it 51 in November and since Drew is broke college kid for my Birthday he gave me the only thing he knew that I actually wanted that he actually could pay for… … his own free time … … so I got a weekend fishing on the Nantahala river with my 22 year old baby no wait he was 21 then… … a memory is horrible thing to waste. I am going to say this out loud despite all of the opinions to the contrary, I love the Nantahala. It is a gorgeous piece of water that makes me lose myself in the flow and tumble of her water. She may be a heavily fished, heavily stocked DH stream which I know is against all of the things, the purest fly fishermen should be against. But then again I am not a purist fly fisherman and I love the Nantahala despite all of the reasons why I shouldn’t. I feel like a man at an FF meeting (Fanatic Fly-fisherman) … … Hello My name is Dick Davis and I love the Nantahala … … kinda freeing actually.
Anyway we spent a weekend hanging out and fishing which is two of my favorite things and the weather was perfect for once, which if you have read many of my last few reports was a rarity for my 2013 fishing. The scenery was beautiful and that is the majority of the magic this stream has for me. I love the feel of the deep riffle runs and the pocket water and the canyon water and the whole flow of her, I realize that DH fishing isn’t the same as wild fishing and I love wild fishing, as I just shared how I spent three days in the rain, wild brookie fishing but somehow I love this type fishing as well. It is a no pressure, no thinking kind of thing, not technical and not really even challenging, yet still somehow challenging enough she always manages to make me pull out my fly box a few times and try a midge or a streamer or to clip a dry for just the right look. Yes, I catch fish on trout candy of San Juan worms and y2k’s but I also have to work … … just a little … … sometimes as well. Anyway I will shut up about why I love this river and let her do my talking for me… especially in the Appalachian Fall.