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Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events PHOTO COURTESY OF JASON WELDON FISHING WITH UNICOI OUTFITTERS

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 263

F R A N C H I S E

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The Suzuki Savings Season 2016 ends soon so see your participating Suzuki Marine dealer today – or visit suzukimarine.com – for details on these special offers.

Gimme Six Extended Protection promo is applicable to new Suzuki outboard motors from 25 to 300 HP in inventory which are sold and delivered to buyer between 10/01/16 and 12/31/16 in accordance with the promotion by a Participating Authorized Suzuki Marine dealer in the continental US and Alaska to a purchasing customer who resides in the continental US or Alaska. Customer should expect to receive an acknowledgement letter and full copy of contract including terms, conditions and wallet card from Suzuki Extended Protection within 90 days of purchase. If an acknowledgement letter is not received in time period stated, contact Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. – Marine Marketing via email: marinepromo@suz.com. The Gimme Six Promotion is available for pleasure use only, and is not redeemable for cash. Cash Rebates apply to qualifying purchases of select Suzuki outboards made between 10/01/16 and 12/31/16. For list of designated models, see participating Dealer or visit www.suzukimarine.com. Customer and participating Dealer must fill out the appropriate rebate form at time of sale. Customer will have the choice to either apply the cash rebate against the original dealer invoice (Suzuki will credit Dealer parts account) or have a check sent directly to the customer. There are no model substitutions, benefit substitutions, rain checks, or extensions. Suzuki reserves the right to change or cancel these promotions at any time without notice or obligation. * Financing offers available through Synchrony Retail Finance. As low as 5.99% APR financing for 60 months on new and unregistered Suzuki marine engines. Subject to credit approval. Not all buyers will qualify. Approval, and any rates and terms provided, are based on credit worthiness. $19.99/month per $1,000 financed for 60 months is based on 5.99% APR. Hypothetical figures used in calculation; your actual monthly payment may differ based on financing terms, credit tier qualification, accessories or other factors such as down payment and fees. Offer effective on new, unregistered Suzuki marine engines purchased from a participating authorized Suzuki dealer between 10/01/16 and 12/31/16.“Gimme Six”, the Suzuki “S” and model names are Suzuki trademarks or ®. Don’t drink and drive. Always wear a USCG-approved life jacket and read your owner’s manual. © 2016 Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.

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More Of A World Traveler’s Top Fishing Destinations By Patrick Sebile

L

ast month in these pages, I laid out what in my opinion are the top-5 fishing destinations in the world. It was a list of the most impressive fisheries I have experienced in a career spent traveling to fish the most renowned waters on this planet. From southern Africa’s Atlantic coast to Scandanavia, Panama, Australia and Venice, Louisiana, those five destinations topped the list among the 64 countries where I have fished. But there are other destinations well worth mention as some of the top fisheries in the world. With this article I will touch on five more destinations I believe to be some of the best on the planet. • Florida, U.S.A: Choosing a whole state and calling it a destination might be a stretch. However, the variety of great fisheries offered by this peninsula is what makes it one of the best places in the world for anglers. With fantastic inshore and offshore fishing, seasonal highlights like the east coast mullet run and some of the best bass fishing anywhere, Florida’s patchwork of options make it a great place for fishing. • South Island, New Zealand: This place is as wild as wilderness can get. Fishing for trout in New Zealand streams with the backdrop that was the set from the “Lord of the Rings” movies has to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Also, the north island offers great saltwater fishing for humphead snapper and yellowtail amberjack, which is one of the meanest and most powerful fish that lives in the world’s oceans. • Lake Biwa, Japan: This 259-square-mile lake is surrounded with history as one of the oldest lakes in the world. It is filled with millions of ayu—a small trout-related fish—that turned out to be the major food for a population of largemouth bass. There are consistently more

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Photo Courtesy of Al Stewart Photography

big bass in Lake Biwa than anywhere else I know of. It is where the longtime IGFA All Tackle world record was tied just a few years ago with a bass that weighed 22-pounds, 5-ounces. • Ivory Coast, Africa: Years ago, I ran a lodge on the Ivory Coast, not far from the city of San Pedro, where Stuart Campbell used to come targeting record blue marlin. He succeeded a number of times. From April to June, my average day consisted of three to five fish in the 300- to 600-pound range. • Massachusetts, U.S.A.: I’m a striped bass addict, and fishing the shores of Massachusetts is a pilgrimage I must make on an annual basis, period! There’s nothing like fishing for striped bass when they’re blitzing bait on the shorelines of the northeastern states. Patrick Sebile is the owner and lure designer of Sebile Innovative Fishing (www.sebile.com).

COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM


It’s the Honda of Outboards. Literally.

Quality, reliability, technology and fuel-efficiency have made Honda an automotive legend. You’ll find those same strengths in every Honda Marine outboard. Honda outboards deliver best-of-class features in models ranging from 2.3 to 250 hp. Many even share engine technology and components used in Honda vehicles like the Accord, Odyssey, Fit and Pilot — vehicles that have proven themselves over millions of miles. No wonder all Honda outboards are backed by the only 5-year manufacturer’s warranty in the industry. Power your boat with the brand that offers millions of miles of proven performance — Honda Marine.

Take Advantage Of 2.49% APR Financing On All New Honda Outboards Or 4.49% APR Financing On All New Honda Outboard Engines Or Boat/Motor Packages — Going On Now! To Find Your Nearest Authorized Honda Marine Dealer, Visit Our Website Now From Your QR-Enabled Phone, Or Go To ca.hondamarine.com *APR financing available on all new Honda outboard engines through American Honda Finance Corporation upon approved credit. 2.49% APR financing for 24 – 48 months, available to customers who qualify for the AHFC super preferred credit tier. Example for new Honda outboard engines: 2.49% APR for 36 months financing at $28.86 a month for every $1,000 financed. 3.49% APR for 60 months financing at $18.19 a month for every $1,000 financed. 3.49% APR for 84 months financing at $13.44 a month for every $1,000 financed. Offer good on any new and unregistered Honda outboard engine, with a minimum amount financed of $1,000 and a minimum monthly payment of $100. Check with participating dealers for complete details. Dealers set actual sales prices. For well-qualified buyers, not all buyers may qualify. Higher rates apply for different terms and/or buyers with lower credit rating. Lower rates may also be available. Offer valid through 01/03/17, on new and unregistered Honda outboard engines (2hp – 250hp) and only on approved credit by Honda Financial Services through participating dealers. Honda Financial Services’ standard credit criteria apply. **APR financing available on all new Honda outboard engines or packages (boat, motor and trailer, where Honda outboard engine is the main source of power) through American Honda Finance Corporation upon approved credit. 4.49% APR financing for 12 – 180 months (term and rate based on amount financed) available to customers who qualify for the AHFC Super Preferred credit tier. Example for new Honda outboard engines or packages: 4.49% APR for 84 months financing at $13.90 a month for every $1,000 financed. 4.49% APR for 144 months financing at $9.00 a month for every $1,000 financed. 4.49% APR for 180 months financing at $7.64 a month for every $1,000 financed. Offer good on any new and unregistered Honda outboard engine or package, with a minimum amount financed of $1,000 and a minimum monthly payment of $100. Check with participating dealers for complete details. Dealers set actual sales prices. For well-qualified buyers, not all buyers may qualify. Higher rates apply for different terms and/or buyers with lower credit rating. APR may be subject to dealer mark-up. Offer valid through 01/03/17, on new and unregistered Honda outboard engines or packages and only on approved credit by Honda Financial Services through participating dealers. Honda Financial Services’ standard credit criteria apply. ©2016 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Always wear a personal flotation device while boating and read your owner’s manual. All Honda outboards meet EPA and CARB emission levels. COASTALANGLERMAG.COM • THEANGLERMAG.COM DECEMBER 2016 NATIONAL 7


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PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPT. CRAIG KORCZYNSKI - PHLATSINSHOREFISHING.COM VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 261

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INTERNATIONAL BAHAMAS : Misti & Gary Guertin • (772) 285-6850 • treasurecoast@coastalanglermagazine.com flahama@coastalanglermagazine.com COSTA RICA : Thomas Hauer, Jr. • (321) 445-1557 • thomash@coastalanglermagazine.com Thomas Hauer • tomh@coastalanglermagazine.com PUERTO RICO/VIRGIN ISLANDS : Ace Bassue • (407) 285-9453 • ace@coastalanglermagazine.com © 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Disclaimer: Coastal Angler Magazine / The Angler Magazine will not be held liable for injuries incurred while partaking in activities described herein, or for claims made against products or services provided by advertisers.

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Editor’s Note: Each month, Coastal Angler Magazine and The Angler Magazine staff search our vast coverage area for photos that will grace our covers. With well over a million readers in diverse coastal and inland markets, our magazines strive for broad national appeal as well as local-level intelligence to put anglers on fish. The cover is different depending on which edition you, the reader, are holding. The following is a little information about this month’s covers.

COASTAL ANGLER MAGAZINE Eleuthera, Bahamas

FREE

This year’s December holiday editions of Coastal Angler Magazine feature an image Holiday of Gene Dyer and a 30-pound mahi caught GIFT while fishing aboard Uncle Tom Dyer’s GUIDE 55-foot Hatteras off Eleuthera, Bahamas. Dyer is Coastal Angler’s newest franchisee, having recently taken over the Fort Local Lauderdale franchise location. Gene comes to Coastal Angler as a former advertising sales executive for Florida Sport Fishing. Eleuthera is one of the long skinny Out Islands that make up the eastern edge of the Bahamian archipelago. It is a spectacular vacation destination with miles of pink sand beaches, and for anglers it is a renowned bonefish destination, noted for expansive and easily accessible flats. As evidenced by Dyer’s Mahi, Eleuthera is also a fantastic jumpingoff place for the reef, spearfishing and sport fishing the Bahamas are famous for. Excellent reefs such as Devil’s Backbone are teeming with snappers, groupers and amberjack. And with depths of thousands of feet a few miles offshore, anglers can take a quick boat ride and tangle with tuna, marlin, snapper, mahi-mahi, sailfish and some huge wahoo. Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 263

COASTALA NGLERMA G.COM

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THE ANGLER MAGAZINE Southeastern Mountain Trout

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA EDITION

FREE

There is no better gift for a trout angler than the opportunity to cast to gorgeous fish in the streams of southern Appalachia. The cover image for our holiday editions of The Angler Holiday Magazine comes from the north Georgia GIFT GUIDE mountains, where Tommy Nicodemus caught this big rainbow trout from Noontootla Creek Local while fishing with guide Chuck Head of Unicoi Outfitters. Noontootla Creek is one of the best small trout streams in Georgia, and it feeds the larger Toccoa River, which boasts one the Southeast’s premier tailwater trout fisheries. Noontootla itself flows from high-headwaters through public land on Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area, where it is a small stream offering wild brown and rainbow trout. For decades it has been managed under special regulations, which have produced a great, if sometimes challenging, fishery. Our cover fish was caught from an extensively managed private trophy stretch of Noontootla Creek called Noontootla Creek Farms. The image was captured by Jason Weldon. PHOTO COURTESY OF JASON WELDON

VOLUME 22 • ISSUE 263

F R A N C H I S E

Fishing Reports Catch Photos News & Events

FISHING WITH UNICOI OUTFITTERS

THEANGLE RMAG.COM O P P O R T U N I T I E S

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inter means giant redfish on the fly. From Florida to Texas and up the east coast of the United States, giant redfish are a prime target species for many saltwater fly anglers. In my opinion, there is no finer wintertime saltwater species to sight fish a fly too. The fishing opportunities are endless, and the chance to hook a true giant heavier than 30 pounds is very likely. However, for the fly angler to be successful he/she must be able to make the cast. First Things First The first thing I suggest to anglers before they jump into saltwater fly fishing is to really learn how to cast a fly line to 40 feet quickly and accurately. We are often led to believe that if the angler can cast a long distance then he or she will be a successful fly angler. There is nothing further from the truth. I’ve seen wonderful fly casters become frustrated when sight casting to redfish. They are so focused on making a long cast that they miss the f ish-catching opportunities within 40 feet of their rod tip. Casting to redfish is more about accuracy and quickness than is distance. Learn The Double Haul Developing a solid double-haul is the foundation of a quick and accurate cast. Not only does the double-haul help with distance, if executed correctly, it reduces the number of backcasts the angler must make. It is well to remember that the more time the fly line is in the air, the less time the fly is on the water. The best way to learn the double haul is to find a grassy area like a park. Next, strip out 40 feet of fly line and make a forward cast, allowing the fly line to lie on the grass in front of you. Next, lower your rod tip to where it is touching the ground in front of you. Then, pick up the fly line and make a back cast, laying the line out behind you. This is the single haul. Next, pull the fly line off the grass behind you with your line hand while the fly rod is moving forward, and with the rod moving forward, pull the line down towards your belt line. As you feel the fly rod load while it bends on the forward cast, release the line from your line hand, allowing the fly line to shoot forward through the guides. This is the second haul of the double haul, an effective cast when long- distance casts are required, but also important for the short, quick accurate cast needed when fishing red fish. The Back Cast Is Important Much of your success in fly casting is dependent upon the development of a smooth back cast, that is the ability to cast 20 to 30 feet of line behind you whenever demanded. Remember the fly fisherman’s adage that “your forward cast is only as good as your back cast,” and a good cast is the “rule-of thumb” when casting flies to redfish. If a redfish appears behind you, simply make a forward cast. With your fly line on the water, simply pick up the line, and shoot it behind you. Retain eye contact with the redfish’s position. In next month’s column, Casting to Redfish Part Two, I will write about the importance of the repositioning cast and quick cast.

FLY FISHING

ON THE COVER

CASTING FOR THE REDFISH GAME: PART ONE

Follow Conway Bowman at www.conwybowman.com, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For More Fly Fishing with Bowman, go to

CAMFLYFISHING.COM

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DECEMBER 2016

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Gift Ideas FOR ANGLERS

C

heck out these great gift ideas for the outdoor enthusiast on your holiday gift list. These local merchants are available to ensure your holiday gift giving satisfaction. We always try to encourage our readers to shop locally. It’s our community and we all benefit from supporting our local businesses. They’re here for us all year long and our personal convenience depends on their sustainability. Tell them Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine sent you. By the way, if you see something here that you wish could be under the tree with your name on it, just take out a marker and circle it. Then leave this page open for your friends and family to see. Yes, crude but effective.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Coastal Angler/The Angler Magazine.

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DECEMBER l WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

Eli Buchanan, Blackrock Outdoors employee with a Tuckasegee River Delayed Harvest Brown Trout on the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. Photo by Shannon Messer

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MURPHY AREA MOUNTAIN LAKES Lake Hiwassee December Forecast

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f you haven’t already noticed, the water levels are well below average for this time of year. While this is great for concentrating the fish, it wreaks havoc on attempts to put your boat in the water. Currently, Hanging Dog boat ramp access is closed for the winter season, so you’ll want to use either the Ramsey Bluff or the Mickens Branch ramps. Lake Hiwassee water temps are still in the upper 60’s, and water clarity is mostly clear to stained, in the creeks and rivers, especially in the Nottely River and Hiwassee River areas. Fishing out here remains excellent, and we are still catching some large quantities of fish. This should be the case through the month of December. The striper bite has been great. These fantastic Lake Hiwassee monsters are on the move and are working their way to the shallows and creeks. The early morning top-water bite has been excellent. To get

By Shane Goebel

hooked up with these early morning feeders, work the banks, points and shallows with a spook or a red fin. Trolling planer boards and weighted free lines with live bluebacks are other great techniques. As the sun comes up, they should move to deeper water. Turn your focus to a down line bite using live bluebacks. The smallmouth and spotted bass bite has been off the hook—we’ve been absolutely slaying these fish. It seems our top-water bite has been lasting all day. Working shallow humps, brush piles and rocky points with spooks, jerk baits, and buzz baits have produced some great fish. The majority of our larger smallmouths have been coming off our down line bite 40 to 50 feet deep in the mid-day hours. Jigging flutter spoons will also work for these deeper bass. December also means it’s time for a great walleye bite. Lake Hiwassee has some of the best walleye fishing in the southeast. We really try to turn

our focus this time of year to catching walleye. Start looking for these fish to make their way from the deep, cool waters to the creeks, rivers, and shallow banks around the lake. Because walleye are so light sensitive, you’ll want to target them in the early morning hours and around dusk. Try slow trolling spoons, jointed rap shads, live bluebacks, and large bass minnows. Remember to zig-zag your boat while trolling. This allows your bait to be more active and also allows you to mark fish in larger areas. Keep your speeds around 2 to 3 mph. December is a very exciting month for fishing on Lake Hiwassee. With so many options to catch some great fish, you can’t go wrong. As Murphy North Carolina’s only full-time guide, we do trips on this lake 365 days a year. Hiwassee is our home lake, and we know it better than anyone. So if you want the fishing trip of a lifetime with a profes-

sional fishing guide service, give Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service a call, and come get your fish on. Finally we want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We’ve had an epic 2016 season on our local lakes this year, and we couldn’t have done it without you. A big thanks to everybody who has made it possible, and we hope to do it again in 2017. See y’all next year, and good luck on the water! Shane Goebel is the Owner of Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service and a member of The Angler Fishing Team. Contact him at www.bigolfish.com or (828) 361-2021 / 1-(844)-4-ANGLER

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


MURPHY AREA MOUNTAIN LAKES The Fantastic Smallmouth Fishing of the Murphy Area

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ast month, I briefly mentioned how we have had an exceptionally successful year for trophy smallmouth bass. I want to expand a bit on that this month, especially since December through March have always been my best months for true trophies. Over the last couple of months, I have had 11 people catch the biggest smallmouth of their lives, and I am hoping the rest of the year, and the early parts of next year, only improve. I simply love to target big smallies; in fact, while I can and do guide for anything that swims in Western North Carolina, guiding for smallmouth bass is a staple of my business. They are without a doubt my favorite species to target and catch. Why do I love smallmouth so much? A key reason is that their inconsistency and general nature make them a challenge no matter how many times you fish for them. Aside from that, pound for pound, they are the hardest pulling and most acrobatic species there is. If they got much bigger, I don’t honestly know how you could land some of them. Another reason I enjoy them so much is because of their looks. Nothing compares to the brown of a big smallmouth, and we are blessed to have a color variation up here that can sometimes be so dark as to be almost black. I think a final reason I love the true trophies so much is because of their rarity. There are very, very few places in the world where you can go and expect to have a more than decent chance at catching a 5 plus pound smallmouth. I am not saying it doesn’t happen: however, your odds of winning the lottery are roughly equal to catching a true trophy smallmouth on most bodies of water. Luckily, I have been blessed to guide in an area where big ones live, and catching a true monster is a definite possibility. I primarily target smallmouth on Lakes Hiwassee and Apalachia. These two lakes are actually only physically separated by Hiwassee Dam, but don’t let their proximity fool you. They have essentially nothing in common. Hiwassee is by far the bigger of the two, and

By Aaron Kehart

is a more typical highland laketype fishery. It is also a more conventional lake in that it exists primarily for flood control and hydroelectric power generation, and it offers easier access. The state record smallmouth is from Hiwassee, and it is a traditional hotspot for smallmouth in the state. However, the proliferation of spotted bass in the lake appears to have hurt the smallmouth numbers. They appear to simply be outcompeting the smallmouth. Whereas Hiwassee used to be primarily a smallmouth lake where you caught an occasional spotted bass, it is turning into more of spotted bass lake where you also catch smallmouth. Fortunately, the winter months have always been, and continue to be, the best months to catch fish of all kinds on Hiwassee, especially smallmouth. Lake Apalachia is the other lake where I guide for smallmouth. Apalachia is a hidden jewel, and I think it offers some of the best true trophy smallmouth fishing in the country. In fact, I don’t really know where you could travel to have a better chance at a truly “once in a lifetime” smallmouth. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First, it is in the comparative middle of nowhere, and its remote nature and complete lack of nearby amenities helps keep pressure down. Second, the lake has extremely limited access, and that access is exceptionally difficult, and at times downright dangerous, to navigate unless you are extremely familiar with the lake. Finally, the fish in the lake are not the same as the smallmouth most people target, or at least don’t exist in the same conditions. Allow me to elaborate. The nature of this body of water dictates that the fish behave differently here than anywhere else I have

ever fished for them (and I have fished for them in a lot of places). What I mean by this is that Apalachia is what is known as a river-run reservoir. Water is meant to pass through this lake and not be stored longterm. Water levels can, and often do, fluctuate as much as 8 feet in a day of fishing (and by fluctuate I mean start out with a full lake, watch it drop 8 feet, and then watch it fill back up again). What this means for the fisherman is that there are many, many more variables to con-

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tend with. Fish react differently when the current is running than they do when it isn’t. They act in different ways when the lake is filling, and they also change their behavior in still more ways when the TVA is backfilling from Apalachia into Hiwassee. However, the puzzle of Apalachia is more than worth it. I would love to have the time to go into tactics for catching big, bad smallmouth in Hiwassee and Apalachia, but that is a whole other column. If you are interested in a big smallmouth from Hiwassee or Apalachia or a big spot on Chatuge, please give me a call at 865-4661345. I know the weather is about to get cold, but that just means the fishing should get even hotter. Have a great day!

Aaron Kephart, Mountain Lakes Guide Service, 865-466-1345

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


MURPHY AREA MOUNTAIN LAKES Lake Chatuge - December Fishing Forecast

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ecember is finally here and the majority of us have Christmas and the holiday season on our minds. But when the horrid shopping mall lines and the stress of gift buying get to be too much, why not catch some relief by hitting the lake for some early winter fishing. In Western North Carolina, no other lake is better to do that on than Lake Chatuge, and some of our best fish can be caught during the month of December. Water temperatures are currently around 68 degrees, and the water level is down 9 feet. Water clarity is clear throughout the lake and slightly stained in the backs of creeks. The lake has turned over, and fishing should be getting back to normal. Spotted bass are still schooled up throughout Lake Chatuge. We’ve had a fantastic top-water

By Darren Hughes

bite in the morning. Check shallow humps and areas from 10-25 ft. deep. Watch for these fish to bust the water as they chase up bait then cast into them. Poppers, spooks, spoons, and, of course, live bait have been working great on catching these spots. We have also been doing well with our downline bite. Also, don’t forget to target your points and brush piles. Some excellent largemouth and spots have been caught lately off rocky points and around brush. Now that water temps have fallen, the hybrids are on the move. These guys are heading towards the creeks and rivers and are moving up in the water column. We’ve started to pick up a few small ones on an early morning top-water bite. Red Fins and Zara Spooks work great for hooking up with some of these hybrids. The same rule of thumb applies as for the spotted bass—search

around shallow areas and watch for fish chasing up bait. Trolling free-lines with live bait and planer boards should work fine as well. We’ve also been doing awesome with a downline on some big hybrids still schooled up deep. Several fish from the 13 to 15 pound range have been boated with us. Live blueback herring remains your best bet to catch these fish. December fishing on Lake Chatuge is always an exciting month. The bigger fish start feeding more aggressively, and for us, it’s a great time of year for some great top-water action. Remember, live bait on this lake can be the difference between a successful day of fishing and a horrid one. Hughes General Store in Blairsville, GA carries a wide range of bait and tackle--it’s the best place around for quality live blueback herring. We also carry ethanol free gas and have some of the best hot, made-from-scratch

F

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Darren Hughes is the owner of Hughes General Store & Bait Shop & a member of The Angler Magazine Fishing Team. He is also a guide with Big Ol’ Fish Guiding Service. Contact him at (706) 7456569 or www.bigolfish.co

Snowbird Winter Tactics By David Hulsey

ly fishing in the winter in Western North Carolina can involve lots of layered clothing and a search for sunlight. December, January, and February are usually the coldest months to be out flogging the water in search of trout. These months can be some of the most rewarding too if you do a little careful planning. Fly fishing on one of the most beautiful streams in the mountains, such as Big Snowbird, can be a quiet and peaceful experience, occasionally interrupted by a splashing trout or two. In the winter, I love being on the river when we have a good warming swing in the temperature from morning until afternoon. Air temperature rises of 20 to 30 degrees from a frosty cold morning will also raise the water temperature, sometimes as much as three to five degrees, and get the trout moving around enough to eat. Usually, they won’t move just a few inches to eat the fly so pin point presentations of subsurface flies are the key. Fishing patterns that you can see below the surface are a real aid to getting the fly right on the nose of a visible fish. Brightly colored egg or worm flies, fished as a sighter in tandem with small stonefly or caddis nymphs, 4 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

biscuits in North GA. For guided fishing trips on Lake Chatuge, Hiwassee and Lake Nottely, or questions about the bait shop, call Darren Hughes at Hughes General Store, and whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, give Chatuge a shot for some of the best spotted bass and hybrids around. Good luck and get hooked.

can be deadly. Czech nymphing techniques almost always work, but in bitter cold conditions there is probably not a better way to pull some beautiful fish out of Big Snowbirds deep runs and pools. I don’t know if the fishing is actually better in the bright sunshine in the winter or if that’s where my old bones are drawn to, but it does seem to make a difference. The low winter sun at your back not only feels good but it also enhances your vision enough to be able to see the trout glued to the bottom of the river. The water temperature in Big Snowbird in the dead of winter can be in the 30’s so slow, careful wading is in order to keep from falling on the often icy bank and taking an unplanned swim. Don’t be in a big hurry to get to the creek. Arriving about ten in the morning and fishing to about three seems to be about right. Favorite winter fly patterns for the area include heavy nymphs, such as tungsten beaded Pheasant Tails, Dark Hare’s Ears and small Rubber Legged Stoneflies all in size 12 – 16. For a cold weather guided romp through the river give me a call at Southern Highroads Outfitters fly shop at 706-781-1414 in beautiful Blairsville, Ga.

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


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Walleye In The Winter By Ronnie Parris

t’s finally here! The time of year for the walleye anglers to get limits. Yes, I said limits. Limits of walleye in our mountain lakes can sometimes be as hard to find as pink unicorns or the allusive bigfoot, but this is your month. Get off the couch, turn off the TV, and tell the wife you will clean the garage later, you’re coming home with supper. The water temps should be in the 50s to 60s. The walleye will be schooled making it easier to find them. Pay close attention to your depth finder-you should be finding the walleye at around 90 to 100 feet deep. I like to troll with downriggers so I can cover a lot of area ‘till I find schools. If the walleye are hitting slow, I will stop and drop an icejig or a Hopkins spoon in them. Turn the amplitude scope on your depth finder on and turn the sensitivity up and you should see your jig as it falls, this will allow you to hit perfect spot in the school. A rattle that hooks above your jig will

When catching walleye at these depths, you will not be able to release them as their swim bladder will pop, so when you get your catch... please don’t continue to fish

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also add to your success. If the bite is slow, try adding some scent to your bait. I like to have a few dozen live minnows as a backup. I fish them the same way, dropping down, preferably a little above the school, as walleye feed up. When catching walleye at these depths, you will not be able to release them as their swim bladder will pop, so when you get your catch please don’t continue to fish. I fish Fontana the most often since it is the closest to me, but Santeetlah, Bear, Nantahala, and Wolf Lakes are also good bets. It’s cold, so dress warm and stay safe. Ronnie Parris is the Owner and Head Guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, North Caronina, heart of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. (www.smounlimited.com)

DECEMBER 2016

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


SWAIN COUNTY

Swain County High School Debuts Fishing Club

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By Tammy Parris

wain County High School debuted their first-ever fishing club in September. The “Swainglers” are made up of ninth through twelfth graders. I agreed to sponsor the club when bus driver/teacher assistant, Pat Smiley suggested the club because she knew my love for fishing. Samantha McFalls, RN School Nurse, also loves to fish so she agreed to help me sponsor. Pat happily transports us to each fishing spot. I can’t forget how we got the name Swainglers, our attendance officer, Sabrina Cable, came up with it. We fish during club time, which is a period after lunch, once a month. Due to such a short amount of fishing time (35-40 minutes), the club leaves at the beginning of lunch. We travel to a nearby fishing spot. In September we-sixteen students, ventured to Fontana Lake and fished from the bank at the 288 Boat Access, where my anglers reeled in several bass. Our October trip was spent fishing in the Tuskegee River where twenty-three students caught and released several trout. I had to limit the number of students due to supervision and transportation issues, although I had over ninety students show an interest in the club. Because of this, I had a random drawing to decide members. Our experienced anglers are a big help to the novice anglers. I wish I could take them all fishing, but for safety reasons, I can’t. I strongly believe angling is an important recreational and educational activity for teenagers to get 6 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

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involved in. It promotes education through fishing by requiring club members to learn and abide by the North Carolina Wildlife regulations. By doing that, fish species can remain stable and continue to flourish. Over harvesting can cause many species to suffer. In addition, a healthy lifestyle can be obtained by being active outside. Our future goals are to fish tournaments as members of SAF, Students Angler Federation. SAF offers many opportunities to earn prizes and college scholarships. We also, hopefully, plan to go on a full day fishing trip at the end of the school year. My anglers are a great, well-behaved, rule abiding group. They deserve a full day of fishing! We are blessed to live in Swain County where we have so many nearby creeks, rivers and Fontana Lake of which to take advantage. Ask an angler why they like to fish, and a common answer is stress relief, freedom, and enjoying the environment. That’s what I want for these kids, plus fishing is just fun! Besides, How many students can say that they went fishing during their school day? Swainglers would welcome your support and words of encouragement. Tammy H. Parris is an administrative Assistant as Swain County High School and Sponsor for the Swainglers fishing club. You can email her at tparris@swainmail.org if you have words of encouragement, insights for the club, or would like more information.

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


BRYSON CITY

The Winter Skinny on WNC Trout Fishing By Bobby Bennett

Over the past month we have received loads of calls asking how the fishing has been in our area/region. This is also a question we receive throughout the year from novice and experienced anglers alike. I usually answer with a brief summary that we are very blessed to have year around trout fishing and give a few places that fish well from December through February. However, I want to take the time to give several reasons why I personally think that wintertime Western NC trout fishing is just as good, if not better, than any other time of the year. Lets go ahead and get the negative out of the way. I know what everyone is thinking …IT’S COOOLLLD!!!! You are typically standing outside in probably 35-50 degree water with an air temperature of 0-60 degrees, but if you outfit yourself with some of the great winter apparel that is on the market today, and layer it correctly, you might be extremely surprised how comfortable you can be on a cold day. About the only other thing that I truly think could be considered a negative is that the days are shorter so there is less fishing daylight. Other than these couple of small details, winter fishing is really solid. I truly love the colder weather. Some of my best days have come during the winter months fishing a variety of WNC streams. Spring, summer, and fall usually offer fair and comfortable temps, beautiful scenery (not that mountains streams have bad scenery any time of the year), good water temps, and stocking, if the NC Wildlife Hatchery and Delayed Harvest Programs are what you are looking for. Winter oftentimes has something to offer that the other 3 seasons sometimes lack, or maybe never have at all. We all, as anglers, look for this just about every time we wet a line. Solitude. Solitude is so easy to find during the frosty months. You see less anglers, hikers, bikers, cyclist, photographers, campers, and tubers than any other time of year. Not that I have any problem with sharing the outdoors, but there is no better feeling than having a trail and stream all to yourself. With the joy of solitude, comes another positive of the wintertime game. The fish are less pressured, which means you have a good chance of having a little more activity than you have seen in the other seasons. Also, with less pressure and other activities on hold for the winter, water clarity is probably at its peak. This is great for locating fish, and maybe even taking in some of their habits that go unnoticed during the peak outdoor months. Old Man Winter offers up a good mixture of fishing. You will find a hatch every now and then throughout the course of winter. Nymphs, midges, and streamers are probably going to be the go to patterns you will look to first. I am a big fan of streamer fishing. Streamers offer up a little more active way of fishing, and on a day where it is on, it produces multiple follows, close calls, and hook ups that sometimes produce epic fish and maybe even more epic stories. Streamer fishing is a great way to locate fish in a hole or stream, as they may not eat the streamer, but you can usually see a follow or flash. Sometimes the follow brings on the rush of adrenaline that rivals a solid hook set and fight. Nymphing, on the other hand, is probably going to be the most productive for numbers to the net. Whether you tight line (euro style), or use an indicator, you will work the waters very similar to the way you would through the other seasons. If you decide to take in what winter angling has to offer, here are few things to remember for your trip or outing. - Always, always have an extra pair of clothes in your car or backpack. Just in case you take that wrong step and end up swimming. - Hand Warmers are pretty much a must if you are going to be out there long, and want to have a chance at tying your knots. - When dressing for the day, have more layers on than you may need. You can always take off that extra shirt or pullover. - Always have a rain jacket. You are in the mountains. Weather changes constantly. DO NOT TRUST THE FORECAST!!! - A good winter hat is a must. (Simms Wind Stopper are really great) - Socks. Do not go cheap when it comes to socks. You are standing in cold water in the middle of winter. Good quality socks are worth their weight in

gold. (Simms Wading Sock, or Smart Wool Socks are my favorite) - Take a thermos. Coffee, hot chocolate, or maybe even some soup makes the chill of winter a little more bearable and maybe even a little fun. Hopefully, this brings a better light on winter fishing. It can be tough at times, but I think that’s why it may be the most rewarding season, in the end. As I mentioned earlier, some of my best days have been during the cold months, and I don’t just mean by fish count alone. Although the most fish I have ever caught in one day came in January. What I mean by “best days,” is the total experience of fly-fishing. I suggest you give it a try, and if you have tried in the past, go again. The smell of winter is so fresh, so take in the brisk air, enjoy the sound of the water, the quietness of the outdoors, and enjoy fishing for what it is truly for…The experience that creates a lasting memory, fish or no fish. Bobby Bennett is Co-Owner of Tuckaseegee Fly Shop located in Bryson City, NC. For the latest news, fly selection, shuttle info, or stream flows, drop by or call (828)-488-3333.

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


BRYSON CITY The Bountiful Riches of Famed Hazel Creek By Steve Claxton

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azel Creek, located on the North Shore of Fontana Lake in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a stream that should be on every fly fisherman’s bucket list. Hazel Creek has the reputation of being the finest freestone stream in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is unique because its remote location requires just a bit more effort to access than most streams in the park. Yes, you can hike to this fabled stream from various trailheads, the shortest of which takes you on a 22 mile round trip hike. But the easiest way to access the stream is by boat, which takes you to the mouth of the stream and a trailhead, which follows its banks for 15 long miles. Brown, rainbow and brook trout inhabit these waters and smallmouth as well as steelhead migrating from the lake have been caught in the lower segments. The trail is relatively flat for Smoky Mountain standards, making it ex-

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tremely easy to hike and access the creek along the trail, which follows the old railroad bed. I have fished this storied stream for the better part of fifty-one years and have guided fishermen along its varied stretches for the past twenty-three years. I spend approximately 180 days a year guiding on this stream with the exception of this past spring and summer, when I took off to through-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine for a cause, which has been on my bucket list since I was a kid exploring this historic trail with my father. Spring and fall are my favorite times on this stream, as hatches can be abundant during the spring and

DECEMBER 2016

the run of spawning brown trout draw special attention to some monsters during the fall months. History abounds along the banks of Hazel Creek as remnants of an era gone by catch your attention, dating as far back as 1832 when Patience and Moses Procter first moved to Hazel Creek from Cades Cove to get away from the hustle bustle of the Cove. Taylor and Crate Logging Co. was the first to explore the logging industry in this area, but at the turn of the century, a much more established and modernized Ritter Lumber Co. would construct a railway along the banks of Hazel Creek, all the way to the Cascades, and proceed

to produce more lumber, two hundred million board feet, than came from any other watershed in the Smokies. The mining of copper here dated as far back as the 1880’s. Fishing camps existed along the tributaries of Hazel Creek and very early on, became known for the abundance of trout that called Hazel Creek home. Over the past 51 years, I have enjoyed favorite stretches of the creek that continue to produce stories of memorable fish. The solitude of this mystical stream full of memories continues to feed my soul, and hopes of sharing its riches and beauty with others now serves as my passion. I hope to provide memories of this special place for others that will last a lifetime! Steve Claxton is the Owner of Smoky Mountain Adventures, Inc. in Bryson City, NC. You can contact Steve by email at steve@steveclaxton.com or call (828) 736-7501.

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11/18/16 10:19 AM


FONTANA LAKE

Colder Weather Means Slower Fish

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By Capt. James McManus

ell my favorite month to fish is finally here. Don’t get me wrong, I love to deer hunt and watch football, but there is something about cold water, surface to bottom fishing that gets me going when the first snow shows up. Our fish up here on Fontana love this time also. They are getting really stuffed, all bunched up and happy, picking off shad at will from the schools that are slowing down from the cold; Easy pickings for the fish and fishermen who can bundle up enough to make it comfortable for a couple of hours on the water. Upper and lower are keys here. Both upper and lower ends of the lake and water column are items to remember. Shad will pull into coves and channel flats or points and just sit, sometimes for weeks at a time. When you find a bunch of bait, that location can be your destination for several trips, which is unusual for our lake. Depending on the time of day, they may move up or down in the water column, but usually don’t range, like they do in the warmer months, very far horizontally. I have found them way at the head of the lake or way down on the lower end, not so much in the midlake areas, but then I don’t look there as much, due to the longer, colder boat rides required. Once you find them, you have several options. I love to vertically jig with either a Rapala ice jig

or small Zoom flukes. The new wide jigs by Rapala seem to work even better than the original, but both will catch fish along with any number of spoons. Through the course of the day, fish move vertically so there can be some good surface feeding even in the middle of the day. You do need good electronics because there are times when the fish will plaster themselves to the bottom. I love a picture of massive shad schools and obvious fish arches all around, but a blue fuzz right on a hard bottom may hold just as many hungry fish as the previous scenario. In a picture I just took, if printed, you can see the blue fuzz just off bottom, and we caught three really nice smallies, one after another, on three drops, there just wasn’t much showing. Heavy rains, cold snaps and other weather changes can put them tight to the bottom, but steady barometer and stable conditions will generally make them much easier to find. Enjoy the season, dress warmly and be careful. Give me a call to get in on this great fishery. Later, Capt. James Capt. James McManus is an expert guide on Lake Fontana and similar lakes in WNC and Upstate SC. He can be reached through his website at 153Charters@gmail.com

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By: Dustin Stanberry

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Dustin’s Mirror Midge

he Mirror Midge is a pattern that is based off a lot of the simple midge patterns you see today. The use of stripped peacock herl is nothing new in the way of design. It offers the body of the fly a great appearance of segmentation without building a lot of bulk and throwing the proportions of the fly off. After studying midge larva a bit and through trial and error the Mirror Midge was born. The use of the Tiemco 206BL hook was one of the changes that I made to better represent swimming midge larva. The shape and color of the hook allow the hook to become part of the body of the fly. The difference the hook color makes in the fishes eye may be minimal to null but, if the fish are already looking at flies in the size 20-22 ranges, perhaps the subdued hook coating will help. The other item that helps this fly better represent a midge larva is the clear glass bead. As larva mature and begin to hatch they create a gas bubble in the larval shuck and ride it to the surface. The diamond glass bead gives the fish something to key in on that is more representative of the gas bubble generated in the natural midge larva. The glass bead gives the fly a subtle bit of flash and adds a little weight to help things get down. It’s a great fly to use as a dropper behind and adult midge or Griffith’s Gnat during a midge hatch. Additionally, placing two short strands of Krystal Flash behind the thorax extended toward the rear of the fly can act as wing buds on a hatching midge. Of course the colors of material used can be changed to match the midge larva where you are fishing. I like to tie them in green and red as well using died peacock herl. I think you will find this pattern helpful as the temps cool down and we head into winter. Best wishes and tight lines!

Photo by Dustin Stanberry

HOOK: Tiemco TMC 206BL, #16-20 THREAD: Giorgio Benecchi’s 12/0, Black BEAD: Killer Caddis Glass Bead, Midge size in Diamond BODY: Stripped Peacock Herl THORAX: Black Superfine Dubbing OPTIONAL INFO: I like to place a little brush on super glue on the hook shank before I wrap the body forward. This will help the durability of the fly.

Dustin Stanberry is an instructor at Biltmore Fly Fishing and Sporting Clays located in Asheville, NC.

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JACKSON COUNTY – TROUT CAPITAL OF NC

The Three Biggest Misconceptions In Fishing!

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By Austin Neary

here are all kinds of misconceptions when it comes to fishing! Things that grandpa told you, which never work, or something one of your best fishing buddies said...both are sometimes stupid ideas! A lot of these misconceptions can seriously affect the way you think about fish behavior and affect the success you have when you establish a game plan! I want to address and debunk the mythical misconceptions that are floating around the fishing world and I promise it will help you catch more, and bigger, fish!

1) “That bait is too big!”

I hear people say this over and over again, especially when it comes to big swimbaits and chasing above average size fish! “They won’t eat anything that big…” I will say this, predatory fish do not have a mirror, they have no clue how big they are! When a predatory fish, like a bass, trout or musky, feeds, it is strictly trial and error! They either can eat it or they can’t

eat it! Remember too, that predatory fish are territorial, aggressive and if they think they can eat it, they will!

2) “Fish won’t eat top water in the middle of the day!”

A predatory fish is instinctually programmed to eat a dying baitfish! When you are throwing a walking bait on top of the water, or a popper, you are imitating a dying baitfish and literally trying to trigger an instinctual feeding response from a fish! It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, they are opportunistic feeders, which means if that bass is given the opportunity to eat, it will! A bass doesn’t say, “oh, that is on top of the water and I won’t eat it because it’s the middle of the day.” No, a bass thinks “that’s prey and an easy meal” and they strike it!

3) “Live bait catches more fish!”

When you are fishing with artificial lures you are trying imitate the weak, the old, the sick and the young, you can do this better than a living healthy baitfish. I have watched bass swimming non-aggressively and feeding in schools of bream, shad and herring and watched them either strike my lure or turn from the school they were feeding on and get my lure! It has to do with the presentation!

A predatory fish feeds on the weak, the old, the sick and the young.

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For more in-depth information on patterning fish, specific lures and spots, visit Dream Catcher’s Fishing Supply on highway 74 in Sylva on your way to all the lakes and rivers in Western NC. Want to learn from a pro while catching GIANT bass? Book a trip with pro guide and Bassmaster’s College series Champion Austin Neary!

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To Tenkara or not to Tenkara

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By Aaron Motley

enkara has been growing rapidly in the U.S. over the past 10 years, and translated to English, means “from the heavens.” Tenkara is a style of fixed-line fishing for small to medium streams, with a medium to high stream gradient. What are the pros and cons for an angler? One pro is the simplicity of taking a fixed amount of line, adding monofilament or fluorocarbon tippet, and a fly. The rods also telescope in and out which means they require very little room to store. Some rods have multiple fixed lengths too, like the Rhodo and Sato from Tenkara USA. Anglers who may have decreased strength in their hands or arms may enjoy the benefits of a rod that weights only 3 or 4 ounces in total. For the beautiful, small, wild fish anglers seek, these rods make fighting that fish an absolute joy! A Con for Tenkara are fishing this style on large rivers where the fish can run which, in turn, means you run too. Large fish are also problematic on Tenkara rods due to the fact that the graphite tapers finely at the end of the rod. Having a fixed amount of line also means that if you want to cast further, you have to move, not just pull out more line from your reel. With the longer rods, you will find trees and branches near the river can present the angler with unique situations when your fly gets stuck in them. Another great joy the Tenkara style fishing brings is the ease of use by young anglers. My 5 year old nephew, and 8 year old daughter have caught many fish with this style of fishing. Tenkara can also be a gateway for your wife or husband to come to the river and fish, because it simplifies fly fishing. I know that a day with my family in the woods and streams makes us all feel better, and brings memories that will last a lifetime. Come by Hunter Banks Fly Shop in Asheville, NC or Waynesville, NC, and chat with us to see if Tenkara may be the right option for you or your loved ones. The holidays are right around the corner and Tenkara rods will fit nicely into any stocking that has been hung by the chimney with great care! Aaron, a graduate of Brevard College, is the day-to-day Operations Manager at the Waynesville location of Hunter Banks. His waterfowl hunting addiction supports his fly tying addiction. He has learned his fly-fishing craft from many mountain “fishy” people and pursues large trout, bass and musky on a daily basis. He teaches others to do the same. Get in touch with him through Hunter Banks. 12 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

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RIVER REFLECTIONS

The Frustrating Miles

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By Matt Mittan

here are two things that frustrate me in life more than anything else. Someone fibbing to my face, when I know the truth, and not catching fish that I know are swimming right in front of me. Let’s cover the latter today. The ever elusive, mysterious and frightening Muskie lurks in the waters of the French Broad River. Perhaps the best thing about this fact is that so few people know it. Even if they’ve heard of Muskie before, the general public would be horrified to see one up close, in the waters where they so enjoy their summer recreation. But for those of us who do know of this razor-toothed giant, it is the holy grail of fish to catch in Western North Carolina. A grail that I, despite my many attempts, have yet to grasp. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my own encounters with this violent ghost, though. There are varying opinions about where the best Muskie hunting is on the French Broad River but the most common stretch that I have always heard stories about is the stretch of river between the Horseshoe Public Boating Access on Hwy 64 (on the east edge of Etowah) and the Westfeldt River Park (just behind the Asheville Regional Airport). I’ve navigated those slow, dark, log jammed waters many times in my trusty Old Town. However, my column today isn’t about how to approach catching one of these monsters; the NC record Muskie weighed in at over 41 pounds, by the way. It’s to share with you my failed attempts, accidental brush ups, funny stories I have been told by others, and what I learned from all of it.

Lesson: Always be prepared.

I was floating through what looked like a scene out of Lord of the Rings. Mist was crawling across the murky water. The banks were steep and lined with eerie branches reaching like boney claws down into the water in every direction. The river itself had a strong intention to its flow. Fishing from a canoe, for Muskie, in these conditions was probably not the smartest thing to be doing but I was determined that today would be my day to meet this beast face to face. As I approached a logjam on my right, wedged between the shore and a large boulder, I noticed a wash out behind it, with suds circling about. I just knew this was the spot. As my 7” floating minnow landed in the suds, there was a massive explosion of water and foam. Adrenalin pumping, I eagerly went to set my hook. My bail had not even closed yet. But in the millisecond that it took to pull back, it was too late. The Muskie severed right through my leader. You see, I figured that a braided steel leader would have been seen, so I tied a 20 lb mono as my leader. I should have been better prepared for the opportunity of the strike. To this day, that is the only strike I have ever had from a Muskie.

Lesson: Don’t get lazy.

I was floating the stretch between Bent Creek and French Broad River Park in downtown Asheville. I had my Cousin Suzie with me. It was a hot summer day, not a cloud in the sky. We came upon a part of the river where there is a sand dredging operation. There are also some cool little rock stack features that people have built up over the years on a couple little wash is-

lands nearby. Now, even though I knew this deep pool held some big fish I decided to lie back and just quietly float on through. My cousin was employing the Cleopatra approach, lying down in the floor of the boat. I laid my poles to each side and relaxed. I never took a single cast. Not a quarter of the way into the deepest, darkest part of the dredging pool, an enormous thrash rang out as a “thump” smacked the bow of the canoe. I sprung up not knowing what happened. The strength from the push in the water actually moved the bow of my canoe to the side. As I looked at the torpedo like plow of the water racing to my left I could make out the body of a huge Muskie. He was darting away. We had floated right up on his back. He was sitting right where I would have thrown my top water bait. I had let my guard down. Years spent chasing these fish, to no avail, and I just ran one over with my canoe.

Lesson: Mind your step.

This story is not my own, but was relayed to me by a gentleman I met fishing out near Ledges Park, on the French Broad River, north of Asheville. He told me about how he was wade-fishing near where the Johnson River comes into the French Broad one day, enjoying the peace and beauty of the spot. He said he had gotten a couple of Smallmouth Bass, the dominant species in that stretch of the river, when all of a sudden, he looked down beneath him to see about a 3 foot Muskie swim right by his feet in the water. He said it just about made him jump right up out of his waders and “make like Jesus” across the top of the water back to shore. He said that, up until that moment, he had only heard stories about the fish. Since then, he always keeps his eye on where he’s at, in the river, and everything that moves around him. All three of these stories have parallels to our daily lives. How many opportunities have we missed because we weren’t ready when the chance popped up? How many times have we been blind-sided because we decided to let our guard down or we just got plain lazy? And, how many times have things scared us, or startled us, because we were too busy looking out beyond what was right at our own feet? I know the answer for me is “many”. But just like with these Muskie-fail stories, how life-fails impact us depends entirely on how we choose to look at them. I’ve spent years chasing the French Broad Muskie. I’m not giving up. There’s a certain level of satisfaction in the pursuit, whether I ever get one or not. And perhaps that’s the biggest lesson... There’s a lot to be gained by failure. There is a lot of strength to be found in frustration. And there is a lot of hope in finding the humor of every situation. In an age where it seems everything is right at our finger tips, I think a little Muskie frustration could do us all a little good. See you on the river! Matt Mittan is a long time broadcaster in WNC, an entrepreneur and USAF veteran who has fished all around the world. He can often be found aboard his classic red Old Town canoe in search of mountain Bass. Matt currently has an insurance business, partnered with AFLAC, providing benefits and tax solutions for area businesses. Email MattsFishingDiary@gmail.com with story ideas or feedback.

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MOUNTAIN WATER EVENTS

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The French Broad River Paddle Trail By Dave Russell

he French Broad River Paddle Trail is a recreational watercraft trail created and operated by two nonprofits in Asheville, NC, RiverLink and MountainTrue. The paddle trail facilitates public access to, and camping on, over 140 miles of the French Broad River, from the headwaters in Rosman, North Carolina to Douglas Lake in Tennessee. The French Broad River Paddle Trail began in 2012 and links more than 140 miles of the French Broad River, from the headwaters in Rosman, NC to Douglas Lake, TN. The Trail serves to protect the river as a resource for recreation, environmental stewardship, education, and economic development. This low impact water trail is guided by “Leave No Trace” principles, with rustic campsites spaced approximately 8-10 miles apart. All campsites are paddle-in only and reservations are required. To plan your trip using an interactive map and to make a reservation, visit riverlink.org/app and frenchbroadpaddle.com. Campsites vary in size and facilities. MountainTrue’s 6 sites cost $25 per night. Three additional campsites by RiverLink are free, though reservations are a must. The Southeast is fortunate to have other paddle trails, or “Blueways” as they’re sometimes known. The websites listed below will give you all the details on reservations and what to expect.

Greenbrier River Trail, W.Va.

This 80-mile canoe trail has mild rapids and campsites every five miles. Bo- Photo caption: The French Broad River Paddle Trail offers a variety of nus: a crushed-gravel bike path parallels the river, making self-shuttling easy camping options and paddling trips. for multi-sport adventurers. greenbrierrailtrailstatepark.com

Upper James River Water Trail, Va.

Paddle 45 miles of the Upper James backcountry through valleys and farmland. You’ll see some class II whitewater and camp at a mix of private and forest service campgrounds. upperjamesriverwatertrail.com

Tennessee River Blueway

This could be the perfect urban adventure. The blueway runs 50 miles from Chickamauga Dam south through downtown Chattanooga to the Nickajack Dam. Island camping galore, even downtown. canoetennessee.com

Etowah River Water Trail

The 165-mile Etowah River Trail is still a work in progress, but if you paddle the full length, you’ll pass Indian Mounds, skirt hip towns like Ellijay, and see some of North Georgia’s wildest country. etowahwatertrail.org

For your next new or used Subaru, give Gator a chance!

Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail, South Carolina

Don’t let the color of the water full you, this blackwater river could be the cleanest stream on this list. Paddle by cypress swamps and camp in tree houses during this 57-mile journey. canoesc.com Happy paddling!

Dave Russell is the Volunteer Services Manager at RiverLink, 828-252-8474, Ext. 11, or dave@riverlink.org. To find out more about RiverLink and its many programs championing Western North Carolina waterways, visit http://riverlink.org.

Gator Gettinger

(828) 708-9243 gettguy3@gmail.com

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New Year’s Resolutions Made Fun: Get Outdoors! By Chris Bubenik

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he turn of the year means 2016 is in the books—and for many of us, it can’t come a moment too soon! The end of a year usually brings a time of self-reflection, a time to get our priorities in line and make a plan for improvement. That seems especially important this year. The top New Year’s resolutions remain largely unchanged year after year: stay fit and healthy, lose weight, and enjoy life to the fullest. If the goals on your list look similar, scratch them out and replace them with one enjoyable item: get outdoors! These days, the average American spends 93% of their life inside, 87% in buildings and 6% in vehicles. Spending just 20 more minutes outside each day is long enough to provide a cleaning of the mental windshield to recover from everyday life. You might be thinking, “This sounds great, but I went camping

Take a Hike

On a tree-lined street, your closest park or greenway, or one of the many trails a few minutes outside of town, hiking is great because it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment. A good pair of hiking shoes from your local outdoors store is good enough to start. As you graduate to more moderate trails, trekking poles can come in handy. The North Carolina Arboretum is a beautiful choice this time of year with lots of parking and trails of all levels.

Train for a Big Event

Whether you’re a runner, biker, or hiker (or want to be one), having a specific challenge in mind will give you structure and motivation. If you’re already running a few times a week, but want to warm up your winter right away, the Asheville Hot Chocolate 10K is January 21. For beginners and those just getting

Find Inspiration

Share your skills, meet new people, and make a difference by volunteering with organizations like MountainTrue, The North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville Greenworks, Carolina Mountain Club, The Pisgah Conservancy, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Muddy Sneakers, Friends of the Smokies, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, North Carolina Outward Bound School, RiverLink, and...you get the idea?!? There are many ways to volunteer with great local organizations. With the amount of projects available, you can volunteer when your schedule permits, create a custom outing, or join a group event. Local stores like Diamond Brand Outdoors often host information sessions with these groups, making getting involved even easier. These are easy ways you get outdoors more in 2017 right away. You can also simply visit a new neck of the woods or take a date night out-

side. As it warms up, maybe join an outdoor sports league or try your hand at kayak fishing. Making time for yourself to do what you love in the places you love to do them will reconnect you with the world and make you happy. Chris Bubenik is the Marketing Director at Diamond Brand Outdoors. He lives in Asheville, NC and is an avid outdoorsman and kayak fisherman.

“Come see me after a hard days fishing”

(828) 277-6700 www.flemingchiropracticcare.com

Photo taken between Clingman’s Dome and Welch Ridge on the Appalachian Trail. Photo by Tyler Woody once and hated it.” Luckily, there are countless ways to get outdoors that don’t include pitching a tent— although that can be pretty great, too! If you’re already an outdoors maestro, introduce newbie friends and family to your favorite outdoor activities.

back into the game, the Race to the Taps series kicks off on March 18. Followed by three additional races in April, September, and October, you’ll be able to trace your improvement through the year.

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HENDERSONVILLE AREA

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The Power Of Patience By Danny Maybin

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ome of my fondest memories as a boy are, of course, fishing trips with my friends. It’s that time of life when your biggest worries revolve around who’s got the best pocketknife. On one of these numerous trips, my friend Pete and I were fishing a small mountain creek that ambled through a long cow pasture. At about the halfway point, we had caught nothing but had arrived at the two most promising holes on the whole creek, one just above the other. It was agreed that I would take the lower one and Pete would fish the upper hole, as neither was large enough for both of us to fish together. I was standing there amazed that I hadn’t gotten a bite fairly quickly, as this little hole had produced rainbows for me many times before, when out of the corner of my eye, I

saw Pete lift a nice trout out of that upper pool. I had always secretly considered the upper pool inferior to mine but there he was, holding a nice rainbow by the bottom jaw with a big, dumb grin on his face. I returned with determination to my own affairs, confident that I would prevail. After no bite for what seemed like a decade and repeatedly casting casual glances at Pete to see if he was getting any action, Pete said “come up here with me.” Pride is a funny thing. It’s amazing how much a guy can actually swallow in desperate times and at this age, getting skunked was akin to Christmas being cancelled. So I bit my lip and, with as much indifference as I could muster, I joined Pete in fishing the upper hole. Wanting to gain an edge, I turned my back to Pete and added another worm to my hook. When I turned

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back around, there was Pete in my hole with a bigger trout and an even dumber grin on his face. Don’t get me wrong, Pete was a great guy but when he saw the look on my face, it was like a shark that smelled blood. Pete was not opposed to taking great delight in endless ribbing and teasing if he knew he had gotten under your skin. The taunting was unbearable and I was frantically trying to think of an escape. I considered stomping up the rest of the creek like a mad buffalo and ruining the rest of the fishing trip but Pete was bigger than me. Not wanting a black eye to compliment my humiliation, I thought better of it and determined to bare my suffering until opportunity presented itself. This brings us to the next fishing expedition. Our next trip was also in a cow pasture but this time on the Green River. Pete and I were joined by another friend, Sam, and he was even bigger than Pete! Where we were fishing was slow moving, deep water. We were on the bank under some big ole river birch. Now, when the fishing gets slow on a quiet river, young boys tend to get restless. Soon Sam announced that he was going to walk to the store and get some crackers and a drink. I asked him if he would bring me something back to which he replied as young boys will “your legs ain’t broke.” With nothing left to say, Sam headed for the store, leaving Pete and me to watch the fishing poles. Earlier Pete had caught a carp, around two pounds, that had expired in a bent position. When I was sure Sam was out of earshot I suggested that we hook the dead carp on Sam’s line. We agreed this needed to be done and so, we did. Casting the bent carp as far out in the river as we could, we placed the rod back on its forked stick and waited. Eventually, Sam came sauntering back with half a drink and a candy bar. Any bites? Sam asked. Not much, I said, but something did hit your line real hard a while ago. Sam’s attention immediately

turned to his rod, which was twitching wildly from the bent card spinning in the current. Dropping his candy and drink, he grabbed his rod and reeled forward, preparing to set the hook. “Hit him hard” I yelled. “That’s a big un”. Sam put all he had in it and started reeling. The faster he reeled the harder the bent fish spun against the current, leaving Sam thinking he’d hooked a trophy! By this time, Pete and I were behind Sam so he couldn’t see us in fits as he battled his giant. When he got it to the bank, he held it up by the line and said, “I think I broke its dang neck!” I had moved to what I felt was a safe distance as Pete and I were now howling with laughter. As the light of understanding slowly dawned on Sam, his shoulders drooped and he muttered something that I’m sure would not be permitted at the supper table. Then, he put the icing on the cake by flinging his rod, reel, and bent fish as far into the river as he could throw. Before it hit the water, Pete had smelled blood and started such a barrage of taunts and teasing that I almost felt sorry for Sam…. Almost. Then, as all boys do when they reach an impasse, they fight. I watched in amazement as the battle ensued, vindicating me of both my oppressors. I felt no duty to inform them that they were over ankle deep in a huge bed of poison ivy. For the next couple of months, Pete and Sam were pink with calamine lotion. I spent the rest of that summer fishing by myself. It was a little lonely but I caught a lot of fish. Most importantly, I learned the high value of patience when fishing! Danny Maybin’s family has fished and hunted in the area of Lake Summit for at least six generations. He is a state firearms instructor, blacksmith, musician/luthier and his favorite...a fishin’ and hunting resort facilitator. He also does voice acting, copywriting, and short story humor.

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witchd spinng his his rod to set yelled. he had e fastnt fish eaving ophy! ere beus in hen he up by oke its what I e and I ter. anding shouluttered ld not table. e cake d bent could r, Pete d such g that I lmost. n they ht. I battle th my nform e deep

BREVARD AREA

December Fishing in Western North Carolina

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By J.E.B. Hall

ecember is often the most underrated month for trout fishing in Western North Carolina. While air and water temperatures are on the chilly side, they aren’t so low as to slow down the fishing. Anglers will find that focusing on the mid-day hours will yield the best bang for their buck. While fish can still be caught

both early and late, peak activity typically occurs while the sun is almost directly overhead. Once the sun drops low in the sky, long shadows form over the water, and both fish and insect activity begin to slow down. Fishing during colder weather often requires scaling down on the size of both flies and lures. For example, commonly used size rang-

es of flies will shift from sizes 14-16 to sizes 18-20. The same holds true for lures as well. Dropping down to lures in sizes 1/16 oz.-1/32 oz., or smaller, will draw more strikes. December is also a great time to try micro marabou jigs for trout, which can weigh as little as 1/84 oz. These tiny jigs can be fished on both fly and spin tackle, but will require conventional anglers to use ultra light tackle, and a small float to reach the fish. Musky fishing will also remain good in December. Anglers should focus on sections of the French Broad with numerous blow downs and deeper water. Given the drought conditions that the area has been facing in 2016, most motorized vessels will have extreme difficulty navigating the river. Canoes, fishing kayaks, and stand up paddle boards will allow Musky anglers to access the river in more places, and negotiate the shallow shoals and log jams with ease.

J.E.B. Hall is a full time fishing guide for Davidson River Outfitters in Pisgah Forest, NC. He is the author of The Southern Appalachian Fly Guide, and has contributed to a variety of magazines and blogs, including Southern Culture on the Fly and Fish Alaska Magazine.

onths, h calaof that was a of fish. e high g!

fished f Lake ations. ructor, er and unting o does g, and umor.

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MOUNTAIN WISDOM

Keeping Warm “Survivalist Style”

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f you spend enough time out in the woods, sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself cold, or maybe, cold and wet, or maybe cold, wet and lost! You may be forced to spend a night in the cold, wet woods. This can become a life-threatening situation, but it need not be. With a little work and preparation before dark, you can spend the night in relative comfort. First and foremost, don’t panic. People have been surviving in the woods since time began. Remember what Maslow said are our basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. Well, we can worry about food tomorrow. You are probably wearing clothes, so that leaves only one basic need for tonight, shelter! If you are cold and wet, the very best thing for you to do is to stay

By Ben Bailey

active. It will generate heat in your body and also calm your fears. The most basic shelter is a lean-to. Sometimes, you can even find one already formed or started by a fallen timber or maybe a shelf rock that leans out enough to create a dry spot. If not, two forked sticks with a cross bar and rafters of brush or fallen limbs on three sides, will suffice. Pine boughs laid over this in “shingle fashion, starting at the bottom and overlapped all the way to the top, will shed water. Now, if you have a lighter or matches in your pocket, you’re on your way to a cozy night. First, look for logs and/or rocks to stack in front of your lean-to to act as a reflector for your fire. In all your wandering in search of material, look for dry spots that might hold small amounts of fire-starting material.

You will find little protected spots under fallen logs and shelf rocks or hollow logs. Usually, the lower limbs of hemlocks and white pines will be dead and dry. You can tell if they are dry if they “snap” when you break them. Build your fire between your reflector wall and your lean-to and gather enough wood to last all night. A small fire is all you will need. I have slept comfortably, in my shirtsleeves, on a cold

December night with a set-up like this. If, by chance, you do get cold, you can heat rocks in your fire and then place them around you or inside your clothes wherever you are cold. A hot rock will stay warm for hours. You can drift off to sleep or you can lay awake and figure how to spin this story to make you look as good as possible. After all, you are a survivor!

Ben Bailey, is a native of Western North Carolina, avid outdoorsman, Master Carpenter, and Naturalist. 20 WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA

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up like t cold, re and or inou are rm for eep or how to ook as u are a

BURNSVILLE AREA

Winter Midging

O

By Bryce Butner

bviously your rain dance didn’t work! October and November in Western North Carolina were abnormally dry and, as a result, our rivers are dry and our forests are on fire. The streamer bite that we all anticipated so highly has not been what it could have been with more water and we’re all a little nervous about what this drought could bring. Luckily, we always have midge fishing. “Midge” is really a blanket term for an extremely wide variety of small aquatic insects that populate most trout streams year-round. Although small, these insects are plentiful and make up a large portion of a trout’s diet. Regardless of the water level or temperatures, midges are a card that a successful fly fisherman always keeps in his hand. Like most other types of flies, midge patterns can be separated into three categories: nymphs, emergers and dries. A well-stocked midge box will have all three. The important thing for all midge patterns, however, is size. Midges are typically size 18

or smaller, with the most productive patterns usually falling in the 22-26 range. If you are tying your own, use small thread and keep the flies slim and simple. Whether you tie or buy, though, be sure to stock your boxes with a variety of color combinations. Often, subtle changes in rib or bead color can be the factor that turns your day around. Popular midge nymph patterns include the trusty zebra midge, Charlie Craven’s jujubee midge, and small brassies. Midge nymphs are a great fly to drop behind another, larger nymph, such as a stonefly, as part of a double nymph rig. Obviously, weight your rig and change your depth according to water conditions. Seeing a trout rise to a tiny dry fly has a unique appeal, unmatched by any other technique. Midge emergers come in handy as a midge hatch begins to crank up. Although, many popular patterns like Brook’s sprout emerger and the smokejumper midge have brightly colored posts, they are still difficult to see on the water.

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Fishing one of these small emergers behind another, larger dry fly will help you to locate it on the water. Midge dries may be fished the same way as emergers: dropped behind another, larger dry fly. Patterns such as the Griffith’s gnat imitate a cluster of extremely small midges congregated on the water’s surface. Snowshoe hare and CDC midge dries in very small sizes can imitate individual adult midges. As we transition from fall into winter, water temperatures will continue to drop. These colder water temperatures force the trout out of the riffles and pocket water they clung to for oxygen in the summer and into the slower, deeper pools where they can bask in the sunlight on a clear day, or sink to the bottom for warmer water on the coldest of days. If you see fish rising, but you are unable to tell what they are rising to, a midge dry is a good place to start. A midge dry dropped in the riseform of a feeding fish may tempt that fish to sip. If fishing subsurface,

weight your rig enough to reach the bottom and drop the midge nymph off your point fly. Just be careful on the hookset. Many midge patterns are so small that 6x is required to thread the eye of the hook. Continue to pray to the river gods, dance your rain dances, make offerings – do whatever magic you must to bring a few raindrops to our rivers. Until then, fish small and light and hold off on that extra cup of coffee. Size 26s are tough to tie on with a case of the shakes. Bryce Butner, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a part-time guide for Southern Drifters Outfitters in Burnsville, NC. He spends his days teaching high school and his afternoons, summers and weekends in the WNC high country or on a Tennessee tailwater. His flies look decent, but he has great hatch juju.

The high country of Western North Carolina is where days are measured by miles hiked, trout caught, and hours logged by the campfire. Yancey County is the heart of all this region has to offer and Southern Drifters Outfitters has the knowledge to assure you make the most of your time outdoors, whether you are camping, rafting, hiking, or fishing. Southern Drifters Outfitters offers a wide selection of outdoor lifestyle clothing and casual wear as well as a full-service fly fishing shop/guide service. Southern Drifters Outfitters is the premier outfitter in Burnsville, NC for those looking to enjoy all that the Western North Carolina area and beyond have to offer. Owned and operated by Yancey County natives, we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the area’s rivers, trails and mountains that comes from a life devoted to the outdoors. We offer guided fishing trips in the mountains of WNC, and float trips on the tailwaters of East Tennessee. Conveniently located in downtown Burnsville, NC on town square, Southern Drifters is within easy walking distance of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping, and lodging. With concerts at the Burnsville Town Center, the Mount Mitchell Crafts Fair in August and other events throughout the year, Burnsville offers a slow-paced mountain escape for the whole family.

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Guide’s Tips for Staying Warm Fly Fishing in the Winter

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By Ethan Hollifield

s winter approaches us here in the High Country, it brings with it the anticipation of solitude and peace that an angler can find only during the coldest of days on a trout stream. Often, the biggest challenge many face when braving the elements is not finding or catching active fish, but rather staying warm enough for an extended period of time for it to be enjoyable. I’ve spent many miserable days on the water battling numb hands and iced up rods. I learned more growing up, and later through my guiding career, about how to NOT stay warm, and hopefully these tips I’ve learned through my own shortcomings will help you stay warmer while enjoying the great fishing offered during a Southern Appalachian Winter. Invest in quality winter clothing. If the temperature is forecasting highs around 45 degrees or less, you have to be prepared for a potentially cold day on the water. I normally start out with a fleece, base layer, paired with knee high wool socks. My next layer is a pair of heavy cotton sweatpants or lined guide pants (again, for ease of movement) along with a polyester sweater, sweatshirt, or windbreaker. I’ll then follow with a quality water resistant shell jacket with a hood and neck guard to keep rain, snow, sleet, and wind off. Your head is where you will lose a good portion of the heat that your body produces, and a good wool or fleece beanie, facemask, and wind proof buff will enable you to retain as much body heat as possible. I’ve been conflicted on gloves

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for fishing and I still haven’t found a pair that I can fish in without, inevitably, getting them wet, which results in hands becoming unusable. Rather, carrying one or two dry rags inside of your waders, and within easy reach to wipe your hands on, keeps your hands drier and warmer throughout the day. Save your gloves for when you’re out of the water. I carry several hand warmers while I’m out, to place in the pockets of my wading jacket, which offer my hands a break from the cold. Also, keep in mind that darker colors absorb and hold more heat, so aim for wearing those on your colder days out on the water. Always bring a spare change of clothes with you just in case of an accidental slip into the water from an icy rock. My final piece of advice, as a guide, is that if you start feeling too cold, take a break for yourself to warm up out of the water. There isn’t a fish in the world that is worth putting yourself at risk of hypothermia. Your body produces heat during digestion as well, so I always carry snacks and a large thermos of coffee while I’m out on the water (a flask of bourbon also works wonders in moderation, if that is your preference). Keeping yourself as comfortable as possible is one of the biggest factors to success when fishing under these conditions. This time of year can hold some of the best fishing Western North Carolina has to offer, and following these tips on staying warm on the water will allow you to experience it for yourself.

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I think happil is fly-fi other i ply pa their o mirror brief p to inte to sim in this self ab I often have to someti all hav are ban scious the tro offer a long a attemp myself The can’t a trayal, these have to luck, o


“Reflections” By Ethan Hollifield

I think that anyone who has been happily plagued by the sickness that is fly-fishing has, at one point or another in their time as an angler, simply paused for a moment to stare at their own reflection in the water. A mirror image of one’s self that, for a brief period, allows us to find time to interrupt our obsession of fishing to simply let our minds wander. It’s in this moment that I’ve found myself able to face the difficulties that I often find myself entrapped by. I have to admit that our reflections are sometimes not easy to gaze at. We all have skeletons in our closet that are banging at the doors of our conscious to be released. The river and the trout that we long to chase don’t offer an escape for this. It wasn’t that long ago that I ran to the river in an attempt to prove the opposite for myself. There are evils in life that we can’t avoid. A broken heart, a betrayal, and an uncertain future: these are harsh realities that we all have to face at some point. With my luck, on this particular occasion, I

had to grip all three mentioned, at once. A seemingly perfect relationship that I thought would never fail, failed. So I ran to the only place I thought I could find an escape: the river, and the trout within. It was a bitterly cold day in November. A fitting setting for the mood I was in at the time. The first rush of ice-cold mountain water hit me through my waders as I gazed onto my favorite run on the entire river. As I rhythmically cast into the current, I tried to look back on the fond memories I had here and of the fish that I had fooled into taking a fly. The times of past success and happiness were pushed away quickly by my present anxieties. Eventually, this drove me to throw my rod on the gravel bank behind me and kick the waters surface out of utter frustration. I sat there for a moment and watched as the rings scattered across the waters surface, which eventually settled into that of my own reflection. It was in this moment I realized the river was never meant to be an escape. Rather, the trout and

the river offered me a chance for redemption. That redemption came in the form of a beautiful wild brown trout being fooled into taking a Parachute Adams off of the surface and finding itself being cradled into my own hands. I watched as the trout slowly swam off into the water and watched as it’s spotted body blended into the water only to find myself facing my own reflection again. The trout took with it the regret that my reflection held. We all have skeletons in our closets that consistently bang on the doors of our conscience. I urge you, when you run to the river to escape, as I know many anglers do, to pause and simply watch your own reflection and ask yourself what brought you to the river in the first place. What demons are you running from instead of trying to face? The river is a wonderful place for our troubles be washed away. Reflect on that.

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Ethan is a native North Carolinian from Spruce Pine. While earning a degree in Parks and Natural Resource Management from NC State, he was a member of the three-time national championship-winning bass fishing team “BassPack”. Ethan currently guides for Stonefly Outfitters in Burnsville, North Carolina.

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LAKE LURE

Fire On The Mountain By Michael Yelton

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y hometown of Lake Lure has been rocked by wildfire. As of November 13, 2016, over 3,176 acres have burned. It started on top of Party Rock, a popular camping and hiking spot that overlooks Chimney Rock State Park and Lake Lure. Chimney Rock Village has been evacuated along with Rumbling Bald Resort. As I humbly write these words I think about all the men and woman that are risking everything to help save our town. I usually write about fly-fishing but with the current situation I felt compelled to write about the state of emergency. On Friday November 11, 2016 the firefighter man count was 350. By Saturday it was up to 500 and by Sunday is was expected to reach 1,000. Firefighters from across the state have poured into our little town. I even heard that some firefighters from Oregon and Alaska are in route as well. Fire helicopters have been continually

dipping water from Lake Lure to help douse the flames. C-130s have been dive-bombing the fire with pink flame retardant. Our local community has rallied around these brave men and women by donating food, lodging, water, chapstick, foot powder and wet wipes. Friends and neighbors have already been evacuated so I told my two boys it was time to pack a bag just in case we had to do the same. With a tear rolling down his

cheek, my 5 year old told me that he didn’t want to go anywhere. I tried to explain to him that this was just a precaution and that we might not need to evacuate. I continued on by telling them to get a couple of changes of clothes and anything they could not live without or replace. My 9-year seemed to get a little upset when he realized his prized X Box wasn’t part of that category. To tell you truth, I felt like crying myself.

The realization of possibly losing everything you own is a very humbling experience at that moment in time. After reflection though, it’s really just “stuff”. You can replace “stuff”. It’s the friends and loved ones that cannot be replaced. It’s the “stuff” that weighs us down in life. At the end of the day you cannot take all your “stuff” with you when it’s your time to go. So be sure to share your “stuff”, give more than you receive, volunteer your time and thank a firefighter or police officer whether you know them or not. In this crazy messed up world we all live in, these are the men and women that hold everything together in times of trouble. God bless them all and thank you for doing what you do. Michael Yelton is the owner/ operator for The Granddaddy Fly Fishing Experience, LLC est. 2005. Michael has guided fly fishing trips for 17 years.

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at planting, and take the rest of the winter off. Even though there are no signs of growth above ground, the root systems will have time to get adjusted to their new location and begin to initiate new root growth. There are plenty of advantages of growing your own edibles. First of all, you know what has been done over the course of the growing season from a chemical stand point. Second, the fruit just taste

DECEMBER 2016

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New African Surf Rod Design Promises ‘Seven Seas’ Success By Mike Pehanich

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he landscape is stark off Namibia’s South Atlantic Coast. Sands end in sea, and, well, that’s about all there is to see! But these coastal waters where Jeri Drake and wife Sue fish and train for international surf fishing competition are loaded with game species, including copper sharks (“bronzies”), spotted gully, cow sharks, blue rays, smooth hounds and many more. You might never make it to Africa to fish these waters, but the tackle and techniques that Jeri—a master rod builder, innovator, member of Namibian President’s fishing team, and owner of Excalibur Tackle (www. excalibur-tackle.com ) in the town of Henties Bay—takes to the surf could find application on your coastal waters, too. Fishing is serious sport along the “Skeleton Coast,” particularly for tournament anglers who, armed with long rods and a fighting belt, often wade out several hundred yards to sandbanks, routinely casting 6- to 7-once sinkers and bait 100 to 160 yards or more to reach hard-fighting game fish. Rod design for Jeri Drake, known simply as “Jeri” in southern African fishing circles, has evolved into 14-foot and longer rods. He has developed his own blanks for this style of fishing, with unique handles featuring short butt sections and long fore grips, the latter measuring around 28 inches. The essential difference to U.S. style blanks is a ‘faster’ action, as opposed to the usual ‘through’ action. Jeri employs the same “reel down” design—reel positioned relatively close to the fighting belt—with surf rods he builds for both “fixed spool” (spinning) reels and conventional reels. The long fore grips allow fishermen to change the fulcrum point while fighting the fish. The “reel down” design also makes it easier to master more powerful casting techniques and thus achieve better distances. Wading through troughs and casting and fighting fish in sea spray calls

for a non-slip rod grip material. Jeri crafts his rod handles individually, wrapping Winn Superior Rod Wrap (www.winngrips.com ) directly over the large butt section of the rod blank. The all-weather WinnDry polymer, which also wraps easily over existing cork or EVA grips with its tape-like backing, retains its tacky feel even when he’s immersed in sea spray. In lieu of finishing tape, Jeri terminates the ends of the rod wrap with thread wrap and a finishing coat. This prevents seawater, sand particles and any other substance to undermine the grip material by seeping in between the wrap and blank. It also gives the handle a more finished look. To protect the polymer material from wear and punishment where rod butt meets rod belt, Jeri places a woven carbon sleeve above the butt button. The base of the rod wrap starts above the sleeve. This keeps the polymer from contacting the rod portal of the belt. Adapt some of Jeri’s surf rod tips to the rods in your arsenal. You’ll be tipping your cap to the tackle innovations of the avid anglers of southern Africa!

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UNDER THE SEA

SPEARFISHING WORLD RECORDS SHERI DAYE

M

ost people have heard of IGFA (International Game Fish Association), which manages world records for fishermen. But have you heard of IUSA (International Underwater Spearfishing Association)? IUSA keeps track of spearfishing world records. Both were founded more than 65 years ago and have a rich history—and both pride themselves for providing a universal code of sporting ethics as well as record keeping. The IUSA rules are fairly simple: the fish must be taken while freediving and using a muscle-powered speargun, sling or polespear. The catch must be legal, unassisted and weighed on a certified scale. The application must include photos of the weighing, dimensions and witness information. The categories are: men and women, saltwater and freshwater, speargun and sling/polespear. In other words, a woman can have a record black grouper taken by polespear in the ocean; a man can have a record walleye taken by a speargun in a lake, and so forth. I was inspired a few years ago to see if I could get a world record yellowfin tuna. That led me to learn to hold my breath, educate myself on equipment, get in better shape, learn all about tunas, save money for trips and make friends with other bluewater hunters. Having that goal set many other activities in motion.

I was fortunate to achieve my goal with a 179-pound tuna in Mexico. While the catch itself was exciting, I now realize that it’s the hunt, not the catch—or as they say, “it’s the journey, not the destination.” The lessons learned, the new friends made along the way, the memories—that is what becomes most precious over time. If you’re interested in pursuing a world record, here’s some quick tips: 1. Go where the fish are! Investigate areas, charters, and recent catches. 2. Use the right tool for the job. For example, Wong guns are known for bluewater hunting, Hammerhead is known for slings/polespears, etc. 3. Know the rules in advance so you don’t unwittingly disqualify a record. They can be found on the IUSA website at www. iusarecords.com. 4. Pack a certified scale and tape measure in your dive bag. You never know when that special catch will take place! Chatillon scales are known for being accurate and “certifiable.” 5. Above all, be safe and have fun. Records are an enjoyable pursuit, but they don’t compare to your health and wellbeing. With a bit of persistence and some luck, you might be able to immortalize the fish of a lifetime by claiming a world record. Life is short, so get out and enjoy it! Follow “Sheri Daye” & “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” April 22-23, 2017 – Ft. Lauderdale - Instagram and Facebook.

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Team MHX finds Success in 2016

H

FLW Photo

ow does a team that collectively won over $425K in 2015 go out and improve? “Maintaining the incredible work ethic of our anglers while working directly with our team to continue to develop the best blanks out there,” said Bob McKamey who is The Man when it comes to rod building and managing the team. FLW Tour pro John Cox started off the year with a bang at Lake Okeechobee with a top-12 cut and valuable AOY points. John narrowly missed the Angler of the Year in 2015 but had and extra spark when starting out the new season. An interesting side note to that Okeechobee event was Brad Hallman from Norman, Oklahoma, who was flipping dense reed heads with a custom-built MHX-FS966. “We didn’t initially know Brad was using our blanks until after the win,” Bob said. Come to find out, one of the MHX Regional Staff members Brandon Mosley, who fishes the COSTA series built Hallman’s rods before the event. So with just one event down in the FLW Tour, MHX Blanks had accounted for over $100k, not a bad start. Less than a month later, the Elite Series was on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Fla., and MHX Pro Brandon Lester found himself in the Day 1 lead and newest Team Member Bradley Roy was not far behind. Although he relinquished the lead over the next few days, Brandon and Bradley finished in the Top 20 to earn valuable AOY Points and nice paydays. Not to be outdone, John Cox and the FLW Tour were on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina the very same weekend, and Cox had the lead in that event. Although he did not win wire to wire, he was at the top when the smoke cleared on Sunday. With a Top-12 in the first event and a win in the second event, it seemed Cox wasted no time getting back to his

2015 form. On the regional event side, team member Brandon Mosley maintained a hot hand through the Costa Series and made two out of three cuts while building his rods as well as Hallman’s out on the FLW Tour. As the FLW Tour and Elite Series went on throughout the year, Cox, Roy and Lester continued to produce all while building their own rods. Cox, the most notable, who builds lake-specific rods in his hotel room during practice also has fellow anglers coming to him to fix a tip-top or a guide in an emergency. As the 2016 Season comes to a close, MHX has had an incredible year with multiple titles, a FLW Cup Championship and even team members headed to the Classic for the first time in their careers. Keep an eye out for the MHX Team as 2017 Season begins in January. If you are looking to build your own fishing rods check out MHX Rods at www.fishmhx.com and Mud Hole Custom Tackle at www.MudHole.com.

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How Does Harbor Freight Sell GREAT QUALITY Tools at the LOWEST Prices?

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At Harbor Freight Tools, the “comp at” price means that the same item or a similar functioning item was advertised for sale at or above the "comp at" price by another retailer in the U.S. within the past 180 days. Prices advertised by others may vary by location. No other meaning of "comp at" should be implied. For more information, go to HarborFreight.com or see store associate.

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R R 12 VOLT MAGNETIC PE ON PE ON SU UP Customer Rating TOWING LIGHT KIT SU UP CO CO

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The Angler Magazine-Dec. / Western North Carolina