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NORTH CAROLINA COUNCIL OF TROUT UNLIMITED — Serving TU members in the Old North State

Solstice Heath Cartee

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Get Back to Nature Kelly Bruce Page 20

The Hand of Winter Charles Crolley

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VOLUME 2Winter • NUMBER 1 • WINTER 20201 2020


4 Fly Tying in the Classroom 12 Summertime Adventures on the Fly 14 Solstice 18 Leave No Trace 20 Get Back To Nature 24 Raising Cane — Why Bamboo? 30 Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 32 Winter Impoundment Stockings 36 Dave’s Featured Fly Recipe 38

Restoring Native Brook Trout

42 Council News 46 Rivercourse 2019 50 Chapter News 54 The Hand of Winter All contents Ⓒ 2020 North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited and/or their respective owners. Contact Information: North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited • P.O. Box 2351 • Brevard, NC 28712 Council Chair: Mike Mihalas (mike@mihalas.com) Editor and Manager: Charles Crolley (charles@coldriverstudio.org) Graphic Design and Layout: Suzanne Crolley (suzanne@designsbysuzanne.com)


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Table of Contents photo by: Heath Cartee



inter is a wonderful time to be a trout angler in North Carolina. If you do not mind fishing in the cold, you can enjoy lots of solitude on the stream this time of year. On warmer days, you can even find a few trout willing to take a chance on a dry fly. As I write this, it is supposed to hit sixty degrees today and there are winter stoneflies on the window. This afternoon brings the possibility of my first dry fly trout for the year. Of course, trout fishing is not just about the fishing. In the colder climates where I have lived in the past, where the trout season ends and the rivers freeze over, you have the wintertime entirely dedicated to all the other activities that surround angling: tying flies, building rods, patching waders, replacing lines, and contemplating plans for the coming spring. It seems now I am always tying what I need for the next day, rather than starting the season with nice full fly boxes. In this issue of The Drift, you will find articles on winter trout fishing and all those other wintertime activities that surround angling, including building bamboo rods and tying flies. Appropriate to this season of contemplation, there are also articles on what trout fishing means for us and the benefits it can bring to our well-being. Looking ahead to spring, I wanted to make sure to get a date on your calendar. On April 3-5 North Carolina will be hosting the TU Southeast Regional Meeting in Hendersonville. All TU members are welcomed and encouraged to attend. It is a chance to do some fishing, meet new friends, and learn more about TU. Enjoy this issue of The Drift. I hope it inspires you to ties some flies or get out and do some winter trout fishing. Mike Mihalas Pisgah Forest

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Fly Tying Classroo IN THE


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g om


e all know about the tremendous success of the “Trout in the Classroom” program and how it’s touched the lives of many students, teachers and families. We’re excited to tell you about something new happening in schools here in North Carolina – “Fly Tying in the Classroom.” Blending science, creative arts and outdoor education, the program is a great way to introduce young people to fly fishing, teach them more about the importance of all coldwater aquatic species and their place in the food chain, and to teach them the basic craft of tying so they can let their imaginations run wild. Most of all, to let young people have big fun while learning something that may turn out to be a rewarding lifetime passion. We asked Sarah Justice, from Rosman Middle/High School and Greg Charles, from Clay County Schools about the programs they’ve started in their schools and communities, how they got going and overcame challenges like equipment and funding. We hope their stories will inspire you; perhaps for your chapter to partner with a school to kick off a pilot program, or if you’re an educator, to start a program in your own school.

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In January of 2019, Rosman Middle and Hi librarian Sarah Justice was grading Graduati Projects and realized that her library was mis great resource for her students--fly tying sup One of the seniors had tied flies for his proj in his journals he mentioned the difficulties in the beginning of the project because he co afford the supplies. Eventually he was able to vise and all the tools needed to complete the but upon reading this journal entry, Mrs. Ju light bulb moment.

She needed fly tying vises and tools in the sc library. Her students needed access to these. and fly fishing is a huge part of our commun culture and should be accessible to all. But w library, you ask? Well, if you have not visited library recently, you should. The school libr the place to conduct research, read books, an all the traditional activities, but it is also the making and creating and exploring. So after brainstorming, discussion, and lesson plann Rosman High’s Agriculture teacher, Heather a plan was formed.

The first step in fly tying at Rosman High wa funding. The North Carolina School Librar Association offers an annual grant of up to $ members of the organization who create coll projects with teachers. Mrs. Justice immedia in her application with the rationale for nee project to be funded being that the Natural R curriculum specifically states, “Instructor’s N This material can only serve to organize inst and discussion. It is imperative that the tech presented are demonstrated, discussed and p whenever practical.” If Mrs. McNeely was fol the curriculum, she needed to follow it all th through. The curriculum specifically includ and fly fishing, so obviously it had to be don and not just in theory.

Fast forward a few months and the grant was Mrs. Justice and Mrs. McNeely soon learned $1000 would not go very far when it came to enough supplies for twenty students. With th Donors Choose project and some creative fu they were able to purchase twenty vises and to and the basic starting supplies to create a few After meeting with Chris Franzen at Headwa Outfitters to order supplies, the project was Winter 2020

n Middle and High School

igh School ion ssing a pplies. ject and s he had ould not o borrow a e project, ustice had a

chool . Fly tying nity’s why the d a school rary is nd do e place of r a bit of ning with r McNeely,

as ry Media $1000 for laborative ately put eding this Resources Note: truction hniques practiced, llowing he way des fly tying ne hands on

s funded! d that o buying he help of a undraising, ool kits w flies. aters s a go. The

call for volunteer help was sent out and members from Trout Unlimited responded. On October 7, the library was turned into a fly tying workshop.With basic instruction from Mrs. Justice and Mrs. McNeely (and the wonders of YouTube) along with the volunteer help of Trout Unlimited members Walter Wilson, Alan MacDonald, Kevin Henebry, and Ken Kinard, students in Natural Resources I learned to tie the San Juan Worm, Woolly Bugger, and Girdle Bug. Chris Franzen also spent a day giving instruction in the mechanics of fly tying. Students heard about the wonders of the area rivers and abundance of fly fishing. They were able to view many different types of flies tied by the volunteer helpers and begin to understand the impact this activity has on our area’s culture. By week’s end, the students had created multiple flies to add to their new collections. Many took these flies home to show off to parents and siblings and a few returned to the library during free time at lunch to tie more flies since the vises and supplies will now be available to all of the students at Rosman Middle and High. Mrs. Justice has even started a fly tying club for middle school students. Two of the high school students in the Natural Resources class volunteered to help with this club. These two girls will also be traveling to Rosman Elementary with Mrs. Justice to help Mr. John Brinkley with his elementary fly tying group. Through this project, students were introduced to not only a creative activity but also a possible career. The largest employers in the county include the school system and the hospital, but the largest economic impact on the county is tourism. Tourism accounted for almost $100 million in county revenue last year. Tourists enjoy access to all of the natural resources in our area while hiking, biking, and fishing. Many of our residents are also involved in these recreational activities but these activities also provide a large employment opportunity for our residents. Some of our former students are now working in the tourism industry as business owners, trail guides, and fishing guides. Our students have grown up being engaged in these outdoor activities and have discovered ways to create job opportunities. Thanks to the generosity of grants, donors, and volunteers, Rosman High has been able to teach our students more than what’s between the cover of a book—and it was even taught in the library! Winter 2020



Clay County My name is Greg Charles, and I work for the Clay County NC school district as a network engineer going on my 18th year, where an idea of sharing my passion for fly-fishing and fly tying with students in the school district began to take shape. After mentoring some of the at-risk students for 16 years or so, I stumbled upon a conduit to a means of engaging these kids in something positive. I was able to make a connection through fly tying to break the ice more often than not with even the most detached kids. On my desk, I kept a vise and some loose tying stuff when one of these students asked me what it was. Hmmmmmm.

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Administrators would bring me those students having a tough time at home or struggling with behavior issues. Some I could connect with and some I could not.

to try to keep them in school.

I had no real training other than a tough time growing up myself, where my father took his own life when I had just turned 12 years old. The next 8 years were a catastrophic train wreck and a complete loss for me. I got into drugs and a lot of trouble, a lot….a whole lot.

In deciding which needed to come first — the cart or the horse — knew I needed the “stuff” to get the kids engaged and buying into my idea. I put out some “HELP” postings on Facebook fly tying and fishing pages and received some amazing support for what I was trying to get started.

I am 57 now and have a very happy, healthy and productive last 37 years to look back on and cherish. In knowing what these kids were heading for I found a need and began looking for ways

I had sold guitars, drums, tools…most everything I could part with to amass a suitable inventory of fly tying materials to give a meaningful and

Through the years, I have been accruing materials, vises and tools for growing a youth flyfishing club.

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well-rounded experience to these kids. I contacted some companies where I had been doing business, developed friendships, and asked if they could help us in anyway. I’d never done anything like this in the past, and I was just winging it. When I felt I could field a decent class I began approaching local school administrators, guidance counselors and teachers in discussing my ideas where I received very warm welcomes and support. I found ways to work our course work into science teachers’ curriculum in 8th grade as well as the high school grades. My target was going to be 5th through 12th grades. Any younger and I was concerned with fine motor skills and sharp objects being a hazard (not to mention the occasional tears when the thread breaks, but I only did that once and it was on a long time ago….). To start, I was funding everything out of my own pocket with many sideways looks from my wife of 30 years. It was slow going and a little scary at first (still scary). I continued working with the kids at school when the admins would send them to me and started my first after school youth fly fishing club at Murphy middle school in Cherokee county: the Cherokee county ‘On the Fly’ student anglers club. We started in October with six and kept all six throughout the school year where we ended our first year with a fishing trip and picnic. Learning a lot from starting the first club on my own, I saw the need for some structure and

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credentials behind my efforts and connected with the Cooperative extension office in Clay county where I work and made the 4-H connection as a volunteer. The benefits of being with 4-H are many. Vetting of volunteers is a huge one, taxexempt status credentials was another. A vast resource of knowledge and support was also high up there for me. In January the next year, I began the Clay county 4-H ‘Flyers and Tyers’ club (members voted on the name they picked). That club started with eight and has grown to thirteen members while losing and gaining kids along the way. Both clubs are going strong where we try to keep it fun while sneaking in some science and life stuff while we are at it. I continue to beat the bushes for financial support as trying to fund two youth fly fishing clubs from my own pocket is not sustainable (my wife told me this ;)). I have had many individuals and companies step up to support us. Many fly tyers who had amassed stockpiles of unneeded/wanted materials donated. Andy Browne with Fly Tying Source out of Dunlap Tennessee made a huge donation of hooks, beads and thread that really helped get us started. Maxcatchfishing.com have donated dozens of fly boxes, fly tying materials and a 50% discount allowing me to purchase complete fly fishing outfits for every member. Other companies have given significant discounts and donations. After we got started, a friend from Facebook whom I had never met in person contacted me wanting to help us. After we discussed my vision for our clubs and immediate needs he bestowed upon us a gift of

a $25,000 grant for my Clay county 4-H club. This was in the works for a long time leading to the 4-H connection to facilitate the grantors tax needs. This same individual has committed to a matching grant for my Cherokee county club when I can get that converted to a 4-H club. Both of these grants are recurring grants every 5 years. Through the process, I learned the kids want to “DO”. Their successes at things like just starting the thread or getting the whip finish right fed their desire to learn as well as sense of accomplishment. All kids learn differently and I am not an educator but this became apparent quickly. Being fluid in a curriculum became a necessity and adapting and improvising became the norm. I found group projects were a good way for those with different strengths and weaknesses to work together and complement each other.

Keeping our classes and time together “fun” just happened on its own when I did not get in the way. When it comes to getting kids involved in good wholesome healthy things like fly fishing and conservation, I found support for my efforts came from every direction I sought it. Contests were also a good tool for learning, including some research on chosen patterns, creator and material used. Each student presented his or her research with the finished fly. I had been collecting fly-fishing gear for these contests so the students could win decent prizes, like complete fly-fishing combos, sling packs, fly fishing vest/backpack, fly rods chest packs, waist packs, fly fishing collectibles and such. I am still flying by the seat of my pants with these kids but so far, we are managing to stay aloft. Winter 2020



Fly By Carole Deddy


Winter 2020


decided to leave Western North Carolina this summer to avoid the volume of tourists and warm water temperatures. While I have been to Belize several times before, this adventure involved several flights ending with airfare to La Placencia, Belize and then a boat ride to a small private cay on the second largest barrier reef in the world. Six of us shared three modest cabins on “Tarpon Cay� with limited electricity and cistern water. Belizian guides coached us to sight large tarpon, huge permit and moderately sized bonefish. We also landed huge barracuda with a 10 weight rod. We picked up tons of live conch. The conch and barracuda were prepared for dinner. The Belize barrier reef had onefoot tides and 80° water. The 130 mile Reef is shallow thus the snorkeling was scenic. We were usually on the water by 6 a.m., came back for breakfast at 10:30 a.m and siesta till 4 p.m. during the heat of the day. My annual trek to meet up with my west coast friends at the Old Hookers Lodge in Ft. Smith, Montana on the Big Horn River did not disappoint. We landed an abundance of large wild trout, a few predatory walleye, giant carp, and whitefish on a six-weight rod. We floated almost ten miles each day with lots of challenging wading riffles. Wade fishing resulted in a lot of break-offs for me when the fish got into the fast current and pulled faster than this ole lady could run. My last adventure was to La Ventana on the Baja Peninsula. Fishing the Sea of Cortez was like fishing in a deep clear water aquarium. Hundreds of fish species and plentiful landings of large dorado, rooster fish, tuna and jacks on 10 and 12 weight rods. It was my first time to Baja and the most diverse salt water fishing I have ever experienced. We did not troll or spin fish, jumped off the boat and swam to deserted beaches to cool off. It was hot and humid. On the last day, Hurricane Lorena turned and made an expected direct hit on La Ventana extending our stay three days without electricity, roads, medical assistance, or airline flights. Some of the rooms sustained major damage and had sand wash up to the tops of couches, metal shutters ripped off, and roads disappeared. There was no internet or telephone service to reach airlines so the unknown added intrigue. In addition to flats fishing on oyster beds for red fish, Baja is my very favorite saltwater adventure.

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Winter 2020

SOLSTICE By Heath Cartee


t started with a light rain that quickly turned to pellets of ice. The initial

excitement and anxiety of an expected snowstorm dwindled almost immediately at the sight of the little ice pellets. It was a reminder

Winter 2020


is a well with an electric pump it’s not just heat and cooking you have to worry about.

that while the Pisgah mountains are grand and tall, they are also still very much in the south. Quick checks of the radar showed the line of pink separating the green from the blue. This demarcation is a line, along which those of us who live north of it, can boast of having true winters and the nasty weather that accompanies. It is a source of pride for those of us who reside here year-round. After the storm we will compare notes with family and friends in neighboring counties and states as to who had the most snow, who was without power the longest, who suffered the most. Suffering through, and even more so, successfully suffering through, a winter storm is a badge of honor amongst those of us who live on the line between the subtropical lowlands and the somewhat sub boreal climate of the highlands. The tops of the mountains here give you just a taste of the climates of northern Maine or southern Canada, with their conifer forests and long winters. Of course, we all live in the valley well below this area but like to associate ourselves with it as much as possible. Overnight the ice pellets began to turn to a heavy wet snow. It clung to the trees, eaves of the roof, the porch banister, and the cars parked at the bottom of the hill. The wet snow weighed down the tops of the shallow rooted pines and the dying hemlocks, and snapped or toppled them over into the power lines. When the power went out we watched the firework display of exploding transformers in the darkening valley. We were prepared with flashlights, propane stoves and lanterns, a stack of firewood, bathtubs full of water for flushing a toilet, and a large jug of fresh water on the dining room table. When your water source


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The next morning we opened the blinds on the windows to a flood of light. The day was overcast and snow was still falling, but there was enough reflection from what had fallen the night before to make a pair of sunglasses necessary. We spent the rest of the day huddled by the fire, watching the flakes fall outside, and checking the batteries on our cell phones. This was the fun part of the weather. We cooked outside, went to bed when it got dark, and read books instead of watching TV. When the snow stopped it was up to my knees. The pines that lined the drive were bowed over till their tops touched where the gravel path had been. Hiking down the hill I found that the cars were fine but the dirt roads were all blocked by fallen trees. The main road had not yet been plowed and the neighbors were wandering around much the same as I was. We were looking for something to do, but not really sure what was to be done. It would be this way for a few days. There would be a slight thaw at noon and then a hard refreeze at night. The weather forecast said there was a warm front bringing rain later in the week. Eventually the power came back on and shortly after the warm front moved in. The slow drizzle began to fall. A warm front with a gentle rain after a cold heavy snow in the North Carolina mountains is a scene so foul and nasty as to be comical. The droplets fall quiet and steady while the oversaturated air is condensed into a thick colloidal suspension just above the still frozen, and snow covered ground. The slow and viscous fog creeps its way down the hill and through the valley like molasses from a mason jar. Walking through the frozen woods, with this blanket of moisture hiding your view of the next bend or turn in the trail or road, is a surreal experience and you can feel its eerie, unsettlingly hand slipping up the back of your shirt and gripping your neck near the base of your skull. You laugh at the absurdity. It’s too disturbing and disheartening to be real. You know it’s going to affect your mood, but for now you are still resistant to its downward pull. A few days pass and you’re thinking that maybe it’s time to see what the fish are doing. The water is cold, high, and inky black. At mid-day there is a short window of activity and you see a few fish rise to blue winged olives in a long slick below a slow riffle. You’d rather be bird hunting with the dog

right now, but you know impassable and the forest the dirt roads closed anyw the paved roads in the va

The leader has been exte or fourteen feet and tape of 7X. The tiny blue wing languishing in your box s too big but you hope for fish. The first few casts ar rising pod. You’ve been w a dog, shot gun in hand, months. Your casting arm There is another pod of fi up and coach yourself, ta yourself that you can pull off.

The first cast sails smooth and reach the long leader fish, and the line and bu aim was off, but you’ve be decent rainbow moves an with confidence. You set and lose him somewhere pool. It’s not just your ca few more, smaller, fish ta to land one of them, but less. It’s nice when they r ice-cold water. The fog c some way you know it’s ti

Back at the parking lot yo anglers. They’ve all had t caught a few good ones d a soft hackle, but he’s in rest of you: everyone has back.

Driving out of the forest the fly shop. You don’t n take the temperature of t fifty bucks on hooks, bea pheasant tails anyway. Th is cordial and seems happ conversation reveals that back of the neck as well.

There is something abou I’m sure hunters have a b but they do not seem as p hikers, skiers, mountain folks; but I do notice tha and taps in their respecti this demographic of folks choose to do it with a fly,

the high elevations are t service probably has all way, a rising trout near alley will have to do.

ended to around twelve ered to a long thin piece g cripple, that has been since last winter, is still a dumb or aggressive re poor and put down the walking up hill, behind for most of the last few m is a bit out of practice. fish upstream so you move alk to your arm, reassure l this delicate presentation

hly out and you check r placing the fly above the utt section to the left. Your een living right, and a nd takes the artificial fly t the hook, play the fish, e out in the middle of the asting that’s a little rusty. A ake the fly and you manage t you couldn’t really care release themselves in this creeps downstream and in ime to go.

ou speak to a few other the same sort of day. One drifting egg patterns and no better mood than the s winter’s icy hand up their

you decide to drop in at need anything except to the place, but you spend ads, wire, skins, and he guy behind the counter py to see you, but further something has him by the

ut winter and fishermen. bit of this in them too, prone. I am unsure about bikers and other outdoors at they tend to have bars ive shops. I find it odd that s, and especially those who , are so seasonally affected.

I find it odd but certainly not uncommon. Is it the practice that causes this disturbance in our humors, or is it the disturbance that leads to our practice? I find comfort and comedy in a favorite quote, from a favorite book, by a favorite author… “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people‘s hats off ­— then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.” —Ishmael (Moby Dick) Here we find a man in much the same mood, and certainly a result of the same cold, dark, dreary and soggy weather pattern that has crept its way into his warm soul. And what is Melville’s answer for the infirmity of his character Ishmael? Well, to go fishing no less. But it is not relief that Ishmael seeks. There is no promise of brighter days or higher spirits. And so it is with we foul weather fishermen. Relief will come in due time. Warm spring days filled with the smell of damp moss and the hopes of evening hatches will come. The disorienting euphoria of casting to numerous rising fish in fading twilight is still months away, yet it is promised. Daydreams of these moments fill our heads and encourage our stiff and cracked hands as we toil away at the minutia of steel, fur and feather; pinched between the jaws of the tying vice. If we are not careful we could live in this promise, spend our waking hours fretting over hackle gauges and the stripping of strands of peacock swords. We could day dream away these dark days in the hope of spring, and busy ourselves lining our boxes till they are bursting at the seams with Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ears, Frenchies with little pink collars, delicately tied spinners, emergers, cripples, and duns of Hendricksons, Sulphurs, Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, March Browns, and Yellow Sallies. We could sit by the warmth of the fire and settle into a book of arcane and esoteric knowledge;

learning to speak of our patterns and their living counterparts in a dead language. This is the risk we run in trying to use fishing as an escape from the dark dank cellar of our hibernal minds. This is not its place. To escape we have holidays, friends, family, laughing children, the giving and receiving of gifts, college sports, cheap air fare, hot toddies, eggnog, single malt scotch, and streaming television. To escape we have distractions, comforts, and numbing agents. These are all well and good, and should be used and applied accordingly. Fishing, however, is not an escape but an embrace. To venture out to the winter water, cloaked in the best layers one can afford to pursue a quarry, itself quite comfortable in the environs of the lower end of the thermometer yet still sluggish and reluctant on these frigid days, is to thumb ones nose at the creatures that may lurk in that clammy fog that creeps its way down river to join and carry away the hovering breath from your very lungs. That breath now hanging before your face waiting to meld with its great lumbering mother. You have come not to escape the monster, but to join it. Wrap yourself in the wet woolen blanket of the winter woods, feel her grasp at the top of your spine, breathe out your own fog into her sullen face, and chuckle at her gloomy grasp. You are here, and alive.

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NO TRAC By Jessica Whitmire


he start of a New Year brings a mixed bag of emotions for most us. We reflect on the past, plan for the future, and challenge ourselves with resolutions we hope last. For a month, we all probably wish we owned some stock in our local gym, as we see memberships skyrocket with people wanting to shed those Holiday pounds and get in shape. All well and good, and I am a big believer in setting goals and challenging yourself. But this year, I want to challenge everyone to think beyond our weight on a scale and take a big look at how heavy our footprint is on our environment. Think back on the past year ...how many times did you use single use plastic? How many times did you not recycle? Where can you do better? This holiday season, REI announced a full on #OpttoAct plan along with the #OptOutside campaign. Their goal is to not only get more people outside, but to engage those people to take action to make the environment around them better. This 52-week challenge lays out ideas and actions we can all take to


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make our world a better place. So as you plan your New Yea Resolutions this year, I want to plead with you to consider g to https://www.rei.com/blog/stewardship/the-opt-to-act-plan

Whether you decide to do the whole 52week challenge or not is up to you, please consider making lifestyle chang to lighten your daily environmental footprint. Cut out single use plastic. While we see less and less historical trash in our yearly river cleans along the French Broad River, we see a heav increase in plastics. Countless plastic bottles, shopping bags, and packaging Think about buying as local as possibl to cut out the packaging and emission of mass shipping products. There are so many ways we can make a positive difference for our local rivers and streams by just changing some minor habits we all have. For more information about how to walk with a Leave No Trace Footprint while on the water, visit https://www. americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/stewardship:lnt



ar‘s going

but ges


g. le ns e

Join REI in making the fight for life outdoors part of your life with The Opt to Act Plan—52 weeks of simple actions to reduce your impact, get active, and leave the world better than you found it. Get the full details on each weekly action at REI.com/blog/stewardship/the-opt-to-act-plan

03 08 13 18 23 28 33 38 43 48

04 09 14 19 24 29 34 39 44 49

05 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

01 06 11 16 21 26 31 36 41 46 51

02 07 12 17 22 27 32 37 42 47 52

D E C . 1 – 7, 20 19

D E C . 8 – 14 , 20 19

Make cleaning up a part of your daily habits.

Go bagless. Carry reusable bags for all shopping.

D E C . 1 5 – 2 1 , 20 19

D E C . 2 2 – 2 8 , 20 19

D E C . 29 –JA N. 4 , 20 19

JA N. 5 – 1 1 , 2020

JA N. 1 2 – 1 8 , 2020

Opt out of junk mail.

Forgo traditional wrapping paper to cut down on waste this holiday season.

Make your New Year’s resolution an environmentally sustainable one...for example, keep following this plan.

Get familiar with your local recycling and composting options and guidelines.

Recycle snack wrappers in a Subaru Loves the Earth TerraCycle bin at your local REI.

JA N. 19 – 2 5, 2020

JA N. 26 – F E B . 1 , 2020

F E B . 2 – 8 , 2020

F E B . 9 – 1 5, 2020

F E B . 1 6 – 2 2 , 2020

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by getting out and serving others.

Try to go paperless for one day this week.

Call your utility companies to ask about green energy options.

This Valentine’s Day give a plant or local in-season flowers instead of roses.

Go meatless one day this week.

F E B . 2 3 – 29, 2020

M A RC H 1 – 7, 2020

M A RC H 8 – 14 , 2020

M A RC H 1 5 – 2 1 , 2020

M A RC H 2 2 – 2 8 , 2020

Switch to electronic bill notifications and payment.

Ask a friend to join you in reducing your impact and acting on climate change.

Count the number of singleuse plastic items you use this week.

Try to use half as many single-use plastic items as last week.

Spring cleaning time! Donate old items instead of throwing them out.

M A RC H 29 –A P R I L 4 , 2020

A P R I L 5 – 1 1 , 2020

A P R I L 1 2 – 1 8 , 2020

A P R I L 19 – 2 5, 2020

A P R I L 26 –M AY 3 , 2020

Buy food in bulk and bring your own containers and bags to the store.

Leave washable cutlery and tableware at work for greener lunches.

Read up on environmental issues on the Co-op Journal.

Celebrate Earth Day by contacting your local representative to advocate for environmental action.

Unplug home appliances you rarely use to save energy.


M AY 3 – 9, 2020

M AY 1 0 – 1 6, 2020

M AY 17 – 2 3 , 2020

M AY 24 – 3 0, 2020

M AY 3 1 –J U N E 6, 2020

Don’t wash your jeans all month.

Plant something native and green this week.

Use public transportation, carpool, bike or walk to one event this week.

Ditch the chemicals. Warm water, vinegar and elbow grease make a great household cleaner.

Volunteer for a trail cleanup to celebrate National Trails Day.

J U N E 7 – 1 3 , 2020

J U N E 14 – 20, 2020

J U N E 2 1 – 27, 2020

J U N E 2 8 –J U LY 4 , 2020

J U LY 5 – 1 1 , 2020

Find a way to do without one item on your shopping list.

Add a book about an environmental issue to your summer reading list.

Check your tire pressure to ensure optimal gas mileage.

Become water wise in your home through mindful showering and dishwashing.

Save money and energy. Switch to LED light bulbs in one room.

J U LY 1 2 – 1 8 , 2020

J U LY 19 – 2 5, 2020

J U LY 26 –AUG. 1 , 2020

AUG. 2 – 8 , 2020

AUG. 9 – 1 5, 2020

Repair an item instead of purchasing a new one.

Use your windows and shades to heat and cool your home.

Find a moment this week to be awed by nature.

Shop in person, locally and seasonally.

Buy or make plastic-free and nontoxic laundry detergent.

AUG. 1 6 – 2 2 , 2020

AUG. 2 3 – 29, 2020

AUG. 3 0 – S E P T. 5, 2020

S E P T. 6 – 1 2 , 2020

S E P T. 1 3 – 19, 2020

Rent or borrow one item you were going to buy this week.

Celebrate the 104th anniversary of the National Park Service by getting outside.

Sip more soundly and take a closer look at your beverage choices.

Skip the dryer. Hang dry your laundry this week.

Wipe wisely: Use Forest Stewardship Council-certified and 100% post-consumer recycled content toilet paper.

S E P T. 20 – 26, 2020

S E P T. 27 – O CT. 3 , 2020

O CT. 4 – 1 0, 2020

O CT. 1 1 – 17, 2020

O CT. 1 8 – 24 , 2020

Save money and water by installing water-efficient fixtures.

Make sure you and three friends are registered to vote.

Take a four-hour break from technology one day this week. (Sleeping doesn’t count.)

Read your voters’ pamphlet. Be informed on candidates’ environmental positions.

If you don’t need it immediately, consider a slower shipping option.

O CT. 2 5 – 3 1 , 2020

N OV. 1 – 7, 2020

N OV. 8 – 14 , 2020

N OV. 1 5 – 2 1 , 2020

N OV. 2 2 – 2 8 , 2020

Attempt to create zero food waste this week.

Vote for life outdoors. Election Day is this Tuesday.

Set your thermostat one degree lower this week.

Check the sustainability attributes of items you buy regularly.

Celebrate a year of action by joining REI to #OptOutside once again!

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Winter 2020

Fishing for Better Health?

Get Back to Nature by Kelly Bruce, Founder and Guide, Natural Wanders


fter I’ve just caught and released a fish, you’ll often find me sitting on a rock, blissfully watching the water. Not necessarily looking for the next trout to target, but gazing at the eddies and ripples, watching how the river flows effortlessly, bringing life and nourishment to everything it touches. For me, fly fishing isn’t all about catching. It’s about immersing myself in nature — wading through the water and washing my worries away. It’s about finding some peace and quiet in a world full of stress, overstimulation and uncertainty. Perhaps you can relate. You see, I had a life-changing experience in nature about 18 months ago. I’ve always been an outdoor aficionado — camping, hiking, paddling and fishing. I thought I already possessed a deep connection with nature. However, I realized I was always on a mission: catch that fish, get to the summit of that peak/ waterfall/scenic vista/fill in the blank. After years of discontent, depression and trying to numb an insatiable itch with trips, accumulating more material

possessions [hello, gear addiction] and subsequently debt, I had an epiphany. When I finally granted myself permission to be truly quiet and still, fully present in the moment, I discovered a whole new level of happiness and inner peace. Sitting on a boulder along the bank of Sonoma Creek in California during a forest therapy retreat, my anxiety melted away. Not only did I connect more deeply to nature, I reconnected with myself. The fog lifted and I was able to pinpoint what genuinely mattered in my life. I was able to get out of my head and into my heart, body and soul. While many folks my age are going through a midlife crisis, I’m in the midst of a beautiful renaissance. Today, I’m a certified forest therapy guide, living a purposeful life filled with joy, and pursuing my dreams. I owe an immense debt of gratitude for this life-altering epiphany to the practice of nature and forest therapy. Let me explain how it works. The practice of nature and forest therapy is gaining popularity worldwide for the

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plethora of health benefits it provides. The Washington Post proclaimed it as the ‘Latest fitness trend to hit U.S. — Where yoga was 30 years ago.’ Fear not! It’s accessible to all ages/ability levels and doesn’t involve getting naked in a creek or submerging in a bathtub in the middle of the woods. Although I won’t discourage either of those methods; whatever floats your boat! Here’s a little history: Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” or immersing oneself in a forest atmosphere, began in the 1980s. As the tech boom sky rocketed, it was paralleled by a staggering rise in physical and mental illness. After years of sciencebased research funded by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, forest bathing was employed as a form of healing medicine and preventative health care. Although the form I practice is inspired by ShinrinYoku, this version of forest therapy takes it a couple steps further and refers to spending time in nature in a way that invites healing for both us, our fraught ecosystems, and our community. That’s something I believe is closely aligned with the Trout Unlimited mission. Scientific studies have proven that spending time in nature deeply enhances wellness, creativity and happiness. I think we fishermen/women inherently understand that, but did you know that many trees produce organic compounds called phytoncides, a natural defense against disease and parasites? Humans reap the rewards when they breathe in these compounds which boost our natural killer (NK) cells, helping to fight diseases like cancer. The practice of nature and forest therapy emphasizes the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in a forest or natural environment. Rivers and streams are prime sources for nourishment and healing. However, we can only dive so deep when left to our own devices. As fishing guides help us find and catch trophy fish, forest therapy guides provide opportunities for enhanced levels of health and wellbeing.


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Nature and forest therapy walks are a wonderful form of self-care for all ages. With the help of a guide certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT), guests are led through a series of invitations during a leisurely walk on a gentle trail or pathway. Walks typically last two to three hours and participants have the opportunity to slow down, be present and engage their many senses. The group gathers for council discussions after each invitation, a way of learning from and teaching each other while discussing this shared experience. It’s a chance to engage in real face-toface interaction in our increasingly digital world. Walks culminate in a tea ceremony – often steeped from plants found on the walk – another element of sharing and community-building. “After the walk, I felt calm, peaceful, less busy in my mind, like I had released some self-induced pressure,” California resident Elena Nolden said after we took a forest therapy walk together last year in Colorado. “I have a lot of self expectations and I felt released from that.” It‘s amazing what nature reveals when we give ourselves permission to slow down, quiet our minds and awaken our senses.

My observation is that each person gets exactly what they need from nature during these guided walks. I’ve seen moms get the stress relief they so desperately desired, and I’ve also witnessed survivors of severe trauma suffering from PTSD have the breakthroughs they needed to emerge from a dark depression and begin the next chapter of their lives. However, like yoga or fishing, forest therapy is a practice. With each invitation and each walk comes a deeper connection to nature, community and self.

The ANFT motto is, “The forest is the therapist, the guide opens the door.” Guides are not therapists. However, we are trained to lead a sequence of carefully crafted invitations, unique to that particular environment and audience, providing an opportunity for enhanced nature connection.

The next time you find yourself on the river, lake or ocean for a fishing trip, take a deep breath. Inhale the fresh air. Listen to the birds and the sounds of the water. Unload your gear, sit down on a rock and notice all the beauty that surrounds you. Or better yet, find a forest therapy guide in your area and enjoy the enhanced benefits of a guided walk. You’ll experience nature with a renewed sense of wonder and awe, reaping the health rewards along the way. And your fishing trips will never be the same — even if you don’t catch a single fish!

Natural Resources Check out these books to learn more about the many benefits of nature and forest therapy. Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature By M. Amos Clifford The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative By Florence Williams Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness By Dr. Qing Li

About The Author Kelly Bruce is a freelance adventurer and mermaid at heart. Based in Hendersonville, North Carolina, she loves fly fishing and exploring the country with her hound dog and 1960 Airstream trailer in tow. Her career has spanned the journalism, public relations and communications fields, but her true passion is spending time in nature and inspiring others to get outside. Kelly is certified as a forest therapy guide by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy and as a Level 1 + 2 SUP Instructor by the American Canoe Association. She is thrilled to bring forest therapy to Western North Carolina. Follow her on Instagram @ naturalwanders.us or visit www.NaturalWanders.us to learn more. To find a guide in your neck of the woods, visit www.NatureAndForestTherapy.org.

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Winter 2020


“WHY BAMBOO?” By John Kies

Note: All photographs courtesy of Bill Oyster, Oyster Fine Bamboo Fly Rods

Why Bamboo? What makes this somewhat archaic material so special that some devote their lives to it? Those questions begin to find some answers from three seasoned and skilled craftspeople I know; those who build these rods of grass.

Rusty Berrier: “My favorite part of the process is the design phase-selecting the hardware, grip shape, wrap colors and layout-and I hate the tedium of trimming the tag ends of tippings, singeing them, etc…” Skip Sheldon: “Bill Oyster came to one of our TU meetings and did a presentation on Bamboo rods and his classes for building them. I had always wanted a really good Bamboo rod and decided that this was the way to get one.“

builder but goes beyond practicing his craft to sharing it with others as a master teacher. Bamboo, specifically Tonkin Bamboo, is a unique material which while known for its beauty, is most notable for its organic strength. Bamboo, like many man-made materials, is a composite of long fiber strands running the full length of the

Bill Oyster: Just after the ’96 Olympic Trials I suffered a career ending fall while training. Suddenly I had time and energy to spare and poured it all into my fly fishing interests. Still in my twenties, I soon took an interest in bamboo fly rods. I loved the beauty and history and hoped to obtain one for myself. The more I learned about these rods, the more I became intrigued by the craft itself. More questions and answers follow, but to expand the introduction, Rusty is long time member of Trout Unlimited, involved in all leadership aspects for the both Council and Chapter. Skip is a relative newcomer to bamboo rod building but has found it consuming and rewarding. Further, he looks ahead to legacy. Bill is a professional rod builder with an international reputation as rod

bamboo plant. If you look at a cross section of bamboo you can see these fibers as a dot in the matrix. If you compare typical bamboo with Tonkin bamboo you see the structural difference. The longitudinal fibers are far more dense in the Tonkin, hence its great strength. To learn more, I asked all three builders

the same questions about their interests and experience with building and fishing bamboo. The questions, and their answers, follow. What was your first hands-on exposure to bamboo rods and was your first bamboo rod a purchase or a build, or maybe a used rod? Skip: “The first bamboo rod I had any experience with belonged to my Grandfather. I got it when my Dad passed away and fished it a couple of times, but it is a 9 ft. 7 or 8 wt. rod designed for fishing out West, so it didn’t do very well on our local streams. It did awaken in me the interest in bamboo rods, so I picked up a couple of cheap ones on the used market and fished them some, but they didn’t perform well and there was no pride of ownership with them.” Bill: “Just after the ’96 Olympic Trials I suffered a career ending fall while training. Suddenly I had time and energy to spare and poured it all into my fly fishing interests. I spent time doing anything I could in the fly fishing world from tying flies at the trade shows to teaching casting and guiding for area fly shops. In my twenties, I soon took an interest in bamboo fly rods. I loved the beauty and history and hoped to obtain one for myself.”

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Rusty: My first fly rod was a black lacquered cheap bamboo that my Dad got from somewhere in Ohio, during our three year exile in Cleveland. He gave it to me to use when I was 8 years old and I remember vividly the crunch of Granddaddy’s car door a few years later. I didn’t get another bamboo until almost 50. I started rolling my own rods on fiberglass blanks in my teens, but an early marriage/divorce followed by what

Jim Mills helped me match up some of them, select ferrules and told me how to fit them, and talked me into buying a kit from Angler’s Roost to try before using the blanks I had. I finished out the kit and was hooked. Skip: Bill Oyster came to one of our TU meetings and did a presentation on Bamboo rods and his classes for building them. I had always wanted a really good Bamboo rod and decided that this was the way to get one. It also was a way to make something that could be passed down to my sons after I was gone. I have some level of woodworking experience, but would not consider myself a “craftsman” by any stretch Bill: I loved the beauty and history of bamboo fly rods and hoped to obtain one for myself. The more I learned about these rods, the more I became intrigued by the craft itself. At that time there was no one around to mentor my interest in rod making and no internet with its endless stream of information. So it was through a small stack of dusty books and countless hours of trial and error that I slowly put together my own style of employing these traditional techniques. How many have you built to date and what was/is your favorite?

I refer to as the boozy/floozy decade cut into my fishing until the late ‘80’s, when I started fishing instead-healthier. How did you decide to build your first bamboo rod? Were you already experienced at that level of hand crafting or did you have to learn everything to build your rod? Rusty: I started building graphite rods about then until a friend gave me a box of mixed sections from the old Thomas & Thomas shop. I took them to the first rod builder show in High Point and 26

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Skip: My first rod was a design suggested by Bill for fishing our local streams. He has fished our streams many times and developed, or knew of, a rod design that would work very well for short casts into tight places, for small fish, such as we have on so many of on our streams. The rod is an 8 ft. 9 inch, 5 weight, light action, with a fine tip. This rod works extremely well on our streams and it is my favorite rod. I bought an Orvis CFO reel for it and this is the outfit I reach for most of the time to fish our local waters. The only problem is that I have a whole bunch of really nice (and expensive) graphic rods sitting in my rod rack and are almost never fished. For my second Oyster rod I decided to go with a design to use on bigger waters and with larger flies and streamers, so

I built an 8 ft. 6 weight design. It came out just as nice as the first rod and I have used it on my trips to the San Juan with great success. I also put an Orvis CFO reel on it and find this a perfect outfit for fishing larger water or when I want to toss bigger flies. With these two rods, I cover almost all of my fishing needs and have one to pass on to each of my Sons, so I am probably done with my Bamboo rod building, unless the “crazy bug” bites too hard, and I go back to Bill’s class and make a 6 ft. 2 or 3 wt. rod just for the fun of it. Bill: Each rod I produced was a bit better than the one before, and my personal experiences fly fishing put me on the road to creating classic rods that satisfy a more modern expectation of performance. I spend a lot of time at my engraving vise creating customized rods for my clients around the world. I decided to share my craft through the Oyster rod making school. Drawing on my experiences and struggles with

the techniques and methods of rod construction, we have created what is by far the largest school of rod making in the world today. Each year over a hundred students travel from around the world to spend a week with us completing their own rod using the very same techniques I employ on every Oyster rod I build. Authors Note: Bill did not provide a number for his total rod builds. Rusty: Since that first one, I’ve done right at 100 bamboo total build-outs or re-finishes, but I’m too A.D.D. to hand plane a rod from scratch! I do fit and glue ferrules, machine my own winding checks and sometimes turn grips and reel seats as well. What is your most memorable fishing experience with that first rod? Skip: The most memorial fish I caught on my first Oyster rod was on the day after I got home with it. I went to the Davidson Winter 2020


and hooked into 5 fish that day. The first one was about an eight inch Rainbow, which I took a picture of, and also showed the new rod and reel. Nice fish with a Bamboo rod you built yourself on a fly you tied; what could be better than that? For Oyster rod #2, it’s taking it along to the San Juan River and hooking into lots of fish going from 6 inches to 20 inches. The rod cast great and handled the fish with ease but gives you a really great thrill in fighting them. Author’s Note: Neither Rusty nor Bill shared any fish stories, so I decided to take it upon myself to share one. My first bamboo was 7 ½ foot approximately a 5 wt. I got the rod at a Rabun Rendezvous banquet in Dillard, Georgia quite a few years ago. The rod, I discovered, was sold under a store brand under the banner of Montgomery-Ward so, no collectible, just a good fly rod. What made it very special for me was knowing its previous owner Tom Landreth, a professional watercolor artist. After Tom passed away his wife over time donated several rods from his 28

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collection to Rabun Chapter TU for this annual fund raiser. I sneaked back in the nick of time to up that last bid on the silent auction. All the rod needed was a little cleanup and a short visit to my local jeweler to clean up the ferrules and line guides. I used a reel I already owned that suited this rod very well and provided great balance. The first fish taken was a nice brookie that hit a dry fly. At that point, I knew why dry fly enthusiasts love bamboo! As is often the case with brookies in bigger streams, I caught about six more. The rod seemed to know where I wanted the fly to be and sent it there. And occasionally I swear I heard Tom’s voice in ear telling me to “stop pushing so hard and let the rod do the work”. After a few years, and a new bamboo Rusty Berrier built for me, I returned the Landreth rod to Rabun TU with the stipulation the auction it off again. Taking the rod back to Rabun County just seemed like the right thing to do.

What is your favorite pa

Skip: Bill Oyster’s clas You start on day one w Tonkin Bamboo and with a beautiful finish to fish and is “one of world. Every part of t what you want, startin the finished rod done Bamboo, the length a rod giving exactly wha type of fishing you in rod. You pick the colo type of guides, size an grip, type and style of even engraving if you signed by you and bec when you walk out the beautiful, tough, and not hanging on the wa pride you have in them To get all this, you wo full days (starting at 8 and going until 7:00 nights), and sort of re you have to wait for th

art of the build?

sses are outstanding. with a stack of end up six days later hed rod that is ready a kind’ in the whole the rod is exactly ng with the color of e by “flaming” the and action of the at you want for the ntend to do with this or of the wraps, nd shape of the f the reel seat, and want. Your rod is comes an heirloom e door. They are d meant for fishing; all. The sense of m can’t be measured. ork your ass off for 5 8:00 in the morning or 8:00 some ecoup on day 6 when he first coat of finish

to dry before you can sand it and do the second coat. Bill: My career highlight was actually the day my business developed to the point my wife could quit her previous job and come to work with me full time. This has allowed her the flexibility to be a more attentive mother to our children and an invaluable business partner to myself. More than any other event, this has been the most significant time in my career. Rusty: My favorite part of the process is the design phase-selecting the hardware, grip shape, wrap colors and layout-and I hate the tedium of trimming the tag ends of tippings, singing them, and all those other tiny details. If someone approaches you at a meeting or on a stream and asks, “How do I get started towards building my own rod?” how do you reply? Rusty: To anyone who wants to get started building near me, I tell them to come to my rod building class I’ve taught for the

last five years. I teach rod building and fly tying classes for the Blue Ridge chapter every Wednesday. I teach a morning class and another evening class, open to the public and the only cost is rod components. And I’ve got yours ready! Bill: My wife and I wife run our production shop, showroom, and rod making school on Main Street in the quaint north Georgia mountain town of Blue Ridge, where we live with our two children Cutter and Veronica. https://oysterbamboo.com/ Skip: I tell them to take a Bill Oyster class. They will have a great time, end up with a great “only one like it in the world” rod, plus a sense of pride and accomplishment that can’t be matched. They don’t have to be a “craftsman” or have any woodworking skills to complete a rod in Bill’s class. Bill is an outstanding instructor, has all the tools you need, and has been through the process with hundreds (perhaps thousands now) of students, so he has it down to exactly what it takes to come out with excellent results.

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WILDLIF ACT Submitted by John Rich, Advocacy Chair


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ne-third of all U.S. wildlife species, including aquatic species, are imperiled or are vulnerable. Habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, disease, the list goes on, have all taken a toll on birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. All types of wildlife are declining and the rate of decline is quickly accelerating. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act(H.R.3742), introduced this past July with bi-partisan support, is designed to help recover and conserve at-risk species by dedicating $1.4 billion for state-level conservation projects. Specifically, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) provides funds for state wildlife agencies to implement their congressionally-mandated State Wildlife Action Plans, which outline specific conservation actions needed to recover and sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations. It costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year to restore threatened and endangered species. Taking measures to restore species before they reach the brink of extinction, and ensuring healthy future populations, will prevent these species from needing costly “emergency room” measures under the Endangered Species Act. Freshwater species, including trout, have been particularly hard-hit in the global decline of wildlife: approximately 40 percent of the nation’s freshwater fish species are now rare or imperiled. RAWA would help Trout Unlimited enhance coldwater fisheries through abandoned mine cleanup, reconnection of fragmented watersheds, and treatment of disease and invasive species. As with all Trout Unlimited’s conservation work, these efforts would serve to strengthen the outdoor recreation industry and fortify critical water supplies for downstream communities, in addition to enhancing entire aquatic ecosystems.

Robert Catalonatto with TU’s Governmental Affairs sent this recent update: “the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee earlier this month(Dec. 5), and now it awaits full House consideration on the floor—although a formal vote date has not been scheduled. Current strategy is encourage House leadership to make this happen—although keep in mind, it would likely move as part of a broader lands/waters package, rather than a stand-alone bill. The other element being discussed now is the question of Senate introduction—a Senate version of the bill does not yet exist. The coalition working on the bill, spearheaded mainly by the National Wildlife Federation, and the American Fish and Wildlife Association is coming together to hammer out exactly how that approach should work.” Here in North Carolina there are currently four co-sponsors for RAWA: Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC-7), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC-13), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), Rep. David Price (D-NC-4). Several N.C. TU chapters signed a letter of support along with a wide-ranging group of businesses and conservation organizations that was sent to the North Carolina congressional delegation. Those chapters are Rocky River, Table Rock, and Triangle Fly Fishers. When the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act gets closer to a House vote or Senate introduction, our state council will be asking all North Carolina TU chapters to contact their respective House Representative and/or Senators asking for their support.

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Taking Advant Winter Impound

By Jacob Rash a


y now, you have likely heard about N.C. trout into small impoundments through These winter-time stockings started in select


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tage of WRC’s dment Stockings

and Nick Shaver

. Wildlife Resources Commission stocking hout communities of North Carolina. ted, western waters several years ago, but this

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Winter 2020

winter, 34 small impoundments from Jackson to Edgecombe counites were stocked. Feedback from this program has been overwhelmingly positive as these stockings diversify angling opportunities, provide high catch rates, and perhaps most importantly, provide an excellent place for young anglers to fish. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s new R3 Specialist, Nick Shaver. R3 stands for Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation. Essentially, Nick’s role with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is growing and maintaining the sport of fishing in North Carolina. One way he is attempting to do that is by working with partners to take advantage of these stockings to engage youth, and thanks to a few of those partners, the inaugural Fishing with Santa just took place. Given the assistance from Trout Unlimited’s Land O’ Sky Chapter and National Youth Program staff and the generous sponsorship from Cashion Fishing Rods, Davidson River Outfitters, and Blue Ridge Biscuit Company the first ever Fishing with Santa event was held December 7 at Charles D. Owen Park in Buncombe County. Thirty youth from the Black Mountain Home for Children that ranged in age from 5 to 18 were able to spend the afternoon fishing for trout with their new rods and reels that Santa delivered himself. Several of the participants were anglers, but as you might guess, this was one of the few times many of the kids had the

opportunity to go fishing, much less hold a trout. Events like this are crucial to the R3 model. They serve as a recruitment tool to those that haven’t fished before by providing a positive experience in a “target rich” environment that increases the odds of catching a fish, while there is knowledgeable help to guide a “newbie” through their first fishing excursion – not to mention, hot cocoa and tons of snacks also help. Additionally, by giving each participant a rod and reel this type of event removes a potential barrier to continued angling. They are now armed with everything they need to go fish: a little bit of knowledge and experience, a fishing hole, and the needed equipment! Fishing with Santa was a success, but in thinking about the potential these wintertime impoundment stockings provide, this initial event could serve as a case study for more like it across the State. Events can range in complexity, but at the end of the day, finding a way to get youth involved is the goal. As noted above, over 30 small impoundments were stocked throughout the communities of North Carolina, so we would encourage you to think about the potential opportunities to capitalize on these resources to help reach the conservation stewards of tomorrow. Please do not hesitate to contact Nick if you are interested in developing one of these community events within your Chapter’s footprint (nick.shaver@ncwildlife.org). Engaging youth across the State isn’t a one-person or single-organization effort; it is going to be something that requires us all. Winter 2020



FLY By Dave Bender

Pink Squirrel Jig Nymph


he Pink Squirrel Nymph has been around for a long time. It’s my understanding that the original fly was developed by John Bethke of Wisconsin and gained much popularity in the “Driftless Area” of Minnesota and Wisconsin. On a recent fishing trip to the State College Pennsylvania area, I was reintroduced to this fly by a local guide out of the Feathered Hook in Coburn, PA. It was one of the guide’s “go-to” patterns for “tight line” style fishing and, as it worked out, I managed to catch a bunch of those “discreet” Penns Creek and Spring Creek wild brown trout with this fly utilizing the tight line method. Spring Creek near Bellefonte, a short drive North East of State College, had great water flow and tight line nymphing was the ticket. Penns Creek on the other hand was running very low and good productive nymphing water was much more difficult to find. Thanks to the above mentioned local knowledge, I did manage to find some good water downstream from the small town of Coburn. Bottom line, I caught mostly Rainbow on Spring Creek and, as I recall, all wild brown trout on Penns. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s get to the fly of the day


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Materials Hook: Thread: Bead:

Firehole Jig Hook #516 in size 12 (size 12–16 in a good range) 6/0 or 8/0 Black or, if you like, a color to match the collar 1/8 Slotted Gold Tungsten for size 12 hook


Red wire


3 or 4 strands of Krystal Flash or other flashy tinsel


Fox Squirrel


Ice Dubbing, Pink

I used the “split thread” spun dubbing method here which produces a very buggy body which I’m partial to. By using the more traditional pinch dubbing method you can achieve a more slender body which is preferred by many of the “tight line” fly fishers. Conventional wisdom is, a slender body fly has a better sink rate than a more buggy body. Either method works well in my book.

1. S ince the Firehole hook is barbless, no need to pinch down the barb. Simply place a slotted tungsten bead on your hook and position it in the vise.

5. S ecure a section of Red wire starting just behind the wire buildup and wrap back to the hook bend, covering the wire with thread.

Although the Pink Squirrel is an attractor fly and doesn‘t actually represent anything in particular, I find it to be a good choice for winter through spring fishing when bug activity is slow. Tight lines and happy fishing, Dave 9. W  ith the wire secured and clipped dub a small amount of pink Ice Dubbing to your thread and form a collar.

2 and 3. Make a few, 6 or 8 or 10, wraps of .010 lead free wire on the hook shank and shove it forward into the bead cavity.

4. S tart you thread on the hook shank behind the wire and make wraps covering the wire and stopping on the shank behind the wire.

6. Form a short tail of Krystal Flash fibers. 3 of 4 strands seems to do the trick

8. C ounter wrap the red wire forward, 4 or 5 wraps works well, and secure. Clip any excess wire and you are ready for the pink collar.

7. Dub a thin Fox Squirrel noodle and form a tapered body, rear to front leaving enough space to form the pink collar.

10 and 11. W  hip finish, add a bit of head cement if you like, and that’s it. Pull the tinsel over the thorax and secure behind the bead with a few tight wraps of thread.

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Winter 2020

Restoring Native Brook Trout IN NORTH CAROLINA By Karla Lant Reprinted with permission from The Environmental Monitor


he North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Inland Fisheries Division has been working to restore brook trout in the state. Coldwater research coordinator Jacob Rash, who works with the brook trout team technicians on this project, spoke to EM about the work.

NCWRC staff electrofishing

Photo by Thomas Harvey

“In North Carolina, brook trout are our only native trout species,” explains Mr. Rash. “With that come biological and ecological considerations as well as cultural importance. A lot of folks here grew up fishing for brook trout with their relatives, so it’s an important species that we work to try to conserve. We’ve done quite a bit of work to figure out where those brook trout populations are and what they are, in terms of genetics.” The teams capture brook trout using electrofishers and nets, and then Winter 2020


NCWRC staff holding a brook trout (Photo by Thomas Harvey)

measure them and collect samples of their DNA. This process is part of a larger ongoing effort. “Back in the late-1800s and early-1900s there was intensive forestry across the landscape,” says Mr. Rash. “A lot of those methods utilize the streams to transport materials out of the forest—these are pretty intense landscape practices. Folks were realizing even by the early 1900s that they were not seeing all those pretty fish that were once there, and intensive stocking took place to try to bring those fish back.”

Coloration of the brook trout (Photo by J. Rash)

This has led the researchers to ask several questions as they work to untangle the genetic picture that exists as multiple trout species now co-exist where brook trout once lived alone. For example: Are these the fish that were here? Have they in fact been influenced by stocking throughout history? “That’s why genetic work is so critical,” remarks Mr. Rash. “It lets us answer that question and helps us figure out which fish we’re working with. And that has all sorts of implications, particularly when we’re looking to restore brook trout populations.”

In North Carolina, not only were brook trout themselves stocked back in the waters, but also rainbow trout from the Western US, and brown trout from Europe. Today, brook trout have lost 70 to 85 percent of their range.

This matters from a biological standpoint, not just because managers want to preserve this particular trout, but also because keeping them around and healthy is important to efficiently managing the local ecosystem.

“Folks didn’t know this, but those cultured brook trout stocks trace their lineages back to the New England states,” details Mr. Rash. “Loss of habitat, loss of range, encroachment by brown trout and rainbow trout, and the introduction of genes that were not here traditionally all happened. So, there is influence by those brook trout strains across the landscape.”

“We can now go to donor streams and know, yes, these brook trout are the ones that should be here, and some of those adults may make excellent candidates for us to move to other streams to help establish populations,” Mr. Rash describes. “That’s a lot more effective and efficient than just randomly grabbing populations, because you may not know what they are. We’re able to really zero in and make the best decisions possible.”


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Restoring native species an

Thriving brook trout—the headwater systems also sign

“When brook trout are pre that means that they’ve got maintain them,” states Mr at the top of the watershed condition to support broo signal for the resources do waters flow.”

Brook Trout are sensitive. ecosystem is supporting th capable of supporting ever be there.

“If you think about a raind a mountain, that’s going to Mr. Rash. “If conditions s to support brook trout up whatever’s below them will better than they would be

Generally, Mr. Rash and t trout populations in Nort feet, and below that rainbo

nd water quality

e only native trout—in the nals better water quality.

resent and thriving, t the habitat suitable to r. Rash. “If the waters d are in good enough ok trout, that is a positive ownstream to which these

. If the local aquatic hem, it is probably rything else that should

drop falling on the top of o go downhill,” remarks start out well enough p top, chances are that l have conditions that are otherwise.”

the team sees brook th Carolina above 3,000 ow and/or brown trout.

NCWRC staff collecting genetic material (Photo by Thomas Harvey)

However, historically it’s likely that the brook trout would have been in some of the lower reaches that are currently occupied by rainbow and brown trout alone. These are just a few of the considerations the team weighs as they design a program like this. “The work that we do is all part of a larger effort,” comments Mr. Rash. “There are multiple partners involved because we have our focus and other partners do, too. But the issues that impact a species like brook trout don’t understand administrative boundaries, so by working with partners, we are all able to work collaboratively to address the larger issues.” For example, Mr. Rash’s team collaborates with numerous partners such as surrounding states (e.g., South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia), the US Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Trout Unlimited, and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, to name a few. “We all work to share ideas about what we may be doing individually, and pull all of that together to address brook trout conservation as a whole,” remarks Mr. Rash. “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to get to the same goal. I think it takes folks

working together, particularly when there are so many aspects to it. It’s a challenge, but it’s really exciting.” That goal might include deploying volunteers to collect water samples on an ongoing basis or conducting work to improve habitats. “Planting riparian vegetation to increase shading, for example,” explains Mr. Rash. “The larger collaborative approach is focused on improving habitat across the range and improving fish passage so that they can have access to different reaches within the stream.” Local history and culture fuel much of the work and care behind this fish restoration project. “As the only native trout, for everyone from anglers to biologists like myself, these fish certainly carry a sense of importance that makes them special,” adds Mr. Rash. “Native fishes should be here. Plus, these Brook Trout are so pretty. If you see one of these, they’re one of the more striking fish. When they get those colors that they do, particularly in the fall, it’s a special thing. So yes, they do mean a lot to many people.”

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North Carolina Trout Unlimited Strategic Plan FY 2021-2023


his document is a declaration of who we are, why we are and what we want to accomplish. It establishes the goals, focus and priorities of NCTU for Fiscal Years, 2021-2023. It will guide the operations, resource allocation and decision making processes of NCTU for that period. The plan is not intended to constrain us, but rather to keep us on a track that has been developed through considered thought and consensus until such time as it is adjusted by considered thought and consensus. To allow for that, the plan will be reviewed annually, in the fall, and amended as appropriate to reflect changing conditions, challenges or council sentiment. OUR MISSION IS: “To conserve, protect and restore North Carolina’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds while supporting Trout Unlimited’s efforts nationwide.” OUR VISION IS: “Abundant and Healthy Coldwater Fisheries Forever”

In the execution of our Mission and the pursuit of our Vision we will be guided by these core values: • FOCUS — We are always mindful that we are a coldwater conservation organization. We make that the first priority in everything we do. • INTEGRITY — We judiciously obey all laws, regulations and TU guidelines. We are ethical, honest and do what we say we’ll do. We are transparent in the conduct of our business. • RESPECT — We see diversity of backgrounds and perspectives as essential to our success. We ensure that NCTU is a welcoming, inclusive community where differences are celebrated and valued as key to realizing our vision. • STEWARDSHIP — We strive to get maximum benefit from every dollar and each volunteer hour. We safeguard our assets and utilize controls and practices that ensure the continued fiscal and organizational health of our council. • TEAMWORK — We are committed to success at every level of Trout Unlimited. We also understand that TU is part of a community of other organizations with whom we work 42

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cooperatively to advance our mission. • EMPOWERMENT — We provide leadership, resources and support to our committees and our chapters. We work to maximize their confidence and ability to pursue the TU mission. Consideration of our Mission, Vision, Core Values and an assessment of our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) revealed four strategic “themes” that shape our plan: 1. Building Organizational Vitality — Filling empty positions, helping struggling chapters, getting current members more involved. 2. Building Organizational Capacity — Increasing our fund raising, expanding our membership, more training and better planning. 3. Better Networking — Strengthening our ties to each other, to other organizations and building new alliances. 4. Increased Mission Focus — Completing more real and impactful conservation projects and programs. The strategic plan in its entirety, including individual goals and strategies, can be downloaded here.

State Council, Marilla Recognized at TU National Meeting By Jeff Yates (reprinted from the TU Awards program)

Distinguished Service Award: Veterans Services Lynn Marilla (Hickory TU)


orth Carolina is home to more than two dozen unique Veterans Service Partnership programs, connecting with military veterans and their family members through a range of partners and efforts. Distinguished Service Award: Communications North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited


slick, polished, web-based magazine, “The Drift”, which reaches 5,000 members quarterly, regular email updates to volunteer leaders and members, and an updated and redesigned website and social media presence are quickly noticed when you take a look at the North Carolina State Council communications. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll find logos that speak to purpose and place, graphics designed to tie all the chapters and council together, and messaging that makes it clear that there is a cohesive and powerful force for coldwater conservation in the state. Filled with rich content ranging from conservation news to chapter activities, TU staff updates, original stories from TU members and conservation partners,

these publications make every member of TU in North Carolina proud of the great work they’re supporting.

Much of the success of this program can be attributed to Lynn Marilla, Veterans Service Partnership Coordinator for the state council, an active volunteer in the Hickory chapter, and founder and executive director of Eagle Rock Camp, a retreat designed especially for military families.

Driven by a strong and collaborative council and chapter leadership, and shepherded by the husband and wife team of Charles and Suzanne Crolley, the communications efforts of the North Carolina Council don’t just hit one out of the park in one arena: they make in impact in every media imaginable.

Exposure to the outdoors helps veterans recover from the stress and seen and unseen wounds of war. Working through the acts of fly tying, casting and other aspects of the sport helps redevelop fine motor skills and concentration. Connecting these veterans to a community like TU where they can continue to serve and find and forge friendships makes this effort sustainable and long-lasting.

To turn the pages of their magazine, scroll through the e-mails, or click away on the website is to open a window into a thriving and vibrant TU community that is restoring rivers, educating youth, supporting veterans, building a better future for cold, clean, fishable water — and making sure everyone knows it.

Lynn and her volunteers teach essential life skills to empower military families, help them find new purpose here at home, and to connect them to people in their communities in meaningful ways. With her efforts and drive the Veterans Service Partnership programs are growing throughout the state, and helping countless veterans in the process. Winter 2020




News Briefs The TU Southeast Regional Comes to North Carolina! April 3-5, 2020


oin TU members from across the region for the 2019 Southeast Regional Rendezvous on April 3-5, 2020 in Hendersonville, NC. Located on the banks of Kanuga Lake and on the indigenous territory of the eastern Cherokee people and the Catawba people, this location provides a perfect mix of scenery, great fishing, opportunities to engage in hands-on training and more! From the optional day of Friday fishing day, hosted by TU volunteers to a packed weekend agenda, hands-on training, important conservation discussions, you’re sure to learn new things, meet fellow anglers who share your passion for fishing and conservation and be ready to head home and change the world. There will be options for registering for the full weekend, for one or two nights only, and for “commuter registration” for those not choosing to stay at the inn.

SCHEDULE Date Friday April 3

Saturday April 4

Sunday April 5

Agenda Full day hosted fishing, Dinner TBD All-day seminars and workshops, Fundraising dinner for the NC Council Morning workshops and optional, afternoon conservation training in the field

Keep an eye on your inbox for upcoming emails containing more event information, registration links, and seminar agendas.

Council Archives Update By Tim Schubmehl, Council Vice Chair


he Spring we obtained two boxes of history from Alen Baker. It is believed they were files that were kept by Earl Vaught, past Council Chair and President of LOS Chapter in the mid 90‘s. From these files we were able to extract a fair amount of Council history with gaps from 1964-1999. For the most part what we’re looking for is: Newsletters, Meeting Minutes, Treasurer’s Reports and significant articles. Ultimately it would be nice to reconstruct the Council history of Presidents and Council Members and a compilation of activities/ accomplishments.


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One significant document discovered is: The Minutes of the Organizational Meeting to create the North Carolina Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The meeting was held on January 26,1964 at the Lenoir Country Club. Elections resulted in: President, Thomas W. Reese (Hickory), Vice-President, Henry Wilson (Lenoir), Sec‘y- Treasurer, Phil Bracewell (Hickory). Directors: E. Reid Bahnson (Winston-Salem), C.O. Holler (Marion), Geo. F. Wiese (Lenoir), Chester Arnold (Greensboro), James R. Todd, Jr. (Lenoir) and Dr, J.M.Hall (Elkin). Mr. Art C. Neumann Executive Secretary of Trout Unlimited, from Saginaw MI. participated in the meeting.

The boxes also contained some collections of „Memorabilia“ from other chapters: Pisgah, Rocky River, Land O Sky, Table Rock, Triangle Fly Fishers and Northwestern. Most of the collections are around 15 to 20 pages. The bad news is that we have nothing beyond 1999. We’re sure that there must be some pack rats out there with some council history. If you have anything to add to our archives, or if you’re interested in any of the “chapter memorabilia” listed above, please contact Council Vice Chair and Archivist Tim Schubmeh.

Notes from the Council’s Annual Meeting

Trout In The Classroom Update By Matt O’Bryant, State TIC Coordinator


reetings to all. Trout in the Classroom is in mid stride for the year. Most schools have small fry swimming around in their tanks and growing steadily. Others may be struggling with environmental issues such as dirty water or the lack of beneficial bacteria. Whatever the case; students are learning first-hand how precious and fragile our cold-water fisheries can be. So far, we have 74 schools across eight chapters involved. (Blue Ridge – 12, Land O’ Sky - 6, Rocky River – 24, Tuckaseegee – 6, Stone Mountain – 8, Hickory – 6, Pisgah – 10, and Table Rock – 2). TIC is growing in popularity across North Carolina and the country. I am excited that the program is successful, but also mindful as to how to obtain resources, maintain schools, and gain volunteers. Going forward into 2020; I hope to see more interaction between the chapters in order to make

TIC as successful as possible. It will not be long before every chapter will be preparing for the release of the trout in the spring. In fact, for many, planning for those release days will start after the first of the year. Coordinators will be planning how to orchestrate the release as well as planning the activities for the day. Many chapters use the educational services of the State Parks and NC Wildlife to expand on the things the students learned in the classroom. Of course, many of you know that Kevin Hinning left the NC Wildlife to pursue a career with the NCDOT. Kevin was part of the education wing of the Wildlife Agency that did the fish identification with the fish shocking. As of now, several folks are working to find substitutes or alternatives. I will pass along any information that becomes available.

Wildlife Resource Commission Proposes Rules Changes Contributed by John Rich, Council Advocacy Chair


he North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission has proposed rules changes for 2020-2021. There are three broad categories of rules: Gamelands, Inland Fishing, and Wildlife Management. To view the rule changes, visit this link. For information primarily of interest to TU members and anglers, click on the Inland Fisheries; of particular interest to all who fish in designated public mountain trout waters is proposal F6. Most other proposals are location specific. There is also a link for comments.


he state council held its annual meeting on Sunday, November 17 at Headwaters Outfitters in Rosman. Chapters represented included: Blue Ridge, Land O’ Sky, Pisgah, Rocky River, Tuckaseigee and Unaka. All council officers were present except Secretary Charles Crolley, who was excused due to illness. Along with its regular business, there were several key discussions and votes. The new strategic plan was adopted unanimously, Rusty Berrier (Blue Ridge) was elected to a new term as council NLC representative, Jeff Sabatula (Unaka) discussed issues along the Nantahala River and continues to serve as NCTU’s representative there, Rivercourse Administrative Director Reba Brinkman discussed plans for Rivercourse 2020 and the appointment of Josh Garris as Camp Operations Director. In lieu of additional committee reports, the need to fill vacant council committee chair positions was addressed. Sam Ogburn (Blue Ridge) volunteered to chair membership & chapter development, Robert Allen (Unaka) was tapped as Council Fundraising Chair, Brian Esque (Rocky River) volunteered to serve as Conservation Chair, and Greg Charles (Unaka) is our new Youth Education Chair. Prior to the close of the meeting, PastTreasurer Sam Stitcher was recognized for his years of dedicated and faithful service and many contributions to Trout Unlimited in North Carolina. A complete draft record of the minutes can be found here

As part of the rules change process, the commission holds a series of public hearings across the state. Visit this web page to find one near you. Winter 2020



By Reba Brinkman All photographs courtesy of Gary Jones

I have found the staff to be fully focused on the campers, from fly tying to casting instruction to cabin time. The staff truly cares about imparting the wisdom of coldwater conservation and focuses on the importance of cold water and the environment and how it impacts all of us everyday.

Joyce Shepherd Rivercourse Volunteer



f you ask a gear fisherman about their best catch they might simply say something about how big of a fish they caught or how that big one got away. It may stop there. Try asking a fly fisher about their best catch. Chances are it might go something like, “7 a.m., early spring. Roughly 46°, the warmest of the year thus far. It was a cloudy day and the BWOs were blanketing the water. A light fog rolled in and I could see noses sipping. A Kingfisher flew by, skimming the water belting strident rattles alerting me that my presence was known …”. But what about the fish? Ok, we get it. Fly Fishers are seemingly omni-present. How did we get this way? Turns out, what makes fly fishing so captivating is everything around you. You are presenting yourself in the moment versus attacking the moment, in most cases. In order to be successful it’s vastly helpful to learn a little something about weather, entomology, water conditions and flows, fish feeding habits, conservation and so on, and so on. Oh and the gear — endless bells and whistles to learn about.

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With all of this knowledge we’ve accumulated, there is so much we can impart on the future generations of fly fishers. This is why the Rivercourse Coldwater Conservation & Fly Fishing Youth Camp, sponsored by NCTU is so vital to the furthering our mission statement. The Rivercourse Youth Camp is the outlet where a very dedicated staff gathers to do just that! The efforts and hard work of many volunteers and fishing industry professionals worked tirelessly together for a weeklong summer camp designed to educate 18 young adults about these intricacies of fly-fishing. After the camp week is over, there’s no doubt we are all deservingly exhausted. As much as we’d like to think we have turned our new fishing family into dedicated angling conservationists, we really don’t know what impact we will make. Until we hear from them later on. If you would like more information about Rivercourse, please contact Administrative Director, Reba Brinkman at tu.rivercourse@gmail.com


I have been impressed every year with the number of volunteers willing to help in so many ways. We have folks from all around the area give presentations on entomology, fishing techniques, riparian repair, hatchery management, birds of prey and more. I’ve also marveled each year at the young campers enthusiasm for not only fishing but learning about the environment, bugs and fish themselves. My faith in our future world and our beloved hobby is renewed every year.


Chuck Harrell Rivercourse Volunteer

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Rivercourse is not a stationary or inflexible organization. Rather it is a dynamic entity that changes with the introduction of new staff members and new ideas whether it‘s an enhanced view on the environment or fishing techniques. As always, Rivercourse adapts and overcomes.

It is exhilarating to me to watch these young adults become involved in our outdoor and cold water environment. It’s not just about fishing but everything that is connected to the life of fish and what is around us. These young people are our next stewards for protecting and not abusing the land and water that is near and dear to us all.

David Vigue Rivercourse Volunteer

Jim Mackey Rivercourse Volunteer

After my first 24 hours [at camp], it was said that a smile never left my face the rest of the week. My excitement to be a part of the campers’ experience was second only to my admiration of the talent and knowledge of the instructors. I found myself learning right along with the campers, and I think I had as much fun as they did. Truly an inspiring and personally gratifying week. One of my favorite weeks each year.

Jim Smalley Rivercourse Volunteer 48

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Rivercourse lets kids be kids, unplug, and reconnect in nature. Each camper finds their unique flow on the water. Some are relaxed, some are competitive. The camp experience is what each child needs it to be while at the same time promoting camaraderie and new friendships. There is nothing more rewarding than watching anglers advance as individuals and excel as teams.

Susan Hinson Rivercourse Volunteer

Rivercourse was simply the beginning for me and my deep seeded love and passionate for coldwater conversation and environmental protection. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Rivercourse. Simply put, Rivercourse changed my life.

Teaching fly tying to the boys and girls was most enjoyable. Surprised at the focus and willingness to listen and learn, the group did an amazing job learning and executing the lessons. Some new to tying and fishing, some with experience, but everyone was able to produce some very good examples of patterns taught. It is exciting to see and hear some of the future stewards of my deep passion of tying trout flies. For me it was an invaluable experience and still makes me smile on reflection.

Alleigh Raymond 2016 Rivercourse Graduate

Tom Adams Rivercourse Volunteer Winter 2020


CHAPTERNEWS Land O’ Sky Chapter Land O’ Sky TU Salutes Conservation Partners and Volunteers By Jay Hawthorne

product launch, the Wedge Brewery supported our Yard Sale in December. Orvis promoted an event where our chapter was selected to receive donations which they matched with gift certificates. (See picture left.) Other outdoor retailers such as Davidson River Outfitters, REI, Unreel Fly Fishing, Curtis Wright Outfitters, and One Fly Outfitters were also tremendously helpful in providing donations, publicity, and space for our activities without which we would be much more challenged to carry out our ‘cold water fisheries’ mission. Sponsors were terrific in 2019, but we were also lucky to have conservation partners who provided opportunities for our chapter. In our Trout-in-Classroom program, teachers and school personnel were instrumental in making that program happen. Three projects in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park would not have been possible without the Fishery folks allowing us to participate in their brook trout restoration work. Andy Brown is sponsored by National TU, conservation funding organizations, and local chapters to do on-stream projects to enhance and restore local streams and rivers. Our participation with him in 2019 increased significantly. Mills River Partnership, EQILab, Mountain True, and Ivy River Partners all included us in local volunteering. Our ‘sister’ chapter, Pisgah TU, supported us and we supported them with several projects. The USFS relies on us for projects (such as Kid’s Fishing Day). The NCWRC Setzer Hatchery needs our volunteers to help stock local streams so their resources can be focused on growing healthy trout. Rivercourse depends on many conservation professionals to work with teenage students to build conservationists for the future.

Jay Hawthorne, Conservation Chair, accepts a generous check from Austin Smith, Orvis Store Manager, at Biltmore Town Square store


ecember is a wonderful time of year. Anticipation for holidays filled with family, football, social gatherings, and the annual chapter Yard Sale can overwhelm one’s calendar. And these activities don’t even include getting out on crystal clear streams without the usual crowds. It is also a time for reflection of the year and for thanking those organizations and people without whom, we could not be as successful as we want to be. Land O’ Sky TU is very fortunate to have many sponsors who provide funds, donations, and publicity for our activities. Hunter Banks Fly Fishing supports us with the Fly Fishing Film Tour and other events, Highland Brewery had us join a


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But the group that benefits the most from these activities and programs are our chapter members. Whether members enjoy camaraderie, just getting outdoors, or feel that satisfaction from ‘giving back’ to something we love, it is this group of dedicated members which deliver on the TU mission. With their contributions, we know what we do makes a difference in our local community in a very real way. Furthermore, it is not just members that are involved. Our families are also part of the efforts as they allow us the time to do these activities and sometimes join in the work. It is great to see the faces of young people at Rivercourse, Trout-inClassroom, and at our stocking workdays light up when they get personally involved with trout…. there is a magic there that is hard to describe.

Jeff Wright and Andy Brown, TU SE, arranged a workday to implement temporary controls until a more permanent repair can be made. Brandon Harrison, Terry Jennings, and Chick Woodward stepped up from the Hickory TU chapter and Josh Shriver and Scott Bracy stepped up for the Rocky River Chapter out of Charlotte. Everyone met on Saturday morning, December 21 at 8 a.m. at the picnic pavilion in Mortimer and headed up Rockhouse Creek.

Hickory and Rocky River Chapters Hickory, Rocky River partner to take on erosion at Rockhouse Creek


he major rainfalls of this past year not only did major damage along Wilson Creek, they also did damage to the feeder streams and created some longer-term effects to Wilson Creek. Earlier this year two major landslides were found along Rockhouse Creek that feeds into Lost Cove Creek just above where it feeds into WC at Edgemont. The landslides left a great deal of exposed soil that with every rainfall is feeding sediment into the stream that works its way downstream.

The group split up into two teams and headed to the two landslides that needed the temporary repairs. Both slides started at the road and went down the hill a major distance toward the creek. Pickaxes, shovels, and silt fencing had all been prearranged by Jeff. The biggest feat of the day was getting down and back up the steep slope with the gear, but once everyone had reached the work site the project went very quickly thanks to the fact we were working in fresh loose soil that was quite easy to trench. By 10 a.m. the silt fence was in place to control the silting until a more permanent fix can be made. We would like to thank Jeff, Andy and the volunteers for their assistance in protecting the great resource we have in Wilson Creek. There is a great deal more work anticipated in the Wilson Creek watershed and if you would be willing to volunteer, please contact Jeff at jeff.wright@tu.org.

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CHAPTERNEWS Blue Ridge Chapter

Pisgah Chapter

Blue Ridge TU Improves Mitchell River Access

Pisgah TU Members Organizing Return Trip to the San Juan River By Skip Sheldon, Trip Coordinator


ay will be here before you know it, and I wanted to tell you all about our next San Juan river fishing trip. We have reservations for 10 anglers at the Soaring Eagle Lodge for May 10 – May 16, 2020. The trip includes six nights at the lodge and five days of guided fishing. If you have fished with us before, I don’t need to tell you about the fabulous fishing and accommodations, and if you haven’t gone with us on this trip, I can only say that it will be a totally first class experience that you will never forget. I don’t have costs yet for this trip’s stay, but past ones have run around $2,000, not including airfare, rental car, and guide tips. If you book your trip and pay your deposit before January 31, you’ll receive a 10% discount. If you are interested in joining us for this year’s trip, please let me know so I can start building the list of anglers to send to the lodge. If you know other folks who might be interested in this trip, please let them know about the dates and refer them to the Soaring Eagle Lodge website and/or have them contact me for additional information.


embers of Blue Ridge TU have undertaken a multiphase erosion control project along the Mitchell River, and recently completed installation of a major access point upgrade. Due to the steep banks in the area, people had been cutting channels in the banks sliding down to the river, damaging and eroding the bank in many places. The stairs provide a safer method of access and will significantly reduce bank damage and subsequent sedimentation from erosion. Dump trucks were needed to haul away dirt and deliver gravel; also needed were a backhoe, generator and a lot of woodwork. Chapter volunteers provided the labor and planned and supervised the project. More upgrades to access points are on tap for this year.


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All are welcome, but the available spots are filling up fast. If you’re interested, contact me as soon as possible. I’m looking forward to fishing with you on the San Juan in May! You can learn more about our host facility here: http://www.soaringeaglelodge.net/

Davidson River Habitat Enhancement Project


isgah TU was awarded a 2019 Embrace-A-Stream Grant for its Davidson River Habitat Enhancement Project (DRHEP) at TU’s national meeting. A board member-only funding campaign netted another $2,300 in project support during the Embrace-A-Stream Challenge. The chapter also received a grant from The Trout and Salmon Foundation for the project. The DRHEP will affect the Davidson River in the stretch of water just downstream from the Setzer Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Education Center, commencing about the Pisgah TU kiosk and extending approximately 600 feet downstream. This section of the river is channelized and lacks in-stream structure to support a healthy aquatic environment. Working with the United States Forest Service (USFS) Fisheries Biologist and Hydrologist, we‘ve developed a plan to construct a series of rock and log vanes in order to create pools and riffles to better support the existing wild trout population. This project proposes to add diversity to channel bed form and stabilize stream banks by constructing log and boulder vane structures and a toe wood bank revetment. While channel banks will remain largely as they are, streamflow would be altered at the vane structures to divert flow off the banks and into the center of the channel. These structures hold riffles upstream of the structures and create/maintain deep pool habitat.

So, what is now a long run of riffle would become a riffle/pool pattern. In the lower pool a toe wood structure is proposed that would create a bank-full bench of soil and planted riparian vegetation that would provide cover habitat for aquatic organisms within the pool. As part of the Davidson River macroinvertebrate survey (2017) performed by Dr. John Morse at Clemson University, and funded by Pisgah TU and the USFS, it was discovered that this section of river was impaired due to the settling of hatchery effluent. The installation of rock and log vanes will increase flow rates within the center of the channel flushing the effluent further downstream to faster water. This will be a hands-on project for our chapter. Labor will consist of: pulling approximately 500 feet of split rail fence and moving it to storage, reinstalling the fence after in-stream work is completed and reestablishing the riparian barrier with plants and live stakes. This is the first phase of what we hope to be several phases of the DRHEP, transforming a section of the river from a featureless flat to the pool/riffle/run habitat it was meant to be and once was, before it was channelized by humans long ago. It is just the first step in what we plan to be many in rehabilitating a river harmed by centuries of human impact. Work on the project is expected to commence in late 2020.

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But, while writing to you, things, in the recollection of and health made happiness for a while the hoary winter hand of death shall

Thomas Jefferson


he man turns off the highwa leads to the river. The grave disturbance on such a bitter day, He’s relieved but not surprised th — such is the weather forecast tod but he is driven by a need deep in the water, to remember.

He sits for a moment in the warm as he enjoys another sip of hot co He turns to the black dog, curled 54

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NTER By Charles Crolley

, I lose the sense of these f ancient times, when youth s out of everything. I forget of age . . . until the friendly rid us of all at once.

n, to John Adams

ay, onto the gravel road that el crunches, protesting the , as he pulls into the parking lot. hat his is the only vehicle there day calling for cold and snow; n his soul to once again touch

m truck, heater going full blast offee from his thermal mug. d up on a blanket in the back Winter 2020


seat. She opens her eyes without lifting her head, flips the tip of her tail slightly. “Hey, sweet girl,” he says as he reaches to pet the drowsy head and scratch the velveted ears, “want to go take a look?” The head raises, the ears perk up in interest. The man turns off the truck and climbs down – a more difficult chore than it was just a year or two ago. His breath comes up short in the cold air as he opens the truck’s back door. The old black lab is half-standing now, her front paws on the floor of the truck and her haunches still unwilling to part from the warmth of that blanket and the comfort of the back seat. No need for the leash today, the man thinks as he surveys the empty lot. She climbs down from the truck – a more difficult chore than it was just a year or two ago, the man observes. Add that to the list of things they have in common. As she stretches, he reaches into the front of the cab and grabs the cup. Might as well have something hot to drink as they scout the stream together. Man and dog walk together on the trail that runs along the river. She’s never been a big one for the water, despite her breed, so she gingerly wades in just far enough to take a long drink. He watches her, enjoying the hot coffee, until she’s satisfied her thirst and heads off down the trail again. She moves more slowly and deliberately now, but the winter air and new smells add spring to her step. It won’t last, he knows, but he smiles at the tail once again held high, the nose down, taking it all in. She’s been his best friend for nearly 13 years and they’ve had many adventures together, nearconstant traveling companions. One spring day a couple of years ago the vet told him that her liver and kidneys were failing, but they’d do what they could. After two long weeks of treatment, she was eating and drinking again but her test results were about the same. The man made the decision to bring her home. Either this was her new normal, 56

Winter 2020

or she wasn’t going to get better. He wasn’t about to let her spend her last days in a kennel at the doctor’s office. For the next two weeks, he stayed by her side – one of the benefits of being self-employed. It wasn’t easy for her. At one point, he drove her to the vet’s office to have her put down, because he couldn’t stand to see her suffer. The vet met him in the parking lot at midnight, dreadful syringes in hand. Better to let her pass in the comfort of the familiar back seat of the truck than on a cold examination table. A miraculous thing occurred. She stood, wagging her tail, eyes suddenly bright and alert. The vet was mystified, the man thrilled. There was no medical explanation for this; but the man knows. He knows that her selfless love for him pushed back the hands of time for her, that her own winter would have to wait. She was needed, and her work here not yet accomplished. Somehow, she knew her master would lean on her more than ever in his difficult days ahead. She would not leave him now, not when he needed her so much. They walk the quarter-mile or so trail with the old dog leading the way and the man surveying the water. It’s been well over a year since they’ve been here, and Mother Nature has a way of shuffling the deck from time to time. He notes the new structure deposited by high water events, the scour holes, the likely hangouts for the big fish. Maybe another day. Today, the first time out in a while, it’s going to be the skinny water up close to the parking lot where the access and wading are easier, just until he has a few trips to get his feet and his confidence back under him. The two make it back to the truck, still warm from the drive in. The dog jumps back into the seat and curls up, satisfied and ready to resume her nap. The man gives her a last pat on the head as he closes the door and heads to the tailgate to gear up.

It takes more effort than b and feet into the waders an that. He puts the rod toget rig for this water and this t soft hackle trailed by a zeb indicator. On his best day tie knots worth a darn whi the wind is picking up now stiffening. He chides hims home last night in front o

And then, at last, he make river.

He steps off the bank and the end of the run he inte and keeping the water at kn This is no time or place fo off the reel and takes in th one he’s looked forward to thought, a dream maybe, t over a year through his bat disease that can’t be beaten right might just be manage a few more good years with the place he cherishes, on

Drawing a deep breath and the tip of the rod up, brin hammer-tap of the roll ca delivering the line to his ta he follows the drift throug familiar rhythm of the me just a little with each adjus picks up the line, pauses, a a great cast and a little offmuscle memory and timin concentration lapsed. He drives it down again, more delivering the fly where he

As the indicator drifts thro drifts in time. It was last O ago, that he’d heard his ow

before to work the legs nd boots, but he expected ther and ties on his usual time of year – a black bra midge, under a yarn he’s never been able to ile wearing gloves and w, his fingers numb and self for not doing this at of a warm fire.

es his way back to the

into the water just toward ends to fish. Cautiously, nee-depth or below. or a fall. He peels the line he moment. This cast is o more than any other. A that’s sustained him for ttle with the disease: the n, but if he plays his cards eable enough to give him h the people he loves, in his home water.

d focusing hard he lifts nging it down in the sharp ast. The rod responds, arget. He exhales as gh the seam, the onceend stroke coming back stment. No takers. He and casts again. Not -target this time. The ng a little rusty, and the lifts the rod tip and e purposeful this time, e wants it to be.

ough the run, his mind October, about 14 months wn diagnosis from a

doctor in the emergency room – a hell of a thing to hear from somebody you’ve never even met. “Renal cell cancer,” he’d been told, his right kidney, lung and right hip all involved. The young doctor had delivered the blow as gently as possible, but it forever altered the trajectory of the man’s life. The detached, curious part of his mind pushed the emotion of the moment aside as it groped for reason and answers, finding precious little of either. He’d never smoked, didn’t drink to excess, had never done drugs, and had been healthy all his life. Why him? It’s a question that will never be answered, and that unknown is one of the many to which he’s had to reconcile himself. Cancer cost him his right hip and subjected his body and his self-esteem to too many other violations, degradations and indignities to count. Those were tremendous losses; but not so great and irredeemable as the loss of time in treatment recovery, and in months before of misdiagnoses that cost him an entire season of fishing. And not nearly so great, or incalculable, as the expected loss of nearly a season of his lifetime. He’d always thought of himself as being in the mid-autumn of life. The diagnosis had moved the clock’s hands forward to mid-winter. The disease couldn’t be cured, he was told. The best we could hope for is to use medical science to move those hands back, to buy a few more precious days. Or months, or years. Maybe decades. Nobody really knows for sure how this disease will go, and that’s one of the hardest parts of living with it. The indicator twitches and he moves the rod tip too late. Rock, bottom, or fish – another thing we’ll never know, he thinks as he casts again. He reminds himself to focus, to pay attention. These are thoughts for another place, another time. What he’s doing right here, right now, is the most important thing in his life. For so many long months, though all of the pain and through

recovery, he wondered if he would ever be here again. Once more the indicator moves and this time he’s ready and quicker. He feels the solid connection and snubs the line under his index finger. The rod bends as the fish runs from the sting of the hook and tension of the line. Not a big fish, but it’ll do for the first time out, he reckons. He plays the fish, a decent enough rainbow, bringing it to the net. He admires it there, thanks it for the fight and for the memory. He’s able to shake the barbless hook loose without handling the fish – best for the fish, and a mercy for bare hands in this frigid weather. The fish swims off unharmed and the man breathes a prayer of thanks as the tears flow freely. There is more for me, he remembers. There is this. My battle isn’t done, but neither is my life, and the river and its memories will be here to sustain me through whatever is ahead. I have things to accomplish, people to love, sights to see, fish to catch. This is the transformative power of time the water, the healing power of immersion in the immense beauty of nature’s cathedral, the gift of fishing. By the grace of God there will be other days, and there will other fish. He tucks the thoughts away, deep in his soul, in a secret place that only he knows. The snow predicted for today begins to fall from the heavy, leaden sky. Time to pack it up, he thinks. Quit on a high note, warm his frozen hands, get home before the roads get bad. A short outing, but long enough for the first time back. Short enough that the coffee and the truck are still warm, the old black dog who loves him so well sleeping contentedly on the seat. She’s contented and grateful just to be with her master on this trip. And so is he.

Winter 2020


“The Drift” is the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited and is edited and managed by council secretary Charles Crolley. The stories and articles remain the property of their individual authors and are used with permission. Where no author name is indicated, the article is generally attributable to the editor. All facets of the magazine, including graphic design, publication hosting, articles and content have been donated to our council membership by members and friends of Trout Unlimited in North Carolina. If you have comments, concerns, questions or suggestions, they are most welcome at news@ northcarolinatu.org. We ask again that you be courteous and bear in mind that the magazine is meant to reflect a variety of opinions and interests — some of which you may not share. (Pro tip: if you object to a column, most of the time the answer will be to consider submitting a column from your point of view.)

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The Drift - Winter, 2020  

The Winter, 2020 edition of North Carolina Trout Unlimited's official quarterly publication.

The Drift - Winter, 2020  

The Winter, 2020 edition of North Carolina Trout Unlimited's official quarterly publication.