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

Nature Rx

Know Your Knottyheads

Featured Fly

Kelly Bruce

Jacob Rash & Luke Etchison

Dave Bender

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Page 12

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VOLUME 2 • NUMBER 2 • SPRING 20201 Spring 2020


4 Nature Rx: Healing at Home 8 Why Fly Fish? 10 Readers Guide To USFS Plan Revisions

12 Know Your Knottyheads 18 Scotts Creek Cleanup 20 Mitchell River Project 24 Tiefest at Battleground Elementary 26 Tall Tales from The Blue Ridge 30 Keeping It Local 34 Returning to Normalcy 36 Positive Change 40 Trout in the Classroom 42 Veterans’ Service Program 46 Featured Fly: CDC/Deer Hair Caddis 48 Mop Flies: A Confession All contents Ⓒ 2020 North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited and/or their respective owners. Table of Contents photo by: Kelly Bruce

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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Front cover photo: Fishing Guide Josh Smith (photo by Kelly Bruce)



elcome to the Spring 2020 issue of The Drift! This issue has an interesting and diverse set of articles, covering everything from how nature can help us deal with stress to getting to know the native knottyheads of our streams. We also have some inspiring chapter updates on various conservation projects and you will learn to tie one of my all-time favorite dry flies. Many thanks to all of our contributors. This issue will also be the last that Charles Crolley and his wife Suzanne will work on as they are in the process of relocating away from North Carolina. In my years as a volunteer leader in Trout Unlimited, I have never worked with a volunteer as dedicated and tireless as Charles.He has helped transform NCTU over the last two years, and was responsible for NCTU receiving the Distiguished Sevice Communications award for 2019 from TU. Charles has also made a great difference as part of the Pisgah Chapter, transforming communications there as well, and most recently leading a wonderful 50th anniversarary event. Thank you Charles and Suzanne for all you have done for Trout Unlimited. We are certainly living in interesting times. A big part of Trout Unlimited is the social aspect, and we have to set the in-person portion of that aside for awhile. Fortunately we are still able go fishing — as long as we maintain appropriate social distancing. Trout angling also gives us lots of ways to fill our time, whether it is tying flies, building rods, or reading books. I would also encourage you to explore using video to connect with and tie flies with fellow anglers. Thank you for being a part of North Carolina Trout Unlimited. Mike Mihalas Pisgah Forest

Spring 2020




Home is Where the Healing Begins by Kelly Bruce, Founder and Guide, Natural Wanders

Deep Creek, one of the most visited areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is receiving a much-needed rest. Annual park visitation reached an all-time high of 12.5 million people in 2019, with 30,000 people visiting each day the week before the park closed on March 24.


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hese are unprecedented times.

My first inclination was to get outside and fish. Hit the trails. Escape. Life still seems relatively normal in the woods and on the water. Then one by one, my favorite forests and parks began to close and it hit me: Perhaps this is the land, the rivers and streams pleading for a break. In fishing, we call it “resting a pool.” Our most popular fisheries receive heavy pressure particularly during high season. As worldly circumstances evolve, spring erupts and the fish spawn, I encourage you to continue to find solace in nature, but tread softly and do so mindfully. Clumsily I navigate this pandemic and feel more encouraged than ever to get outside and connect with nature. However, concern for the health of our community is forcing me to approach it differently. Instead of driving across town or a couple hours away, I’m getting my nature fix in my own backyard. This morning when I walked outside, I instantly noticed that the air smelled heavenly. It was the sweet, pure mountain air I remembered from childhood when my family would drive from Florida to my grandmother’s house in North Carolina for summer vacation. When we exited the highway into the village of Flat Rock, we would roll down the windows and that familiar, comforting smell would ease my travel-weary mind. It signaled to me, “You’re in the mountains now.” These days, I relish that scent in the mountain forests, but I haven’t had the pleasure of inhaling that soothing aroma at my home which sits off a busy road in Hendersonville. Without a doubt, decreased traffic is the culprit — and what an exquisite gift it is to breathe that fresh air on the steps of my porch.

Get More Vitamin N(ature) Feeling overwhelmed and anxious has become the norm as this pandemic unfolds. Many factors are beyond our control, but these gifts from nature are

free and they can be found at home. Not only do they provide comfort and peace of mind, they improve overall wellness and help to boost our immunity. While there’s no magic pill or quick fix, Vitamin N(ature) is a very powerful resource with a variety of benefits. During this time of selfisolation and social distancing, many are turning to technology and increasing screen time to get their news, binge-watching to pass the time, or worse, scrolling mindlessly through social media which often elevates anxiety and spreads misinformation. Put down the phone, turn off the TV and tune into nature. A study on “Cultivating Recovery” published by Huibrie Pieters, et al. in the February 2019 issue of the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing revealed that time in nature reduces feelings of isolation, promotes calm, and lifts patients’ mood. As we quarantine ourselves, grant yourself permission to go outside and be still. Take this time to turn inward and reconnect to yourself, to the earth. There are two critical things we can do to strengthen our immune systems: reduce stress and get ample sleep. An abundance of scientific research indicates that being in nature helps to: • lower blood pressure and stress hormones • reduce nervous system hyperactivity • enhance immune system function • increase self-esteem • reduce anxiety • improve overall mood. Spending time outdoors deeply enhances wellbeing, creativity and happiness. Nature provides tremendous immuneboosting qualities like reducing anxiety and increasing sleep duration, according to a study published in the September 2015 issue of Preventive Medicine, “Sleep Insufficiency and the Natural Environment” by Diana GrigsbyToussaint, et al. Spring 2020


Grant yourself permission to be s Need more incentive to go outside? Trees and plants offer incredible healing properties. In fact, they produce volatile organic compounds called phytoncides, their natural defense against disease, bacteria and parasites. We reap the rewards when we breathe in these organic compounds, which increases our natural killer (NK) cells – a type of white blood cell that helps boost immunity, according to a 2009 study on the “Effect of Phytoncide from Trees on Human Natural Killer Cell Function” by Dr. Qing Li, et al. published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology. Our bodies also need adequate Vitamin D to produce the antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria. We produce it naturally when the sun’s ultraviolet rays penetrate our skin, initiating a chain reaction converting a form of cholesterol into Vitamin D. By spending time outside, we soak up the sunshine and produce more Vitamin D which could help lower our risk for respiratory illness.

Your Nature Prescription Find a quiet place outside to sit and spend 30 minutes silently noticing the natural world around you. If you have some woods or a forest near your house, wonderful! However, you can reap the rewards of nature in your own backyard, on your porch or apartment balcony. Even gazing out the window at natural surroundings or the sky has healing, immune boosting qualities. As a last resort, viewing images of nature on your television, computer, or in the form of art sends pleasing messages to your brain, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress. Begin by making yourself comfortable in a seated position. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Slowly scan your entire body from the crown of your head to the tips of your fingers and toes, noticing discomfort. Make any adjustments or stretch to bring relief. Try to relax tight muscles and unclench your jaw. Feel your feet rooted firmly on the ground and allow the earth to fully support you. Let your lips gently curl into a relaxed smile. As we explore our many senses, allow yourself permission to tune into anything you find pleasurable. Just be with it. Acknowledge that any mechanical or man-made influences in juxtaposition to the natural world are also part of the experience. Smile and let them flow into one ear and out the other, focusing on the pleasing sensations from nature. Pause for a couple minutes and notice how the sun and fresh air greets your skin. How does it feel? Clench your fists tightly for 10 seconds, then let go and release your grip. Relax your fingers and open your palms up, noticing the weight and humidity of the atmosphere, or perhaps a slight breeze. Take several rounds of deep, oxygen-rich breaths through your nose. Inhale for four seconds and exhale for four seconds. Tilt your head back and lift your nose to the sky, as if you’re a wolf or a bear catching a scent. What do you smell? Does it evoke an emotion or a memory?


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still. Reset. Recalibrate. Restore. Repeat that sequence of breaths, but this time, breathe through your mouth. What do you taste? As you continue to breathe deeply, consider the oxygen that the plants produce for you, and the carbon dioxide you return to them. Take several minutes to listen to the natural world that surrounds you, tuning in to the sounds you find pleasurable, like a radio. What’s the loudest sound? Spend a few minutes listening into the distance. What is the faintest sound? Imagine your eyes are blossoms, getting ready to open for the first time. Now slowly open your eyes and observe the natural elements that surround you. See the world as if you’ve never seen it before. Spend a few moments gazing all around. What stands out? After you’ve completed this sensory meditation, continue to sit quietly for at least 10 more minutes and observe your surroundings. What are you noticing? Today, I noticed hundreds of violets strewn across my lawn — my great grandmother’s favorite flower. It brought me comfort. I was delighted to see the yellow blooms and mottled leaves of trout lilies (pictured, opposite page) in the woods near my house. I’ve heard the Cherokee believe that when the “mountain trout” blooms, it’s time to fish. These delicate blooms are fleeting; they remind me to slow down and enjoy the present moment. Journal your thoughts or share them with a friend or loved one. Some prompts to consider: What might you do to give back to the rivers and streams that have given you so much? How might this reset affect the way you view and care for the land and water? If you feel inspired, draw or sketch an image that stands out from your experience. Use this practice daily, or anytime you feel your mind drifting to an anxious state. Aim to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors each day. If your local quarantine measures prevent you from going outside, try 60 minutes of indoor nature therapy (i.e. gazing out a window for spans of 10-15 minutes, watching soothing nature films or webcam footage from your favorite park). We are experiencing unusual circumstances. I invite you to ponder with me for a moment: Perhaps this is exactly what we need, what the earth needs. Grant yourself permission to be still. Reset. Recalibrate. Restore. Love the land in your own backyard. Tend to it. Let’s take the pressure off the water and the fish for a moment, step back and give thanks for all the natural resources we have. And when the veil lifts, let’s go out into the world with a renewed sense of mindfulness and gratitude for all that we have. About The Author Kelly Bruce is a Certified Forest Therapy Guide and the founder of Natural Wanders. She leads forest bathing and nature therapy walks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Subscribe to her e-newsletter at Natural-Wanders.com for more inspiration from nature and to learn about upcoming walks, workshops and retreats. Get your daily dose of Vitamin N(ature) on Instagram @naturalwanders.us. To find a guide in your neck of the woods, visi, www.NatureAndForestTherapy.org.

Spring 2020


Why Fly F by Terry L. Hackett, ©1998


s a fly fisherman, I’m often asked “why fly fish?”. My first reaction is always to say some smart ass remark like, “other kinds of fishing are too simple.” Although fly fishing and casting can be more difficult than other styles of fishing, that’s not the real reason I fly fish. I believe that for most anglers, fly fishing becomes the ultimate step in their fishing progression. Those of us who love to fish simply wish to raise our hobby to an art form. I doubt there are many who will argue that fly fishing, especially fly casting, is not an art. Simply put, fly fishing is to angling what poetry is to literature. Of course, there are many days when my casting looks more like abstract art. Unfortunately, that “art” thing approach doesn’t always work when trying to sell someone on fly fishing. Just ask my brother. He owns a fly fishing shop and is constantly “selling” fly fishing. Many times folks come in wanting to know “why fly fish?” or “you mean you can catch something other than trout?”. The fact is, fly fishing is sometimes a more productive technique than any other type of angling. This is definitely true when trout are sipping tiny mayfiles from the surface. It’s also true when false albacore are feeding on small minnows barely an inch long. It’s absolutely true when sight casting to tailing reds or bones in skinny water. I’ve even seen times when the water is so clear or calm that traditional plugs 8

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and lures send bass scurrying for cover, while a good presentation of a lightweight popper brings a vicious strike. Simply put, fly fishing is the ultimate in “ultra” light presentation. But it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood why I fly fish. With my office right around the corner from my brother’s fly shop, I often help out when he needs to take care of things outside of the store. I was watching the store one day when Bob came into the shop. Now, normally, I don’t use names in my stories since I have a bad habit of manipulating facts a bit. However, in this case, I am making an exception since this is a factual recollection. Bob was supposed to be picking up a book for his wife from the store next door, but he parked out

back. The only way to get to the “out back” was through the fly day Bob’s wife stopped in to ask I said, “hmm…did your husba uh, define in.” Fly shops, just unwritten rule about telling so their spouse had been in or no and explained that it was okay i the shop.

Now, I didn’t really know Bob e the fly shop. I found out that h outdoorsman and almost as fan fishing as my brother and I. I k brief encounters in my brother was a hell of a nice guy, but it w tragic death that I found out ju was.

e bookstore from shop. Later that k if he was by today. and come in today… like bars, have this omeone whether ot. She just laughed if Bob had come by

except from he was an avid natic about fly knew from our r’s shop that Bob wasn’t until Bob’s ust how special he

As I understood what happened, Bob and his wife were taking their kids to school one morning. As they were driving into town someone ran a stop sign. Seeing this and knowing he couldn’t avoid the collision, Bob turned their vehicle so that the driver’s side would take the brunt of impact. Bob died later that day. His wife and both kids were uninjured. Since I didn’t know Bob that well, I didn’t attend the viewing or funeral. My brother did. He told me that Bob’s wife had his fly fishing gear displayed near the casket. Bob was buried with two special boxes of flies. In fact, Bob was coming by the shop on the afternoon of the accident to pick up flies for an upcoming trip. As my brother told me this, my heart was touched. I wished that I had known Bob a little better. Another man, also a fanatical fly fisher I’m told, that I wished I had known better was my father. He passed away from cancer when I was only two years old. Reflecting on it now, I realize that losing my father, probably brought me closer to my brother. Perhaps that’s why he opened the fly shop and why I decided to move my office near his store so that I could help out. Regardless, Bob’s death just like my father’s has touched my life. Both men will be remembered. Both have given something back, especially to their children. So now when someone asks me “why fly fish?” I simply respond, “because of the people you get to meet.”



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Some Measure The merits of great Fly fishers By the fish They Catch, Or how well They Cast.

However, The true Measure Of a great Fly fisher Is what he or she Gives back, Not only to The Water, But to The Children As well. 9

Understanding the Forest Plan

by John


he USFS Proposed Forest Plan and accompanying Draft Environmental Statement were released on February 14, 2020 beginning a 90-day comment period for public review and comment. In the past week the USFS has extended the comment period. The USFS will update with specifics on the extension as soon as possible.

These topics are likely of most interest to NCTU members. However this narrow focus overlooks many other sections that have a direct impact on water quality. The three that may have the most impact are Recreation, Transportation, and Timber (Forest Products). These topics, along with many others, are covered in the overall proposed plan.

This plan will guide forest management for the next 15 years. As part of a historic gathering of 30+ organizations, North Carolina Trout Unlimited — led by Advocacy Co-Chair John Rich — has been participating in the process through the Nantahala & Pisgah National Forests Partnership. Through this involvement, we’ve been able to provide suggestions that helped produce the draft plan.

Note: the specific pages referenced opposite refer to pages in the document. As displayed in Adobe the pages will be different. In other words use the table of contents in the Plan. Click on a specific section or page.

We‘re excited to have a draft in hand, to see that many of the Partnership’s suggestions were incorporated, and to have an opportunity to provide suggestions for improvement.

Suggested sections of the USFS Draft Plan to review: The recently released USFS Draft Plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah NF is a daunting 1,000 page document. The below suggested sections of the Plan to review is an attempt to create a path to follow that is focused specifically on the water/aquatics proposals.


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One of the most important things to remember is that the US Forest Service is not asking you to choose which of the 4 options you like best. Instead, these options are meant to show the wide range of potential actions that could be incorporated into the final decision. The draft Plan is NOT project specific. When the land management plan has been finalized and implemented then specific projects will be proposed. For example, when reviewing you will come across a proposal for x number of aquatic organism passages to provide additional stream connectivity. The specifics on where those AOP’s are located will be decided once a Plan is finalized and implemented. Then it becomes project level. (In fact our NCTU citizen science teams have been and

are currently gathering th project level decisions).

A good starting point is T Consolidated Objectives.

The Reader’s Guide

This document provides an overview of the overal plan. Towards the end of the Reader’s Guide please note the Spotlight sections on Sustainable Recreation, New Trail Building, and Access.

Consolidated Objec

This document provides an overview of goals and objectives in the Plan. There are Tier 1 and Tier 2 goals. Tier 1 goals are based on current USFS budgets and capacity. Tie additional resources and NCTU.

he USFS Proposed n and Draft

n Rich

he data needed to make the

Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests Plan Revision

The Reader’s Guide and the






er 2 goals are based on d partnerships with groups as

Introduction and Chapter 1: p. 1-20 Chapter 2: Forest Wide Plan and Components Watershed-p.31 Water-p.36 Aquatic Systems-p.38 Streamside Zones-p.41 Chapter 4: Management Areas p.198-208

The Reader’s Guide https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd699387.pdf

Consolidated Objectives https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd698971.pdf

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd698556.pdf

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement provides four alternate proposals on allocations, objectives, goals, etc. Although there are four proposed alternatives, it is possible during the comment period to propose another alternative. No doubt the USFS would prefer a consensus on one of the four proposed alternatives, however that is not a requirement. Chapter 1&2: p. 1-28 Chapter 3: Resources Water-p.96-119 Aquatic Systems-p.119-144

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Hey, that not a trou


Spring 2020

t’s still ut:

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR KNOTTYHEADS by Jacob Rash and Luke Etchison


f you are a regular reader of The Drift, you are probably wondering if this column will ever have an article focused on trout exclusively. Of course, it will, but that is a fair question given the ground we have covered to date. The previous columns and range of topics are due to all of the amazing things associated with our coldwater fisheries outside of just trout themselves, so truthfully, it seemed (and seems) appropriate (and definitely fun) to take advantage of the freedoms allowed by the editors and to explore our aquatic resources. With that said, we wanted to expand upon our piece in the Fall 2019 edition of The Drift and share even more info about some of the cool fish you catch now and again fly fishing. If you remember last time, we discussed Rosyside Dace and Warpaint Shiners and their potential diet and habitat overlaps with trout. Although those are truly fascinating species, our goal within this article was to embrace the theme of collaboration shared throughout this edition of The Drift by highlighting the eco-engineers of our mountain streams: chubs.

Many folks may have seen or heard tales of the chubs (“knottyheads” or “hornyheads” as they’re more commonly known) being caught while fishing streams in NC. These truly are a cool group of fishes that will require a decent amount of information to capture their descriptions and behaviors, so please don't be intimidated by the amount of information that follows. We know that not everyone will catch one of these fishes, but our goal is for you to find this information not only informative but as interesting as

these species are themselves. To do that, we don’t have to look much farther than the name these fishes are grouped into: “knottyheads.” First, what is a “knottyhead?” Knottyheads are a bunch of species that have been lumped together by the identifying characteristic of horns, knots, or what are technically called tubercles. These fishes can vary in size, color, and even “knottiness.” Typically, tubercles are only present in male fish close to spawning season. Tubercles are made of keratin, which is what hooves and fingernails are made of, and these breeding tubercles function like antlers in deer and are used for fighting and attracting a mate. There are many fish species that grow breeding tubercles ranging from minnows, darters, and topminnows. Even some trout and salmon species (e.g., Lake Trout, Artic Grayling, and Huchen) are known to get these breeding tubercles, even though they may not be as obvious as some of our local knottyheads. In western North Carolina (WNC), there are five main knottyhead species that grow large, obvious tubercles: Bigmouth Chubs, Bluehead Chubs, Creek Chubs, River Chubs, and even Central Stonerollers. However, finding and identifying them truly depends on what river basin you are in or which side of the continental divide you are on. In most streams in WNC you have a chance to come into contact with Central Stonerollers and Creek Chubs. The other three species definitely depend on where you are fishing at. Spring 2020


Central Stonerollers

Image 1: C entral Stoneroller males schooling with Tennessee Shiners in Cartoogechaye Creek, Little Tennessee River Basin.

Image 2: M  ale Central Stoneroller with breeding tubercles.

Image 3: C loseup of male Central Stoneroller breeding tubercles present on its head.

Creek Chubs Central Stonerollers are a minnow species that often travel in large, mixed-species schools (Image 1). Breeding males can be distinguished easily from other knottyheads by the presence tubercles on much of the body (Image 2) including the head (Image 3) and dorsal fin (Image 4). However, a non-breeding male and female Central Stoneroller (Image 5) cannot be identified by these characteristics. The best trait for identifying a Central Stonerollers is the presence of a firm cartilage shelf on the lower lip that is hard and used for scraping algae off of rocks, which is where the term “stoneroller” is from.

Creek Chubs can be found anywhere in WNC but are easier to differentiate from the other three chubs considered knottyheads. Unlike the other knottyheads, Creek Chubs have a dark spot on the front of the dorsal fin (the large fin on their backs; Image 8). These fish are commonly caught fishing and can easily reach over 12 inches in length. Here is where it gets a little more challenging. The last three knottyheads can be extremely difficult to identify if they are side by side. Each species has a similar diet, mouth position, and they all vary in coloration. Luckily for those of us trying to identify them, there are few places that these species co-occur, so identification really takes into account which river basin you are in. Unfortunately, all three species can be found in the New River basin from what is likely due to the movement of fishes between basins by humans (something we’ll discuss further in future columns).

The remaining four knottyheads are all chubs that can grow up to around 12 inches and are commonly caught while fishing for trout and other sport fish.

Image 8: Male Creek Chub in early spawning condition. Image 4: C loseup of male Central Stoneroller dorsal fin with breeding tubercles on first ray.

Native ranges of Bluehead Chubs, River Chubs, and Bigmouth Chubs in western North Carolina. ➜

Image 6: C loseup of Central Stoneroller mouth.

Image 7: Female Central Stoneroller.


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Bluehead Chubs

River Chubs

Bluehead Chubs are native to Atlantic slope river basins. This includes the Savannah, Catawba, Broad, and Yadkin Pee Dee river basins. Bluehead Chubs often have tan or yellow fins, except for some in the Savannah River watershed show red fins (Image 9) outside of spawning season. Spawning males grow large tubercles above the nostrils and often have a bright blue head (Images 10–11), and this position of the tubercles in a breeding male is the easiest way to differentiate these three species.

River Chubs are found in streams that flow into the Tennessee River from WNC; this includes any stream in the Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, French Broad, and Watauga river basins. River Chubs are easiest to identify when they are a spawning male like Bigmouth and Bluehead Chubs. They can reach up to 13 inches and are found anywhere from medium-sized streams to larger rivers. A breeding male grows large tubercles below the eyes on the snout. Their head also becomes very swollen and turns pink, purple, or red when they are ready to spawn.

Image 9: Young Bluehead Chub from the Toxaway River, Savannah River Basin.

Image 13: Young River Chub from the Little Tennessee River Basin.

Image 10: Male Bluehead Chub with spawning tubercles and colors. (Photo Credit: NCFishes.com).

Image 11: Male Bluehead Chub near spawning condition in the Savannah River Basin. Image 14: Male River Chub from the Big Laurel River, French Broad River Basin.

Image 12: Female Bluehead Chub. (Photo Credit: NCFishes.com).

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Bigmouth Chubs

Roles of Knottyhe

Bigmouth Chubs are similar to the other chub species, but they are only native to the New River basin of WNC and grow over 10 inches. As the name implies, this species has a larger mouth than its counterparts and it has a slightly more robust body shape. Unlike Bluehead Chubs and River Chubs, this species has many smaller tubercles above and below the nostrils. Similar to a River Chub, the Bigmouth Chub has a large pink to purple swollen head (Image 15) when it is ready to spawn.

Okay, hopefully we have e cool these fishes look, bu more than unique-lookin of these species play a sign in maintaining our stream We mentioned earlier the engineers of our mounta they received this title giv modify habitats by buildin nests that are often used o many other fish species. T of nest-builders like thes been noted by many cultu early Native Americans in Bay area who called them which translates to “stone

Image 15: Male Bigmouth Chub from the New River in early spawning condition.

Visual guide to the chubs of western North Carolina. Images obtained via Jenkins and Burkhead (1993). Bluehead Chubs Let’s talk tubercles: Tubercles on this species are only found above the nostrils (noted by an arrow). Tubercle scars or often visible outside of breeding season.

Male River Chubs, Bigmo and Bluehead Chubs buil mounds used for spawnin mounds vary in size and a built by a larger male to a As noted above, these chu used by many other speci and play a critical role in (take a look at Images 17– community effect in actio

River Chubs Let’s talk tubercles: Tubercles on this species are only found below the eyes on the snout. Tubercle scars or often visible Bighead Chubs Let’s talk tubercles: Tubercles on this species are found above and below the eyes and nostrils (noted by an arrow). Tubercle scars or often visible outside of breeding season.



Image 16: Breeding tubercles of male Bluehead Chub (A.), River Chub (B.), and Bigmouth Chub (C.).


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Without the mounds buil engineers, many of our a would have lower reprodu not reproduce at all. Not due to their “engineering habitat which is attributed species diversity and abun insects and fishes in the s occupy. Many additional the nest (or “mound”) fo and the associated school protection. Some fish spe closely tied to chub moun will not begin spawning u (sperm) is present in the


Even Stonerollers and Cr the added benefit of a mo These species don’t requi mound for spawning but building spawning pits in sides of large chub moun Chubs, Bigmouth Chubs Chubs in WNC.

eads in Our Ecosystems

established how ut they are much ng fish. All five nificant role m ecosystems. ey are the ecoain streams, and ven how they each ng spawning or required by The importance se species has ures including n the Hudson m “Awadosi,” e carriers.”

As we noted in our previous article, these are but a few of the native species that live here in NC, and although taxonomy can be challenging, we hope that we’ve been able to help with the identification and awareness of additional fishes in our waters. We also know that anglers may not encounter these fishes on a regular basis, but you might (and given how big they get…maybe you should).

Image 17: R iver Chub mound being used by Warpaint Shiners, Tennessee Shiners, and Central Stonerollers in the South Toe River, French Broad River Basin.

outh Chubs, ld large pebble ng. These are typically attract females. ub mounds are ies for spawning stream ecology –19 to see this on).

lt by these aquatic species uctive success or t only that, but g,” they modify d to increasing ndance of aquatic streams they species will use or spawning l of fish for ecies are so nds that they until chub milt mound.

reek Chubs enjoy ound in a stream. ire a chub are often found n the bases or nds built by River s, and Bluehead

Trout Conservation Flows Downstream

Image 18: R iver Chub mound being used by Saffron Shiners and Tennessee Shiners in the Little River, French Broad River Basin.

Nevertheless, just like the two minnow species we shared previously, these knottyheads are interwoven into the health of our aquatic systems. There isn’t a reader of this column that doesn’t appreciate the value of our State’s aquatic resources, and for us and our interest in trout, we remain in a unique position to have our coldwater conservation efforts provide an expansive impact. This text is taken from our previous article and remains true today: …it is important to remember that trout conservation flows downstream. In the end, the good work done to help trout and their habitats has impacts beyond our favorite fishing holes. Just like the knottyheads, our actions have far ranging impacts beyond their immediate goals. We’re fortunate that our efforts directed towards trout have the opportunity to have a much larger conservation footprint to help everything lower in a watershed. In the end, trout conservation really does flow downstream.

References Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1993. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, Maryland. Kratt, L. F., & Smith, R. J. F. (1978). Breeding tubercles occur on male and female Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus). Copeia: 185–88. NCfishes.com Image 19: M  ountain Redbelly Dace, Saffron Shiners, Redlip Shiners, and Roseyside Dace using a Bigmouth Chub mound in Helton Creek, New River Basin.

No doubt you’re somewhat interested in fishes if you’ve made it this far, so keep an eye on this developing website that helps with identification of North Carolina’s fishes.

Spring 2020


Scotts Creek Gathers Help(ers) by Tom Lenehan, Tuckaseigee TU


cotts Creek forms high up in the Plott Balsam mountains, that southerly section of the Balsam Range in the North Carolina side of the Blue Ridge Mountains which was named for the breeder of the legendary Plott hounds. (You‘d still trade a good 4-wheeler for one of these bear hunting hounds, if you could get one). The Balsam Range drifts southeast in the far western part the of the state, south of Asheville and close by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachians are the second oldest mountain range in the world, and many peaks top out above 6000 feet. Way up near the Blue Ridge Parkway rain falls onto the forest and rocks and it filters through the pristine soil. Steady drips of the cleanest water gather and merge into a clear, cold fast-moving stream that hurries down the mountain flanks for about 14 miles to Sylva and finally joinig the Tuckaseigee River in Dillsboro. The headwaters are


Spring 2020

home to small and feisty native brookies. This water is astonishingly clear yet with that hint of green you see in pictures of glaciers. But the water in its journey from wilderness towards towns sadly loses its purity.

removed about 15 tons sin one guy said, “That‘s not c

Three years ago TU’s Tuckaseigee Chapter #373, based in Sylva, said “Enough. Not in my yard.”

WCU has been organizing based cleanup of the Tucka a long time — this year‘s Tproclaims the “36th Annua Tuck.” Once a year we meet on “the Tuck” and scour th and foot, bagging trash. TU in the mid-nineties joined cleanup and has been with WCU returned the favor by turn.

Joined by one of the premier outdoors colleges in the region, Western Carolina University, TU now heads up a crew made up of the WCU Fly Fishing Club, the WCU Center for Community Engagement and local volunteers. We bag and drag 3-4 tons of trash up the banks every year. Tires, lumber, an oven are just some of the debris we‘ve found. The Sylva Department of Public Works jumps in and provides the teams with volunteer manpower and heavy equipment to gather and dispose the garbage for us, even though this area is outside city limits. The chapter figures they‘ve

Trout Unlimited chapter # in the NC Trout Capital o County, strives to be active the community, especially cold water fisheries. Curre manages six Trout in the C and is looking forward to a release into the streams so supports RiverCourse, a w for young teenagers at nea donations and volunteers. Kids Fish Day with the US

Incredibly some people take advantage of the steep banks and roads close by dispose trash, debris, junk, garbage and you name it off their vehicles and onto the banks and water — within a few miles of the local dump.

nce starting, and counting tires.�

a communityaseigee River for -Shirt proudly al Clean-up the et at a boat ramp he river in boats U Sylva way back d in with this it ever since. y joining us in

#373, situated of Jackson ely engaged in in protecting ently the chapter Classroom schools a fingerling oon. The chapter also week-long outdoors camp arby Lake Logan, with . Casting for Recovery and S Forest Service are some

of the other efforts the chapter gets involved with. Look up the website FlyFishingTrail.com for some great places to fish!

which then form creeks and streams and rivers these concerned and active individuals and groups combine to make a big impact on preserving our most precious resource, clean water.

Like the drips of water that gather into trickles

Spring 2020


Blue Ridge TU Mitchell River Project Robby Abou-Rizk, Blue Ridge TU mile section of the Mitchell from the Kapps Mill north, a Delayed Harvest stream. This designation has enhanced the experience for anglers from around the Foothills region and has become a very popular fishing spot because of its proximity to Winston Salem, Charlotte and Greensboro.


or many years locals have enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of the rivers in Surry County while fishing for trout and other species. One of the most prized fishing spots is the Mitchell River in Dobson. Over twenty years ago the North Carolina Wildlife Commission designated a three


Spring 2020

Although a majority of this section of river is privately owned, the landowners have been very generous in providing access to the river and have always practiced strong conservation policies. Bank erosion has always been one of the challenges that concerned the owners and they where looking for ways to stop the destruction of the natural riparian buffer. In the fall of 2018 after hurricane Florence had brought record rainfall to the foothills region, the Kapps Mill dam located at the southern point of the delayed harvest section was destroyed. That caused the water levels from the dam section back for approximately a mile upstream to drop

significantly. There was als damage from the flooding. upstream as well as roadwa work was performed on th the North Carolina Depar

The Blue Ridge Trout Unl Winston Salem reached ou see if we could help with th revolved around the possib FEMA funding and other be available. The Blue Rid a plan to provide multiple at several locations along t foot traffic off the banks an siltation. After installing a would finish by restoring a . The high foot traffic up a high banks had caused an e entering the stream. There

so severe riverbank . Other damage occurred ay damage. Remediation he road in that section by rtment of Transportation.

limited chapter in ut to the landowners to he recovery. Discussions bility of applying for resources that would dge chapter offered up river access staircases the riverbank to reduce nd control erosion and access points our chapter and replanting the banks and down the steep and erosion problem and silt e is wild trout population

Spring 2020


downstream to the delayed harvest. By reducing and stopping the siltation we hope that they will migrate back upstream. That plan was agreed to by the owners and our chapter . We started raising funds for the project through our Banquet for several years. We applied for matching funds from NC TU council to help move the restorations quicker and cover a much longer stretch of the stream . This would improve water quality quicker as we could than start on final phase of replanting the eroded areas. In 2019 we started this multiyear project to build


Spring 2020

entry/exit points with steps to reduce the erosion and silt problems. Once we establish those entry points, we plan on replanting and restoring the banks where fisherman created slides and trails to stop the erosion. By stopping the siltation from those areas we hope the wild trout population will move back upstream to that section of the river. Our original plan was to recruit volunteers from within the chapter and perform the work ourselves, however after researching the amount of earth movement that would be required we decided to enlist the help of some local organizations and contractors. After several months of planning and

receiving input from organ such as North State Enviro and with the assistance of t providing us with the cons a similar project they had b River, we realized it would construction of the initial We recruited a local team o landowners had recommen of 2019 we started buildin staircases at the primary pa Road on the Mitchell Rive early December. After the

nizations and individuals onmental, Dick Everhart the Pisgah TU chapter struction plans from built on the Davidson d be best to outsource the stair entry construction. of individuals that the nded and in November ng our first in a series arking area along River er and completed it in construction was finished

fishermen immediately starting using the access to river. Now there is heavy traffic going up and down the stairs. Our plan is to install at least another two to three of these staircases along the river this year to allow fisherman to go in one staircase and come out through another saving the banks from all the foot traffic. The owners of property along the designated fishery section have allowed fisherman the opportunity to enjoy the river and share the experiences that they have enjoyed for generations. We hope by working with the owners and the fisherman we can make this a better quality stream for many years to come.

Surry County government has applied for FEMA funding for the bank restoration project along the southern section of the delayed harvest section that was severely impacted by Hurricane Florence and that project has recently been approved for funding. Contractors have been selected and the work on the bank restoration project is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2020. We plan on meeting with FEMA and the contractors to insure that our restoration work will not be impacted by their restoration plans.

Spring 2020


Tiefest at Battleground Elementary by Brian Esque & Doug Clark, Rocky River TU


arly this year some of the members of Rocky River Trout Unlimited were fortunate to meet Doug Clark, an elementary school teacher in Lincolnton NC, who was interested in teaching his Trout Club students how to tie a fly. Doug had asked one of our TIC leaders, Dana Hershey if we could assist in fly tying instruction for his Trout Club. The following is his background and what he has brought to his students through the TIC program and his initiative. This is the story of the day in early March 2020: Doug’s Teaching Background: Graduated from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. Started teaching 5th grade in 2007 at Kiser Intermediate School that housed 4th and 5th graders in downtown Lincolnton, NC. Two years ago Lincoln County Schools were redistricted and the in town schools and Kiser Intermediate School became Battleground Elementary School which was one of the 3 feeder schools that made Kiser Intermediate. Battleground Elementary now houses about 400 students in grades K-5. I spent my first 11 years teaching 5th grade and the last 2 years in 4th grade. This was my 5th year participating in the Trout in the Classroom program. In January of 2015 I met Dr. Dana Hershey at the UNC STEM conference and began the program the following fall after gaining the funds to participate from some generous friends, local businesses, and the Charlotte Area Aquarium Society. The Trout in the Classroom program has been an amazing experience for me and my students. From their


Spring 2020

first experience with trout eggs (they were expecting something more like a chicken egg) in the fall to the magic of the release at South Mountains State Park in the spring and everything in between. My students have learned first hand the importance of water quality, data collection, aquarium maintenance, the growth and life cycle of trout and much more. The TIC program ties in really well with our science curriculum and I have been able to use the data collection to reinforce concepts learned in math to make our math concepts much more meaningful. This year I started an after school Trout Club opened up 20, 4th and 5th graders at Battleground Elementary to be able to share the trout and learning experiences to more students throughout the school than just those in my homeroom class. Though this first year of running the club didn’t go exactly as planned due to having to cancel meetings due to the surprise of having my 4th son being born 3 weeks early, tornados, snow storms, and the COVID-19 virus making us cancel our release trip. Even so, my group of kids learned a lot about trout and their environment and also gained some new experiences along the way. The top experience was doing Tie Fest with the club. I wanted to make the connection for my students between raising trout and fly fishing for them. That the flies should mimic the organisms the trout would feed on. I have personally tied flies for a number of years and worked with my older boys at home, and even taught a couple of students at school some basic tying, but for a group of 20 students in Trout Club I was going to need some backup. For this I sent out an email to my amazing TIC contacts to see what we could do. They put me in contact with Tom Adams, a fly tying instructor for Trout Unlimited and Ovis. He was able to bring with him three other Rocky River Trout Unlimited volunteers, vises, tools, and materials to run a fly tying class for my Trout Club. The plan was simple, Tom demo ties a black wooly bugger under his camera and is projected onto the classroom SMARTboard. Then students take turns at the vise and repeat the steps to create their own

wooly bugger. Step one of a hitch. Tom systematically to tie a wooly bugger. As he about each of the materials the fly. An absolutely perfe is time for the students to quickly discover that it is m doing it themselves than it Maybe you have felt that wa some Youtube instructiona Sometimes the thread brok off the hook. It was tricky h hand and wrapping thread the materials in place. It to perseverance by the studen for each student to tie thei a pair of girls in the club w Four hands sure made the the end there were fluffs of all over my classroom floor probably still hiding out in to be rediscovered and brin of Tie Fest with my Trout C of time each and every one members were able to finis very own personally tied wo the day.

It is my hope that we were a seed for the students at my the Classroom program alr students to take steps into conservation in general an Fest with my Trout Club sp the outdoors and fly fishin

Huge shout out to my Trou volunteers Dr. Dana Hersh Charlie Campbell that hav have everything I need to s my classroom. And lastly to Campbell, Walter Hazelrig making Trout Club’s first T We couldn’t have done it w again next year!

this plan goes off without y teaches the students how e goes he teaches them s that go into creating ect job by Tom. Then it have a go at it and they much more challenging t looked up on the screen. ay too after watching al videos. I know I have! ke or came unwrapped holding materials in one d with the other to secure ook lots of teamwork and nts and by the volunteers ir own fly. At one point were tag teaming tying. work easier than two! In f black marabou feathers r, some of which are n the room somewhere ng back fond memories Club. Just in the nick e of the Trout Club sh and take home their ooly bugger at the end of

able to plant another y school. The Trout in ready plants seeds for the science field and nd I hope that doing Tie parks interest in enjoying ng.

ut in the Classroom hey, Bill Thomas, and ve always made sure I successfully raise trout in o Tom Adams, Charlie gg, and Paul Duffy for Tie Fest a great success. without you. Let’s do it

Spring 2020


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r. popula e r e : w e t ws” ’s No windo Editor m o s n were a these go, “tr , a e r s r e a h t ye out Many nked ppers a n s r at cra e h p t p i s r h uw e doo For yo e offic v o efore b a days b ows d e n h i t w n tion i art small f the p ventila o e t d s i o v o pro for m , and open t n e p o nked ey cra e. AC. Th the tim l ing l a y wa ometh s t a o t h t g ittin stayed re adm e w t draw u o t migh , if y i n t e h h g t thou nd Back if you ours a r h o r , e g t f n rassi o in a ut embar ould g c u say, p o y o t , s s r i e ich om oth ” – wh m o flax fr indow s n a er tr open w v e o h t n i k it rough “snea p it th o p , e lop n enve ere. it in a m t of th u o transo t i c l i i n a o t r t igh ur elec and h mes over o n i e The na am . c U T s e m ge Ridg These (or t Blue a s k l ocent o n f n i e n e he fi ect th from t o prot t e’re d e g an iew). W h v c f o n t e e r poin have b much on you g n i es as l d a n t e l l p de e? ta guilty, se ?tru e h t y o nj ou’ll e sure y did. as we

m o r f The e u l B e g d Ri


Spring 2020

My True Fish Story

by A. Nonymous,

Blue Ridge TU


his story is “true” — it really happened, and it had widespread repercussions. This story garnered national attention; it resulted in an “Award” of first place and had a prominent place in a national Outdoors magazine

designated secret spot, we unpacked our gear and was dismayed to find that in our haste and drunken stupor, we had forgot the power ice auger. We attempted to chip holes in the ice using an ice pick, but chipping through 4 feet of ice with an ice pick was like shoveling dirt with a teaspoon


It was about then when we decided that we were through without starting, that my brother had a brain fart. He took a stick of dynamited from his gear bag, lighted it and proceeded to throw it out onto the ice. Just then, Beau who had been peeing on my tires saw the “stick” and of course thought it was a game of retrieve. Beau picked up the lighted stick of dynamite and trotted back towards us. At this point we were shouting and yelling at old Beau to drop the stick while we ran backwards as far as our sodden drunken legs could propel us. Confused, frightened, and scared from being yelled at and cursed, Beau sought refuge under my New Truck

My brother and I grew up in Upstate NY and enjoyed many fine weekends, Ice fishing for Perch, Walleye and pan fish on Oneida lake. I was on terminal leave from the USAF in VA. having served the last 4 years in Europe. My brother who served as a demolitions expert in the army was now a construction supervisor for a Hurley Wisconsin ironore mining company, and lived in a home with his wife, daughter and faithful Labrador retriever Beau near Black Oak Lake in Wisconsin. Since it had been nearly 5 years since we last saw each other my brother invited me to drive out to Wisconsin and spend a weekend ice fishing with him on the finest ice fishing lake in Wisconsin — the Black Oak Lake. Black Oak is renowned for their world record Muskies, Great Northern Pike, and small and largemouth bass and walleyes. It was mid-February and colder than a (well you know — very cold). I drove to Wisconsin in my new Ford 150 Lariat truck. Our reunion was memorable for all the “Jack and Coke” we drank telling war stories and busting each other for this or that mistake or indiscretion.

The explosion was monumental and sent Beau and my new truck to the bottom of Black Oak Lake. Of course, Murphey’s law was in play as Black Oak is one of the deepest and clearest lakes in Wisconsin

The Aftermath. Much to my amazement and chagrin, the insurance company failed to approve my claim for $55K covering my truck, our ice fishing gear, our food and our beer

The Adventure

The Insurance Auditors of America singled me out for the most worthless, pernicious, and fraudulent claim they had received that year

We packed up our gear in the early AM and set out for the long drive on the ice to my brother’s favorite fishing hole. My brother brought along his fur baby Beau who never left his side. When we arrived at the

The Darwin Society rated us the single best (or worse if you may) incident of stupidity in America that year. Sports Afield featured us in a “This Happened to Me” Vignette.

Spring 2020




uring the summer of either 1998 or ‘99, I planned a one-day fishing trip to the Wilson Creek area of North Carolina. I packed a daypack and my fishing vest, hoping to do a bit of trout fishing. I had decided to fish in some water that required a short hike to get to, so I packed snacks and a few peanut butter sandwiches along with drinks. I parked at the top road and hiked down to the river. At one time, you could drive all the way to the bottom if you had a vehicle that had some clearance, but this was no longer allowed. It’s approximately a three-mile hike down if you followed the road but by cutting through the various switchbacks, I could make it in 20 to25 minutes. Once I reached the bottom of the hill to the stream, I took off my hiking boots, put on my wading boots, and put my snacks and beverage in my back vest pocket. I decided to go ahead and eat a sandwich and then stashed the Ziploc bag in my vest pocket. Being a Type-1 diabetic since I was 15, I generally try to head off any potential low-sugar issues by making sure to eat small amounts during my fishing adventures. I knew there was a confluence with a small stream probably three quarters of a mile upstream that I had yet to fish beyond. The stream feeding into the main river generally has a decent supply of brook trout in it, and I had fished that several times, but this time I was planning to head up the main stream to see if I could find any brookies or brown trout that were a little larger than I am use to catching. I had stashed my day pack with my hiking boots and some extra clothes. As usual, I also stashed a beer in the river to keep it cold and headed upstream. I was catching fish almost immediately, but I was focused on getting up to the confluence so I could spend


Spring 2020

’s Bear Story

by T. Nonymous, Blue Ridge TU

most of my time fishing waters that were new to me.

since I felt I heard to do that at some point in my life.

I came around a bend and knew I was fairly close to the confluence when I noticed on the opposite side of the river what I thought was a large dog but soon realized was a good-sized bear grabbing a drink from the river.

Finally, exhausted, I just kept my eye on the bear as it stood on a large rock and looked at me. This bear was probably over eight feet tall standing on its hind legs and was close enough that I probably could had touched it with my 8-foot fly rod. Worse, it was persistent. Why was it continuing to follow me? How delicious did I look?

My first thought was that I really wished I hadn’t left my disposable camera in the car (a note to young readers: disposable cameras were popular before cell phone cameras) and how totally cool this was to be a part of nature like this. During my senior year in high school and after my freshman year in college, I had been a camp counselor for a summer camp in the Pocono Mountains. I had seen more than a few bears in the Poconos and whenever they saw people, they ran off. Not this bear. It glanced up at me and really didn’t seem to care that I was there. I stood still for a bit, and the bear finished its drink and turned and started heading up the bank. I did notice that this bear was not as black as I thought North Carolina black bears would be, but I still thought this was just a great experience. Nevertheless, I was glad to see the bear head up the bank and felt I would soon be able to resume fishing. I soon knew something was wrong when I noticed the bear was walking downstream along the bank on a small fisherman’s trail, heading my direction. It got about even with me and started to sniff the air. Then it began to move towards the stream where I was standing. I moved quickly upstream as the bear seem to be following my exact path. I crossed the river, rock hopping, but I noticed the bear was still taking my same path. I crossed back to the original side of the stream and knew I was in trouble. I looked upstream and noticed that I was close to a deep pool. Maybe a refuge? I went to the middle of the pool and stood about waste deep in it. Then I turned towards the bear and start to scream and wave my fly rod and arms for what seemed like 10 minutes, but I am sure in reality was less than a minute. I tried to be as loud as I could,

Then I remembered that I had eaten the peanut butter sandwich earlier and realized I smelled like lunch. I slipped one arm out of my vest and decided that if the bear came at me, I would throw my rod and my vest at it and hopefully it would be distracted so I could run off. The bear just stayed on that rock for what seemed like forever, but soon it began to circle the pool. It got maybe about 180 degrees around and realized it couldn’t get much closer to me. It swatted at the water and then headed upstream. As I watched it leave, I sat down on a rock and took the brick from my pants and started to breathe again. I pulled out the one beer I brought with me and tried to take in what had just occurred. I was kind of annoyed that I couldn’t go fish upstream but I wasn’t about to follow the bear. I tried to fish on my way back downstream, but anytime a squirrel or anything moved in the woods I was ready to run screaming. I made it back to my pack and my other beer. I took off my wading boots and put on my hiking boots and started the 60 plus-minute hike out, sticking to the trail rather than cutting uphill across the switchbacks. About three quarters of the way up, I ran into a couple who were from the area, and they mentioned that game officials release nuisance bears in the area from time to time. My bear was either a nuisance bear or a serious Jiffy Peanut Butter fan who didn’t appreciate my generic peanut butter. I now carry bear spray whenever fish remote streams. It took me about 13 years before I went back to that area, but these days, I am always extra cautious about my snack choices.

Spring 2020



Spring 2020


rom meeting speakers to fundraising to meeting facilities, every TU chapter in the country relies on the support of local businesses. We turn to them time and again for help, and many of them answer the call every time we ask. Now more than ever, we need to support them too. The COVID-19 outbreak and the necessary precautions being taken across our state and our nation are challenging for businesses of all size. Among the hardest-hit are our local small businesses including restaurants, guide services, outfitters, microbreweries, lodging and service providers. Most of these do not have the deep pockets and vast financial resources to cope with an extended loss of revenue. While some have temporarily had to close their doors to the public,

Spring 2020


many have the ability to conduct business at “arm’s length” and are still ready, willing and able to serve you. Despite the painful measures many have had to take in furloughing or layingoff employees, expenses like rent, insurance, utilities, loan payments and other bills continue; even if you see your favorite restaurant’s or outfitter’s doors closed and windows shuttered, rest assured they all still have bills to pay, and they all need money to survive. We’re asking you to make a concerted effort to give them your business and your financial support whenever you can. This may involve pre-booking and pre-paying a guided trip, buying a gift certificate for future meals or travel, picking up a to-go order, or ordering gear and supplies through a website or over the phone. For the most part, a new rod, reel, vest or package of beads costs just about the same as it would from a large “big-box” company. Instead of sending your money to an out-of-state conglomerate, consider spending it right here, at home, with the people you count on. As bleak as the situation might look today, one day soon there will be a brighter tomorrow. Let’s make sure our guides are there to show us, our outfitters to equip us, our restaurants to feed us, our teachers to teach us, and independent lodges there to offer warm hospitality when we’re ready to hit the road, see our friends and take in some new water once again. In the next page or two you’ll find a list of businesses that have helped our chapters out over the years. Please look it over and keep it handy not only during this tough time, but in the future when you can express your gratitude for their support by giving them your trade whenever you can.

Asheville Brewery Highland Brewing Company Wedge Brewing Company Conservation MountainTrue Guide Brown Trout Fly Fishing - Brown Hobson Unreel Fly Fishing - John Miko Guide/Outfitter Curtis Wright Outfitters Hunter Banks Fly Fishing Orvis - Asheville REI - Asheville

Chapel Hill highlandbrewing.com wedgebrewing.com mountaintrue.org browntroutflyfishing.com unreelflyfishing.com curtiswrightoutfitters.com hunterbanks.com stores.orvis.com/us/north-carolina/charlotte rei.com/stores/asheville.html

Black Mountain Outfitter One Fly Outfitters Restaurant Blue Ridge Biscuit Company Black Mountain Doughnut Factory

oneflyoutfitters.com facebook.com/BlueRidgeBiscuitCompany blackmtndough.com

am.beer fishthehighcountry.com mountainboundflyguides.com highlandoutfittersnc.com

Brevard Brewery Oskar Blues Host Restaurant The DFR Room

oskarblues.com dfrroom.net


Outfitter Madison River Fl

Emerald Is

Guide Crystal Coast Ad


Outfitter Foscoe Fishing C


Orvis - Greensbo

Hampton, T

Trophy Water Gui southholstonriverlodge.com

Henderson Brewery


Dry Falls Brewing Guide

Natural Wanders





Casters Fly Shop smokymtnretreat.com tuckflyshop.com

Highlands Guide/Outfitter

Brookings Angler

Cashiers Guide/Outfitter Brookings Anglers

Guide/Outfitter River‘s Edge Out


Bryson City Brewery Nantahala Brewing Company Campground Smoky Mountain Meadows Campground Guide/Instructor Mac Brown Fly Fish Lodging Smoky Mountain Retreat Outfitter Tuckaseegee Fly Shop

Brewery Olde Mecklenbur Club Carolina Fly Fish Outfitter Great Outdoor Pr Jesse Browns Ou Orvis - Charlotte The Sporting Gen


Bristol, TN Lodging South Holston River Lodge



Boone Brewery Appalachian Mountain Brewery Guide High Country Guide Service Montainbound Fly Guides Outfitter Boone‘s Fly Shop

Outfitter Great Outdoor Pr

Johnson Cit brookingsonline.com

Campground Camp Stonefly


Spring 2020


rovisions Company

Oriental Guide greatoutdoorprovision.com

Baldheaded Bobby Guide Service


Pisgah Forest Brewery

rg Brewery


Ecusta Brewing Guide


hing Club


Pisgah Outdoors Guide/Outfitter


rovisions Company utdoors e nt

greatoutdoorprovision.com jessebrowns.com stores.orvis.com/us/north-carolina/asheville thesportinggent.com

Davidson River Outfitters



lyfishing Outfitters



captainwillpaul.com raleighflies.com

Orvis - Raleigh


Headwaters Outfitters


Statesville Guide foscoefishing.com

Carolina Mountain Sports


Sylva Guide stores.orvis.com/us/north-carolina/greensboro


AB Fly Fishing - Alex Bell Hooker‘s Fly Shop Outfitter

abfish.org hookeroutfitters.com

Tuckaseegee Fly Shop


Todd Guide River Girl Fly Fishing






Captain Will Paul Raleigh Fly Fishing Outfitter

Guide/Outfitter crystalcoastadventures.com






ide Service


Raleigh wncfishing.com



Outdoors Hyatt Farms Sporting Clays





Topton Lodging Nantahala River Lodge


Watauga, TN castersonlineflyshop.com

Lodging Watauga River Lodge


Waynesville brookingsonline.com

Guide/Outfitter Hunter Banks Fly Fishing

ty, TN



Spring 2020



Much in the initial paragraphs of this note is quoted or paraphrased from an article in the Orlando Sentinel by Mike Bianchi published on March 14 and seen on my MSN page. It is intended to make you think about our situation today and put it into perspective for our future as volunteers in cold water conservation activity.


hroughout our country’s history, sports have been there to help us recover from wars, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings and other natural disasters and national catastrophes.

our houses, sports and other activities will come back, and we will return to normalcy'.

Usually, sports are canceled for a week or so after national calamities, but this time it was sports that actually alerted us to [the extent of] the national calamity. The NBA pulled the plug on its season, [the NCAA cancelled the annual March Madness], other sports leagues followed, and even Disney fell in line and did the same. The entire outlook of the country changed.”

With that background, do you need something to look forward to in the next weeks?

The article continues with an example that really touched me personally — the senseless shooting and deaths of 32 students in 2007 at Virginia Tech, my alma mater. But we know that this crisis like others will pass. Time will continue. It will be 'OK to come out of 34

Spring 2020

The author reminds us that things 'always shine the brightest after the darkest of times'.

When I think about where I feel the most comfortable and at ease, it is in nature. It could be hiking a trail or (more likely) getting to do some fishing. Wading a cold WNC mountain stream, floating a western trout river, jetting across a Florida saltwater flat, are all places where I feel I am ‘returning to normalcy’. Henry David Thoreau was famous for his expressions on nature. My favorite is ‘Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after’. Even with so many of our public areas closed to the public today, there are still places you can go


MALCY connect to a fish, and to Thoreau’s understanding of ‘why’. Float and fish a river near you for smallmouth, carp or other “non-trout” species, try a local farm pond or lake for bream and bass, or check out one of our state’s DH or Hatchery Supported streams (just make sure they’re open to the public before you head out).

‘blue lines’ off the Parkway with native Southern Appalachian brook trout — one of the most beautiful creatures on earth. My own chapter, Land O’ Sky, works and has members in five WNC counties and there are so many coldwater streams here that I will never be able to fish all of them even once in my life. There’s a lot to explore, and to help you heal.

Given the current situation regarding travel, it looks like my ‘self quarantine’ will be spent in right here at home in western North Carolina. Maybe you are in a similar position. When things get back to normal, our national parks reopen and we’re free to get out and about, think about spending a day or two or more in some of the natural places we have in WNC.

And for a while, I’m sure ‘social distancing’ will still be the order of the day. And on a mountain trout stream, that’s not a bad thing any time. Not to be standoffish, but the more social distance, the better.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is our nearest large natural arena with trails, streams, wonderful animals…and some very selective trout. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers a beautiful drive and breath-taking overlooks. You can also find

by Jay Hawthorne, Land O’ Sky TU

So, please be safe, follow the virus prevention guidelines, and find your personal way to restore some normalcy to your life. I can’t think of a better way to do it than trying to fool fish with feathers whether you’re checking out a local pond or lake, or a stretch of open public water like our DH and Hatchery Supported Streams. Spring 2020



Spring 2020

What does it really take? Thoughts on impactful positive change by Jessica Whitmire, NC Diversity Initiative Coordinator


nderstanding ones ability to make a positive impact on other people, their community, and our natural resources can be dynamic. Being able to impact all three also, doesn’t always happen at the same time. And in a world of big and fast gestures, sometimes it is easy to feel that the small change we discover we can make, might not feel impactful enough. In 8th grade, my Language Arts Teacher awarded me with the most creative writing award. At the time, all I recognized was that I “won” something. See I am competitive. I always have been. I am competitive with myself and with others. I have been called “too competitive” at times. That is another story for another day. But one thing sports finally taught me, after over ten years of being an athlete, is that it wasn’t just winning, it was something I earned. I had worked hard for it. I enjoyed it. She recognized that. My 8th grade Language Arts Teacher lost her battle with cancer a couple years ago, I wish I could have told her thank you one more time. Her acknowledgement of

my talent and hard work impacted me. I will never forget it. Teachers, they impact our communities and the world on a daily basis, and they hardly ever make the headlines. Within my role as the Diversity Initiative Coordinator for NC Trout Unlimited, my goals are to create positive change for our organization. That positive change should impact not only NCTU, but our Chapters, Region and National. So you’re gonna get another sports analogy. It is who I am, and it has created a lot of the experiences I can use as examples. Goals are not uncommon in the sports world. You set them mentally and physically and then you work hard to achieve them and/or score them. Now that I am a coach, I can tell you that an individual and/or team that does not set goals for themselves, will never reach their full potential. Without goals or direction there will still be impactful change, but will it be positive? After I graduated college, I went right into coaching middle school volleyball. After only one season, I was asked to move

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up to the coach the high school team. I honestly was in way over my head, but I am a put your head down figure it out kind of person. But at the end of the that first high school season, we had only won maybe 40% of our games. Losing has never been something I have been comfortable with. Ever. I kept going over and over what happened during that season. I had some talent, some strong natural athletes. I had set good goals for them. Goals I just knew, should have pushed them to success. Then it hit me hard. I set goals for them. Looking back at all the locker room talks and one on one meetings, I had never asked them what they wanted their goals to be! It just didn’t occur to me, that their goals might have been different from mine. See, to make positive impactful


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change, you have to include everyone. And here I was as a coach, doing the most un-teammate like thing I could have done. It was a gut check. Ten years later, and I find myself back at my high school Alma Mater. We had a great season. Won some great games, lost some tough ones, but we set goals from day one together, and that created a positive impact on our season. So Trout Unlimited National has set goals to gain a more diverse membership. They want to have more gender and ethnic diversity. I hope we can all agree on that diversity being crucial for the future of the organization. TU National has set goals for these efforts. But learning from my past coaching mistakes, I know that my role for North Carolina and my local chapter will

be to work with our cu create and identify the good will my goals be our membership want occurs, a journey happ within yourself and/or This change NCTU an be our journey togeth what this journey mea do you see for your lo council. Because posit should not mean a ne current members.

The North Carolina C recently worked on a 3 Within that plan, I cre myself as the NCDI co being, to build a toolk

urrent members to ese goals. For what if they aren’t what ts. Whenever change pens. A journey r an organization. nd local chapters, will her. I need to know ans to you. What goals ocal chapter and your tive impactful change egative effect on our

Council of TU just 3 year strategic plan. eated some goals for oordinator. One kit for chapters to

use as a resource for their own diversity initiative. Second, is to identify a DI chair for each chapter. My goal, is to work with each chapter and DI Chair to learn what you and your chapters want your journey to look like, what does it mean to you? How do you feel it can make a positive impact on your community? How can we grow our membership and also grow a diverse membership? What does that look like for your chapter? What does that mean to you as a TU member? Please think about this and talk among your chapter members and leaders. This is where I need feedback and ideas and goals from you. So North Carolina can together, create positive impactful change. Going back to what my 8th grade Language

Arts Teacher taught me. You should always close your essay, by linking back to your opening paragraph. Your conclusion has to tie it all together. So you know how I mentioned that sometimes it feels like your actions or goals are not big enough to make a difference? Well I promise you they are, and they will. You as a TU member, as an active chapter volunteer, a coordinator and/or all of the above, you can and do make impactful positive change. The feedback you give and your suggestions to me, will help make change. If each of us, makes a little bit of positive impactful change, when we all come together, if we are on the same page, it will be BIG. You can make a difference, remember by being a Trout Unlimited member, you are ALREADY making a difference.

Spring 2020


Trout in the Classroom by Matt O’Bryant, North Carolina TIC Coordinator

T For more information on Shad in the Classroom, contact Danielle Pender (danielle.pender@ naturalsciences.org) Shad in the Classroom Program Specialist NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Education Section 11 West Jones Street Raleigh, NC 27601 919-707-9894

rout in the Classroom is a nationwide program ran by Trout Unlimited chapters to introduce K-12 students to the importance of protection, conservation, and restoration of our nations cold water fisheries. Students do this by raising trout from eggs (which most receive at the start of the school year) to fingerlings in a classroom setting. Many TU chapters provide the tanks, chillers, water filter systems, and all the other necessary equipment needed to sustain trout in a classroom fish tank. Once the schools receive the eggs; various methods of teaching are incorporated. Lesson plans can be as simple as elementary schools observing the life cycles of trout to elaborate chemical and microbiology studies in a high school science course or animal studies in agricultural classes. For most of the schools involved in TIC, especially those in the Blue Ridge, Rocky River, and Triangle chapters, there are no trout streams in their regions. In fact, only 26 out of North Carolina’s 100 counties have public trout


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waters. So, how much of an impact does TIC the trout streams of North Carolina?

Through TIC, those students living in the C River and Yadkin River watersheds have learn those rivers headwaters start off in the North mountains as cold water streams. Even the R basin has a few headwaters (the Dan and the North Carolina and Virginia that are cold wa Understanding how our water basins are con the mountains gives the students a better app water quality.

Having trout tanks in the classroom has allow to incorporate a “hands on” learning tool. St monitor the water chemistry and temperatur from the time the eggs arrive until they relea As well as make sure that all the equipment is properly. These task help students understan of temperature changes in the real environm how water quality can be compromised due t

m Meets Shad in the Classroom

C have beyond

Catawba ned that h Carolina Roanoke River Smith) in ater streams. nnected to preciation of

wed teachers tudents must re of the tank ase their trout. s working nd the effects ment as well as to natural or

manmade disasters. Even if a school loses a few or all their trout; valuable lesson are gained in understanding what caused those events. When the time comes to release the trout, many chapters host release days. A variety of volunteers and professionals from organizations, such as NC Wildlife, NC State Park staff, Riverkeepers, and Duke Energy, join the TU chapter members to provide programs on the stream. These programs and the experiences of TIC have helped high school students decide on career choices in the environmental field or have a better appreciation for North Carolina’s public resources. For many, these trips are the first time to ever play in a stream. For those schools in the Eastern part of the state that find it too far to incorporate a day trip to the mountains; TIC can still be utilized through the learning resources found online at www.troutintheclassroom.org. However, for “hands on” learning about the importance of North Carolina’s water quality and species preservation; a

program called Shad in the Classroom is available to teachers through the North Carolina Museum of Natural History. This program provides teachers the equipment necessary to raise American Shad from eggs to small fry. Unlike TIC, this is a two-week program where teachers receive eggs and plan the release of the shad fry shortly after they hatch. Shad, like trout, need clean cool water to spawn in during the spring. High temperatures and sediment are threats to the shad eggs and fry just as much as it is to trout eggs and fry. Trout in the Classroom goes well beyond the classroom and the trout streams we strive to protect. It helps bring folks together that care for the environment and the species in it. As one teacher expressed to me, “I would love for my students to have an understanding of North Carolina’s environment from the mountains to the sea; it’s important that they know how diverse our state is.”

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M Differenc 42

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Making a ce

FOR VETERANS AND FAMILIES by Lynn Marilla, Council Veteran Services Chair


o you think that what happens in war stays “over there”?

Combat deployments don’t just impact the warrior. They impact the entire family. Especially their children. Even if it is a non-combat situation, long term deployments cause our military families undue stressors that their civilian counter parts do not have to struggle with or even try to understand. Our military families struggle with reconnecting with each other, living with family verbal and physical abuse, loss of jobs, underemployment, substance and alcohol abuse, homelessness, feel disconnected from extended family and their communities, and are 150% more likely than civilian counterparts to die by suicide. There are exemplary programs available to help our veterans recover from the physical and invisible wounds, including PTSd and Traumatic Brain Injuries and help in improving their individual well-being. Then they go home, to the same family environment that most likely ensures their failure. Military families must heal — together. Our organization, Eagle Rock Camp, has discovered in working with military families that part of PTSD is actually moral and

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spiritual injury, which requires faith in action to heal. Yes, we are a faith-based organization. If you are wondering why, it is because with moral/spiritual injury, your very heart and soul are what broke. We are in no way religious. We welcome all people from any religious affiliation. So what does fly fishing have to do with all of this? What is it worth to save a family? To save a life? As TU Members, we all know the therapeutic value of fly fishing. Just standing streamside makes the stress flow right out of your body. And that first cast, oh my goodness. Add in the healing power of Mother Nature and WOW. Eagle Rock Camp is a Family Saving and Suicide Prevention organization. Our therapeutic retreats are week-long and include the entire family. Our family centered program addresses communication, relationship building, conflict resolution, reconnecting in their communities, financial readiness and primary selfcare. We teach both the adults and children the same curriculum, so the entire family is all on the same page. We weave living with intention into each interactive workshops to teach healthy living, and then provide opportunities to practice what was learned by bringing together therapeutic, outdoor recreation (including fly fishing) and visual and preforming arts. Faith, family and communication come together to help our military families heal and restore their HOPE. Our Mission is using faith in action, we bring veteran/military families together 44

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to heal, reconnect in their communities, restore their hope and emerge as an empowered, purpose driven unit. At our retreats, we see families reconnect, affection emerge, anger reduce, and healing take place. We break the cycle of negative behaviors that are happening at home. Best of all, we witness miracles happen. To date, our cumulative results include statistics that most programs cannot claim: • 2.7% divorce rate – that means 97.3% of our families remain together in enhanced relationships! • ZERO suicides. To date, our team has participated in averting 15 suicides. With a wait list of over 800 military families, growing by an average of 20 per month, it is imperative that we expand our program now. What does it cost to save a life? That is priceless. Of the 15 suicides we participated in averting, one was a spouse and one was just 10 years old. I share our story here to make a statement that what happens in war really does follow you home. Our work makes a difference and saves lives. More importantly to share how the TU Veteran Service Partnership can make a difference and save a life. Volunteer with Eagle Rock Camp or another veteran serving organization. Invite a veteran to go fishing. Hold monthly fly tying clinics for veterans. Take children of a deployed troop fishing. I guarantee you they are missing their parent. Mentor a TIC child whose parent is deployed. When troops return home, set up a table to represent TU at the Yellow Ribbon Welcome Home Family Day. You can also conduct casting or fly tying demonstrations there. (and maybe recruit new members) Think about establishing a fly fishing group. There are veteran’s monthly or weekly coffee meetings at local restaurants. Attend as a guest and start to learn about veterans if you don’t already know. You

will be able to talk about TU. If you need ideas on meeting times and locations, please let me know. Don’t know how to find a veteran? Reach out to your county’s Veteran Service Office or local National Guard Armory and have a conversation to see what is needed in your home community, then do some brainstorming together. Ask at church, talk to HR where you work. Many large employers have a veteran’s group that you might not know about. Maybe your neighbor is a veteran. Do you know that in Hickory and surrounding counties, that we have approximately 200 men/women who are deployed? That is potentially 200 families missing a parent for a full year. Missing birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, births of children/ grandchildren to name a few. Yes, you will make a difference. Did you know that 85% of veterans volunteer in their communities vs. only 25% of their civilian counterparts? Imagine having volunteers like that in your local chapter. When men/women leave the military they lose two things: their cohort of buddies and their mission. Both are things they struggle with post military career and something that civilians do not understand. They can replace both at TU. Yes, volunteering makes a difference and might just give that veteran a new mission in life. If you are motivated to make a difference in the life of a military family or a veteran, next time you go fishing, invite one to come along. It’s that simple. You might just save a family. You might just save a life. And that is priceless. For more ideas or information, contact Lynn Marilla, Founder of Eagle Rock Camp, Veterans Service Partnership Coordinator for NCTU in Hickory, NC: 704-325-3350 lmarilla@eaglerockcamp.org. Spring 2020



FLY By Dave Bender

CDC/Deer Hair Caddis


his fly is a little more complicated than the fly patterns I normally do here, but I’ve been working a lot with CDC over the past few years and have come to appreciate its flotation qualities when used in a dry fly application. And, we all know that Deer Hair floats like a cork, so why not incorporate both in one fly? The body of this fly can also be constructed utilizing CDC only. In fact, many of the dry fly patterns I used this past season were constructed of only three components; CDC, hook and thread. It did dawn on me, after completing the photographs, that the construction process would be much clearer if viewed by video. So, with that in mind, I would recommend utilizing “YouTube”. You can find a video posted at www.flyfishfood.com or go to YouTube and search “CDC/Deer Hair Caddis”. FlyFishFood has an excellent video there that explains the entire process. He makes it look easy…

As you go through my photos you’ll see that I use some different tools and techniques than those shown on the video. I’ve been working with the “Mark Petitjean Magic Tools” which have been in the market for many years now. The gentleman in the FlyFishFood video is using the “Swiss CDC Multi-Clamp” and “Stonfo” also markets a set of dubbing loop clips that work quite well. Here I am using the Petitjean Magic Till clamp for the CDC and the Swiss CDC MultiClamp for the deer hair. In any case the end result should be the same. I also like to use the “split thread” technique for CDC in place of the standard dubbing loop technique but here I went with a standard loop. With all that said, let‘s get started:

1. S tart by securing the hook in your vise and laying down a tread base. For this example I’m using an 8/0 tan thread and a barbless hook. If you’re using a barbed hook please pinch down the barb.

2. Dub what I consider a lib hair on your tying thread squirrel forms a spiky bod excessively long guard ha to play around and choos color of your choice.

6. H ere I’ve used the Petitjean clamp to remove the folded CDC feathers from the table clamp with the stems still attached.

7. Here I‘ve simply trimmed pair of sharp/fine scissor so you’ll be able to insert

10 and 11. S ecure this CDC clump on top of the hook and in front of the body with tips e the hook bend. Not to worry if the fibers are too long. If you are right-handed your thumb and forefinger of your right hand and pinch off any excess with y handed, you know the drill. CDC is very forgiving. We will be adding a deer h to allow enough space between the tie in spot and the hook eye.

14. F orm a dubbing loop and place the bit ends into the loop.


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15. Now spin the deer hair i around the hook betwee and hook eye.

beral amount of grey squirrel and form the body. The dy but I pluck or trim out any airs. Here’s your opportunity se a dubbing material and

3. Select two nice long CDC feathers, your color choice, and prepare them for insertion into the prep table clamp by preening the fibers so they stand at 90 degrees from the stem. For this example I’m using the Petitjean table clamp. If you look around (Google) for alternatives to the Petitjean table, you can find lots of alternatives that you can make yourself at little or practically no cost.

4. T his photo shows the stem portion of the CDC prior to being inserted into the table.

d the stems away using a long rs. Allow enough fiber exposed t them into a dubbing loop.

8. This shows the Petitjean stacking tool positioned or prepared to push all the fibers to one end.

9. W  ith all the fibers stacked at one end you‘ll be able to remove them as a single clump to be placed on top of the hook and at the front of the body as an over wing.

extending to approximately d, pinch the fibers between your left hand. If you‘re lefthair overwing, so don‘t forget

12 and 13. N ow it‘s time to prep the deer hair „overwing“. Here I‘m using Sparkle Dunn Deer Hair, good quality short/ fine deer hair should do the job. Use any color that matches up well with the body color. Use a martial clip to separate an appropriate amount of deer hair and clip it from the hide.

into a dubbing brush wrap en the increasing tie-in point

16. At this point your fly should look something like this.

5. Insert the stems into the table and trim away any tip or butt that extends from either end. Again, all these techniques can be found by utilizing “YouTube”. YouTube really is your friend when it comes to fly tying.

17. T rim any excess hair from the underside, whip finish and that‘s it.

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MOP FLIES: A Confession by Charles Crolley, Editor


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s you read in Mike’s opening note, this is the last edition of “The Drift” in my stewardship. As I thought long and hard about what I wanted my last “official” message to be, a few concepts popped into my head: getting all sappy and sentimental (not my style), writing a piece that would echo through eternity with its pearls of profound wisdom (highly unlikely), or a parting screed against various things in TU that have ground my gears through the years (tempting, but a bad way to go out). Instead I decided to take the advice of my favorite author, Mark Twain, to “Write what you know.” I don’t know much so this article is, quite naturally, about mop flies.

The Current (along with its sister river, the Jacks Fork) is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. It’s a great survivor, nearly choked out by the logging industry before being brought back to life by the WPA and protected by an act of congress in 1964 — quite possibly the last time congress agreed on anything. The river gets its start where Pigeon Creek (a runoff drainage) meets Montauk Springs from which water flows up pure, clean and cold out of the Missouri dolomite. For about the first five miles after Montauk Springs and the state park built there, the river supports rainbow and brown trout.

Mop fly nest.

I came to my appreciation for/addiction to the mop fly quite innocently on one of my twice-yearly trips to fish the Current River in south-central Missouri. If you’ve read my previous musings, you may know I grew up in that area; so I’ll always think of the Current – particularly the pretty stretch from below Montauk State Park to Parker Access — as my home water.

For reasons that escape me, scientific dolt that I am, trout cannot reproduce naturally in most Missouri streams so the Current is a stocked river. However, the fish do overwinter and live for years in the river. Many grow to be quite wary due to angler pressure and of good size due to the abundant supply of bugs, aquatic prey species, and clumsy mice that live in or along the river. In general,

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imitations of blue winged olives, tricos, ants, beetles, caddis and pale morning and evening duns in all of their lifecycle phases, summer hoppers drifted under the numerous cut banks produce trout there. Also meaty streamers and junk patterns…which brings me, once again, to our friend the mop fly. You see, I wasn’t always a mop fly addict. Like most users I got into it innocently and gradually enough, the egg pattern being my gateway drug. My own more serious problem started when I went out for a spring fishing trip. I’d crafted up a box with assorted hare’s ears, midges and nymphs, a few stimulators and an assortment of caddis and cracklebacks – plus a big box of buff-colored egg patterns “just in case.” They’d had an ungodly amount of rain in Missouri and the water was a Fishing Technique muddy milkFirst, make sure nobody’s looking before you tie on. Fish it right on the bottom. This has two benefits: chocolate 1) you’ll catch more fish color, high 2) somebody’s less likely to see it there. as a cat’s back Throw on a split shot (#1 or so) in front of it and hang it under an AirLock indicator, because Thingamabobbers should be outlawed. But and really that’s a topic for another day. moving. None of that little stuff raised so much as a shiner – not even the egg patterns. Too much work for too little meat, I reckoned. The fish just weren’t buying – or biting, for that matter. I moseyed into the park lodge and looked around for something gaudy that might get their attention. I picked up a couple of fat, unremembered streamers. Then my eyes fell on these 1-2 inch long wooly things – mop flies, the little sign said. Some were pink, some yellow, some a cream/buff color. All had big jig heads and looked like once they got wet they’d sink like a rock. Best of all, they were only about 75 cents each. I’d never heard of ‘em, but at that price they were worth a shot. I grabbed a handful and headed back out. I tied on a salmon-colored mop, squeezed on a BB split shot, set the whole thing up under a big indicator and it wasn’t ten minutes before I’d hooked several nice rainbows and a fat brown. I’ve been hooked on the mop fly ever since. 50

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Later that same year, I hit some DH water shortly after it was stocked. I still had a mop fly on and, because I’m lazy, figured I’d try it first. Fish after fish until I was tired of catching fish. Why change what works? I did that pretty much all DH season. One day a buddy called me up and asked if I wanted to go out to the East Fork of the French Broad and “whack some stockers.” We’re both moving along the timeline so it takes a little longer to put on the boots, waders and all of the various anatomic braces and support gear we persons of a certain age need to get around on the water without collapsing. Lots of huffing, puffing, groaning and stopping to rest later, we were all rigged up and ready to go out. One guy was fishing downstream at the big hole below the falls. Another guy had wandered off upstream several hundred yards so we hopped in between them, in the nice series of runs after the big bend. 

“What are you going to use?” my buddy asked. I studied the water hard, biting my lip and trying to look pensive, like I was formulating a plan beyond the usual junk I throw at the stockers and drawing deep on my knowledge of seasonal hatch charts, aquatic bugs and trout behaviors. “Oh, I think I’ll prospect it with a mop fly,” I replied as I tied a fresh one on. I’d introduced this same friend to the mop fly a month or so earlier after we stocked the Green. We were talking before we split up to hit the water and he’d asked the same question. He hadn’t heard of the mop fly, so I gave him a couple to try. He looked at them like I’d handed him a couple of fresh cat turds, then politely put them in a box that was labeled, as I recall, “Use Only In Case of Dire Emergency.” He started out that day fishing some beautifully tied imitators under a dry. His casting and drifts were exquisite, but produced no fish. I, on the other hand, chunked the mighty mop out under a big indicator, did a sloppy mend and cleaned ‘em up. He became a convert that day so he followed my lead on the East Fork. We

each managed to stick a couple of fish in that upstream run. The real action came when we saw the guy that had been in the big hole downstream from the falls get back in his vehicle. We walked down and engaged him in some polite chit-chat, mostly to make sure we weren’t jumping in on top of him or poaching his spot. Turns out that guy wasn’t having a real good day. He’d fished for 3 hours and caught one 10” stocker brookie, which didn’t seem to bother him so much as the fact that he’d lost his phone. That, and when he came back to the truck he had thrown a small temper fit during which he broke his fly rod. 
 After commiserating about the rod, I suggested I give him a call — perhaps the ringing would help him locate the missing phone. At first he declined, but after looking around for the 100th time where he’d just gotten out, he shrugged and agreed. I dialed his number and we heard a phone ring. It had fallen out of his pocket and down into his waders. Finding the phone didn’t improve his mood as much as I’d hoped. He encouraged us to fish the hole he’d just vacated and we obliged, trusty mop flies at the ready. We promptly caught fish after fish after fish after fish without moving more than about ten feet in any direction. At one point we let out synchronized war-whoops as we doubled up on a pair of browns in the 17” zip code…all as the guy sat on the tailgate of his vehicle watching us, broken fly rod in hand. Finally he couldn’t take it anymore and asked: “what are you using?“

“Streamers,” I told him. A half-truth, but there was no point in giving away the company store after I’d helped the guy find his phone. “It’s not so much the fly, but in the positioning and technique,” I outright lied. Those are the kinds of things you’ll stoop to when fishing something you’re ashamed of. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a purist in any sense of the word, but my gut tells me there’s something fundamentally wrong with fishing this thing. I know there are a lot of people

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who love the mop and proudly defend it, and more power to them. But for the most part, fishing with a mop fly subjects one to derision. For most fly fishers, the mop is to flies what Kenny Chesney is to country music: it may be your go-to, but you hope nobody you know finds out about it.

We hide them when people come around. We lie when somebody asks us about them. “What’s that in your box? Oh my God! Are those mop flies?” “I don’t actually fish with them. They’re hollow and I use them to transport meth to my network of dealers.” “Oh, thank heaven”, they reply, “I was worried about you for a minute there.” But I started feeling guilty and, to be honest, a little dirty. I decided that I’d fish them here for the rest of the DH season but, by golly, my next trip to the Current I was gonna be 100% legit. I

spent my weekends and evening tying up all variations and sizes of bugs. I got one of those new tacky boxes that holds like a million flies (give or take) and determined to fill it up with various bugs in specific sizes. I tied tricos down to a size 28 and nearly lost what precious little is left of my eyesight and my sanity. I tied nymphs, midges, larvae, adults, spinners. You name it, it was in that box – neat and orderly. I was so proud. And then came the spring trip, when I arrived at the Current again. I got out of the truck, rigged up and grabbed ONLY that new tacky box. No way was I taking my assortment of junk along because I know me. I’m weak-willed and would have yielded to temptation within about ten minutes of no fish. I found a nice spot, just above a rocky run that ended in a little pool. I drifted my zebra midge under my size-12 stimulator, satisfied that I had returned to legitimacy as a fly angler and finally gotten the mop fly monkey off my back. This went along just fine for about 15 minutes when I noticed some pale evening duns coming off the water. Time to switch flies, I thought. I tied on something close and was studying the water instead of looking down as I attempted to put the box back in my chest pack, which was new at the time and still had a mind of its own. I made a nice little cast and heard a “sploosh” close to me.

Tying Instructions

 Pick a hook — no need to overthink it. Pretty much anything short of a treble hook will

work. I’ve been using jig hooks, but I’ve used scud/egg hooks, standard short nymph hooks. Great way to use up those things you keep buying because you left your list at home instead of what you actually went to the fly shop to get. Mash the barb and put on an appropriately sized bead. No need to use tungsten (like putting lipstick on a pig, and remember this material is made to absorb water so it gets real heavy real fast). Plus, any fish that would eat it probably won’t be put off by a glob of split shot riding on the tippet.


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 Mount the hook in the vise and start your

thread behind the bead. I use 6/0, and spin it counter clockwise to flatten it out some. Don’t know if that’s necessary, but it’’s the way I did it once and it makes the whole operation feel more legit.

 Select a “strand” of mop chenille from your donor car w

mitt, mop head, or dusting slippers. Cut it off right whe joins the backing. I normally cut a couple of dozen in ad because it’s not like this is fine art.

wash ere it dvance,

What the…???? Oh, crap. It’s the tacky box, floating lazily downstream and maddeningly just out of reach. It tipped first to one side, then the other, finally shipping water and bidding me a bubbly fare-thee-well as it plunged into that deep hole a few yards downstream. It’s probably still there, somewhere below Tan Vat if you have scuba gear and want to go take a look for it. Undeterred by this disaster, I went up to the fly shop at the lodge and picked out a couple of dozen flies that were close to some I had tied. Except I noticed these were $3 each. Rolling your own flies is expensive, sure enough, and you really don’t save any money – but c’mon, three bucks for a size 18 hook, some thread and antron? Fortunately, I remembered that big box of mop flies and egg patterns in my truck. I put the hoity-toity flies back and settled instead on a six-pack of craft beer before going back to the cabin, cracking one open and sulking for a while. I did manage to catch a number of fish that week, but I was very secretive when anyone asked the inevitable “what are they biting on?” in case I ran into some dry fly snob, the snooty kind with the custom bamboo rod, elbow patches on his tweed jacket, wearing a tam-oshanter and smoking a meershaum pipe. I’ve been pleased to hook a few other reluctant anglers on the mojo of the mop. One buddy, who’s threatened me

 Check to make sure the cut end isn’t too frayed, otherwise the thing will unravel on you. If it is, trim it up. Tie the cut end on right behind the bead. Run the thread back and forth over the end to bind it down. This is the only part of the operation where things can possibly go awry.

with bodily harm if I mention his name, has learned to break it out when all else fails. It’s immensely gratifying to hear from him because I know it kills him to admit using it but he’s too honest to lie. I view honesty as a real character defect in an angler. I, fortunately, am not likewise handicapped by habitual truthfulness. And there you have it – my confession as a mop fly user. It’s the kind of thing you can only admit on your way out the door as I am today, when you don’t mind if people sneer and snicker behind your back and refuse to be seen with you in public; because they do that when the word gets out that you fish mop flies. They laugh at you and call you names like “philistine” and “troglodyte.” Until the one day that is, when nothing else is working and they’re frustrated nearly to pieces, when they bump into you in the parking area. “Hey buddy…” they start in a hushed and furtive voice, looking around to make sure no one else is listening in, ”…you got any of those mop flies I can score off of you?”

 There are two schools of thought on finishing up. Some

folks will throw in a 5 or 6 turn whip finish and call it good, some will dub. Dubbing creates a buggier fly. I’ve tried ice dub, rabbit, etc… and don’t really know that it makes a difference, but it creates a nicer more “official” looking fly. If you don’t dub, I recommend a dollop of cement on the thread to help lock things in place.

 Last, I burn the very end of mine with a lighter. It gives the “tail” a little dark, tapered section and helps it hold up. Be sure to let the thing cool, because if your doctor is a fly fishing purist she’ll refuse to treat a burn caused by tying a mop fly and you’ll wind up with gangrene.

Spring 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 - Spring, 2020  

The official quarterly publication of the North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited featuring all-original member stories, conservation proj...

The Drift - Spring, 2020  

The official quarterly publication of the North Carolina Council of Trout Unlimited featuring all-original member stories, conservation proj...