Southern Trout JEFF KIRK: Virginia Fly Fishing Festival: High Time in the Cavalier State
TENKARA: the next big thing? BEAU BEASLEY: Virginia’s South River: A Game Changer for Trout Anglers
IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOUTHERNTROUT.COM
news Publisher’s Message
The first time I heard about sushi, I turned my nose up at it. Now I will eat about any of it, but those baby octopuses which have more crunch to them than I find compatible with my tolerances. Back in the 1970s I made fun of Jap “rice burners,” but now there is a much loved Toyota in the driveway. So, do tell about Tenkara.
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Ten ka ra Ts u n a m i Ta k i n g D i x ie ? When I first saw Tenkara, my first impression was that it was an oriental knock off...of cane pole fishing like learned from Sue Lungsford and her brothers over in Cosby, Tennessee. They even did the bow shot, and could do with a fresh stickbait on the book without slinging the little grub into a bush. Tenkara is more refined that using a three-piece cane pole, or for that matter a store-bought, telescoping crappie pole. However, refined though it may be, Tenkara is just a fancy way to fish a fly (or bait) without using fly line or being burdened with a reel. Frankly, I cannot think of another place in the world where Tenkara has a better application than on the trout streams of the Southern Highlands. Most fly
fishermen make longer casts than they can handle on these streams, and so-called “high sticking” is so close to trying to get a Tenkara presentation that the latter usually works best. Southern Trout is going Tenkara, hook-line-and sinker. We voted and decided it is a-okay with us. We believe Tenkara has the potential of getting more people interested in fly fishing for trout in the South, and that is what we are all about. Heck, we are even looking at some neat sushi recipes for trout if you have one. - Don Kirk
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THIS ISSUE Virginia Fly Fishing Festival: High Time in the Cavalier State departments
Thunder Valley Fly and Wine Festival
Generally Speaking The Secret of Rocky Fork
Mountain Musings Red River Giants
Gear Review Spike Camp Pack by Redhead
History of Southern Trout Fishing Remembering Joe Manley Book Review Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: An Insiders Guide to a Pursuit of Passion Guide Profile Bob Borgwat, Reel Angling Adventures - Georgia
Fly of the Month Charlie’s Whooper
The Dreamy Trout Fishing Art of Jim Hefley Virginia’s South River: A Game Changer for Trout Anglers
TENKARA: the next big thing?
Of Bamboo & Flies
When in Doubt...Wiggle
Pushing The Hook
The Sipsey Fork--It’s a Great Place to Start--Trout Fishing, That Is
Early Spring in the Smokies
Selective Trout Feeding
No Hassle Hackle Guard
Prince Nymph: A Fly For All Georgia Seasons
Featured Fly Shop The Lexington Angler
Mayflies of the Shenandoah
Featured Lodge South Holston River Lodge
Featured Outfitter Frank’s Fly Arts
Wanderings of the Creek Freak Excursion Trains New Fly Guy Stocked Trout Strategies
Dixie’s Heavyweight Bout: Bruiser Brown vs. Royal Rainbow How to Select a Small-stream Fly Rod Big Time On The Little Red
34 On the Cover
Craig Haney, Alabama Editor Greg Ward, Tennessee Editor Jimmy Jacobs, Georgia Editor Beau Beasley, Editor-At-Large Larry Rea, Arkansas Editor Dr. Todd Larson, Columnist Bob Borgwat, Columnist Jeff “Owl” Jones, Columnist
Publisher Don Kirk
Editor Jeff Kirk Webmaster & Digital Design Leslie Kirk Webmaster’s Assistant Megan Allbert Managing Editor & Advertising Leah Kirk
Communications Adam Kirk
85 Field Staff
Social Media Manager Loryn Kirk
Crystal Prince Artwork By Ross Young
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Contributors Bill Bernhardt John Berry David Cannon Bo Cash Soc Clay Dave Ezell Ron Gaddy Daniel Brent Golden George Grant Kevin Howell Roger Lowe
Oak Meyers Steve Moore Harry Murray Marc Payne Bob Shanks Scott Spencer W.H. Bill Stuart, Jr. Benjamin VanDevender
Reel Recovery Retreat
Virginia Fly Fishing Festival: High Time in the Cavalier State
Thunder Valley Fly and Wine Festival
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Harper Creek Fly Fishing Company
Your small stream specialist
We are North Carolinaâ€™s Premier Backcountry Fly Fishing Guide Service! Harper Creek Fly Fishing Company is a professional fly fishing guide service specializing in back-country, walk/wade, fly fishing trips for experienced anglers and guided fly fishing instructional trips for novices. We also offer summertime fly fishing or light spin-tackle kayak fishing trips for Smallmouth Bass on the New River.
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news Editor’s Letter We’re about to throw the one year old party for Southern Trout. We unveiled our new online magazine at Troutfest in Townsend, Tennessee in May of 2012. This is our fifth issue of Southern Trout. The publication has grown with each edition, and its readership has also grown. We have grown Southern Trout by word of mouth and attending events where we meet you, the trout fishermen of the South. We have not sent out a single “email blast” or advertised anywhere. Our goal is to bring the magazine to you, hear what you want in it, and then provide what we feel is what you are looking for.
At the shows we have visited this year so far, many of you have had kind words to say to us about Southern Trout. Perhaps the best compliment has been how many people tell us that they like the solid content that is put forth in a traditional style. Many call us “old school.” We take that as a compliment. We regard our content as cutting edge, but not edgy. We will tell you what is new and about new trends, but we also like to share the rich heritage of fly fishing for trout in the South. We know that we can never be everything to everyone, but from the feedback we’ve gotten, we think we are going in the right direction.
Southern Trout is unique in that it is a team effort. Helping us is the finest collection of trout fishing writers in the country. Each of these fellows has a genuine interest in the success of this publication. Trust me when I tell you that this not so with all publications. We want the readers of Southern Trout to feel vested in this novel publication. We want Southern Trout to reflect what you want and like and enjoy about our shared passion for fly fishing for trout in the South. My email box is always ready to hear from you. email@example.com - Jeff Kirk
Riverdale Classics Bamboo “old rods made new, new rods made to order”
Great Fly FishinG The only Fly Fishing Trail in the United States
We specialize in taking your old rod and turning it into an heirloom. We also will build you a new rod at a very competitive price. Contact Marc at: firstname.lastname@example.org Or phone 865-742-0297
Nestled in the Blue Ridge, Balsam and Smoky mountains, Jackson Country, NC is a scenic haven for fly fishing. Catch brook, brown and rainbow trout along the beautiful Tuckasegee River. Enjoy mountain resorts, historic inns, B&Bs, or cabins. Call for a new, free Visitors Guide with lodging info and its popular map with directions to 19 waterfalls, 20 hiking trails, rafting, golf, and outdoor fun. Be sure to request the new, free Western NC Fly Fishing Trail Map. The Fly Fishing Trail Map features 15 of the best trout waters in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Mountain Lovers Love
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Rocky Fork Brook Trout. Fancy cane and a spec. Who could ask for more?
The Secret of Rocky Fork
photo by David Arthur Ramsey
ixteen miles of trout water are in the 10,000 acre Rocky Fork Tract that drapes green and wild over the mountains of Tennessee’s Unicoi and Greene Counties. The tract takes its name from Rocky Fork Creek, one of Tennessee’s designated Wild Trout Streams with a thriving rainbow and brook trout population. Over a dozen streams are tributary to Rocky Fork, with Fort Davie, Broad Branch, Blockstand, Long Branch and Flint Creek well worth exploring. Higgins Creek and Birchfield Camp Branch are also on the property but part of the South Indian Creek watershed. They are primarily brook trout streams. Until 2008, Rocky Fork was the largest tract of undeveloped mountain land still privately owned in the Eastern US. Now 2,000 of its acres are slated to become Tennessee’s 55th and newest state park, and the balance of the property is in the hands of the National Forest Service. Its transition from private to public property wasn’t easy to accomplish, but thanks to a group of dedicated individuals and organizations this unique resource is safe for the future. Private owners included a French citizen, her heirs, and a Georgia timber company, but the public had recreational access to the area because all of them maintained a long standing lease of the property to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency as a Wildlife Management Area. Several miles of the Appalachian Trail also provided access to the tract. Timber has been harvested on Rocky Fork for well over half a century but the owners never allowed clear cutting, limited harvest to tracts of 50 acres or less and required repair and upkeep of the 65 miles of logging roads that snake through the property. In addition
to preserving the beauty of the area, their stewardship promoted an abundant, diverse wildlife and plant community including big and small game, rare plants, and threatened or endangered species. But public access and preservation almost came to an end when the last owners, New Forestry LLC, decided to put the property on the market. A newspaper story in 2005 about developers interested in creating an exclusive, gated resort community on Rocky Fork and set fifth-generation Unicoi native Dave Ramsey set out on a quest to save it. “What really got me fired up,” Ramsey says, “was the day I picked up an Erwin newspaper, and on the front page, above the fold, bold print, in the form of a question ‘Rocky Fork the Next Wolf Laurel?’ and I just remember my blood turning cold…and at that point there was nobody really to head the effort up and I really didn’t know what to do. I’d been involved in one other environmental fight prior to that back in 2002, but I was not really what you would call a leader. So I wasn’t really sure what to do. But I had been working with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) for several years...They were the first people I called.” Ramsey’s call to SAHC’s Executive Director Carl Silverstein started a chain reaction. The $40 million price tag on Rocky Fork was well beyond SAHC’s resources, so a coalition of conservation groups came together to save Rocky Fork. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Conservation Fund joined SAHC’s effort to find funding. Federal and state dollars were added to the $20 million from the Conservation Fund along with substantial contributions from private individuals in North Carolina. But the effort was still underfunded when the option on the property expired in 2007.
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Access to Rocky Fork Rocky Fork is near the community of Flag Pond, Tennessee, only a few miles from the North Carolina state line. Interstate 26 provides easy access by taking the Flag Pond Exit and turning north toward Erwin on US 23. Rocky Fork Rd will be on your left in approximately 2 miles and it will follow the creek for roughly 0.8 miles. The road and creek will then diverge with a gated logging road on the left continuing upstream. Travel from there will be on foot while the new state park’s facilities are under development. Logging roads and trails will provide access to the creek and its tributaries. Put enough distance between yourself and the gate and you may start catching brookies. Meanwhile enjoy all the bright, wild rainbows inhabit the main creek.
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generally speaking “But New Forestry really wanted to see a conservation sale,” Ramsey said. “That was their preference. Of course they had shareholders to satisfy, and they were going to sell it to whomever. But they wanted a conservation sale. They knew how important that land was for wildlife habitat, and the wild trout fishery, bear habitat and 3,500 acres of the Appalachian Trail viewshed. So they gave the Conservation Fund an extension of twelve months.” That extension provided enough time to complete the fundraising and Rocky Fork was sold to USFS, the state of Tennessee and the Conservation Fund for $39.9 million. Over the next four years federal and state dollars repaid the Conservation Fund’s investment and the tract transitioned to public property. But the money to make the purchase was only half the battle. The ma jority of the land in Unicoi County is in the hands of the Federal government as National Forest and Interstate 26 right-of-way leaving the county with a very small base for property tax revenue. A very vocal group opposed turning the 6,400 acres of the tract in Unicoi County over to government control and effectively removing it from the county’s already small tax base. They succeeded in raising some public opposition to the sale while the deal was pending.
successful fight to a great many other people. In addition to the help from Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, Ramsey credits the response from all the different stakeholder groups, hunters, fishermen, hikers, mountain bikers that supported the effort. He said even groups that often have conflicts coalesced to save Rocky Fork. “That says a lot to a politician,” Ramsey noted, “That is a model that needs to be looked at throughout the country for how to get something done. Find common ground…and work together. Yeah, maybe you’re pissed-off if you’re a mountain biker and hikers use the trail or hunters use it or you’ve got to wear an orange vest in November and December. Big damn deal! That’s a whole other issue. You’re not going to have any place to ride or hunt or fish or whathave-you if you don’t all work together.” Work on the new park’s infrastructure will get underway this year. In the meantime you can pursue Rocky Fork’s wild rainbows and brookies the old fashioned way, on foot up a logging road or a game trail. w dance to the voice of falling water. Copyright George Grant 2013
Ramsey and his allies launched a vigorous counterattack that included public meetings, numerous presentations to local organizations and hosted tours of the tract for federal, state and local officials. “There was public support for some kind of a deal that would preserve the land up there, but for long term support to bring some economic benefit to the county, there was about four-to-one in favor.” Ramsey said. The plan to create a state park that had Rocky Fork Creek and its fishery as a centerpiece met that criteria and at the end of 2012 all the pieces were finally in place. In 2011 Dave Ramsey was selected as Field and Stream/Toyota’s Conservation Hero of the Year but he gives the credit for his 12 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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mountain musings RED RIVER GIANTS
mountain musings Soc Clay
ip Collins didn’t know why he picked up the lightweight spinning rod when he left his dock on the Little Red River that balmy May morning in 1992. Normally he was an avid fly fisherman and would usually select a No. 4 or 5 weight rod spooled with a matching size weight-forward flyline and at least a nine foot tapered leader. Usually, he would have a fishing vest crammed full of various fly patterns that have proven to work well on the rainbows, brooks, browns and cutthroat trout that live in the 35 mile long section of the river that extends downstream from the base of Greers Ferry Dam at Herber Springs, Arkansas.
The small landing net Rip carried in the boat was the type fly fishermen carry on their fishing vest- made for fish less than five pounds. Whatever this thing was, the net wasn’t going to hold much of it, even if it stayed hooked up. With the water temperature a constant 45 degrees, there was little thought of the angler entering the river to wrestle the giant and he couldn’t lift it with the line, so the small net would have to be used.
On this morning, however, Rip, a retired army aviator who had moved to the Little Red River expressly to fish flies for trout, decided to see what some small green marabou jigs would produce. He was fishing with four-pound test line.
Arkansas’ Little Red River that extends from the base of Greers Ferry Dam, downstream for 35 miles, may be the best trophy trout fishing water in America. A while later, just below the Jones Pocket pool, located three and a half miles downriver from the dam, Rip made a cast with the 1/32 ounce lead and feather creation and hooked up with a piece of angling history! The tiny jig had no sooner settled to the bottom when something picked it up and began to move slowly away. Rip, a veteran of many years of trout fishing, recognized the bite as that of a large trout. Smaller ones would have grabbed the lure and run like crazy. Not this big boy. He went where he wanted to, when he wanted to and there was little Rip could do about it.
Fifteen, then 30 minutes went by as the big fish (it had to be a trout, no other fish can live in the cold water in the river) moved slowly here and there while Rip kept steady pressure on the finnester. There was no possibility of pump and reel to bring the fish in. The ultralight line would stand little more pressure than was already being applied. About 45 minutes after he first detected the bite, Rip felt the big fish moving slowly, but surely toward a clump of coontail grass on a shallow side of the river. Seconds later, the trout buried itself in the moss and simply stopped!
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Indeed, after holding the huge brown trout in the holding area for three days, it weighed an official 40 pounds, four ounces. It was and still is the largest brown trout ever recordedanywhere in the world!
It took a while, but eventually, Rip got into a position to drop the opening of the net over the great fish’s head. From there a struggle ensued to hand roll the mammoth body partially at first then finally all the way into the bottom of the small boat. The seasoned trout fisherman could believe what he saw! There in the bottom of the boat, its gill plates moving in and out slowly, was the largest brown trout he had ever seen! BIGGEST IN THE WORLD Almost, this episode became just another big fish story. Rip, a devout conservationist, wanted to release the fish right away, but then decided to take it back to his dock and measure it. He placed the fish into a holding area of the river to keep it alive and went in search of a tape measure. By this time, neighbors became aware of the catch and a local biologist was alerted who believed the measurements were such that the giant trout might be a new world record for the species.
STRONG REPUTATION It was thoughts of the world record brown trout and the fantastic reputation the Little Red River has for producing trout year round that caused my son Tom and I to drive more than 600 miles to sample the fishery. Billy Lindsey, an old friend who owns Lindsey’s Rainbow Resort, just below Greers Ferry Dam, had invited us over for a weekend of fishing. Billy and his family have been accommodating anglers on the river since the lake was impounded in 1963. During springtime, trout are thicker than fleas in the water, but in the fall, usually extending from Mid-October to Mid-December when the low, stable water conditions attract giant brown and rainbow trout to shallow shoal areas to spawn, the Little Red may well be the best trophy brown trout fishery in the world! “I can guarantee you
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mountain musings will be drifting a fly over a dozen 20 pound brown trout during a morning of fishing at this time of the season,” said Jared Lindsey, Billy’s son who is considered one of the top guides on the river. SPINNING GEAR For the time being, Tom and I both decided to try for all four trout species the Little Red supports with six-foot spinning rods designed for the four to 10 pound test lines we’d spooled on open-faced spinning reels that have 6.1 gear ratios allowing us to easily retrieve lures in heavy currents. Jared suggested we try some 1/16th to 1/4 oz. size bright colored spinners and an assortment of small spoons. Any of the spinners in pink, chartreuse, or black work well. Best spoon colors were pumpkinseed and red and orange for all trout species that live in the Little Red year round. Currently, rainbows make up the bulk of the population with nearly a half million catchable size fish stocked throughout the year. Cutthroats, a Western species, are also stocked, but in fewer numbers. Incredibly, brook trout are reproducing naturally as are the browns. In fact, all of the browns are wild fish and soon brookies will be also. Like most game fish, trout in the Little Red River stage along drops, ledges and hide among the abundant growth of coontail grass that Billy’s family planted in the river years ago. The grass harbors millions of sowbugs, a tiny grub-like creature that is the principal food supply for the fish (also the favorite fly pattern). The best time to fish the Little red for numbers of trout is during non-generating periods, when only enough water to sustain flow in the river is released through the dam. That’s when spinners and slow-moving
spoons often generate a strike on every cast. The biggest fish, however, are normall y more active when the river is running full. Big brown trout that hide around sunken logs and stumps, will blast larger crankbaits such as 4-1/2 inch Rattlin’ Rogues® and Strike Kings’Wild Shiner® in 5-inch size. Lures that have red or orange on the belly seems to work best. No doubt about it, anglers infected with trout fishing fever will find a cure every day of the year on Arkansas’ Little Red River. And who knows, maybe the very next cast you make will result in a hook-up with a fish that possibly might be the biggest of its kind in the world!
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gear review Spike Camp Pack by Redhead Craig Haney
ou’re gonna freeze your tail off if that cold weather rolls in like it’s predicted to the week we’re up there,” my fishing buddy JB emphatically told me. I knew he was right, but I didn’t want to give him credit for it. We had a week long backcountry camping trip set up for late October, and my old Kelty pack would not hold my camping and cooking gear, a few clothes and my fishing gear as well. The extra warm clothes needed and my XL-tall breathable waders had no place to fit in or on my old pack.
get inside for needed items without unloading the whole pack. In front at the bottom is a semi-circular zipper so you can get out your sleeping bag conveniently. A small pocket is on the bottom also for small items. The lightweight and tough molded frame has a heavily padded hip belt with zipper pockets on each side for smaller items which you may need to get in a hurry. The shoulder straps were padded well and very comfortable. The loaded pack was comfortable to wear on the trail and hauled my gear with ease. For more information: www.basspro.com.
I searched locally and online for a large pack that would fit my needs and not be more expensive than I could justify for just a couple of cold weather trips a year. After some deliberation, I settled on the Spike Camp Pack from Bass Pro Shops which was made with hunters in mind. With over 7000 cubic inches, the pack has twice the capacity of my older pack. Look up the word “gi-normous” and you will see a picture of the Spike Camp Pack. The Spike Camp Pack is a top loader with a draw string skirt to help protect the contents and a top with two zipper pockets that fastens snugly at either side of the pack. There are two long top loading pockets on each side of the pack which came in handy for smaller items. On each side of the pack are two zippers which allow you to 18 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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2013 SPEAKERS Lefty Kreh • Ed Jaworowski • Bob Clouser • Beau Beasley Cory Routh • King Montgomery • Tracy Stroup • Wanda Taylor
2013 MAJOR SPONSORS Orvis • Dominion • Subaru Temple Fork Outfitters
Advance tickets, merchandise sales, fly fishing class registrations & program information: vaflyfishingfestival.org 20 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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history of southern trout fishing Remembering Joe Manley
number of years ago when I first developed an interest in the history of fly fishing for trout in and around the Great Smoky Mountains, I was in the basement of the NPS headquarters at the Sugarlands where in those days they, more or less, allowed me to roam about the place and peruse musky old files of forgotten information. It was here I found a little saddlestitched, white paperback book authored in 1963 by Joe Manley titled Sport Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains. Years later during a visit to the home of Eddy George in Louisville, Tennessee, the well-known fly tyer and angler gave me a copy of Joe Manley’s hardback book which the author vanity published in 1938. Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Adjacent Waters is a 79 page book was the first ever written on fishing these waters. It is an incredibly difficult-to-find old book these days. Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Adjacent Waters is, as one might expect, packed full of information that today is quite dated. Most of the pictures are of smallmouth bass, the dominant game fish in the lower reaches of the many streams in those days such as Little River and the Oconaluftee River. Manley’s fly pattern recommendations do not mention patterns such as Yallarhammar or Tellico Nymph, but do talk about fly rod baits such as the Heddon Flaptail. Dated though most of the material is, Manley’s observations on where and how to catch trout in the waters of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are as dead on right now as they were threequarters of a century ago when he penned Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Adjacent Waters. Upon my receipt of Manley’s book from George, I was surprised to learn that Mr. 22 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
history of southern trout fishing Don Kirk Manley was alive and well, living at the time in Gatlinburg. With considerable haste I contacted him and arranged a visit to his home where I greeted by him and his wife. It was the first of a half dozen or so visits before Manley’s death in 1993. In more recent times, I have been in contact with his son, Joe Manley, Jr., who resides in Wilmington, North Carolina. I am of the opinion that Manley’s footprints in the lore of fly-fishing in the Smokies are not only largely unknown, but virtually ignored. Manley and I met and chatted on numerous occasions. He was an early employee of the National Park Service in the 1930s where he was hired as a forester. During the early days of the park groups of young men in the CCC camps were at the disposal of rangers such as Manley. Manley’s expertise was the construction of the old rough hewed fire towers that once dotted the mountain tops of the national park. Shortly after the publication of Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Adjacent Waters, Manley left the employment of the National Park Service to become the superintendent of the water works department of the city of Gatlinburg, a position he held until he retired in the 1970s. As people go, Manley struck me as a quiet sort of fellow who loved to talk about fishing but not his many accomplishments in the field. The term “old school” applies to him as more often than not he wore a tie when he fished. According to his son, this habit was his father’s way of showing respect to his aquatic quarries. During the 1940s and 1950s Manley was perhaps the best-known angler in the state, knowing outdoor writers and editors of sporting journals from many locales. Along with taking Ben East of Outdoor Life fly-fishing in the Smokies on several occasions, he also accompanied Charles N. Elliott, a Georgia native who was also an editor at that wellknown New York-based sporting publication. Elliott befriended me in the mid-1970s when
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history of southern trout fishing we first met at an outdoor-writer’s conference, and the stories about him I shall hold back for later. According to Manley, he had paid for the printing of 3,000 copies of his book, Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Adjacent Waters. During one of their fishing trips to together to Ramsey’s Cascade, Ben East had offered to take all of Manley’s books back to New York City where they would be offered for sale on the then active Outdoor Life Book Club. Manley agreed and the books went north and from there were more or less scattered in the wind across the country. Manley never told me how many books were sold locally, but I do believe that the exodus of the ma jority of the inventory of these books is why copies of Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Adjacent Waters is so difficult to find these days. It is also worth noting that the paper upon which this book was printed was low quality, acrid pulp paper that makes these darn things pretty fragile to turn pages on 75 years later. In the 1990s when I spent considerable time with Manley, he recounted frequently going fly-fishing with Matt Whittle, whom he credited with showing him where and how to fish the streams of the Smokies. Manley says that he was introduced by Whittle to such famous anglers as Ben East and Joe Brooks of Outdoor Life as well as Ozark Ripley. Manley described Matt Whittle as the most knowledgeable angler and expert of local flora of the Smokies. Robert S. Mason, in his now out-of-print book, The Lure of the Smokies, published in 1927, devoted several pages to fishing in the Smoky Mountains. He listed the names of guides who were available for hire, flies that were most effective, and comments from a number of long-time anglers of the region. Among Mason’s favorites was Matt Whittle of Gatlinburg. Whittle, a horticulturalist by trade, fished the streams of the Smokies all his life, and prior
history of southern trout fishing
to the creation of the park was perhaps the best-known angler on the Tennessee side of the mountains. His roots in the region go back to the earliest settlers in the Little Pigeon River drainage. John “Bullhead” Whaley sold to Whittle brothers some 800 acres in what became Cherokee Orchard. Located in the shadow of the western flank of Mount Le Conte, it was a prosperous business. When the NPS acquired the Whittle property in 1933, the brothers were tending to about 6,800 apple trees, representing some 47 varieties. They also commercially grew Virginia boxwoods, eastern hemlocks, azaleas, Andromeda, and other nursery stock. The NPS gave the owners of the nursery 30 years to abandon the orchard in increments of one third of the land per decade. Each season the fruit was picked and shipped to market until the last tract of orchard was relinquished in 1963. The oncethriving fruit trees and other ornamentals have been overtaken by weeds, vines, and finally the forest itself. If you know where to look, you can still find gnarled apple trees producing small, tasty apples. Dubbed the “Izaak Walton” of the Smokies, Whittle understood the habits of his quarry as few have on either side of the Smokies. Going against the common belief of his day that indicated matching the hatch when fishing with flies, Whittle felt it was of no real importance what kind of fly you used, but how you fished with what you were using, and how the fish were feeding. Whittle often left his orchard-and-shrubbery business to guide “Yankee” fishermen up the streams of the Smokies. Well-known angler George La Branche is said to have been among those who accompanied Whittle into the Smokies. According to Manley, one of Whittle’s favorite stories involved fishing with George La Blanche, the noted Yankee fly-fishing expert of his era. George La Branche, along with Theodore Gordon had property (it is now inundated) along the Neversink River in New York. La Branche pioneered fishing dry flies
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history of southern trout fishing on fast water, something new to the sport in the early 1900s. According to Manley, Whittle had a acquired a copy of La Branche’s book, The Dry Fly and Fast Water Fishing with The Floating Fly on American Trout Streams (Charles Scribners Sons, 1914). Whittle initiated correspondence with La Branche, which resulted in the then most famous flyfishermen in the country visiting the Smokies.
history of southern trout fishing
to the rest of the world in those days, nor was it necessarily behind in the times in terms of tackle and flies. Then as now, western streams such as Yellowstone and Madison as well as Yankee waters get more attention in print than do or did southern trout and smallmouth bass waters. While less touted, the fantastic fishing in the South was not unknown to the rest of world of fishing, nor was it as overlooked as we tend to think it was in those days.
“Matt told me that George La Branche had the most delicate fly presentation he ever saw,” noted Manley. “He schooled Matt in the importance of checking the fly in the air to get a delicate delivery. A powerful caster, La Branche was skillful enough to whip his silk fly line so that the fly stopped motionless in midair only an inch from the water at the head of a plunge pool. His flies were on the surface before his leader or line touched the surface. Matt said he owed a lot to what La Branche taught him. Manley also told me that Matt Whittle also fished with Ozark Ripley, one of the best known outdoor writers of the early 1900s who had moved from Missouri to Chattanooga in the 1930s. Ozark Ripley was the colorful pen name for John Baptiste de Macklot Thompson (generally referred to as John B. Thompson), who was educated in France prior to World War I. An avid fly-fisherman, Ripley lived in east Tennessee where he continued his passion for float fishing for smallmouth bass he had engaged in while operating out of the Ozarks. Perhaps the most interesting of all Smoky Mountains fly-fishing lore lies in this man and his relationships with Ernest H. Peckingpaugh. Many fly-fishing historians credit the invention of the popping bug to Ernest H. Peckinpaugh of Chattanooga, Tennessee, prior to World War I. However, as with info on Charlie Elliot, tales of old Peck are another story for another article. The most important thing I learned from Manley was that fly fishing in the Southern Appalachian Mountains was not an unknown 26 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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Third Annual Three River Fly Fishing Tournament
Highlands 3rd Annual
Guided & NonGuided Competitions
Limited to 50 Teams
May 16 - 18, 2013 for Men & Women of All Skill Levels
More than 2,200 Miles of Public Water Available to Fish During the Tournament Teams will fish one native, one hatchery supported and one delayed-harvest stream. Just $500 Per 2-Person Team
includes Lunch Both Days, Opening Night Reception, Closing Night Winners’ Dinner With Food and Prizes at Old Edwards Inn and Spa and a Fishing Goody Bag All proceeds to benefit the Town of Highlands Scholarship Fund for Highlands NC School Graduates www.HighlandsThreeRiver.com or 866-526-5841. 28 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
Picturesque Highlands, NC is the stage for the third annual Three River Fly Fishing Tournament on May 16 - 18.
ust as you’d guess, the bold streams that have shaped Highlands and drawn generations of visitors are home to wily schools of rainbow and brown trout. The trout, as ubiquitous as the rhododendron thickets that line those streams, seduce, challenge and occasionally reward their most ardent suitors – fly fishermen and women of extraordinary skill and infinite patience. That’s what makes Highlands’ Annual Three River Fly Fishing Tournament, set for May 16th through the 18th, such a natural fit on the town’s Event Calendar The tourney is open to all anglers of all skill levels, and there are guided and non-guided competitions. Funds raised benefit the Town of Highlands Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for Highlands High School graduates. The entry fee includes various clinics, an invitation to the opening night reception, lunch for days, a fishing
goody bag and a closing night winners’ dinner with food and prizes at Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Space is limited. Only the first 50 teams to register will be able to participate. From Highlands, the fishing boundary will have a northern boundary of US Hwy. 74, a western boundary of the rafting and delayed harvest sections of the Nantahala River, a southern boundary of the Hwy. 28 bridge on the Chattooga River and an eastern boundary of the Davidson River and the East Fork of the French Broad River. A map designating all streams within this boundary will be provided to each applicant. To register or receive more information, visit www.highlandsthreeriver.com or call the Highlands Visitor Center at (866) 526-5841. The tournament is sponsored in part by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, the Highland Hiker, Old Edwards Inn and Spa, The Highlander, Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. and Mountain Fresh Grocery.
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book review Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: An Insiders Guide to a Pursuit of Passion
ly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: An Insiders Guide to a Pursuit of Passion by Jim Casada (High Country Press 2009) is not a new release, but one fitting of review in Southern Trout Magazine. Written by Dr. Jim Casada, this volume gives readers in-depth look at fly fishing for trout in the country’s most popular national park on waters where the author spent much of his life in passionate pursuit of fun. A much decorated writer, Casada grew up in and around Deep Creek where he had the good fortune of being mentored not only by his father, who was an expert fly fishermen, but by an entire community of old timers whom many of us sincerely wish we could go fishing with “one more time.” Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: An Insiders Guide to a Pursuit of Passion is exceptionally wellwritten, entertaining, and a must have
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book for anyone with even a mild interest in trout fishing in these fabled waters. The book is available directly from the author who can be contacted via his website at www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com.
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nce you have fly fished for four or five decades, you discover that over time you criss-cross paths with some people in most unexpected ways. Bob Borgwat, the head guide at Reel Angling Adventures, is one of those people. Decades back when he and I were young men, he was my editor for at a publication known as Tennessee Sportsman. I was his unpredictable writer. He moved on, as did I. The next time we met, we were both hiney deep in hunting in Africa where he was nicknamed Bwana Bob, and I was known Zebco (that’s Hottentots for “he who misses many zebra”). When Southern Trout Magazine launched, one of the first people I ran into was none other than Bob Borgwat. He must be a helluva fishing guide, but he certainly is one of the most gifted trout fishing writers in the South.
guide profile southern Appalachian Mountains spans 22 years. A native Californian, he came to North Georgia in 1990 after living 15 years in Texas, where he honed his bass-fishing skills on the legendary lakes of East Texas. Bob’s angling fortunes stretch to the rivers of Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains, high-country streams of California’s Cascade Mountains, the bays and bayous of the Mississippi Delta, the waterways of Nicaragua’s Caribbean jungles, the bonefish flats of The Bahamas, the rocky shelves of Mozambique’s Indian Ocean, the mysterious rivers of southern Africa, and more. Much of his angling experience--both stateside and abroad--has been captured in his own words and photography. He is an award-winning contributor of more than 100 magazine articles published as a freelance writer and editor for state, regional, national
Bob Borgwat, Reel Angling Adventures - Georgia Bob Borgwat leads a Reel Angling A d v e n t u r e d four-man team of dedicated, professional fishing guides who go astream armed with life-long angling experience that has seen them pursue game fish in a variety of settings around the world. Actually, Bob Borgwat not only leads the guide team, but he is also the owner of Reel Angling Adventures where he is its administrator, web master and guide. A busy fellow, Bob also is an active freelance writer who focus is on both the fishing and hunting sports across the country. Now in his late fifties, Bob’s fishing experience in the
and international fishing magazines. Bob also has frequently served as interim senior editor for 18 state titles of outdoors magazines published by Intermedia Outdoors in Marietta, Georgia. He is an active member of the Blue Ridge Mountain chapter (#696) of Trout Unlimited where he heads up the Toccoa River Improvement Committee. Reel Angling Adventures offers a wild variety of fly-fishing trips for trout in the South. Wild rainbow, brown and brook trout are the stars on their guided trips to the wild-trout waters
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of the southern Appalachian Mountains in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee, including the scenic remote trout waters of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These adventurous outings take you on foot into headwater streams and spring creeks where both the trout and the scenery are spectacular. Their Destinations include Noontootla Creek, Hazel Creek, Eagle Creek, Coopers Creek, Slickrock Creek, Snowbird Creek and many, many more unnamed streams. Bob’s passion for the pull of a fish on a fishing line never limits his scope in fishing–neither the fish, techniques, nor tackle for the job at hand. You’re just as likely to see him slinging plastic worms for smallmouth bass with conventional tackle as you are to see him flogging a favorite trout stream with a 4-weight fly rod. For more info visit www.reelanglingadventures.com or call him at 866-899-5259.
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fly of the month Charlieâ€™s Whooper
Spring River Flies and Guides Drift boat Guide trips and Full Service Fly Shop
he Charlie Whopper dry fly is a springtime mayfly imitation for March or April. Several great mayfly hatches occur this time of year including Quill Gordon, Dark Hendrickson, and others. These flies are normally in the size #10 and #12 range , a big dark colored mayfly that hatches when warm spring rains bring water temperatures up from the lower forties to the upper fifties.
Recipe Hook: Mustad 94840, hook sizes 8 to 12 Thread: Black 6/0 Wing: Bronze mallard, upright and divided Body: Gray muskrat fut Tail: Dark grizzly and brown hackle fibers mixed Down Wing: Bronze mallard Hackle: Grizzly and brown cock hackle
Located 2 miles south on Hwy 63 in Mammoth Spring, AR
Your local fly fishing experts!
wing caddis style also. These are tied with a beautiful barred bronze mallard feather. The body is made of muskrat fur which floats very well. These flies fish well around midday and early afternoon when the water temperatures are warmest.
Hungry trout which havenâ€™t had many top water hatches to feed on began gorging themselves on these good sized mayflies. This can be some of the best hatches of the year and last only a couple or three weeks long. Lots of anglers miss these fly hatches because they are waiting on the large hatches of yellow mayflies in May and June. Charles Messer of Fines Creek , North Carolina, designed this special fly pattern. It was his favorite pattern of all he tied. The unique thing about this pattern is that it features a upright divided wing along with a down
Charlie was a firm believer in fishing these downstream, also. He would cast these across current and let the fly swing at the lower section of the pool and retrieve it back slowly, sometimes as the fly was just under the surface that would produce a trout larger in size. He was a great tyer and fly fisherman who spent many hours on the trout stream. I have fished this fly a lot and found it to be most effective especially in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park waters. Try some of these in the spring season and you will be rewarded with some nice exciting top water action!
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For more information: www.springriverfliesandguides.com email: email@example.com or call: 417-280-0927 www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 35
featured fly shop
featured fly shop Lexington, Kentucky selection of fine sporting collectibles. “Overall, our main goal is to provide the absolute best customer service experience in Lexington,” says Gene. “Besides fly fishing gear, in the store, we carry a large selection of men’s clothing, luggage, travel accessories, pet items, and fly fishing gear and apparel. We will gladly custom order other items available from our suppliers. We can easily order women’s clothing, home decor items, hunting gear, and myriad other items you find in the catalogs or on the websites of our suppliers, but do not see in our store.” For more info visit www.lexingtonangler.com or go by the store at
he Bluegrass State has but one full service fly fishing shop, the Lexington Angler located in the heart of the capital city of the Bluegrass State. However, once you’ve perused this classy establishment, it’s pretty clear to see that one is enough in a single state, if it is as nice as the Lexington Angler. The shop is owned by Gene Slusher. He is a Lexington native, stemming from a family with a tradition of fishing, hunting and being in contact with the outdoors. Gene grew up traipsing through the small woods and creek behind his house. Armed with a fierce curiosity of nature and a loyal dog by his side, he developed a solid appreciation of the outdoors at an early age. That love of the natural world has lead him down a path that meandered through various positions in the worlds of fly fishing, hospitality, policy, and conservation, and that has culminated in the opening of The Lexington Angler. Gene received his bachelor’s degree from Centre College and his J.D. and his Master of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. Directly after he was admitted to the Kentucky Bar Association, he headed west, deciding to explore his love of the
119 Clay Avenue, Lexington, KY 40502 mountains and passion for the sporting lifestyle. After spending several months fly fishing throughout Idaho and Montana, he returned to the Bluegrass State where he lives in nearby Midway.
The shop offers our customers the opportunity to locally purchase some of the finest goods available for the sporting lifestyle. Gene and his staff have associated themselves with some of the best known and most wellrespected names in fly fishing world, forging relationships that bring a wide variety of unique products to our local market. The Lexington Angler is an authorized Orvis Dealer which carries all of the top brands of rods, reels, waders, sunglasses and much more. The partnerships of the shop and manufacturer result in a standard of quality, in both service and products, that customers expect to experience when they visit The Lexington Angler. In addition to its retail offerings, the Lexington Angler regularly hold classes for those wishing to learn about fly fishing. The shop also offers a guide service that will get you out on the stream catching fish, and maintains a clever
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featured lodge from someone casting the fly rod for the first time to a seasoned angler who has been fly fishing their entire life. Their guides are highly devoted to their craft and will do everything possible to make sure your time on the water with them is educational and more importantly, fun. A typical day fishing on one of their great tailwaters may include nymph, dry fly or streamer fly fishing Perhaps the best fly fishing in the East,” is how fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh as trout adapt to changing water conditions describes his most recent visit to South and aquatic insect life. Fishing conditions Holston River Lodge. Located on the may vary. Your guide will work with you to South Holston River near Bristol, Tennessee, find the approach that fits your experience this establishments offers the finest in and expectations. southern fly fishing from their luxurious accommodations and outstanding meals, to having the most experienced guides East Tennessee has to offer. Lodge guides spend hundreds of days on the river each year and are more than happy to show clients all elements of fly fishing techniques that produce on this productive tailwater river.
featured lodge Bristol, Tennessee
The South Fork of South Holston River speaks for itself with the completion of the Weir Dam in 1991. This cold, clear tailwater holds between four and five thousand fish per mile. The average size trout ranges from ten to twenty inches, but don’t kid yourself, every year wild browns are caught in the ten pound range. South Holston River Lodge guests are often surprised by the South Holston River has gained an incredible abundance and size of trout caught each day. reputation for the quality and quantity of its If you have never been to the South Holston fly fishing for trout, especially lunker brown during a summer sulpher hatch, we can say trout. The lodge also offers trips on the nearby with confidence that you are missing one of Watauga River. South Holston River Lodge the best dry fly fishing experiences of your guides clients from all levels of experience life and as good as it gets in the South.
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About 30 minutes away from the lodge lies the Watauga River. The Watauga River is approximately 60 miles long flowing from Grandfather Mountain in Western North Carolina into the Tennessee Valley. The Watauga River offers a diverse insect population and provides solid hatches spring summer and fall. The Mother’s Day caddis hatch can be without question an unbelievable phenomenon. Fishing is best on the Watauga when generation is at a minimum. The quality section of this river provides long runs, deep pools and is an amazingly beautiful stretch of water. We recommend the Watauga River as an alternate option if you would like to see a different river other than the South Holston during your stay at South Holston River Lodge. When you looking for great lodging, fantastic fly fishing and professional guides, look no further than South Holston River Lodge. Their package includes everything you would
expect from a luxury fishing lodge. The only things left up to you is your airfare, waders (ask if needed), licenses and tips. Their allinclusive package gives anglers the finest in guided float and wade trips. World class meals are prepared by their onsite chef, with appetizers with wine and beer before dinner. While there you stay at the Mayfly Lodge, a three story cabin nestled on the side of the South Holston River. On the main floor is the den with 4 mission style recliners, gas fireplace, fly tying table, 50” HDTV with Blueray/DVD player, WIFI and a selection of fly fishing DVD’s to get you fired up for the morning bite. Off the den there is a full bath and a fully equipped home-style kitchen suitable for preparing snacks or large meals. A large gas grill and electric smoker are also available on the property. Upstairs boasts two cozy bedrooms and one full bath. The master bedroom has a double bed and sitting
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Convertible Wading Socks
Hippies • 100% Waterproof • Adjustable Height • Light Weight & Packable • Built-In Gravel Guards Hip High
area while the guest bedroom has a double bed and set of bunks. On the lower level you will find the game room furnished with a pool table, ping-pong table, jukebox, gaming table and even a slot machine (entertainment only).
For Lodging, Fly Fishing, Classes or questions please contact Jon Hooper at one of the following:
The balcony overlooking the South Holston and seats up to 20 guests, and this breathtaking Phone: view is second to none. You may enjoy this 877-767-7875 or 423-747-7366 view from either the benches, rocking chairs, or from the four person Jacuzzi tub located South Holston River Lodge is located at: in the gazebo. The Mayfly Lodge is perfect for 1509 Bullock Hollow Road, two couples or up to four fishermen wanting Bristol, Tennessee to live a little high on the hog! For more info contact South Holston River Lodge.
877-462-4682 40 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 41 www.chotaoutdoorgear.com
featured outfitter Columbia, South Carolina
featured outfitter Frank’s Fly Arts
ranks Fly Arts is one of Dixie’s more interesting outfitting businesses in a number of ways. Most intriguing is owner Michael Frank’s open invitation to take you and your family on one of his full-service, professionally guided fly fishing trips here on the rivers of Columbia, South Carolina. Whoop, did we say family trips for trout in the heart of Palmetto State? Yes, we did. Frank’s Fly Art is unique. While you fish and tour the water, you are learning and experiencing great fishing for trout, smallmouth, largemouth, and striped bass in the beautiful natural setting of the Broad, Congaree, and Saluda Rivers. All of this fun is just a stone’s throw from the amenities of downtown Columbia. Columbia’s urban river system is perhaps the best kept secret in the state since they built the CSA Hunley there in 1863. Often referred to as the three rivers, it is made up of the Saluda, which comes out of Lake Murray and merges with the Broad near the I-26 bridge in West Columbia to form the Congaree. Rainbow and brow trout, thick as gnats in the colder water, are found in the Saluda River downstream for miles. Large and smallmouth bass can largely be found near where the rivers merge. Stripers live everywhere. When you float these rivers where they merge you are looking at the Columbia skyline can be seen over the treetops, including the copper dome of the State House. Frank began this outfitting business originally by teaching private fly tying and fishing lessons for arts and crafts classes at A.C. Moore, and summer camps for students at the Hammond School. He didn’t own a professional boat at the time and was fishing from a kayak. Today he is a full-time, full-service outfitter that offers drift boat trips, kayak fishing and wade
trips for a smorgasbord of species sought by fly fishermen. “Our guides will row you in a safe, stable inflatable drift boat for 6 to 12 hours depending on the length of trip you choose,” says Frank. “In our drift boats you sit 14 inches above the water. The floor of our boat keeps you high and dry and gives you a great vantage point to spot the fish or just to view the wildlife and wildflowers that call our rivers home. All you have to do is sit back in your seat and let your guide row you to places few other fishermen can reach setting you up with an easy cast to the most productive holes on the river.” For more adventurous anglers, Frank’s Fly Arts offers kayaking our rivers. Guided kayak trips and kayak rentals are also available. They offer 14.5’ standard sit on tops as well as 14’ Freedom Hawk Stand Up Kayaks which
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let you stand and cast. Their wade trips are the most affordable option. Here you can learn the best spots to walk in and fish for all of the types of fish found in these rivers. All trips are appropriate for beginners and experienced fly or spin fishermen alike. In fact, Frank offers a free two-hour casting lesson with every trip booked. A trip with Frank’s Fly Arts gives the perfect introduction to fly fishing, and gives those who might need to brush up on their skills a chance to practice before they’re on the water in front of the fish. Rates include the use of all tackle and flies, all equipment such as waders and wading boots to keep you warm and dry if you choose to get in and fish, and they are for one or two person trips. Check their family rates--one adult and two children or two children and one adult for the cost of our usual two person float trip rate. For more info contact Michael Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 803-673-0238, or visit www.franksflyarts. com www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 43
wanderings of the creek freak
better duck. Keep my head low. Spring has sprung, and the excursion trains in my neck of the woods are back. Along the Nantahala River, it’s the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. The Tennessee Valley Railroad chugs upstream on the Hiwassee River, and the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway tours the lower Toccoa River valley. From where the passengers sit in the rail cars, they’re getting eyefuls of what they think is grace in motion-us fly-fishers.
Bob Borgwat shot. There was a time when I stood proudly in the river beneath their shadow. These trains run slow. You want to turn and wave. You want to show them your best “River-Runs-ThroughIt” cast because you know that’s what they’re thinking. Been there, done that.
You don’t fool me. You think it, too. “Watch this,” you whisper to yourself, timing the arrival of the open-air car over your shoulder. Pull a few extra strips of line off the reel. Show ‘em you have a few extra yards of distance in your cast. The scene is almost as classic as the Pullman Wind up with a few false casts. Move the line cars in which they ride. I’ve seen as many as 12 sharply. Keep it high. Pull it. Push it. Shoot it! of them hitched together. The cars wobble in Take a couple steps ... NO! a spastic rhythm as the trains rumble through the scenic riverways. Engineer Bill waves. Folks Your right toe stumbles over that bowling stand at the windows. Some of them ride in ball of a rock you didn’t notice inside open cars. Passengers point and shout over your shadow. Years of experience the clatter of the train, while their cameras (you’ve got to admit it) with capture memories for another day. Greening this kind of thing can’t woodlands climb away from the rails up long stall your forward ridges or tumbling away into deep valleys. fall. Slow motion: Budding dogwoods scatter across the forest thrashing, floor beneath towering poplars. In the rail-side faltering, green fields, wild gobblers peck, cluck, strut and flailing, and trying call while displaying brilliant tail-feathers and to stay vertical through luminous heads. A bald eagle soars overhead. three or four lurching steps to An osprey squeals from its high perch. Trout find your balance. But an edgy ledge, and streams roll, tumble and glide by. the trough behind it, take the last of your pride. Your left toe catches the rocky lip. You Indeed, memories are made for thousands pitch forward, while your right foot leans of folks who tour our mountains by train in into the trough searching for firm bottom. It seasons cool, hot and warm, but you don’t only slides, until you’ve executed “the splits” see many of them during wintertime. That’s and you belly flop into the water. a shame...for them, because when the water is low, it sparkles. The trees are bare. The air The passengers’ collective squeal--delightfully is clear. The scene is sharp. That crisp winter different than the harsh metal-to-metal squeal photograph better captures our rhythm, our that slips from between the train wheels and the casts, our poise, our composure, and our track--erupts from the train car above you. When elegance...our grace in motion. your head rises above the waterline, cameras are snapping. Some folks are clapping. Your But I’m gonna duck. Every time. Shy? Hell no shades are gone. A fly box floats downstream. (in fact, I talk too much). Just want to keep my The palm of your left hand is lacerated. Your reel head low, especially when the trains are there is bent. Your rod is cracked ... as should be your above me, up the embankment and within eye- arrogance. Been there, done that.
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wanderings of the creek freak I’ve long disposed of the colorful outerwear I swam in, lest a returning railway passenger might recognize me. I can’t wear the same hat (it’s long gone downriver), not that I would. I burned the vest and shirt, once they dried out. I replaced the rod and reel with a combo willed to me by a particularly clumsy fishing buddy I pulled from the river more than once (the humility factor is already paid in aces). My hand is healed. I zip all the pockets on my vest.
So, I keep my head low when the trains come by. Flirting is deflating.
For more information about the excursion trains of the southern Appalachian Mountains, please visit: • Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, Bryson City, NC -- www.gsmr.com or call (800) 872-4681 • Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad, Blue Ridge, GA -- www.brscenic.com or call (706) 632-8724 • Tennessee Valley Railroad, Etowah, TN -- www.tvrail.com or call (423) 894-8028
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new fly guy
new fly guy
STOCKED TROUT STRATEGIES
Of that 40%, 65% were caught within five weeks of stocking.3 Even when you factor the 40% number upwards for poaching and the heron gang, there are plenty of fish cruising the stream after the localized slaughter following publication of the daily stocking report. So, if there are so many uncaught fish, why do you get skunked?
tream just stocked? Skunked again? Blamed it on the “locals”? Or is something more sinister as work? A gang of rowdy blue herons?
A freshly stocked trout takes time to learn what to eat when taken off a diet of fish pellets. Understanding the timeline is critical as we rely on fooling trout with replicas of natural food. Brown trout present the worst case scenario taking up to 50 days to completely adapt to natural foods.4 The good news is rainbow trout, a hatchery favorite, begin their slow adaptation
Stockers have been driving fisheries professionals insane for years with their central questions being the same as ours, “What happened to all the fish? Were they caught? Did they die? Did they leave?” Understanding the answers is crucial to their mission to provide a good angling experience that, in turn, stimulates license sales supporting hatchery programs. The problem was succinctly stated in a Wyoming Fish and Game presentation on tailwater trout survival as “How do you lose 250,000 trout?”1 Many experts puzzled through the problem producing studies focused on answering these compelling questions that, if understood and lessons applied, will improve your day on the stream. It’s even better that the studies all reach the same general set of conclusions; an academic event as rare as your teenager offering to take out the garbage. You may think a stream is cleaned out, but unless fishing with hand grenades is legal, you are wrong. A comprehensive British study discovered that only 40% of the stockers planted were reported caught by fishermen.2 48 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
to wild food in about a week.5 But, even their learning curve can still be slow. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation confirmed this in April 2005 when they examined the stomach contents of rainbow trout stocked in January.6 In Oklahoma studyspeak, “Non-food items were the dominate prey item”.7 However, by June, non-food items composed a significantly smaller portion of the fish’s intake; dropping from 27% in April to 11%.8 While the actual food items in the Oklahoma trout diet were primarily snails and invertebrates,9 you should not extrapolate that mix directly to local water since your environment is probably different.
All this implies the advantage slowly tips in favor of the flyfisher. If you put your faith in the fact that 60% of stocked trout were unaccounted for, you can afford to wait for the fish to adapt to the wild. The longer a stocker is resident in a stream, the more it will learn how to feed. You should see their interest in dry flies and nymphs pick up in direct proportion to time in the water as they
adapt and learn through trial and error. On the flip side, if you remain convinced that you need to hit the stream soon after stocking to have a shot at catching anything, you should focus on bright streamers to provoke reaction strikes or a fly that looks like a pellet rather than using traditional dries or nymphs a stocker may not recognize. The transition to natural food is not the end of the story. By waiting for a stocker to develop a taste for stream fare, you give them time to disappear. Where do they go? Finding the answer is exactly what motivated the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to do a series of studies between 2003 and 2006 in reaction to complaints from anglers asserting the fish were gone by opening day.10 It turns out the anglers were right. The Pennsylvania studies concluded that rainbow trout will hold where stocked for 3 days, browns for 7 and brookies for 10.11 Once the fish adapt, they move. They move downstream. Some even take giant steps. The Pennsylvania study reports that one radiotagged rainbow was found a staggering 123 miles from its stocking location while the most adventurous brown moved 6 miles and the comparable brookie, 7.5 miles.12 Although the study was silent on how far a stocker typically moves since it limited recapture efforts to an arbitrary 300 yards, a South Dakota study of Rapid Creek pegged the average distance at 224 yards.13 The British Study reinforced this by discovering that 90% of the fish recaptured by electro-fishing were within 656 yards of the stocking site 513 days later.14 South Dakota was the outlier to the downstream imperative and reported some upstream movement during periods of lower flow.15 While the actual distance moved depends on the specific characteristics of the particular streams studied, the point is that the fish “get out of Dodge” and most board the downstream train heading to a pool or run.16
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new fly guy Interestingly, there was no statistical significance related to the presence or absence of environmental factors. While stockers hang longer in the presence of good structure – logs, boulders, and stable banks–they still eventually migrate.17 In total, Pennsylvania considered 20 different variables to determine if any was the prime motivator spurring movement. For those who watch the environment, an instant assumption might be that water chemistry and temperature would be key drivers. After all, if the water is too acid or too warm, trout should move immediately to seek out better habitat. In terms of temperature, the 2006 Pennsylvania study did not see this behavior since there was no significant difference between the water temperature of the hatchery, stock truck and destination streams.18 They did discover a weak pH correlation with more trout being recaptured in the 300 yard footprint in less acid areas.19 In general, fish moved at the same rate regardless of the water characteristics.20
new fly guy sense. A stocked fish may not be accustomed to strong flows and drift with the current when deposited in a stream running at high volume. Once acclimated and comfortable, fish find protected holding positions where they can deal with high water conditions. So, our common assumption that fish wash downstream after a storm is bad.
This is the last piece of the puzzle. Since you have to wait a week or more for the fish to recognize standard fly patterns mimicking natural food, you can assume the stockers will no longer be lying next to those easy spots on the road used by the stocking truck. Knowing the trend is to migrate downstream, lay in a simple strategy for success. Start between 300 and 600 yards downstream of the stocking points and work up, targeting the pools and runs. Since the most intense pressure is in the several days immediately after stocking, by waiting you will probably have the stream to yourself. After all, the stock truck chasers make the assumption that What about flow? In the Rapid Creek study, the stream is cleaned out when, in fact, the fish immediately migrated downstream when trout have just moved out. To catch fish, you placed in water flowing in excess of 100 cubic have to fish where the fish are. Pretty simple feet per minute.21 You might think a flood advice and, with the knowledge of when to would influence the downstream dispersion fish (wait a week or more) and where to fish as in “all the fish were washed downstream (downstream in pools), you can have a good by the big storm,” but that is not the case. day on the stream - even a stocked stream. Radio-tagged trout held in position during two Pennsylvania floods in 2005.22 This makes
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Wayne Hubert, Dave Zafft, Darin Simpkins, Lance Hebdon, and Christiana Barrineau, “Winter Survival, Movement, and Bio-energetics of Trout in Tailwater Habitat” (presentation , Wyoming Game and Fish Department, http://seo.state.wy.us/Forum/2007/Annear_ winterhabitat_Mar07.ppt, March 2007), 16. 2 R.C. Cresswell, G.S. Harris and R. Williams, “Factors Influencing the Movements, Recapture and survival of Hatchery Reared Trout Released into Flowing Waters and their Management Implications”, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, http://www.fao.org/ docrep/009/ae996b/AE996B13.htm. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid. 5 T. A. Lasenby and S. J. Kerr , “Brown Trout Stocking: An Annotated Bibliography and Literature Review”, Ontario Scholars Portal, https://ozone.scholarsportal.info/ bitstream/1873/8502/1/10293909.pdf, 17 6 Randy Hyler and Paul Blakenbush, “Assessment of Impacts to Spring Creek from Introductions or Rainbow Trout in 2004 and 2005”, Spring Creek Coalition and Spring Creek Conservation Coalition, http://www.springcreekok.org/docs/reports/report_ODWC_20042005.pdf, 4 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid.,13-14 9 Ibid. 10 PFBC Staff Report, “Factors Influencing the Post-Stocking Movement of Hatchery Trout in Streams”, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, http://www.fish.state.pa.us/images/ fisheries/info_sheets/trout_movement.pdf, 1 11 Ibid., 2 12 Ibid. 13 Greg Simpson, “Rainbow Trout Movement after Stocking in Rapid Creek”, South Dakota State Government, http://e.library.sd.gov/SodakLIVE-Docs/content/GFP/GFPdoc067.pdf, 13 14 Cresswell et al,” Factors Influencing” 15 Simpson, “Rainbow Trout Movement”, 11 16 Ibid., 12 17 PFBC Staff. “Factors Influencing”, 3 18 Daryl Pierce, Michael Kaufman, Russell Green, Robert Wunk, “2006 Preseason Stocked Trout Residency Study”, Pennsylvania State Government, http://www.fish.state.pa.us/images/ fisheries/trout_residency.pdf, 10 19 Ibid., 10 20 PFBC Staff. “Factors Influencing”, 3 21 Simpson, “Rainbow Trout Movement”, 11 22 PFBC Staff, “Factors Influencing”, 3 1
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Flyfisher’s Guide to™
TENNESSEE Don KirK
AVA I L A B L E F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 3 The 37th book in our best-selling Flyfisher's Guide series CONTENT Flyfisher’s Guide to™ Tennessee By Don Kirk
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Guides for first-time to experienced anglers -and everyone in between.
Destinations include high elevation mountain streams,
scenic tailwaters, private water for trophy trout, and intense summer-time smallmouth bass trips. We take several backcountry trips a year to the remote and scenic Hazel Creek in GSMNP, which is an experience every Southern fly fisher should try at least once. Brookings’ also hosts some incredible destination trips to places like Patagonia (Argentina), Belize and Montana. We are simply eaten up with fishing and will go anywhere to find the best for our clients. Lodging | Fly Fishing Guide Trips | Angling Equipment Cigars | Apparel | Books | DVDs 828-743-3768 | email@example.com BrookingsOnline.com
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Brooking’s is licensed to guide in Nantahala and Pigsah National Forests, Panthertown Valley, as well as Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Softcover 6 x 9 inches 380 pages, 40+ maps 50+ B&W/color photos ISBN: 978-1-932098-96-9
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Tennessee has long hosted some of the United States' best big-brown-trout fisheries, yet somehow it has managed to stay under the radar. Until now. Longtime writer and flyfishing guide Don Kirk covers everything in his all new guide book the Flyfisher's Guide to Tennessee. Productive tailwaters like the Clinch River, South Holston River and Watauga River are covered in full detail, as are their tributaries and reservoirs. And Kirk goes well beyond the major drainages, deep into the Cherokee National Forest uncovering some gorgeous gems that will give up trout for days. From brook, brown and rainbow trout to bass and panfish, Kirk covers all the gamefish. Hatch charts, detailed maps, recommended flies, specialized techniques, accommodations, sporting goods and fly shops, restaurants and all other relevant information is included. Kirk gives you tips from a lifetime of flyfishing in Tennessee in this comprehensive volume. If you're ready to give the tailwater pigs a shot, or even if you just want to pluck some brookies from an idyllic mountain brook, you'll want this book. Tennessee is the next great destination - get in while you can. AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FROM AMAZON.COM, FLY SHOPS, BOOK STORES OR DIRECT FROM PUBLISHER.
Wilderness Adventures Press, Inc. Order Toll Free: 1-866-400-2012 Fax: 1-866-400-2013 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 45 Buckskin Rd. Belgrade, MT 59714 http://store.wildadvpress.com www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 53
Invitation For Next Summer
Oil on Panel
9” x 16”
Oils • Watercolors • Etchings
2611 RUTH HALL ROAD PIGEON FORGE, TN 37863 WWW.ROCKYTOPOUTFITTER.COM (865) 661-3474
518.677.5744 • www.adriano-art.com
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The Dreamy Trout Fishing Art of Jim Hefley Leah Kirk
he ability to capture what you feel in your heart and transfer it to canvas is a blessed gift, especially if it is the trout streams of western North Carolina. Many of the scenes depicted by Jim Hefley are of waters I have visited over the years which makes the efforts of this talented artist all the more enticing to me. His depictions of streams and people fishing in them pull in my imagination while Jim’s bold use of brilliant color is visual smorgasbord of treats.
My favorite Jim Hefley painting is The Midnight Hole On Deep Creek. One of the prettiest pools in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the painting has almost hypnotic quality. Of course, I am biased since my husband, Don, spent time on the bottom of the Midnight Pool in scuba gear engraving on a submerged gray back “Welcome to the Kirk Hole.” I have not actually seen it, but a couple of people have. (Personally, I am not sure if he would spell that many words correctly at one sitting.)
Strike in the Davidson Waterfall Rhythms For many years Jim has been an active outdoorsman. When he located to Western NC he combined his passion for painting with his love of the many beautiful streams of this area where he fly fishes for trout and bass. Many of his paintings feature a beautiful mountain trout stream with a fly fisherman actively pursuing trout. His trout fishing painting series features western North Carolina streams within our National Forests and within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He also paints landscapes showcasing our beautiful mountain vistas and our spectacular waterfalls.
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real appreciation for the countryside fields, farmhouses, and villages in several countries. Because of that interest, he creates a number of landscapes of scenes in England, France and Italy, including some very colorful paintings of lavender fields in Provence, vineyards and villas in Tuscany, and barges on the canals of France and England. Jim generally paints in a representational style, but also likes to create some paintings in a more impressionistic style if the scene and the light encourage that approach. He has painted with and taken oil painting workshops from prominent Southeastern artists John Mac Kah, Peggy Taylor, Deborah Squier, Mikki Dillon, Sarah Jim lived and worked in Europe for a number Sneeden and Julyan Davis. of years. During that time he developed a www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 57
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Page Page Page Page Page Page
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52 - Top Left - Spirit of CFR 53- Top Right - Big Creek Fall Foliage 53 - Bottom Right - Early Fall on the Davidson 54 - Top Left - Waterfall in the Blue Ridge 54 - Bottom Left - Double Exposure 55 - Top Right - Wild Trout in Linville Gorge
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feature them and very diverse in subject matter. “I really enjoy working with clients to compose and paint a ‘one of a kind’ art piece,” says Jim. “Commissioned paintings are generally more personal than other paintings you may have acquired in galleries or art shows, because they depict scenes or places that have a special memory for you. I complete a number of commissions each year and work directly with the client to use photos they have available, sometimes supplemented by photos I have or ones in the public domain. I normally use a computer based “photopaint” software program to work out a series of composition alternatives and review them with the client until we have one with which we are both comfortable, both in size and in composition. I generally work in oils or pastels.” If you are interested in discussing a commissioned painting, please send him an email at email@example.com or give him a call at 828-277-9465. He will discuss the basic commission process and your area of interest. Jim is an active member of Trout Unlimited and devotes volunteer time to support a number of their programs. In fact, Jim donates a portion of the proceeds from all sales of his paintings to help send disadvantaged boys and girls to the annual NC Trout Unlimited Youth Camp. In addition to creating art for galleries and shows, he also enjoys doing oil paintings on a commission basis, since the landscape scenes chosen by clients are very special to
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Virginia’s South River: A Game Changer for Trout Anglers Beau Beasley his army, hoping to meet up with General Sherman on his famed “March to the Sea.” Sheridan, along with a flamboyant young Brigadier General named George Armstrong Custer, slammed into Confederate forces led by Lieutenant General Jubal Early just outside of Waynesboro on March 2, 1865. Early arranged his men slightly in front of the South River just outside of town where his field pieces could defend their position against the Union assault. Unfortunately for Early, he left his left flank exposed—a fatal mistake that Sheridan exploited. In the end Early and his staff escaped, but 1,500 Confederate soldiers eventually surrendered to Sheridan in what was the last ma jor Civil War engagement in the Shenandoah Valley. Tommy Lawhorne uses a nearby tree as a vantage point to spot fish for his partner Kevin Little along the upper stretch of the South River.
You’re about three feet short on your cast, Kevin, and too far to the left,” Tommy Lawhorn said from his perch on a nearby tree. I stood further back upstream trying to see the fish, but Lawhorn’s view was far superior to mine. “I don’t know if I can cast that far,” said Kevin Little as he worked out more line. “Well, I found the fish for you, Kevin,” said Tommy flatly. “Don’t make me come down there and catch him for you, too!” Though I was standing a good distance from Kevin, I could tell he wished he were up on the bank so he could throttle his partner. “I’ll get him, Tommy,” Kevin said confidently, working out more line. “You just keep your eyes open for the fish and save your trash talk for someone else. I can out-fish you any day of the week.”
South River has proven to be one of the most important rivers in the state. It was the first urban trout fishery in Virginia and is home to the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the state’s first TU chapter, which is still active. Nestled in Augusta County between the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, the South River first winds through farmland, then gathers steam from feeder creeks and eventually combines with the North River to form the South Fork of the Shenandoah. The river isn’t large but has plenty of water to hold nice trout and seems to be growing in popularity each season. It will come as no surprise that as an urban trout fishery (it runs right through the middle of downtown Waynesboro), it has seen its share of abuses in years past. Waynesboro old-timers recall that Though a relatively small waterway, the one day the river actually caught fire. Indeed,
take me on a tour of the upper section of the river. I was about to pile on Kevin, too, when he quickly set the hook. “There he is,” he said. “I think he’s small—probably a creek chub. Not much bend in the rod,” he explained. Tommy was about to make another snide comment— no doubt something about Kevin’s bona fides as a champion creek chub angler—when the rod bent deeply a second time. “Wow—now, that’s no creek chub,” Kevin said as he worked the line in. “No, it’s not,” said Tommy. “From here it looks like you have two fish on: a small creek chub and a brown,” Tommy commented as he climbed down from the tree. The smaller fish had fallen for the nymph, and in the end the brown couldn’t resist the struggling baitfish. “Show-off,” said Tommy, drily.
Battles along the South River are nothing new Kevin and Tommy went back and forth like this as Waynesboro itself saw nearby military all afternoon. The two guides are close friends action in the American Civil War. In the spring and co-owners of the South River Fly Shop in of 1865, Union Ma jor General Phil Sheridan Waynesboro, Virginia, and I’d asked them to was on the march from Winchester with 64 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
Kevin Little, co-owner of the South River Fly Shop conduct’s research on his local river whenever possible.
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virginia the South River was once little more than an industrial sewer. At one time Waynesboro residents claimed to be able to tell what color dye the nearby corduroy factory was using on any given day by looking at the frequently changing color of the river water. Happily, environmental laws have changed, and those days are long gone. Still, until recently, when they thought of it at all, most locals thought of the South River as a liability to the area rather than as an asset to enjoy and promote. Thankfully, pollution laws changed and the river improved tremendously as a result. In 1999 things changed even more when a few of the local business leaders decided to put on a fly fishing festival. While it seemed like a crazy idea at the the time, the festival has now grown to be the leading event in ecotourism for the city. Held on the banks of the South River, the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival (VFFF) is the largest outdoor fly-fishing event in the mid-Atlantic and probably the country, drawing thousands of anglers from as far away as Georgia and New York for a weekend of everything fly fishing. Live bluegrass music wafts over the river and the wine-tasting tents while children catch trout from a small pond and then release them into the river. Fly-fishing legend Lefty Kreh is there giving casting tips to novices and experience anglers alike. Countless local, regional, and national fly anglers lecture, provide casting instruction, and even offer on-the-water instruction in angling from personal watercraft like kayaks and canoes. Fly tying as well as spey casting classes are offered. Lest you think this is a male only event, lots of lady anglers participate and festival organizers go out of their way to provide female instructors. This year Temple Fork Outfitter’s pro-staffers Wanda Taylor and Tracey Stroup are offering a “Queens of the Stream Class.” While this may sound like a ladies only event, these classes are offered to anyone who wishes to attend. The class is split into two sections with one group learning health and wellness techniques from Tracey,
virginia while the other group gets spot on casting instruction from Wanda, half way through the class the students switch instructors. Kiki Galvin, a locally known and well respected female guide, is also giving beginner casting classes at no charge. The festival has grown extensively over the years and this year it’s actually moving to a new location, though it’ll still be held downtown. Due
The Rife-Loth Dam was originally built to support a foundry but was recently removed.
to discourage customers from fishing here during the festival. Members also lend a hand in distributing the trout to their new home if they aren’t removed by some lucky child during the weekend festivities. If you want to fish in the rest of the river there’s plenty of room. Upstream
The Rife-Loth Dam was recently removed, ensuring better water flow and cooler temperatures which bodes well for trout in downtown Waynesboro
to bridge work, the festival will be moved out of Constitution Park, and more directly in line with the recently constructed Dominion Pavilion which offers and excellent view of the river. The festival hosts a children’s only trout pond here during the festival which is a big hit with young and old alike. Children catch the trout with the help of volunteers and then walk to the river’s edge and release them into the river. While this is admittedly an event for children, it’s not uncommon to see grown men fishing below where the children release their trout hoping for an easy score. While Kevin and Tommy gladly guide anglers all the South River, they and the members of the Shenandoah Valley Chapter of TU tend
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Angler’s access signs like this are spread out along portions of the South River
in the special regulation area, small white signs indicate angler access points, and maps are provided at angler parking spots. Access points are easy to reach, and each one is different. The “springs” section is in the uppermost part of the river with deep and clear water and significant blowdowns that
act as cover. The next sections, at Shalom Road and Lyndhurst Road, are shallower and offer a much harder bottom to anglers who must fish from pool to pool as river otters and ospreys keep the trout in hiding. Further downstream is the Waynesboro Nursery access point, where anglers can wade downstream to Back Creek where a small plot of private land prevents you from fishing any farther. Anglers can also begin at the Oak Lane access point and fish up to Back Creek. Again, all of this land is private and should be treated with the utmost care. If you see trash, by all means pick it up, and obey all of the “no trespassing” signs you do see. The grade here is pretty flat, so although it’s a good fishery, you won’t find waterfalls and pocket water. A delayed-harvest section for trout exists in town between the Second Street Bridge upstream to the base of what was the Rife Loth Dam, though anglers may have to bushwhack their way through some heavy growth along the banks. Built in 1907 for a foundry, the dam used to cause the river’s water to back up, warming it before it traveled downstream. Recently however a local homeowners association teamed up with VDGIF, and local TUers to remove the dam. This positive action will no doubt cause the river downstream to remain cooler, even during the dog days of summer. Where anglers once caught wary carp or hefty smallies, trout can now be landed if approached correctly. The river is easy to wade in town, and locals are known to sneak out for a quick trout fix on their lunch hour. The rock structures you see, which were paid for in part from money raised from the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival and placed by members of the Shenandoah Valley chapter of TU, provide cover and help to oxygenate the water. On most days you can fish the South River with a 3- to 5-weight rod in the 7 1/2- to 8-foot range. At times, however, a larger, longer rod is helpful—when you’re trying to land carp or largemouth in the lower section near town,
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Top Left - Tommy Lawhorne is willing to do whatever it takes to scout out trout on his local stream Top Right - Tommy Lawhorne holds out his fly box showing some terrestrial patterns he uses to fish the South River Bottom - Catch and release fishing is a crucial part of good fisheries management on the South River. Fallen trees often provide good structure on the upper portions of the South River near Waynesboro Nursery.
for example. I’ve seen some hefty bass and carp in the South River that would turn up a haughty fin at anything less than a 5-weight. Start with a 3X leader in town, but drop down to a 4X or even a 5X when you’re casting to the trout that call the upper reaches home. From October 1 through the following May 31, anglers may use only artificial lures and must release all fish. From June 1 through September 30, general trout regulations are in effect.
If you do decide to tackle the South River this year, allow me to pass on a word of warning. Feel free to climb a tree if you think it’ll give you and edge in spotting fish but don’t dare bet against Kevin Little when he’s on the hunt. Tommy can chide his partner all he Not sure you can catch a lunker, on the South wants but I’ve seen the man pull fish out two River? Don’t bet on it. While the upper section at a time. For more information on and the will have trout that are naturalized, meaning Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival check they are stocked as fingerlings and then grow out www.vaflyfishingfestival.org and to find up to essentially fend for themselves, the out about fishing opportunities on the South lower section in town is stocked sporadically River contact the South River Fly Shop www. by Kevin and Tommy with some real bruisers. southriverflyshop.com (540) 942-5566. Not content to try and out fish each other in the upstream section, these competitive shop Beau Beasley www.beaubeasley.com is an owners have teamed up with the Waynesboro editor at large for Southern Trout and writes Tourism department to stock the river for a wide variety of regional and national downstream in town as well. Folks that visit publications. Known for his thoroughly the store can also get into the act and throw researched articles and even handed a few bucks in a jar on the counter. Once approach, Beau’s made a name for himself enough funds are raised, Kevin and Tommy writing about tough public policy issues swing into action and supplement the local covering everything from baitfish to public fish population. access issues. We are pleased to have him writing in the pages of Southern Trout.
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All Photos by Beau Beasley
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started out playing around with cane poles on a pond as a kid, and for many that was their introduction into fishing. Although it is an ideal method for beginners to learn, it doesn’t take long to discover its limitations. Soon I stepped up to a “bream buster” so I could cover more water. Besides, it telescoped and was way cooler than bamboo. Then came a Zebco 202 on a fiberglass whip, and it was “game on.” Now, here I am an experienced angler of some 35 years since that cane pole, and I’ve come full circle. I am back to a more simplistic way of fishing. Living near Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, I find myself fishing three to five days a week in pristine streams and mountain rivers. I catch my share of trout on a good day, but I get more than my share of curious looks nearly every day. It isn’t often you come up on an angler carrying a 12 foot long fishing rod with no guides and no reel. It just doesn’t add up. “Shouldn’t he have a short rod to fish these streams?” “Where is that guy’s reel?” These people have just encountered their first tenkara angler, a distinctive fly fisherman. The recent introduction of tenkara in the United States as a style of angling is quickly growing in popularity across the South. Tenkara has a long history that offers a simple philosophy and many functional advantages over the western fly tackle. There is a core focus on technique and execution, instead of heavy emphasis on gear and equipment. Here are several common questions and answers that will shed some light on this for you.
feature What is tenkara? It’s fly fishing. It really is as simple as that. It is a method of fly fishing using only a rod, line and a fly. There is no reel. Originating from Japan, tenkara is a centuries old way of fly fishing born in the mountain streams. Professional fishermen carried only sparse provisions with them when they ventured into the wild mountain regions for days or weeks at a time to harvest fish to bring back to the village market. The less gear you carry in, the more fish you can carry home. The original tenkara rods were made of long bamboo and used lines made of horse hair and the flies, known as “kebari,” tied to look like nondescript insects. The long rod provides the means to keep the line off the water, nearly eliminating disturbances in the surface. This is a central point in the tenkara style of fishing that separates it from western methods.
Masters relied on skillful technique in presentation and manipulation of the fly to fill their fish baskets. Do I need special flies? The short answer is “No.” Any fly will do. If you have a fly box full of your favorites, then tie one on and get busy. You’ll quickly see that the tenkara rods will make the most delicate presentations for all of your favorite dry, wet and nymph flies. These rods best
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handle flies sized between 8 and 16 and can lay out a 20 with immense delicacy. There is, however, a special fly that you may have heard about, the kebari. I overheard this at a fly fishing show in Winston-Salem earlier this year: “Have you seen the funky fly used in tenkara? It’s backwards!” That funky fly is tied with reverse hackle coming forward which gives it a distinctive appearance. The reverse hackle allows the fly to move naturally in the water. It comes alive and pulsates in the currents. It dances under water. These flies can be fished in a dead drift or manipulated to swim around in the water column. This goes back to tenkara being about focused on technique and control instead of zipper pouches full of gear. Once you learn how to control your rod and line effectively, you will start catching fish with any fly you use.
Can you land a big fish? Y e s indeed, you can bring in big fish. Although, these rods (whether made of modern materials or their antique predecessors) were not intended to chase and combat large fish. They weren’t designed for fish that make heavy runs or live in environments that allow them to do so. Yet, all across the country, there are anglers pushing the limits of tenkara chasing after big fish. In the mountains of North Carolina, I have landed a rainbow at 22”, a brown at 18” and a fallfish at 16 inches. From the pretty active community of tenkara
anglers that exchange fish stories online, I’ve heard reports of 25” carp and 24” rainbow in Salt Lake City, UT; a 35” northern pike in Saskatchewan; and a 10lb salmon in the United Kingdom. Clearly, tenkara rods are capable of hooking up with the big boys. Now, agreed, there is a big rush of excitement when you snag a monster from the deep, He is the behemoth that stretches your line tight and doubles over your rod as if you were posing for an Ugly Stik advertisement. Is that your everyday fish? For a moment, let’s step away from the idea that all fishermen are chasing big fish. Tenkara, in its simplicity is designed for smaller fish found in the high country rivers and works incredibly well for that. You can get into a stream with a 12’ tenkara rod with a single fly and catch fish all day long. In this past year I caught and released over 200 trout ranging from 6 to 12 inches on a tenkara rod and only a double handful over 14 inches. Remember that tenkara was created to be an efficient fish catching machine and to that end, it does extremely well. Is learning to cast easy? It’s so easy to learn, a child can do it. That is not an exaggeration. All three of my daughters, aged 7, 11, and 18, have spent a little bit of time with a tenkara rod in their hand, and all three of them caught fish within minutes their first time at it. My seven year old hooked a redbreast sunfish on her fourth cast. The general physical mechanics of tenkara are not much different than casting a western fly rod. The casting motion is designed to load the rod with energy in a single motion and you are sending the full length of your line the first cast. Find the control for your presentation, and your cast is complete. You now have a fly landing on the water in the quietest two rings you have ever seen. I have seen people that have never handled a rod before learn to cast in minutes. By the time they have laid out the line ten times, they are starting to get a feel for the weight and flight dynamics of the line. At this point,
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feature they naturally start dialing in their timing for properly loading the rod. A few more practice casts and now they are focusing on turning that fly over in soft manner at the end of the cast. It is a beautiful thing to watch. If there are fish in the water, then chances are you will be catching within minutes. This is a fantastic way to introduce fly fishing to someone new.
but do have different engineered features affecting things like stiffness and flex point. Tenkara lines come in two styles: traditional and level. Traditional lines are reminiscent of the original horse hair lines. They are furled and tapered for effortless casting and are very easy to set up. They are usually near the same length as the rod. Level lines are the other type, often made of fluorocarbon, How do you land the fish without a reel? The offering excellent presentation when casting action of the rod has an enormous flex and greater distances. These level lines can be cut maintains a strong backbone. You simply to length and often are 20-30ft. At the end lift the rod tip up and work toward angling of the line a small section of tippet is used it behind you. This brings the fish right to to connect the line to the fly. Tippet sizes you. If you are fishing with longer lengths of are usually 5X or smaller to help protect the line, then you hand line the fish to your feet delicate tip of the carbon fiber rod. for release or netting. It is very intuitive and easy to master. What do you do with your other hand? I’ll treat this as a bonus question because to me, it is What should I know about the rods and line? a bonus. We have all spent our days fishing with both hands ever since we graduated from that cane pole. Whether you are working the bail on a spinning reel, perfecting your double haul or simply bouncing a piece of corn along the bottom of the stream bed with your fingers
cocked on the reel... you are using both hands. Since a tenkara rod weighs less than 4 ounces, it takes only a subtle wrist action to fully load and cast the rod. You are working the water with only one hand. You will see that it can Modern rods are telescopic, made of carbon be either hand and in time you will begin to fiber and are typically 11’ to 14’ in length. change between them without even noticing. They weigh 3-4 ounces and collapse down Setting that hook is also effortless. Until you to about 20 inches. The rods are all similar, go to land your fish what are you going to do 72 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
with your other hand? You really don’t have anything to do with it. I like to slip it in my pocket and relax. My favorite thing, however, on brisk mornings as the fog is drifting across the waters and the sun breaks over the hills, is holding my coffee with it. That makes a great wake-up.
Tenkara is gaining attention in trout waters from the Rockies to the Poconos, from the Shenandoah Valley to the Great Smoky Mountains. We will see this method of fly fishing continue to grow in popularity for all ages and all levels of angling experience for years to come. It is very easy to pick up the mechanics and start to master them within minutes. The ability to catch fish is incredible. Modern equipment offers technological improvements in materials, portability and durability, but it has not changed the originating philosophy behind the tenkara methods. This simple rod and line system may be just what you need to chase after our southern trout. You may have just found your next big thing.
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bamboo for you Of Bamboo & Flies
bamboo for you
would like to say that my adventure into tying flies was based upon a deep need to exercise the creativity of my sport; that I had visions of beautiful patterns dancing round my mind. It was actually due to an error in judgment. I fooled myself into thinking that it would save me a ton of money. Well, it didn’t save me a cent, but it did give me the chance to create and engage in the natural progression of a passionate fly fishermen. The first fly I tied was while on a weekend trip to the Hiwassee River. I and ten or so other Trout Bum wannabe’s were gathered at a cabin in Reliance Tennessee. The dining table was covered with feathers, fur, and several vices that were being used with a fevered pitch. I watched from a distance as these guys created what writer and angler Thomas McGuane calls “bug puppets.” Whipping out flies of various sizes and shapes, they spoke in the arcane language of some dark art. And the tools that were implements of the craft looked not unlike the instruments of eighteenth century medicine. So, when one of the guys asked me if I tied my own flies, I answered honestly, but with a little fear of being ostracized for my lack of engagement. Then they told me they would teach me, a statement which held little hope in my mind of being even remotely successful. However, when you are a novice, and your teacher is about half the way through a bottle of Tennessee Sipping Whiskey, the playing field tends to level out a bit. In retrospect, the flies I tied looked nothing like they were supposed to, but neither did his. I would like to say that mine were bad because of ignorance, but perhaps his excuse would be the same.
bamboo fly rods, particularly Heddon nine foot five weights. Being desirous of a classic bamboo fly rod with a budget that is focused around keeping four kids in food and clothing is a very disheartening thing because a good bamboo fly rod isn’t cheap. One thing kept jumping out at me as I looked through the bamboo folks were selling online. There were some rods for sale that were fairly cheap. They weren’t Heddons, or Grangers, but they were bamboo. This discovery led me to the conclusion that I could buy a beat up rod and rebuild it.
imitate a deformed Dobson Fly...then I passed with flying colors. The body was thick and taperless, the thorax could have passed for a clown wig. And, the whip finish (after several tries) nearly covered the hook eye completely, but I did it. No pun intended, but I was hooked. The die was cast, and the next week I bought a modest fly tying kit. At the time I thought that everything that I would need to ply my craft was contained within that cardboard box. It even came with a video of Lefty Kregh showing you the most productive patterns. Oh, how naive I was. The better my skills became, the more that I felt like I needed to buy. The Pandora’s Box had been opened.
The first fly I ever tied was supposed to be a Pheasant Tail Nymph. I still carry that fly in one of my many boxes, but have yet to use it. Now move forward If the intent of the Pheasant Tail Nymph is to a few years. My 76 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
fly tying had become something that was second nature. Then, the same buddy who taught me to tie sent me down a path that changed the sport for me forever. We met up one rainy summer morning to fish the Clinch River. After the usual pleasantries, he reached into the cab of his truck and came out with an aluminum rod tube. “This is what you will fish with today,” he said with a sly smile. It was a Heddon, an all American, Blue Collar, bamboo legend. The casting of that rod and the amazing play of the first trout hooked completely changed the way I would view fly fishing forever. I was not only enthralled, I was amazed.
The first bamboo rod I bought was an old Montegue that I picked up for next to nothing. When it came in the mail, and I took a look at all its issues, I was somewhat discouraged. The guides were beat up with some missing altogether, the finish was chipped in spots, and the tip top had vanished at some point, so this thing was a mess. Another trip online found me searching for any resources available on rod restoration--and there were plenty. After printing off several tutorials on wrapping and refinishing, I laid down more money for the varnish, silk thread, and new guides. I still have that old rod and it humors me when I think about the fact that I spent more on the materials to restore the rod than I spent on buying the rod itself. It was far from perfect when I finished, but it was functional, which is really all you need.
From that first restore, I started buying the worn and wounded bamboo at an alarming rate, and with each restoration, my skills improved to the point that I began buying new blanks and putting everything together My friend gave me the new. Most of the blanks I bought came from a rod which was nothing rod builder in England. He would put some on short of a blessing, sale or “for offer” as he called it, and I would but as it is with most snatch them up. The price was much more passions, I had to than my learning bamboo, but the end result have another. I began was a new bamboo. I was working part time searching eBay for at a local fly shop at the time and through www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 77
bamboo for you
a casual conversation with a customer, I wound up selling one of my rods. Anytime your passion turns a dollar your way you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to be doing it for a long time.
perhaps in the grand scheme of things, it is good that I don’t entertain these notions. To go from doing it because I love it and love the look on someone’s face the first time they cast a rod I have built, to doing it because I have to is something that I, by choice, will For the past five years I have been building leave alone. Passion, when met with creativity my own rods and on average I will produce and craft, has their own reward, and I am okay five or six in a twelve month period. Some with that. I sell enough new rods, and repair are for customers, some are for me, but all of enough old ones to bring in some fishing them are a real pleasure. Just like with tying money and I have the satisfaction of knowing flies, building a rod that is a functional tool that perhaps someone gleaned a little joy out for your sport is an amazing thing. The first of something I have done with my hands. time that I caught a trout on a fly I tied, with a rod I built, the whole gamut of the angling experience took on a whole new shine. To sit at the vice and whip out a multitude of flies that are a hundred times more than you will use in a year’s time, or to build a bamboo rod just because I enjoy the process is nothing short of love, pure and simple. I don’t have the desire to tie flies commercially, and I do not kid myself into ever thinking that I could build rods full-time as a career. But, 78 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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o doubt if you’ve been into 3 Rivers Angler and asked my advice on flies, particularly streamers, then you’ve probably heard my shtick about the wiggle minnow (http://www. hatchesmagazine.com/page/month/331). To say I’m a disciple of the wiggle is a bit of an understatement. If given the choice, it’s the first fly I tie on my line simply because it works.
early Monday morning and d r o p p e d nearly an inch and a half of rain on the area. Fishing on the leading edge of a front on a favorable flow The real appeal of the wiggle on a sink-tip just doesn’t line is its ability to do a lot of different things happen for me well. For starters, due to its buoyancy, it’s often enough obviously a lot less likely to get hung up if anymore. for some reason your cast goes unattended for any given length of time. This same trait With the flow gives a sinking-line angler the ability to slide cut back at it over and around structures in the water noon, we managed simply by slowing or stopping their retrieve. to get the drift boat
When in doubt…
feature in the water at Peach orchard around one or so. Just after we shoved off from the boat ramp, we ran into two jon boats with friends who had the same thing in mind. They hadn’t had much success when we caught up to them, but they also hadn’t been on the water for very
long. I’m pretty sure we were all just happy to get out and about, and I really just wanted to play with several new toys from the shop; fishing was the icing on the cake. With that in mind I rigged the shop’s demo Sage 691-4 ONE rod with a SA streamer express 200 grain sinking line and the Sage 890-4 Xi3 with an SA 250 grain streamer express. When it was my turn at the bow of the boat, I pulled a pink wiggle minnow out of my box and started slinging it with the 6 weight rod. While I certainly didn’t break any records on Sunday, I did catch five or six fish in the slot and what’s more had several nice fish follow and one big boy that came unbuttoned, all on a hot pink wiggle minnow. Get one out of your box and see what it will do. Better yet, stop by the shop and I’ll show you what you need to tie them up.
Plus, once you stop the wiggle in order for the fly to ascend a bit and clear the log, ledge, rock, whatever, the wiggle keeps doing its thing and wiggles on the float back up. If you’ve ever thrown streamers on the Clinch, then you know this trait is highly desirable and relatively hard to find. And with a good oarsman to slow your drift, you can also make the wiggle swim downstream along the bank, ledge, log, or whatever structure you feel confident holds fish. Since TVA decided to cut the flow back on the Clinch from two or more generators to one between noon and six on Sunday, I saw an opportunity to get out and fish a bit. For my money, this is actually one of the better flows to chuck big junk for trophy trout the Clinch. Falling water, particularly on our local tailwaters, nearly always triggers a bite and I constantly seek it out irrespective of what species I’m chasing. It probably didn’t hurt that Sunday found the valley enveloped in a large low pressure system that finally broke 80 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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feature Pushing the Hook
feature Paul Weidknecht bankside branch to be sure, I thought. The water must have numbed my legs because it took several seconds before I felt the Muddler sticking from my right calf. I reached down to pluck it out, but the hook didn’t move, not even a little, and with the barb firmly dug in, a sudden feeling of chastisement fell upon me for failing to mash down the barb when I’d tied it. Once again I tried. Pain. I snapped the tippet and started to think.
n truth, I’d always viewed getting impaled with a hook as a move of the careless. I understand there are exceptions, however, it just seemed you weren’t paying enough attention if you ended up with a piece of metal in your body against your will. But I feel differently now, because after 40 years of fly-fishing, I finally put a hook through myself. Not just into myself, but through. And it wasn’t half bad.
lost a size 22 hook on the floor, later to find it buried in the tip of his big toe. Somehow the hook had wormed its way under his skin, becoming unreachable in the process. He eventually went off to the emergency room. I might stand solo on this one, but I think you have to consider getting rid of the toe in the privacy of your own home before fessing up to that one in front of a group of people who treat folks in car wrecks and knife fights.
Now I’m not saying mine was the best—I remember watching John C. Reilly take an 8/0 offset J-hook through the hand in The Perfect Storm—but it was still pretty good considering some other hookings I’ve come to know. My guess is most other trout anglers run afoul of 16s, 14s, even 12s, but mine was a size 10 2X streamer hook, not too shabby for the freshwater scene. Years ago on a trout forum I used to frequent, a poster described how he’d
So dusk had arrived and I was wrapping up a short wet-wade of a western North Carolina trout stream. Flanked by a crush of rhododendron, I decided to rollcast my Muddler Minnow to avoid a hang up (you don’t just shake loose a fly from rhodo, you perform surgery to free it). The cast rolled, halfway, and I shook my head. The yellow flyline lay interrupted, scribbled across the water ten feet in front of me. Caught on a
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But skin is tough, and trust me, purposely pushing a hook through it is an unnatural act. After several moments of pushing, the tiny peak of skin rising under the point finally gave way. I walked back to the car in the dark with the streamer in my leg, a twenty-first century fashion statement way more original than some lame eyebrow bolt.
In the parking lot, I cut the fly off with needle nose pliers and squeezed an alcohol pad into the two holes while another helpful angler held the flashlight. Family entreaties coupled with my own Internet re s e a rc h - f u e l e d hypochondriasis on the complications of My recollection of line drawings from the days tetanus drove me to the local doc-in-a-box of First Aid merit badge had not faded: Push the next morning for a $45 shot. So I’m good the hook all the way through the skin until the for another ten years or so. For diphtheria, barb appears, cut it off just behind the barb, too. But if something like this happens again, and back out the hook. I’ll skip writing about it—people might think I’m beginning to get careless.
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The Sipsey Fork--It’s a Great Place to Start--Trout Fishing, That Is The Stream Itself For anglers who are not presently “trout people,” the Sipsey Fork is a great place to literally get your feet wet in the trout fishing game. The river is close to a number of population centers in Alabama and the deep South, and the travel to the river is easy and not physically strenuous. A big bonus for beginning trout anglers is that the trout in the Sipsey Fork are active year-round, and they generally respond to a side range of fishing techniques. It is very possible on the Sipsey Fork to start out bait fishing, move to ultralight spinning gear, and finally wind up as a full-blown fly angler, all in a short span of time and on a short run of river.
hen most of us think of Alabama’s great freshwater fishing, we think first of largemouth bass. Then we might think of crappie and other warm water species. Many of us are not aware of a kind of fish and fishing in Alabama which is more typical of our neighbors to the far north-rainbow trout. However, in a certain special place, Alabama has its own trout stream, and some mighty fine trout fishing. Let’s look at the Sipsey Fork.
toward the activity, and everything worked out the way it was supposed to. My indicator twitched once, and the fly line straightened out as a fish took. After a short but spirited fight with a couple of nice jumps, I worked my fish to me.
I have always loved the appearance of rainbow trout, and this fish was no different. The faint pink glow along its sides and the black, black spots on its sides were just beautiful. I admired the little game fish for just a second A fish rose to a tiny little bug which I couldn’t before lowering it to the water and watching even see. A ring showed where the fish had it jet off back into the deeper water. fed only about thirty feet away from where I stood, knee deep in the cold, clear water. I took in the quiet surroundings around meAnother fish rose, and another fish behind the tall trees, the quietly flowing clear water, that one. I began my backcast, and for once, and the forest birds celebrating the morning. I dropped my fly just upstream of the feeding This is classic trout fishing, and this is the fish. My fly drifted slowly downstream Sipsey Fork of Alabama. 86 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
The Sipsey Fork is a traditional southern tailwater trout stream. The trout portion of the river extends 50 miles downstream from the Smith Dam site, so anglers have a lot of water to work. Trout are stocked about every sixty days or so by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and most stockers are eight to ten inches long, so they are catchable size from the beginning of their lives in the stream. Not all of the trout are little ones, though. Brandon Johnson, a very helpful and informative fellow who runs Riverside Outfitters and Fly Shop which is right on the Sipsey Fork, tells me that five-pound and bigger trout are caught every year, so the fish are thriving.
For those of us who are used to the standard Alabama water and temperatures, the Sipsey will come as a shock. This water is cold! That’s why trout can live in it. When the water is released from the bottom of deep, deep Smith Lake at the dam site, it is very cold. Anglers need to keep this is mind. To wade the Sipsey requires insulated waders. Also, a bit of warning is in place here. The banks of the Sipsey are extremely slick, so be careful when walking to the water. It’s no fun to “bounce” your way down to the stream; I’ve done that, and it hurts. The Sipsey Fork is a grand stream for smallcraft floating. Drift slowly, and work the deeper, darker water with sinking flies or lures for the best shot at bigger fish. There are many good pull-offs along the access road which comes off Hwy 69 just before the bridge crossing the river. Anglers should drive up the access road to the pumping station which is a good place to start a float or wade trip. Now, anglers must be careful of one element of the Sipsey Fork. It is subject to power generation at the dam site, and water levels can fluctuate greatly in a short period of time. If you are fishing and hear a loud tornado-type warning siren, start heading for the bank- some water is coming. The Fishing for Rainbows The main change most non-trout anglers will need to make when fishing for rainbows is to downsize the gear. Brandon Johnson from Riverside says,” For spinning equipment, a 5’6’’
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feature Fly fishing is the classic and traditional way to catch trout, and it works very well at the Sipsey Fork. Brandon Johnson says, “A 3-4 weight rod is preferred. We don’t have heavy winds here, and the flies aren’t any bigger than a 3 weight can handle. A nine foot long rod is best. We have open casting areas, and the longer rod provides for longer casts.” For the best results on artificial fly selection, Brandon recommends the following bugs. He says, “Wooly Buggers will work in white, brown and dark green- sizes 8-12. Nymphs are great. Pheasant to 6’6” ultralight rod with two to four pound tails, copper Johns, and zebra midges along line is good.” Lures need to be small. Single hook Roostertail spinners are very effective, with Ergy’s gold, Allison’s flashers and Griffith’s as are very small-1/32 oz- dark colored jigs in gnats are good choices. Terrestrial formshoppers, ants, beetles- come and go.” the deeper holes. The best advice for beginning trout anglers according to Brandon Johnson is, “Get a guided trip. If not, plan on making a couple of trips to figure out the fishing here. Don’t give up after an hour or two on the water. Look for rising fish to make sure you are fishing where the fish are. It’s different than other fisheries, so many tactics and tricks that work on other waters won’t translate completely here, allowing for some great new experiences. Stop by the fly shop for up to date information on flies and patterns. Also, we teach casting and fly-tying.”
So, why Not Give This Fly Fishing Thing a Try? The Sipsey Fork is the perfect stream for anglers who want to expand their fishing horizons just a little bit. With a minimal investment, anglers can get the right equipment, and then they can spend a little cold-water time casting to the finned rainbows of the Deep South. When that first rainbow trout strike and comes to the net, it might just be a life-changing occasion. Important Information To contact the Riverside Fly Shop: 256-287-9582 Alabama does not require a special trout stamp or license. The regular fishing license entitles anglers to catch and keep the daily limit of five trout.
Spinning gear anglers can also use baits such as Berkley Power Eggs and salmon eggs on size 10-16 single hooks. Live bait works, but the trout almost always take live bait too deep to allow safe release, so the artificial stuff is preferred.
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Early Spring in the Smokies Greg Ward
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ne of the most beautiful sights in Appalachia are snow drifts lining the streams in the higher elevations of the Smokies. Small slivers of water snaking through a solid white landscape are a photographer’s dream shot. You know it’s a big snow when it’s accumulated beneath the rhododendron.
Black Caddis and Adams. I like size 20 and 18, again on a very light leader. Make sure you fish midday to the afternoon—between 2:00 and 3:00. You may get a bite.
Late winter is a great time to clean and organize your equipment. Taking the time to clean line, reels, rods, and straighten up fly boxes, leader, tippit and vests is time Catching fish at this time of the year is difficult well spent. Spending late winter preparing at best, but not impossible. Taking pictures of equipment will pay off big time once the early the snow-covered scenery might be a better spring rains trigger truly great fishing in the use of your time! I have been skunked many Smokies. times with excited writers and photographers at my side eager to get the perfect shot of A warm rain followed by three days of a brookie in the snow. If you’re determined, warm weather is all it takes to change your try tiny Black Midges on a light leader. Use luck on wild trout. A quick change in water a size 28 through 18 black or brown thread temperature will snap trout from their dormant midge nymph pattern. A single white tip of state although extended warming will truly calf body hair tied with a little bulk at the eye break the ice. Late February and early March works for me. Dry fly-fishermen could get a are some of my favorite times to fly-fish bite using small Blue Winged Olives or little the mountains. There is nothing better than 90 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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feature Early spring is a perfect time to visit the waters of the Great Smoky Mountains. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg no longer close for winter. Rates are reasonable and almost everything is open year-round. You can bring the family and have a blast with no traffic to battle. Your favorite picnic area in Cades Cove or the Chimneys is available, and there are no lines are your favorite restaurant or the grocery store. The wild trout in the Smokies have magically reappeared from their winter hideouts and are chasing Mayflies, Caddis, Stoneflies, and Midges throughout the waters of Southern Appalachia.
watching trout dart about in gin-clear water that only a month earlier looked as if life did not exist. Tiny green leaves, trying their best to burst out of every branch overhanging the water, give a slight bit of color to the dullness of winter. Every day brings new growth from the ground up to the top of the canopy changing the scenery overnight. Little Black Caddis and Stoneflies are quite common in late February quickly followed by huge March Browns. Hatches can be delayed or advanced by a couple of weeks due to the weather. 2012 was a month ahead the entire spring and summer. I am predicting a colder and longer winter for 2013 simply based on the aches and pains in my legs—mainly my bum knees. An abnormally warm winter is usually followed by a colder winter the following year by my books.
Once the Black Caddis and March Browns are hatching, I have experienced some of the best days fishing the National Park. Crowds are nonexistent and nice sized trout are feeding. I still like midday to the afternoon best. The fish are as rusty as I am and miss the fly as much as I miss the bite. Watching a nice 15” to 16” brown rise to a #10 March Brown gets my heart pumping fast. A quick lift of my rod tip to drive the hook home often sticks in a limb above the water as the fish misses the fly. A couple of weeks later the fish and I are in sync and we rarely miss one another’s offering. Nymph fishermen should size up from the small Midge patterns to size 16 and 14 Pheasant Tails and Prince Nymphs.
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situational fly fishing in the great smoky mountains
hen trout get selective on top water activity, like that created by some species of mayflies, it’s quite obvious what they are feeding on. Living on a fairly large and healthy trout stream, I’ve observed thousands of yellow mayflies swarming around causing the water to boil with aggressively feeding trout. During these massive hatches, I will leave a fly rod rigged up with a couple of dry mayfly imitations and about an hour before dark, walk out to the creek for a little action. I catch fish after fish and sometimes two at a time until dark. It’s crazy fun while these hatches are active. During the spring, summer, and fall months, you can normally catch a few trout throughout the day on dry flies, but your most productive dry fly fishing will be right before dark. It’s ironic that most fishermen leave the creek before this feeding are just instinctivel y ritual begins. s m a r t and lazy; they are When trout are feeding selectively under programmed to use the least the surface it can be very challenging at amount of effort to get the most times to figure out what they are feeding calories. It’s easier for them to on. When a food source gets abundant in the lay behind a rock and look for stream, trout are programmed to focus on the the sure thing then it is to chase features of that food source, in the form of something down just to find out shape, size, and color. There has been a lot of its not a protein yielding food speculation on which one of these are most source. What’s important is important in luring a trout to strike. I say that we know that they do get speculate because no one really knows what selective. trout are thinking. I do know that if trout are in the selective mode and you can match all One day at the end of May in 2010 of these characteristics fairly close, then you as I drove to one of my favorite will have a very good day of fishing. If the and most productive fisheries color, size, or shape is a little off you can still in the Great Smoky Mountain catch lots of fish. If there is one trait of the National Park, I was in that “deep food source that seems to be the trigger, then study” about my last trip there and you can accentuate that somewhat in your fly what flies I had been successful with. pattern to produce even more strikes. Keep They had been taking all the normal in mind that if there is not an abundance of a Bead Head Princes’, Pheasant Tails, and Whatever offerings certain food source, trout will more likely be Secret Weapons. opportunistic feeders. When this occurs you worked last time, you tend to bring to the will normally catch less fish, because trout will front of the fly box. That was the plan, but as I fished through my nymph box for three tend to feed on different food sources. to four hours and only had netted maybe one There is also a lot of speculation as to why trout per hour, I was stumped, so I sat down on trout get selective. I think it’s because trout a stump to have a lunch break and just enjoy
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the scenery. Then I noticed an inch worm on my vest. Hello! As I rummaged through my fly boxes I was wondering if it was too early for inch worms, but it was worth a try. I found a few old used and mashed up inchworms, revived one the best I could and tied it on the bottom of my two nymph rig. I
Boom! There it is. I caught fish out of the next three runs so I decided to put on two inchworms. The very first cast with the two inchworms produced two beautifully colored wild rainbow in the 10 inch range. I had about two hours left in my stretch of creek to fish and I was amazed at how the trout were taking them so aggressively. Sometimes even after missing a trout, they would come after it again. I was in hog heaven. Surely a result of selective feeding. Had I not seen the inchworm, it could have been just another slow day of fishing. The next day I went to the fly shop and bought three or four rolls of chartreuse chenille, a pack of chartreuse furry foam, went home and sequestered myself to my fly tying studio. I tied inchworms in all shades, sizes, with and wi th ou t b e a d heads. The very next day I was at the same fishery e a r l y, but at a
Selective Feeding Trout
different stretch of creek. The trout were still feeding very aggressively on inchworms. I fished a two inchworm rig all day and caught trout even up to the 18 inch range. It was one of my best days of fishing ever, thanks to “Selective Feeding.”
wolfed down the rest of my lunch and made my way to the next run in the creek.
From May until October, in the Great Smoky Mountain streams when trout get really selective under the surface. It’s caused by the inchworm or something that looks like an inchworm pattern. There will be various larvae that develop around the creeks off and on from spring through fall that will fit the inchworm pattern and cause a “selective
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situational fly fishing in the great smoky mountains
feeding” mode. If trout won’t take the usual stuff after an hour or so, I will always try an inch worm pattern. During the summer I’ve also seen trout get somewhat selective on other terrestrials such as beetles, grasshoppers, and even tent worms in certain stretches of creek, but nothing compares with the inchworm pattern.
rains. After a warm rain that brings out red worms crawling on your patio or drive way you should be packing some San Juan worm and Squirmie worm patterns. When trout get a taste for red worms after a little warm rain a good worm pattern could very well save the day. Fish Responsibly.
During the winter months trout will get selective on Cased Caddis larvae and sometimes large Brown Stones. This is probably because it’s about the only food source available unless it
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No Hassle Hackle Guard
If you whine, complain, moan and groan every time you finish a fly pattern that ends with a hackle tie off, or fumble around with the old metal hackle guard that just leaves you with a mess, then this is a must read for you. I spent many hours on the vise that resulted in some incredibly goobered up fly heads, until I decided there had to be a better way. One such frustrating event lead me to pick up an old pair of waders, cut out the neoprene booty, car ved out a small circle, punched a hole in it, slid it down my bobbin. Then, when I was ready to finish the fly head, I pulled it up over the hackle to hold it out of the way. It worked like a charm! Hereâ€™s how you do it.
Make sure your neoprene hackle guard is on your bobbin and pull the thread through. Once you finish your fly and your hackle is tied in and wrapped, you are ready to finish the fly head. While holding your hackle pliers up, make 2 or 3 turns of thread behind the tag end of the hackle and let the bobbin hang. Hold your hackle pliers up and trim off the tag end of the hackle.
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Hold the bobbin by pulling it down slightly and then slide your hackle guard up over the eye of the hook and over the hackle far enough to finish off the fly head. Whip finish or half hitch, and slide your hackle guard off. A little head cement and there you have it. Perfect hackle every time! For best results in making your neoprene hackle guards, use a grommet set to cut out a dozen or so at a time. Heat up a bodkin or small wire to make your holes so that it will cauterize any loose fibers. Fish Responsibly. 102 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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y fly line stretched out above the smooth water, propelling the nymph on the end of the leader downstream and across the current from my casting position. The weighed fly plopped into the moving water and began its arcing course across the flow. As it dipped over a mild riffle to drop into a hole gouged out of the sand and gravel bottom, I felt the unmistakable thump of a strike, followed by the animated pressure of a fish on the line.
Prince Nymph: A Fly For All Georgia Seasons
Soon I was releasing a colorful rainbow trout of 10 inches. The action was taking place on the Devil’s Race Course Shoals of the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta. But, it could have been virtually anywhere in the state that trout live. And, the episode is further cemented by belief that a Beadhead Prince Nymph just may be the most versatile and productive fly pattern that can be thrown into Peach State waters. High-sticking a Prince Nymph through the Devil’s Race From the Chattooga River on Course Shoals on the Chattahoochee River in metro Atlanta. the South Carolina border to the wilderness streams of calm water, or “high-sticked” on a tight line the Cohutta Mountains in the northwest, the Prince has performed royally through riffle areas. In deeper runs it is used as a trout attractor. Whether tossed into as a dropper behind weighted streamers, ma jor tailwater rivers, mountain streams full and it is effective when stripped through lake of stocked fish, or tiny rivulets teeming with waters as well. In all of these locations and wild rainbow or brook trout, it is a pattern situations it is a proven producer of trout. that consistently leads to tight lines. One situation in which this fly has quite often proven its worth is during hatches on Fishing the Prince The Prince also lends itself to a number of tailwaters, when the trout are very finicky presentations. It can be fished in the classic about surface presentations. On both the wet fly fashion as I employed it on the Hooch, Chattahoochee and Toccoa River tailwaters quartering downstream and across the I’ve encountered days when the trout are current. It can be dead-drifted under a strike taking very tiny midges from the surface, but indicator, used as dropper under a dry fly in ignored flies of similar colors as small as No. 108 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
26. But, when I gave up on trying to match the hatch and switched to a Beadhead Prince, they readily attacked the fly on the swing through their feeding lanes.
What’s In A Name? When I first discovered the Beadhead Prince, its peacock herl body, white wings and red thread reminded me of the basic color scheme of a Royal Coachman or Wulff. I assumed it gained its name from being not quite as royally dressed as those venerable dry flies, thus it was only a prince. As with many of my assumptions, I was dead wrong.
georgia Jimmy Jacobs
Similarly, trout are not just being brave when they eat something. With millions of evolutionary years through which to hone their eyes and appetites, trout must think the Prince resembles something they see and eat quite often. Whatever it is, it must also be plentiful and widespread, judging from the variety of places that this fly catches fish.
One person who shed some light on the subject in a conversation a few years ago was Don Pfitzer of Lithonia. Pfitzer was trained as an entomologist and worked with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency beginning in the late 1940s. He surveyed trout populations and The Prince Nymph was The Beadhead Prince Nymph produces fish evaluated many of the streams of the originated by a pair from all types of trout water in Georgia. Southeast during the of Bemidji, Minnesota restoration of southern brothers name Don and Dick Olson and was called the Brown Fork Tail. trout waters during that period. Prior to Later it was championed on western streams his retirement, he also was an assistant by Doug Prince of Monterey, California, to director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the extent that it became his namesake. The in the Southeast. Among his other relevant beadhead was a later edition to the original qualifications, Don is also a skilled fly tier and astute trout angler. pattern. Though it is called a nymph, the Beadhead Prince bears scant resemblance to any aquatic critter found anywhere in Georgia streams. So the question is why do trout seem so fond of trying to eat it? Country comedian and motivational speaker Andy Andrews points out that the bravest man in history was the first guy to eat an egg. Can you imagine that innovator turning to his buddy and saying, “I’m going to eat the next thing that comes out that chicken’s butt.”
“The Prince Nymph, in my opinion, doesn’t look like any honest to goodness aquatic nymph,” Pfitzer noted. “There’s no question in my mind that it imitates one of the larger ant types. It’s not necessarily the black ant. There are a lot of brown ants the same size--big carpenter-type ants. In the mountains they are quite common.” During presentations to fishing clubs and other groups, Don often shows images of the contents of trout stomachs. Invariably, as
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te Sta ! i r T ion Reg
Georgia -- Tennesssee -- North Carolina
Trout -- Bass -- Striped Bass -- Panfish
! ing ! h s i g F Fly- Fishin n Spi
A brown trout that fell for a Prince Nymph swung across the current. much as 60 to 80 percent of that biomass is composed of flying or crawling ants. The crawling varieties are very available to trout because the insects build their colonies under rocks or in the dirt near streams. When it rains, the rising water simply washes them into the creek and rivers. Other winged and crawling ants are undoubtedly blown off of streamside vegetation as well.
Even the shape of the Prince supports Pfitzer’s observations.
time,” Pfitzer explained. “They are just as apt to be washed into streams in the wintertime as they are in the summer, if they are away from their colony. They are just not out as much in the wintertime when it gets real cold.” That availability would explain why the Prince Nymph is just as effective on winter tailwater streams, as it is on a variety of waters in the warmer months.
“The beadhead is an attractor. Of course, an ant has a big head. It (the Prince) just looks like an ant,” he mused, but also went on to add, “I don’t think it was originally tied to be an ant.” Though the availability of ants is generally considered a warm weather phenomenon, lasting from March to October in Georgia, trout may be on the lookout for them year round. “The carpenter ants are there all the 110 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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FOR THE READERS SOUTHERN TROUT MAGAZINE
“My choice for fly fishing the Clinch is the 580G Lens” - C.S. Madison (STM Contributor)
ANY PAIR OF COSTA DEL MA R SUNGLASSES
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virginia Mayflies of the Shenandoah Harry Murray be observant of what is going on about you when you are on the streams. For example, you see several trout sipping cream colored natural flies from the stream’s surface. You attach a size 14 Light Cahill dry fly to your leader and have fantastic fishing all day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. It was the system used by my tutor in these mountains many years ago, and since Jack Sperry probably caught more trout here than any other angler ever has or ever will, I know the system works. Jack always said, “If you want to be consistently successful in catching trout in the Park, try to duplicate what Nature is doing.”
s a prospective trout angler in the Shenandoah National Park, it is important to have an understanding of the various foods upon which these trout feed? Well, yes and no; there are three ways to approach this. If you are not interested in the many natural trout foods, and figure your persuasive powers with a fly rod are greater than the trout’s will to resist your offerings, you need not delve deeply into the matter. The same fly your brother did well with in Montana, or the one the neighbor’s son took all those bluegills on last summer, might do the job on the Park’s brook trout. Strangely enough, this casual approach often works; a problem arises, however, when an artificial fly, selected in this manner, fails to catch trout.
readily accepted by the trout, it is very difficult to know which fly to use when it fails. In most cases, anglers who accept this approach simply go through a trial and error process to find a fly the trout will take. Unfortunately, by the time they have gone through their entire fly box and found the fly which works, it is about time to call it a day. And, worst of all, they do not really know why the last fly was accepted by the trout, so they are unable to draw on this day’s valuable lesson for future situations. There was a reason the trout accepted the first fly and, quite obviously, they later had a preference for the last fly, but do you know why? Most probably, your analysis of situations like this will directly affect your success on future trips.
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catch a wise old brookie if you put it in their boot. The textbook study must be combined with actual stream and food evaluations to be meaningful.
For example, reading how the March Brown Nymphs move to the sides of the Horse Brook Run section of the Beaverkill in New York may actually confuse you here in the Park. That section of the Beaverkill is about two hundred feet long; few pools in the Shenandoah National Park streams are twenty feet long. Where should I look in these small streams to locate these nymphs? How far will the trout pull out to feed on them? When do I look for them, and most of all, how do I fish The factor with the odds on Jack’s side with his this situation? Keen stream observations will approach was that he was always extremely answer these questions, but I will also cover observant and seldom missed a thing. This, this in the following pages. plus the fact that he had a half-century of angling experience in these mountains, A brief look at the life cycles of the ma jor enabled him to take trout under almost any aquatic insects in the Park is helpful in condition. By being keenly aware of what is understanding how the trout feed upon them. happening on the stream and carefully linking Evaluating how the various insect stages alter this with previous experiences under similar this is not confusing, since the ma jority of this conditions, you can be quite successful in food source is represented by a relatively your fishing. small number of flies. For example, only six different mayflies represent approximately The degree of your success will depend upon 80 percent of the food load of this popular fly the keenness of your observations and the in the Park streams. And, the significant caddis validity of your analysis. The third approach flies and stoneflies have fewer numbers than to the trout food in the Park is based on the mayflies. actually utilizing the information gained in the last system (observation) and blending Since most anglers on these streams are this with some careful studying. Don’t run concerned primarily with the mayflies, a away; I am not implying that you need four look at their life cycles may be helpful. After years of entomology and three years of Latin spending almost a full year on a stream to catch trout in the Park. bottom, the nymph prepares to leave the stream as the dun (subimago). This may be The mere suggestion of this has deprived done by either swimming on the surface in many would-be trout anglers of a lifetime of the nymph form, or, as in the case of the Quill joy. This stage is not required and, in some Gordon, by popping his wings on the stream cases, is not even desired. Some fishermen bottom and swimming to the surface. Once are extremely well versed in textbook the surface is reached, the fly rids himself entomology and ichthyology, and yet couldn’t of the nymph case and rides along on top
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virginia of the water, while drying his wings. At this point many of the duns fly from the stream to the foliage on the banks. Some, however, flop and skate long until they reach the bank, whereupon they rest and completely dry their wings; then these flies also head for the foliage. One or two days is spent here, depending on the specific fly. During this stage the dun sheds his dull attire and becomes the completed adult spinner (imago) capable of reproducing. The spinners fly back over to the stream where they meet to perform the impressive “mayfly dances.” After mating here, the females deposit the eggs into the stream and shortly thereafter die. The males die soon thereafter, and both fall to the stream surface as the spent spinner. The eggs settle to the stream bottom where they become securely attached. After maturing, the nymph emerges and grows, with many moltings, until approximately one year later when the he emerges as a dun and the cycle starts again. The caddis flies and stoneflies have similar cycles, and each has its own characteristics. Some caddis flies live for several weeks in the adult form, present an extended feeding period for the trout. The Giant Stonefly nymphs are in the streams for several years before hatching, so trout always have a variety of sizes to these to feed on. My stream notes show that the dates of the emergence of these insects vary considerably from year to year. Some theories suggest this is influenced primarily by the amount of light reaching the stream, but this has not been my observation. I find that the water temperature is the primary physical factor influencing the time of emergence of the Park’s aquatic insects. Once the stream’s water temperatures reach 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit the flies start hatching. It is not at all unusual to have Quill Gordons, Blue Quills and March Browns all on the water at the same time.
Mayflies The following, unless otherwise specified, is compiled from notes of my experiences in the Park over the last twenty-eight years. The dates of the emergences of various aquatic insects are averages. Only food forms which are found in significant quantities in a number of Park streams will be covered, unless otherwise noted. For example, the much-loved Green Drake is not present on all streams, and even where he is found, his numbers are not great. Most trout in the Park live their entire lives without ever seeing a Green Drake. When I started fishing the Park in 1960, there was no dependable information on the identification and distribution of aquatic insects in these streams. At the encouragement of many anglers, and, with invaluable assistance of Art Flick, the ma jor hatches were identified. The texts used for this are by Dr. Barnard Burks and Dr. Donald DuBois. The distribution study is still ongoing, not so much to determine which insects are located in specific streams, since I have been doing this for so long, but to observe the influences of various biological and physical factors upon aquatic insect population densities. I have found this information quite useful in anticipating the growth, and thus the potential sizes, of specific age classes of trout on certain streams. Factors such as drought, streambed scouring, adverse climatic conditions, and excessively full streams at the time of egg deposit, all can have an adverse effect upon insect population densities. Throughout this discussion I will use the popular names known by anglers for specific insects and minnows, although, where I feel it is of value I will provide the scientific names. This article is taken from the chapter on Trout Foods in Harry Murray’s Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park which is available at Murry’s Fly Shop (www.murraysflyshop. com)
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Major Mayfly Hatches In The Shenandoah National Park Dark Blue Quill
Light Cahill Dun
Insect Pattern Epeorus pleuralis Paraleptophlebia adaptive Stenonema vicarium Stenonema fuscum
Month(s) March early April March April April early May April May
Anglers Name Quill Gordon Dark Blue Quill March Brown Grey Fox Light Cahill Grey Yellow N.H.16 Sulphur Fox
Dry Fly Quill Gordon 12, 14 Mr. Rapidan 12, 14 Blue Quill 16, 18
Nymph Quill Gordon 12, 14 Mr. Rapidan 12, 14 Blue Quill 16
March Brown 12, 14 Mr. Rapidan 12,14 Grey Fox 14 Ginger Quill 14
March Brown 12, 14 March Brown 12, 14 Grey Fox 14 March Brown 14
Light Cahill 14
Light Cahill 14
Sulphur 16,18 Grey Yellow N.H.16,18
Sulphur 16,18 Phesant Tail 16,18
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he public address announcer might begin “in this corner weighing in at…is hard charging “Smokin’ Joe Bruiser Brown” and in this corner is “Muhammad…dances-like-a-butterfly Royal Rainbow.” Should we have a preference for of catching these magnificent trout? They certainly compete in our waterways, and the brown, which is more predacious than the rainbow and more tolerant of habitat disturbances, is winning the fight. Is one of these trout a better fighter after being hooked? Do we think of one more beautiful than the other? It’s something to think about. Maybe even argue about. Europeans would probably consider their native brown trout more appropriate royalty. North Americans likely think our native brook, cutthroat, and rainbow are more colorful. But of all the species we are blessed to enjoy in North America, the brown and rainbow are by far the most plentiful.
For every trout that swims in our continent, I suspect well over seventy percent are either brown or rainbow. At 83, I no longer plunge ahead with a fly rod and flail the water desirous of catching every trout in a run. I’ve slowed a bit in my old age. I pause now and then these days. While paused, I may look away to take in the scenery. I’ve been rewarded at the sight of a chocolate brown mink scampering over streamside rocks or a graceful deer bounding away in the distance. Sometimes I let my mind ponder some facet of fly fishing that intrigues me. A few years ago, I began to think about the more common trout species that I’ve been fortunate to bring to
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hand. Once while paused to reflect a bit on species’ differences and my personal opinion, I decided that I do have a preference. I’ve chased trout for over sixty years from North Carolina to Idaho. Like most of us, well over half the trout I’ve caught have been the more numerous brown or rainbow. As I thought about which of these two great sport fish I prefer to catch and why, I began a mental list of reasons. Then I began to wonder about the preference of others. I was curious to know if their preference would agree or differ from mine and why. It occurred to me that I had a perfect opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. I spend my summers in Montana, and
every week or two a half dozen of us have breakfast at the summer home of a retired Madison River guide. Our ages range from the low 70s to mid 80s, and we have fished all over this country and in other countries. In other words, we aren’t beginners. So, I hit them with a pop quiz one morning and explained there were no incorrect answers. Five other breakfast diners were handed a slip of paper that specified a constant set of condition –identical run, tackle, and size trout. The only variable was the trout species caught. I ask them to secretly indicate their preference for catching a brown or rainbow and give brief reasons for their preference. Interestingly, these five long experienced fly fishers all indicated rainbow, which agreed with my personal preference. The reasons given also agreed with my thinking. We all thought that the rainbow stayed with the fight longer, was more likely to jump, and seemed stronger from hookup to hand/net. Relative beauty
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feature was mentioned, and the rainbow was also considered the prettier fish. I have since surveyed a half dozen other groups with whom I have met, including three fly fishing clubs. I don’t include beginners in the survey, and request that only those participate who have caught at least fifty of each species. To date, the score is twentyeight who prefer brown to twenty-seven who prefer rainbow. Does this tally mean that I have included too many in the survey who can’t/don’t really discern the “clearly superior” qualities of the rainbow? In whose opinion? The only objective conclusion I am able to make is that the relative desirability of hooking up with either of these two trout is a matter of feel and eye of the beholder. I’ve surmised that supply and demand are in play here. For example, the survey with my breakfast club group was done when rainbows had been decimated by whirling disease in Southwest Montana in the late 1990s, and browns were more prevalent at the time. Thankfully, rainbows are making a strong comeback. In my home waters in Tennessee, where most trout caught are stockers and eighty percent or more are rainbow, the occasional brown is a pleasant variation. In addition, while browns are harder to rear at the hatchery, they seem more likely to hold over from one year to the next and can easily exceed the seven-to
twelve-inch rainbows more generally caught. And these “gone wild” browns are definitely the stronger fish. Thus, the greater feeling of reward from landing a brown trout perceived (and probably are) harder to catch. Those indicating a preference for browns have given two of the same reasons I prefer the rainbow– fights harder and prettier. We may also be influenced by memories of two or three impressive specimens of a species. I’ve caught wild rainbows over fourteen inches that didn’t jump and were as bland as a stocker. I’ve caught holdover browns that were as beautifully colored and well formed as any wild brown. I’ve also enjoyed the sight of spectacular jumps by browns. So, we are “speaking generally” when forced to indicate a preference. Two well-known fly fishers have shared their views on the subject in their books. Nick Lyons writes in A Fly Fisher’s World, “But mostly I like the beautiful brown–sleek, dappled with crimson moles the color of fresh butter. I love the wild brown trout beyond all other fish.” In River of Dreams, Lani Waller gives his opinion about the two species that inhabit Montana’s waters. He concludes, “But rainbow are the most beautiful of all and everyone knows it.” At this writing in late January 2013, it’s rainy and cold outdoors. I’m in no mood to argue.
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feature How to Select a Small-stream Fly Rod Bill Bernhardt rod action to be slightly more important than fly rod length and thus, I believe that when choosing a fly rod for small-stream use, the proper action should be chosen first. Also, I believe that a fly rod’s action should be chosen according to purpose and not according to the caster’s personal style because, given time, the human body is capable of adapting to any fly rod action, but the fly rod’s action is fixed and thus the fly rod is not capable of adapting. Now, I am well aware that this is contrary to conventional wisdom, but in this case, I believe that conventional wisdom is wrong.
Also, all fly rods can be mentally divided into three zones called the Butt section, the Middle section, and the Tip section, and different fly rods are specifically designed to “load” into one of these three different zones. Thus, a rod that “loads” into the butt section during a cast is said to have a “slow” or “full-flex” action, a rod that “loads” into the middle section during a cast is said to have a “medium” or “midflex” action, and a rod that “loads” only into the tip section during a cast is said to have a “fast” or “tip-flex” action (see illustration).
et me start by saying that finding a fly rod that you really like and that suits your personal casting style is extremely important. So, before you purchase a fly rod for a particular purpose, you should first visit as many fly shops as possible and cast as many fly rods as possible to get a feel for what you like best.
Next, I need to talk about fly rod action. To begin with, you need to understand that since a trout fly has very little weight and a lot of wind resistance, we can’t cast a trout fly in the same manner that we would cast a spinning lure or a bass plug. Instead, we have to use a weighted line and fly lines range in weight from 1 to 14 with 1 wt. being the lightest and 14 wt. being the heaviest (this is determined Now, having said that, I need to define the by weighing the first thirty feet of the fly line phrase “small stream” and then define what I in grains and 440 grains = 1 oz.) So, in order feel is an appropriate range of fly rod actions, to cast a trout fly, we have to attach it to the fly rod lengths, and fly line weights for small- end of a weighted fly line which we then use stream use. With that in mind, I think of a to store energy in the fly rod by bending it small stream as having a width that ranges during the cast. Thus, this bending of the fly from five feet to the width of a rural, two-lane rod to store energy is called “loading” the road. Furthermore, I think of a small-stream rod and releasing or “unloading” this stored fly rod as ranging in length from 5 1/2 ft. to 8 energy causes the line (and our fly) to soar 1/2 ft. and as having a slow to medium action through the air toward our intended target. In designed to cast a one to five weight line. addition, for small-stream use, I consider fly
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feature appropriate for the size of the stream that you intend to fish. For instance, short fly rods and slow actions are best suited for short casts and provide pinpoint accuracy at close ranges whereas, longer fly rods and medium actions are best suited for longer casts and, they provide superior line control at longer ranges which is very helpful when fishing with nymphs or streamers. However, to the inexperienced fly fisherman, a slight variation in the length of a fly rod may not seem significant. But, I assure you that once you gain some fly casting experience, a mere three inches difference in the length of the fly rod becomes VERY significant and can dramatically change the feel and performance of a fly rod! Thus, since trout streams vary greatly in size with differing geography and densities of streamside foliage, you need to choose your fly rod length and fly rod action very carefully.
Therefore, you should consider using a fullflex action for short casts ranging from 10 ft. to 30 ft., a mid-flex action for casts ranging from 25 ft. to 40 ft. or for use as a dedicated nymph and streamer rod, and a tip-flex action for longer casts, such as when fishing on rivers, ponds, or lakes. The reason for this is that when casting at short ranges, you often have very little line out past the tip-top guide, and thus you have very little line weight with which to load the rod. So, when fly fishing on small streams, you need a rod that will load easily at short ranges with very little line out past the tip-top guide (full-flex). However, when you are fishing at medium ranges, you have more line out past the tip-top guide, and thus you have more line weight available to load the rod. Therefore, you need the rod to be a little stiffer so that it will not load quite as easily and thus, it will be able to carry more line weight and hold more fly line in the air
Consequently, in my capacity as a smallstream specialist guide, I am often asked how to choose a fly rod for small-stream fly fishing and, my answer to that question is that since fly rods are like golf clubs in that they are designed to provide optimal performance at different ranges under varying conditions, serious fly fishermen need to consider purchasing more than one fly rod. After all, imagine trying to play eighteen holes of golf with nothing but a driver or a putter in your golf bag! Therefore, like a golf club, there is no one, single, fly rod that will work for all situations! However, a good rule of thumb to remember is that the action of a fly rod determines the minimum distance at which it will load and the length of a fly rod determines the maximum distance over which it will cast. Now at this point, you may be wondering what is the difference between loading and
which enables you to cast the line over longer ranges. Now FYI, with respect to fly rods, they are a lot like golf clubs in that they are designed to operate at different distances, and regardless of how carefully you choose your fly rod, there will ALWAYS be a situation in which you will wish that you had a different rod in your hand! Consequently, I have a long-standing joke with my fly fishing buddies that all fly fishermen need to hire a rod caddy to follow them along the stream. Then, all we would have to do is turn to our caddy and say, “seven foot, four weight, please” or “eightand-a-half foot five weight, please” and we would always have the perfect rod at hand for every situation! Therefore, it is extremely important to choose a fly rod with a length and action that is
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feature casting? Well, loading implies storing energy in the fly rod and casting implies releasing the energy stored in the loaded rod. So, once again, the action of a fly rod determines the minimum distance at which it will store energy and the length of a fly rod determines the maximum distance over which it will cast a line by releasing that stored energy. Therefore, a full-flex fly rod will load at much closer ranges than a tip-flex fly rod and a long fly rods will cast a line much farther than a short fly rod will if all other variables such as line weight and line taper are held equal. So, in order to choose a proper fly rod for the type of water that you like to fish, you need to choose an action that loads easily over the range at which you will be fishing and that is short or long enough to cast the fly line over the appropriate distance at which you will be fishing most often. Therefore, when choosing a small-stream fly rod, first ask yourself, “What is the shortest cast that I am likely to have to make on a regular basis?” and then choose your rod’s action accordingly. Next, ask yourself, “What is the longest cast that I am likely to have to make on a regular basis?” Then choose your rod’s length accordingly. Now obviously, this leads us to a discussion of what action and length is appropriate for a particular size stream, and while the choice is ultimately up to the angler, I would like to make the following suggestions: for casting at a range of 10 to 30 feet, choose a full-flex action; for casting at a range of 25 to 40 feet, choose a mid-flex action. Also, when casting at a range of 5 to 15 feet use a 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 ft. rod, when casting at a range of 10 to 25 feet use a 7 ft. rod, when casting at a range of 20 to 35 feet choose a 7ft. 9in. rod, when casting at a range of 25 ft. to 40ft. choose an 8 1/2 ft. rod, and for any cast over 40 ft. (or for use as a dedicated nymph and streamer rod) choose a 9 ft. rod.
rods are easier to maneuver through and cast a fly line underneath, any streamside foliage. However, longer rods provide greater line control at longer distances and they also provide you with better reach when nymph and streamer fishing. But, longer rods also require more overhead room to cast and thus they are more difficult to maneuver through the streamside foliage. So, as I mentioned previously, the ideal solution is to acquire more than one fly rod and tailor your selection of each one to a particular size stream and/ or purpose. Last, when shopping for a new fly rod, you will be confronted with rods made from many different materials such as bamboo, fiberglass, graphite, and boron in a wide range of prices. However, do not automatically assume that the most expensive fly rod will be the best choice for your particular application because, since the fly rod is merely a tool, it is the fisherman that catches the fish and not the fly rod. Thus, a relatively cheap fly rod in the hands of an expert fly fisherman will always out fish a very expensive fly rod in the hands of a novice. So, regardless of which brand, rod material, or price point you choose, always keep in mind that it is extremely important to tailor your fly rod’s action and length to the particular purpose for which you intend to use it.
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Also, it is particularly important to note that when fly fishing on a small stream, it is far easier to make precision casts at short ranges with a short rod having a slow to medium action. Plus, an added bonus is that short 130 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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here’s nothing like a little help from your friends. Make that a lot of help from friends and family. At least, that’s the way Christmas 2012 turned out for Billy Lindsey and his family, owners of the world-class Lindsey’s Resort on the Little Red River below Greers Ferry Lake about an hour north of Little Rock. It all started about 11 p.m. on Christmas night as a historic winter storm blew through central Arkansas, creating havoc in an area not known for blizzards, much less snow depths of more than a foot and winds of 4050 miles per hour. “It was pretty devastating,” Lindsey says of the storm, which dumped 14 inches of snow on Heber Springs and created whiteout conditions that compared to weather you’d normally expect in the Midwest and northern plains or in the Rocky Mountains. “I have never seen anything like it. I’d never heard of blizzard warnings for this part of the country.” The wind and heavy snow proved too much for the resort’s dock. “About 320 feet of the roof collapsed on all of our boats, sank them, and generally made a pretty big mess of things,” Lindsey says. But then there’s always, as Lindsey says, an upside to everything--even something as devastating as the winter storm of all storms for Central Arkansas. About 30 minutes before it collapsed, Lindsey and two of his sons had been on the roof trying to get it secured and removing snow.“ There is no question that the good Lord was looking out for us that night because that didn’t happen,” Lindsey says, admitting that he was glad he and his sons were safe, but he was beginning what he thought at the time would end up being a ma jor pity party for him and his family. On the morning of Dec. 27 Lindsey learned there is an upside to something like this. “It is a great opportunity to find out where you stand with your friends,” he says. For sure, the
Lindsey family is well-grounded in the Heber Springs community. As soon as the insurance adjustor had given Lindsey the okay to start the dock clean-up process, friends and family started showing up. “I don’t know where they all came from or how they found out about it, but a group of them showed up,” Lindsey says. “There were about 25 of us and we got going on that wreckage. Two days later we were operational again.” How’s that for coming to the aid of a friend? This was a team effort by young and old, family and friends, including several friends of Lindsey’s
sons, Colton and Connor, who started carting debris up a steep hill, dividing up what was and was not salvageable. “Those guys got in here and they were hauling stuff up the hill at a dead run,” Lindsey says. “With my normal crew and the cleanup we were probably looking at two months of work to get that stuff up and get it disposed of--and we did it in two days.” “Still, if I hadn’t been there and been part of it, I wouldn’t have believed it,” he says. “I promise you, if anyone was standing and watching from a distance, they were standing in awe of what took place.” By noon of the second day, Lindsey’s crew had begun raising the boats and had all the boats floating by that evening. By late January, most of the outboard motors had been serviced and were back on boats, all running and checked out. Work had already begun on the dock. “My family all worked like dogs,” he says. “My wife was down there every minute I was. (Truth be known, she out-worked many of the men.)” Early on, Lindsey didn’t want to panic people about what had happened at the resort.
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The top left picture is what our marina looked like the morning after, and then the bottom right picture is what it looked like a mere twenty-four hours later. You see a funny thing happened on my way to my pity party that I was headed for after the 11:30 pm collapse of the dock Christmas night--a pity party that I felt I deserved and that I planned to enjoy. I did enjoy it until all my magnificent family showed up with about twenty-five very dear friends. At 8 am on the morning of the 26th, they started the cleanup. Twenty-four hours later, they had not only cleaned up the debris, but they had also refloated all of our rental and guide boats, cleaned up the debris and disposed of it. If I had not been there and been a part of it, I would not have believed it myself. I quickly decided that instead of a pity party, I needed instead to be prayerfully thankful for dear friends and the most incredible family a man could have.
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feature That’s why he didn’t post any photos of how the storm played havoc with it. He wanted to post the photos at a time when he could say, “This is what happened guys, but here’s where we are today. Come on, the fishing is good.” “By the time we hit the spring season, we will not only be up and operational, but we’ll be better than ever,” Lindsey says. “That has been our theme the last couple of years. We’re trying to get better, not just for the appearances’ sake, but for the benefit, comfort, and wellbeing of our customers and our loyal clients who have been coming for many years. We had a little set-back, but we are not going to stay down. We’re up and running.” All of which is remarkable considering what things looked like near midnight on Dec. 25.
www.clinchriverhouse.com For more inFormation call:
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“I told the guys we’ll be dipping out boats for a month or so, but that’s okay because we can get them in and out of the dock,” he says. Once all the re-construction is completed there will be new flotation under the dock. “It will be better than it has ever been, and, like I said, that’s the way we try to operate. All I can tell the fishermen is ‘bring it on.’ We’re ready for them.” “Like I said, it was very remarkable. You might say a funny thing happened on the way to my pity party.” For additional information about Lindsey’s Resort go to www.lindseysresort.com or call (501) 362-3139.
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Book your relaxing return to nature today!
House Rentals from $300* *Taxes, food and guide services not included. A deposit equal to half the cost of your stay is required to secure your reservation. Two-night minimum stay required.
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feature Reel Recovery Retreat Loryn Patterson
Your greatest gift is what you give of yourself.” Stewart Brown made this comment to a group of men gathered at the first ever Reel Recovery Retreat in Loveland, CO, just three days before he was to go into surgery on a brain tumor. As founder of Reel Recovery, Stu was determined to give others the chance to see beyond their cancer without allowing a lack of finances or fly-fishing experience to stand in the way. His gift to others like him was to create the nonprofit organization of Reel Recovery. Inspired by his vision, passion, and courage, a group of men joined with Stu to establish Reel Recovery in May, 2003.
The program is designed to be both experiential and reflective and to develop group camaraderie as well as individual skills. Reel Recovery hopes to provide attendees with friendships that will be a reservoir of hope and support as they go through what can be difficult recoveries. Their final goal is to provide participants with information about cancer-related resources to facilitate networking and enhanced management of their recovery.
Several retreats in several different locations are conducted over a two-and-a-half day period at a fly-fishing facility/lodge with on site or nearby fishing. Retreats are offered The mission of Reel Recovery is to help men at no cost to the participants and are led in the cancer recovery process by introducing by professional facilitator s and expert flythem to the healing powers of the sport of fishing instructors. All meals, lodging and flyfly-fishing, while providing a safe, supportive fishing equipment are provided. Men from environment to explore their personal each retreat’s area are eligible to attend and experiences of cancer with others who share absolutely no previous fishing experience their stories. Though only a few days in is required. Reel Recovery is planning 24 duration, according to Reel Recovery Retreat Retreats in 18 states across the country in participants, a retreat can be a life-changing 2013, including several in the South. April event for men coping with cancer. One 22nd through the 24th there will be a retreat participant stated, “Thank you for helping me in Rockbridge, MO, the target audience being see there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. I the residents of Missouri and Arkansas, and a will never forget these few days.” month later there is a Kentucky/ Indiana retreat
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scheduled for May 20-22, 2013 at Wooded Glen in Henryville, IN. The following autumn on October 22nd through the 24th there will be another retreat held for the residents of Arkansas and Tennessee in Flippin, AR. While their website holds a lengthy schedule of retreats, they do add retreats throughout they year so those interested are encouraged to check back often for more information. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to the retreat location, and may be required to purchase a fishing license.
cancer are eligible to attend. You may apply online or you may print an application from the website and mail it to the address on the application.
As one participant stated, “Reel Recovery is a gift. Being here has given me the strength and courage to move forward with my life.” Several retreats are available across the United States throughout the year. Their website, www. reelrecovery.org, lists all the available dates and locations for the retreats. A maximum of 14 men are invited to participate per retreat to ensure the quality of the instruction and the small group dynamic. Adult men who are in treatment or recovery from all forms of
Donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated since Reel Recovery is wholly supported by donations from businesses, organizations foundations and individuals. By keeping the retreats free, they are open to a wide variety of participants joined only by their need for nurturing and recovery.
However, one does not have to be an attendee to participate. Reel Recovery also greatly appreciates its volunteers who assist in coordinating and staffing retreats at the local level. The experience can be powerful and enriching since volunteers have such an impact on the attendees.
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In Stu’s last weeks, in failing health, he summoned his strength to meet with cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. Stu was determined to share with Lance his vision of Reel Recovery and the importance of this program to future cancer survivors. Stu’s inspiring courage was met with a generous hand in return: the Lance Armstrong Foundation provided Reel Recovery an initial start-up grant ensuring Stu’s legacy will live on through his organization for many years to come. “Your greatest gift is what you give of yourself.”— Stewart Brown 1955-2003
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PITTMAN CENTER 441
on USB Flash Drive with ... BFU
To apply for this event, please fill out and submit: Retreat Application Form Medical Release Form For more information, contact Reel Recovery at email@example.com or call 800-699-4490
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CHEROKEE INDIAN RESERVATION (QUALLA BOUNDARY)
Rainbow & Brook Trout
Brown & Rainbow Trout
4:00 PM Monday, May 20 2:00 PM Wednesday, May 22 Kentucky, Southern Indiana Men recovering from cancer
The Retreat Starts: The Retreat Ends: Primary Service Area: Eligibility:
Brown, Rainbow & Brook
for men recovering from cancer. Our mission is to help men in the recovery process by sharing with them the healing powers of the sport of fly-fishing, while providing a safe, supportive environment to explore their personal experiences with cancer, with others who share their stories. Retreats are offered at no cost to the participants and are led by professional facilitators and expert fly-fishing instructors. Reel Recovery provides all meals, lodging and fly-fishing equipment, and no previous fishing experience is required. A maximum of 14 men are invited to participate.
Bass, Brown & Rainbow
in Henryville, IN REEL RECOVERY is a national non-profit organization that conducts fly-fishing retreats
May 20-22, 2013
Big Creek BCL
ICC Cosby CSC
Bass & Rainbow Trout
for Men with Cancer
44 Great Smoky Mountains Printable Trout Stream Maps 321
Smallmouth/ Red Eye/ Rock Bass
Kentucky & Southern Indiana
Most of the worthwhile fishing waters in the Park are Color-Coded by Species. Other products include 11x17 weatherproof and tear-resistant printed versions of all 44 park stream maps and a dozen more covering the following East Tennessee tailwaters: • Apalachia Dam (Hiwassee River below powerhouse)* • Cherokee Dam (Holston River to Nances Ferry) • Douglas Dam (French Broad River) • Norris Dam (Clinch River) • South Holston Dam (South Fork Holston River) • Watauga/Wilbur Dam (Watauga River) All maps are enhancements of USGS 7.5 Minute Series Quadrangle topographic at scales equal to or exceed that of the scanned originals. * Thumbnail example is of the Powerhouse to Reliance section.
Saint Clair Mapping P.O. Box 398 Russellville, TN 37860
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2013 SPEAKERS Lefty Kreh • Ed Jaworowski • Bob Clouser • Beau Beasley Cory Routh • King Montgomery • Tracy Stroup • Wanda Taylor
2013 MAJOR SPONSORS Orvis • Dominion • Subaru Temple Fork Outfitters
Advance tickets, merchandise sales, fly fishing class registrations & program information: vaflyfishingfestival.org 142 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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news Virginia Fly Fishing Festival: High Time in the Cavalier State
rom its beginnings in 1999, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival has grown to be the largest such event in the South. It draws fly fishermen from as far away as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. Originally funded by Waynesboro Downtown Development, Inc. to highlight the South River, Virginia’s only urban trout fishery, the festival has grown into a self-sustaining, one-of-a-kind event. On April 20 and 21, the 13th annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will be held outside on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, Virginia. Anglers will be there for free, nonstop lectures and tips on where, when, and how to fly fish in the Old Dominion and across the globe. Plus, did I mention there is wine-tasting and live music as well? The event is the ideal place to get your feet wet in the sport, or for avid fly fishermen to take your skills to the next level.
news Jeff Kirk
Speakers at the event include Beau Beasley (www.beaubeasley.com), an outdoor investigative journalist whose work has appeared in nearly every national fly fishing magazine. Most recently he has tackled menhaden management and public access to waterways and use of public waterways. His class “Who Owns the River?” is extremely popular with sportsmen, landowners, and state game agencies. Also on hand will be John Bilotta, a Federation of Fly Fishers Master Certified Casting Instructor who teaches in the DC area and is a licensed guide in Maryland. He offers day trips on the Gunpowder and the Potomac and multi-day trips in Western Maryland from Dacha Dream, his cabin at Deep Creek Lake. Another speaker is Walt Cary, creator of Walt’s Poppers are the best popping bugs money can buy. Bob Clouser, one of the most familiar faces in fly fishing will speak about the Clouser Minnow and fly fishing for smallmouth bass.
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Also speaking is Dan Davala fishing manager for Orvis-Arlington and a founding member of the Tidal Potomac FlyRodders. The festival is pleased to have Dan as one of its Spey casting instructors this year.
of Speckulater Charters, who operates out of Gloucester and knows the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck like the back of his hand; Steve Monahan of Temple Fork Outfitters; and Cory Routh, who is handsdown the best-known fly angling kayaker in The speaker list also includes Captain Gary the Old Dominion and was recently named Dubiel, who is the owner of Spec Fever Guide the Mid-Atlantic Angler of the Year by Extreme Service, and one of the best-known saltwater Edge Sports. guides in North Carolina; Kiki Galvin, owner of Ms. Guided Fly Fishing Services; Harold That’s not all. Other speakers include Tom Harsh, the owner of Spring Creek Outfitters Sadler, professional guide and instructor and one of the most respected guides in and dedicated Tenkara fly fisherman; Brian all of Maryland; Austin Hepburn, owner of Shumaker, fly fishing guru for his Susquehanna Uncommon Ventures which specializes in River; Mike Smith, trophy smallmouth bass exotic locations; Ed Jaworowski, the author guide on Virginia’s rivers and the chief fly of The Cast and Troubleshooting the Cast; Jeff designer for Flymen Fishing Company; Kelble, founder of Shenandoah Riverkeeper Andrew Fenstermaker, guide for New River Program; Don Kirk, publisher of Southern Trout Outdoor Company; Tracey Stroup, a health Magazine talking about fly fishing the Great consultant with a background in Naturopathic Smoky Mountains National Park; Lefty Kreh, Medicine advising fly anglers on nagging who is doubtless the best known fly angler of injuries; Wanda Taylor, an unparalleled casting our time; Tommy Lawhorne owner of South instructor; Colby Trow, owner Mossy Creek Fly River Fly Shop; Captain Ed Lawrence, owner Fishing; Steve Vorkapich, owner and inventor www.southerntrout.com | April 2013 | Southern Trout | 145
news of Float Master Strike Indicators and nymphing lead instructor for the Wissmath School of Fly expert; Duber Winters, General Manager of Casting at Whitetail Mountain Resort. the Orvis Company Store in Woodbridge, VA; Ron Weiss, Hook and Hackle who advocates do-it-yourself rod building; Dusty Wissmath,
2013 Festival Schedule of Events Saturday & Sunday Mossy Creek Tent 10-10:50 AM 11-11:50 12-12:50 PM 1-1:50 2-2:50 3-3:50
South River Tent 10-10:50 AM 11-11:50 12-12:50 PM 1-1:50 2-2:50 3-3:50
Steve Monahan Harold Harsh Duber Winters Blane Chocklett Don Kirk Walt Cary
Fly Fishing for Beginners Fishing Western Maryland Orvis Fly Fishing 101 Muskie Fishing: What You Need to Know Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains Creating the World’s Best Popping Bugs
Austin Hepburn Tracey Stroup Don Kirk Colby Trow Steve Monahan Dan Davala
Fly Fishing and Wine Tours in Chile Fly Casting with Proper Body Mechanics Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains Fly Fishing the Shenandoah Valley Fly Fishing for Beginners Introduction to Spey Casting
James River Tent 10-10:50 AM
12-12:50 PM 1-1:50 2-2:50
Brian Shumaker Mark Kovach Andrew Fenstermaker
Jackson River Tent
9:00-11:30 AM 12-12:50 PM 1-1:50 2-2:50 3-3:50
Bob Clouser Wanda Taylor Beau Beasley Ron Weiss Lefty Kreh
Beginner Fly Tying Classes (fee) 9:00-11:30 AM Capt. Gary Dubiel
Shenandoah River Tent
10-10:50 AM 11-11:50
Ed Jaworowski Steve Vorkapich
12-12:50 PM 1-1:50 2-2:50 3-3:50
Tommy Lawhorn Capt. Gary Dubiel Capt. Ed Lawrence Duber Winters
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Gearing Up for East Coast Saltwater Techniques/Proper Use of Strike Indicators Fishing Virginia’s South River Landing a Neuse River Grand Slam Fishing for Specs in Mobjack Bay Orvis Fly Fishing 101
Casting Classes* (fee)
8:30-11 AM 8:30-11 1-3:30 PM 2-4
Free Casting Classes
Fly Fishing the Greater Yellowstone System An Insider’s Guide to Fishing the New River Fishing the Susquehanna River Fly Angling the Potomac River Smallies and Muskie on the James River Fishing for Smallmouth Bass
Beginner Fly Tying Class (fee) Women’s Fly Shop (panel discussion) Who Owns the Rivers of Virginia? Introduction to Rod Building Fly Fishing Tips
Beginner Fly-Tying Instruction (fee)
Wanda Taylor Dan Davala Ed Jaworowski Taylor/Stroup
Professional Casting Instruction (fee) Spey Casting Instruction (fee) Professional Casting Instruction (fee) Fit Fly Gals (co-ed; fee)
Free Children’s Casting Class (meet at Kids’ Trout Pool) Free Women’s Group Casting Class (meet at Casting for Recovery booth)
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news Main Casting Pool 9:30-10:30 AM 11-12 PM 1-2 3-4
Lefty Kreh Ed Jaworowski Bob Clouser Dusty Wissmath
Author’s Corner (Inside the Festival Store) 11 AM -12:30 PM 1-2 2-3 3-4
Lefty Kreh Don Kirk Beau Beasley Cory Routh
On The River Demonstrations 11 AM 11 12 PM 1 2 3
Tom Sadler Cory Routh Dan Davala Cory Routh Tom Sadler John Bilotta
Tenkara Demonstration How to Rig Your Kayak for Fishing Spey Casting Demo How to Rig Your Kayak for Fishing Tenkara Demonstration Spey Casting Demo
Mid-Atlantic Council of International Federation of Fly Fishers’ Tent (Free fly tying and casting instruction throughout the day!) 2 PM
Dan Davala/John Bilotta
How to Become an FFF Certified Casting Instructor
* All casting class students need to meet at the Casting Class Registration Table prior to their class for final instructions. You can bring your own gear, or we will make arrangements with Temple Fork Outfitters to provide gear for you to borrow. Children 12 and older can receive free casting lessons at the Tri-State Conservation Tent located next to the Kids’ Trout Pool. All gear will be provided. Free children’s fly-tying lessons will be held at the Mid-Atlantic Council International Federation of Fly Fishers tent. 148 | Southern Trout | April 2013 | www.southerntrout.com
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news Thunder Valley Fly and Wine Festival
he Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway will host the inaugural Thunder Valley Fly & Wine Festival, May 3-4, 2013. The event is a funds raising charity effort that will not only raise money for a good cause, but also serve as a showcase of Appalachian vineyards and blue ribbon trout fishing waters. Kicking off the festival weekend is a Friday evening mouth- Blane Chocklett will be entertaining guests watering dinner and a live auction at Bristol will fish tales of all sorts. The evening will Motor Speedway. conclude with a live auction including items from the honored guests as well as other fly Saturday, local and national vendors will be fishing goodies. on exhibit with the latest in fly fishing gear, guide services and other venues of interest The Thunder Valley Fly and Wine Expo is to fly fishermen. Attendees at the expo will Saturday, May 4, 9am-6pm. Admission cost have an opportunity to experience hands- is $10 per person. The activities of the day on demonstrations of fly fishing tackle, fly will include: Casting Competitions; Casting casting, competitions, and they also have Clinics with Lefty Kreh and Jeffrey Cardenas; a chance to hear nationally recognized Fly tying Clinics with Bob Clouser and Blane speakers. It is a unique opportunity to learn Chocklett; Fly fishing and other fishing the art of casting and fly tying from experts lectures; Fly 101 Kids Clinic; and other great Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, Jeffrey Cardenas, events. For an extra $100 you can enjoy a and Blane Chocklett. There is also a number private catered lunch in a Bristol Dragway of special events for the youngest fishing suite with Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser, Jeffrey enthusiasts. Cardenas, and Blane Chocklett. Here you will hear stories from the greats of the fly fishing While fly fishing is half of the draw to the world and even gather some inside tips, plus festival, the other half of the event is an receive a signed picture from the four guests, opportunity to taste the wonders of local a commemorative festival shirt, and entrance vineyards that will display and sample into the expo and wine garden. There are only wines from Tennessee, North Carolina and 25 spots available for this shindig, so register Virginia. In recent years, the wines produced now. in the Southern Appalachians have achieved remarkable renown on the international level. Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities was The festival provides a unique opportunity founded in 1996 to help children in the to sample the wares of a number of up and surrounding area of Bristol Motor Speedway coming wine makers. by Bruton Smith, Chairman of the Board of The Thunder Valley Fly and Wine Opening Dinner is Friday, May 3, at 7pm. The cost per person is $50 to spend an evening dining with the greats of the fly fishing sport at the Bruton Smith Building at Bristol Motor Speedway. Lefty Kreh, Jeffrey Cardenas, Bob Clouser, and
trustees whose sole purpose is to distribute the funds raised each year to qualified local children’s-based 501(c)(3) organizations. Ms. Claudia H. Byrd serves as the director of Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities.
presented by Alpha Natural Resources, Baker’s Construction Services Golf Tournament, Ridealong program with Richard Petty Driving Experience, SCC Live Auction, Sharky 500 and their flagship fundraisers: AutoTrader. com Speedway In Lights Powered by TVA and The Bristol chapter has distributed over $6.5 the Johnson Controls Ice Rink. million dollars since its inception. Other ma jor fundraisers for the Bristol chapter include the For more information visit https://bristol. Ultimate Bristol Experiences Online Auction, speedwa ych arities.org/events/thunder_ Bristol Dragway Celebrity Golf Benefit valley_fly_and_wine/
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. There is a chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities at each of Speedway Motorsports’ six motorsports facilities. Operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities is governed by a board of local
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contributors Beau Beasley, Virginia Editor Beau Beasley is a well-known name among readers of fly angling magazines. His work has appeared in nearly every ma jor fly fishing periodical in the country. He is the author of Fly Fishing Virginia. Recently he won the TalbotDenmade Memorial Award for Best Conservation Article from the MasonDixon Outdoor Writers Association for his investigative piece “Where Have All The Menhaden Gone?” He’s also the director of the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival www.vaflyfishingfestival.org and lives with his wife and children in Warrenton, VA.
Bill Bernhardt Bill Bernhardt, 52, is the owner of and guide, instructor, and custom rod builder for Harper Creek Fly Fishing Company (www.nc-flyfishing.com) located in Lenoir, North Carolina. In addition, Bill is somewhat unusual in that he specialize in small streams, wild trout, and back county, remote access, walk/wade trips into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Consequently, his freelance outdoor articles along with his nature photography focus specifically on the exceptional beauty and excellent trout fishing opportunities available to fly fishermen in western North Carolina. John Berry Located in Cotter, Arkansas, “Trout Capital USA,” John Berry provides wade and float trips on the White, Norfork, Spring, and Little Red Rivers for trout and Crooked Creek for Smallmouth Bass. A retired CPA, he has been a professional fly-fishing guide in the Ozarks for almost two decades. An active conservationist, he has taught fly fishing and fly casting at a long list of colleges and events. Bob Borgwat, Columnist Bob Borgwat, 55, leads the team of Reel Angling Adventures at ReelAnglingAdventures.com as owner, administrator, webmaster and guide. His freelance writing, editing, and photography covers fishing across the US, but his daily piscatorial adventures take place with fly-rod in hand just outside his doorstep in the southern reach of the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. He is a former senior editor for Game & Fish Magazines, Primedia and Intermedia Outdoors, and is an active member of the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association. David Cannon David was previously a full-timer in the outdoor publication world, having worked for such titles as American Angler, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Fly Tyer and Georgia Outdoor News and Alabama Outdoor News, but he is now a global missions pastor and photographer in Walton County, Georgia (betwixt Atlanta and Athens). He is also the author of the book Fly Fishing Georgia: A No Nonsense Guide To Top Waters. He and his wife, Stephanie, successfully spawned this past winter and are expecting their first fry - a baby girl - this fall. When he’s not working, David enjoys tearing his own ligaments, sprouting new grey hairs and making new people who will eventually replace him. For more, visit CannonTTL.com.
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William “Bo” Cash A native of Morganton, North Carolina, Bo Cash was taught trout fishing by his grandfather at the age of three in 1952. He earned a B.S degree in biology with a concentration in ecology from Gardner-Webb University and began tying flies in 1970, rod building in 1976, and opened a Table Top Angler fly shop in 1980. In 1998, he “retired” from building rods after having completed well over 500 and in 2001he retired from teaching high school biology. He is the owner of the Table Top Angler fly shop, a life member in Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, and as had articles published in sporting journals. His first book, Water Under the Bridge, was published in 2011. Bo is married Novah Wall, who accompanies him on many of his trips. Soc Clay Soc Clay was first published in Field & Stream and Outdoor Life magazines in the 1950s. He was one of the first members of the SEOPA, served as director for the OWAA, founded the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association, an inductee of the Freshwater Fishing Hall, and he is a poet laureate of Kentucky. A lifelong resident of South Shore, Kentucky, Clay is also known as an outdoor photographer. His photography has graced the covers of scores of magazines including in one year 11 of 12 issues of the fabled Bassmaster magazine. His latest book Soc Clay’s Mad Trapper Sourdough Baking Book, portrays the romantic history of the use of sourdough starters and recipes used to sustain rugged prospector during the Alaska Gold Rush. It is the authority for the use of sourdough in baking in the world. (www.WhitefishPress.com) Dave Ezell Dave Ezell grew up fishing on East Tennessee rivers and lakes and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Lucky enough to make a living in sales and as a scribe for business publications, he also has enjoyed fishing a variety of waters from steelhead on the Sol Duc to tarpon off North Captiva, Florida. Dave is one of the sparkplugs in the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, he has been intimately involved with Troutfest since its inception. Currently he finds himself just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Maryville, Tennessee. Ron Gaddy Ron Gaddy grew up in Waynesville, North Carolina and started fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains at an early age. He grew up fishing Cataloochee, East and West Fork of the Pigeon River, Little East Fork of the Pigeon River, Nantahala River and Jonathan Creek. Ron left North Carolina at age 24 for a career with the Department of Defense at Charleston, SC and Norfolk, Virginia. After retiring from DOD in 2009 he returned to Waynesville, North Carolina to be close to all the great trout fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains. Since retirement, Ron has consistently fished in the Smoky Mountains for trout. When not fishing, Ron is tying flies or building fly rods.
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contributors Daniel Brent Golden Native East Tennessean Brent Golden’s interest in photography began while studying for his fine-arts degree at the University of Tennessee. An avid flyfisherman, his passion for the outdoors is the focal point of his photographic interest. His specialty is shooting large panoramic landscapes of North America’s flyfishing waters. A recent interest in the invisible light of infrared (IR) photography has inspired him to capture his local waters in this unique way.
George Grant George Grant lives in Johnson City with his wife and earnestly wades upstream through his sixth decade. Mountain streams large and small are his first love, but he regards the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters to be his mistresses. In addition to actually fly fishing, he enjoys the history and the craft of fly tying, especially “resurrecting” patterns that have passed from common use. For many years Grant worked in local fly shops. He also wrote columns about fly fishing for a local sports magazine and for the Bristol Herald Courier. Craig Haney, Editor-at-Large Craig Haney has spent a lifetime chasing trout on the streams, headwaters and tailwaters of the southern Appalachians and elsewhere. After graduating from Auburn University with an animal science degree, Craig has spent the ma jority of his career in the outdoor industry as a manufacturers’ rep for fishing, boating, camping and hunting gear as well as operating partner of Riverwoods Outfitters / Haney-Mullins Orvis for eight years. He has taught fly tying and fly casting at his shops and community colleges. Additionally, he has written on fly fishing and other outdoor subjects for a variety on national and regional magazines. Craig and his wife Lynn live on Shades Mountain in Hoover, AL in the southern Appalachian foothills. Kevin Howell Kevin Howell fished 38 states before college. In 1997 Kevin took a job as Manager of Davidson River Outfitters. He was also helping his father run Dwight and Don’s Custom Tackle. After his father passed away in 1998, Kevin took over the operation of Dwight and Don’s Custom Tackle while remaining the Manager of Davidson River Outfitters. In 2000 Kevin purchased Davidson River Outfitters and combined the operation of the two businesses. He is also a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor. Kevin is also a nationally known fly tyer and is currently the FlyTying Editor for Fly-Fishing the Mid Atlantic States. He has also had several of his original patterns published in various magazines as well as being produced by some of the national tying companies.
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Jimmy Jacobs, Georgia Editor Jimmy Jacobs is with Game & Fish Magazines. He also is the Outdoor Columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper and online Atlanta Outdoor Travel Writer for Examiner.com. Jacobs has authored five guidebooks to fishing in the southeastern United States, including Trout Streams of Southern Appalachia; Trout Fishing in North Georgia; and Tailwater Trout in the South. His writing and photography have earned Excellence In Craft awards from the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, Georgia Outdoor Writers Association and the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. Jeff “Owl” Jones, Columnist Fly Fishing Film Maker Owl Jones is a something of polarizing figure among the fly fishing community. He first came on the scene during the messageboard craze of the mid-90s. Since the late 90s, he has been banned from most of the larger forums due to his ability to ruffle the feathers of fellow anglers and state wildlife agencies alike. In late 2010 he started his own blog which is now called “OwlJones.com” where he has not yet been banned. Owl currently lives in Gainesville, Ga., with his lovely wife and their invisible dog “Snickers” who always does what he’s told and never barks at night. His goal is to get famous, and to take over the fly-fishing world.
Dr. Todd Larson, Columnist A dedicated fisherman and college history professor, Dr. Todd Larson writes and publishes everything related to the history of fishing, including the history of baits, (lures and flies), rods and reels, techniques, and people important to the history of fishing (Zane Grey, Ernest Hemingway, etc.) As an owner of Whitefish Press, Dr. Todd is dedicated to publishing a wide variety of works on fishing history and fishing tackle. Founded in 2006 by Dr. Todd, The impressive Whitefish catalog includes some of the finest in fishing history. He also writes and publishes a fine blog called Fishing for History: The History of Fishing and Fishing Tackle. More recently, he acquired ownership of The Classic Fly Rod Forum. Roger Lowe Roger Lowe is the owner of Lowe Guide Service & Outfitters, located in the heart of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains in Waynesville, North Carolina. The area offers some of the best fishing in the eastern United States. Being a native of Waynesville, he spent his childhood summers camping and fishing with his father and grandfather in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. He learned about insects indigenous to local streams and the trout’s feeding habits. Roger developed his own technique for tying effective imitator patterns and became a master at catching the wild and wary mountain trout. He has been tying for forty years and fishing all his life. Today, as a professional guide, his fly patterns are used extensively by local fishermen. Roger’s book, Roger Lowe’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains is a fly tying and identification guide. He also has a tying video, Smoky Mountain Fly Patterns. It shows how to tie a lot of the Smoky Mountain Patterns. He also has a hatch book, Smoky Mountain Fly Patterns which is a guide to the patterns to use each month.
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Harry Murray Harry Murray was born, raised and still lives on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River in the village of Edinburg, Virginia where he owns and has operated Murray’s Fly Shop for over 40 years. He has published eight books on fly fishing, including Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park; Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams; and Murray’s Fly Shop Exclusive Fly Patterns. His articles can be seen regularly in many national fly fishing magazines. Harry conducts “on the stream” fly fishing schools each spring and summer out of his fly shop. He has designed over 50 fly patterns and provides guide service in the Virginia area. Steve Moore A native of northern Virginia, Steve Moore grew up fishing in a fishing family. Steve’s father, much to his mother’s chagrin, was fishing in a local bass tournament the morning Steve was born. Steve has published five books on fishing in Virginia and Maryland including Maryland Trout Fishing, Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River for Smallmouth Bass, Wade Fishing the Rappahannock River and Wade Fishing the Rapidan River. Steve provides frequent updates on fishing these waters and others on his popular blog at www.CatchGuide.com. Oak Myers Native West Virginia resident, Oak Myers has been a full time trout fishing guide for decades. His company, Cranberry Wilderness Outfitters (wvoutfitters.com, 304-651-3177) is based out of the mountain town of Richwood. A talented writer and fly fishing instructor, Myers is best known for helping his clients use bicycles to access the bowels of the rugged Cranberry Wilderness. Marc Payne Marc is a Knoxville, Tennessee based fly fishing enthusiast. His popular blog, The Perfect Drift, has been up and running since 2019. Riverdale Classics Bamboo is a one man company Marc started seven years ago. His first stab at bamboo rods was purely economic, as he says that he could not afford a bamboo rod but wanted one badly. So he read on techniques, took a couple of gratuitous classes with rod makers, and bought several old rods to restore. From there, he began repairing and restoring old rods for friends, and as word of his skills grew, he began building for others. Now he is repairing, restoring, and building new rods for folks from all over the country. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org Larry Rea, Arkansas Editor Larry Rea is the seasoned, retired Outdoors Editor for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN, where he held that post between 1967 and 2001. Currently he is the host of Outdoors with Larry Rea on Sports 790-AM in Memphis; www.lroutdoors.com. He is also free-lance writer for The Commercial Appeal’s DeSoto Appeal (Sunday outdoors column). A master scribe, for five consecutive years he was a double award winner (first and second place) in Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association’s Excellence in Craft Broadcast category. He was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame in 2010 where he is now an honored lifetime member. Larry also serves on the board of directors for Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (2010-present).
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Scott Spencer Scott Spencer is a freelance writer who was born and raised in Alabama. An avid hunter and fisherman, he learned about fly fishing nearly 40 years ago when he first picked up the flyrod at the age of 12. He was tutored in the art of casting and fly fishing using my father’s 1952 Phillipson bamboo flyrod. A banker by profession, he has hunted across the United States and has done both television hunting programs and hunting DVD’s. A passionate fly fisherman, Spencer frequently fishes the streams and tailwaters of North Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. He is married with three children.
W. H. Bill Stuart, Jr Bill, a fourth generation Floridian ES (ES stands for Endangered Species), was born and raised in Bartow, Florida. He is a retired businessman, the former owner of Bagley Bait Company, and the former director/curator of the Museum of Fishing. Bill is the principal author of Florida Lure Makers and Their Lures which, so far, is up to six volumes of history and identification. He is a past president of the Florida Antique Tackle Collectors and was selected as an Honorary Member by the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club and by the Florida Antique Tackle Collectors. In addition to collecting Florida lures, he is also a collector of fly rod lures. Bill and his wife, Nancy, have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. He is active in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Rotary International and the E. B. Kennedy Scholarship Program at Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina. Benjamin VanDevender President of Team Dead Drift, Georgia’s Competitive Fly Fishing Team, Benjamin VanDevender, fell in love with fly fishing and chasing trout across Georgia. In recent years he has won accolades and awards for his fly-fishing expertise. Ben started fly fishing competitively a few years ago. Through competitive fly fishing, Ben learned more advanced tactics than some have ever thought possible. Already a fan of fly fishing for trout, his entry into its competitive side has given him a new appreciation for all aspects of the sport we call fly fishing. Greg Ward, Tennessee Editor Greg Ward lives in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, where he has been a full-time hunting and fishing guide since 1989. He owns and operates Rocky Top Outfitters, a hunting and fishing guide service specializing in stream fly-fishing, spin fishing, and guided turkey and bear hunts. His articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and outdoor magazines. He is the co-author of the Ultimate Fly Fishing Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains. Greg has hosted several radio shows and has been a popular presenter at Pigeon Forge’s annual Wilderness Wildlife Week. He lives in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with his wife and daughter.
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