Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Quick Trip With My Wife

Before our kids were born, my wife enjoyed going on fishing trips with me.  Not to fish, but to just enjoy the peace and quiet while watching me fish.  So, when she recommended we do that today, I immediately took her up on the offer.  Knowing it was going to be a busy weekend, I needed a stream that would offer the following:
  • Convenience of trail by the stream
  • Relatively short hiking distance
  • Typically overlooked fishery
I have three such streams that I keep in my back pocket for such days as this.  Unfortunately, one of these is over in North Carolina, and another was right in the middle of an area that was going to be busy this weekend.  So, that left me with only one option.  We got to the trailhead around 10:00, much later than I originally intended.  On the drive in, I was concerned when I saw lots of color in the water, and remembered that storms crossed the mountains yesterday evening.  So, I was beginning to question my decision for the day, until we got our first glimpse of the water.
Water Looking Perfect
We walked in a distance, then realizing that we may have gone too far, turned around and backtracked looking for a good spot.  We found a spot with good pocket water, and a convenient place for my wife to sit.
Amy Trying Out my Alite Monarch Chair
We packed along my new Alite Monarch Butterfly chair for my wife to sit in, and she put it to good use while reading something on her Nook.  I didn't see any fish rising or any flies dancing above the water, but I chose to go with my recent go-to Yellow Sally pattern.  It didn't take long to find a willing participant:
Beautifully Colored Bow

After a couple more takers, my fly really started to get water logged and I needed to switch.  Now, keep in mind that this is the very same fly I used almost exclusively on my last backpacking trip, and the trip last weekend.  So, this one fly was on its third trip, and had landed numerous fish.  It was about time to retire it because I was having difficulty floating with all the fish slime on it.  I switched flies a few times, and got a few slashing strikes but overall success was much less than with their predecessors.    Finally, I did manage to land one on a extended body yellow sally pattern.

He came out of this really nice run underneath overhanging branches.

Unfortunately, the fishing continued to be less productive than previously, and I was contemplating calling it quits.  So, I did a quick change of location and tried my best to revive the previously retired fly.  Right on cue the fishing began to pick up, so I began to think that maybe there was something about the patter that was special.  I flipped through my fly selection and discovered that this was the only pattern I had like it in my box, so I quickly snapped a picture so that I could try my best to replicate it later.  

I tied this pattern a could years ago while tying up a batch of foam neversink caddis patterns.  I didn't like the blocky foam body sticking out the back, so I thought I would see what one looked like if I wrapped a thin strip of foam around the body.  I then hackled the fly with brown whiting saddle hackle, added a wing of sparkle flash and bleached elk hair.  For some reason I used black thread for this fly, whereas I would probably normally use yellow.  Whatever it was, the fish definitely seem to like this fly.  It has easily outproduced other commercially available yellow sally patterns 4 to 1 in recent weeks.

The water was looking just absolutely fantastic in this area, and the fish were quite aggressive.  Although, many were very small, around 3" to 4". 

We decided to call it quits around 12:30 since we needed to make our way back to Knoxville to collect the kids from the grandparents, most likely loaded with sugar and caffeine by now...

On the walk out we saw lots of butterflies, more dayhikers, and even some dayhikers taking pictures of butterflies.  Kind of like this... :)

Amazingly we saw probably 50 - 60 hikers today, but not another fisherman.  That is why I love this area.  There are two streams in this vicinity that see lots of day hikers, but most likely go for days without seeing a fly drift by.

On the way out, our stomachs were really rumbling, so we stopped in at a small BBQ joint for some amazing food.

It was nice having my wife with me riverside again.  It had been over two years since our last trip, but this is something we should try to do every so often again. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Three Generations Camping Trip

I have been trying to get my dad out on a camping trip for a couple years now, and with this past weekend being Father's Day he finally gave in.  Now, it should be known that my dad used to camp on a regular basis back when I was a little tike, but now he rarely takes the time to do something for himself.  So, I was shocked when he told me that he was planning on going along.  Unfortunately, I was concerned when I heard that the campground we intended to stay at had taken a hit from an F1 tornado and 60% of the sites were closed.  A quick call to the campground confirmed that there were some open sites, so away we went. 

Not long after arriving, we had the tent setup and were getting settled in.
Big Agnes King Creek 4 in Fastfly Setup
My dad and son were anxious to watch me fish.  Not expecting much success, we hopped in the stream near the campground.  You can imagine my surprise when I landed this guy on the first cast.
Imagine my surprise when I pulled in this 7" brookie from a spot numerous people swim in daily.  Even greater to my surprise was that we continued working our way upstream and I hooked a brookie in every likely hole I presented my yellow sally fly to.  I ended up landing 4 more that we only about 3" long, and had 3 more get off as I was trying to land them.  Considering that I only fished for 30 minutes, I consider those to be good results.  By this time we were getting into some areas that my son was having difficulty keeping up, so we called it a day.
walking back from our successful excursion
Then we started thinking about dinner, and knew we needed to get some good coals before we could cook.  My dad seems to be amazed by bonfires, so I left him in charge of the fire.
Tending the fire and cooking potatoes & onions
We had to pass some time while waiting for the potatoes to cook and coals to form.  So, nothing says camping quite like badminton and football...

Eventually, it was time to put dinner on the fire.  Tonight's menu is deer steak, potatoes, and onions.
Deer steak, potatoes, and onions
For desert, is there anything more a kid would want than marshmallows?
Excited about roasted marshmallows
Shortly after dinner and desert it was time to turn in for the night.  It was a little warm, even sleeping outside of my bag.  After a restful nights sleep, the next morning brought more activity and games around camp with my son.  We just mainly took our time eating breakfast, breaking camp, and then roasting sausages for lunch.  On the way out, dad asked if I was going to fish anymore, so I stopped at a convenient pullout and geared up.  You can imagine my surprise when once again on my first cast I brought this guy to hand...

Then about 5 minutes later this guy...

Once again, I worked my way upstream fishing every little riffle and run I saw.  I called it quits after about 20 minutes because we really needed to get back home, but managed to land three bows in that time frame.  Once again, this was in a location that regularly has swimmers, waders, and fishermen.  So, I was surprised at how fruitful this small stream was, even after hearing one less than positive comment from somebody in a site nearby.

It was great getting my dad and Trey out camping together on this trip, my dad really enjoyed himself.  Trey is now asking for a fly rod of his own so that he can fish with daddy.  My little buddy is getting big, and I may have myself a little fishing buddy from now on.  I have an upcoming trip to the South Holston planned for this week, assuming my work schedule allows me to go.  However, we are already planning our next family trip, and I am sure it will be a blast.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Family Fishing (A Little Bit of Everything)

Recently my son commented that I hadn't taken him fishing in a while, and unfortunately he was correct.  So, this past Friday we made some time to take a fishing trip.  My son really enjoys fishing, camping, and hunting with daddy, but this was my daughter's first experience fishing.  To make things interesting we went out to the garden and dug around for worms just to give them the entire experience.  We were not having much luck in the worm hunting business, so I brought along some of my other gear in case things got a little slow with the worms.  I personally prefer to use crickets when taking kids fishing as the action seems to be always non-stop when using crickets and it is easier to keep the kids interested.  However, there wasn't anywhere on the way that sold crickets, so worms and plastics it would be.

I elected to take the kids to a little park on a smaller area lake that was relatively close to the main channel knowing that this would be more favorable to larger predatory species instead of the typical backwater areas bluegill inhabit.  It wasn't long before Trey was into his first bluegill.

First bluegill of the trip
Although, a group of carp cruising the area provided lots of distractions and enticement, he managed to stay focused on the task at hand.  Eventually he got tired of using his little rod, and wanted to give daddy's rod a spin.

While he was fishing, daddy decided to try his hand with some topwater action, and in short order landed the first largemouth of the trip.
Wanting to touch the bass
Sissy wanted in on the "shishing", and she did quite well I must say. 

Looks like the question about whether to get her a Lifetime Sportsman License is answered.  By the way, we got Trey one when he turned one, and it is an amazing deal for the youth of TN.

Trey had to reclaim his rod from Sissy, and that freed up daddy to throw the topwater some more.  After landing a couple more largemouths, I get a ferocious strike and was surprised to see this come to the surface.
A Smallmouth Surprise
This bronzeback was an unexpected surprise, and I was quite pleased with it.  Sure would have been a good fight on the fly rod.

As is normally the case though, the temptation to throw rocks and sticks overwhelmed the kids and we called it a day.  However, I feel much more comfortable taking my little buddy on more and longer fishing trips as his attention span and interest is increasing. 

Until next time, tight lines and God bless.

19" Clinch River Brown