Showing posts with label North Carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Carolina. Show all posts

October 8, 2022

Closing Out Summer in the Smokies

It was going to be a rain-soaked Labor Day weekend in the Smokies, but the fish are wet anyway, right? So I made the long trek up to Cherokee, North Carolina for the annual getaway, but decided to stay in a motel rather than camp this time.


The first day of fishing was pretty soggy in the morning. I headed up to a small headwaters tributary where I encountered just enough fish to make the raindrops a secondary concern. I was fortunate enough to get into browns, rainbows, and one brook trout. Unfortunately the brook trout was a bit camera shy and didn't have the patience for me to get my phone out for a picture.

I also took this opportunity to fish two new-to-me tenkara rods, the river peak Pop Star and the river peak KIWAMI 33. Both rods had their pros and cons and created unique fishing experiences in their own way.

Following the afternoon on stream, and after a quick stop back at the motel for a shower and some dry clothes, I headed off to the rodeo for some evening entertainment. This was the second year in a row I went to the Labor Day weekend rodeo in Cherokee and it was very entertaining.


Despite another wet start, day two actually ended up being a pretty nice day with the clouds giving way for most of the late morning and early afternoon. Knowing this forecast, I started my outing a little bit late as well, and decided to fish a very well known waterway inside the Park.

A fair amount of fish were caught, although nothing of impressive size. Nonetheless, I had a great time wandering around the stream, hopping over rocks, and navigating downed trees. With the previous day's rod testing over, my trusty Nissin Royal Stage 320 was put into action on these trout. Man, I love that rod.

Before leaving, I stopped by Mingus Mill, a park landmark I had never visited. It was a cool, old water driven grist mill. Really interesting to see how it worked on the inside.

I was also fortunate that the resident elk were out in one of the nearby fields, with a bull keeping tabs on his harem.

As the clouds cover got heavier and it was apparent the rain was on its way, I said goodbye to the elk and headed back to town. Hungry, I decided to grab a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant across the street from my motel. If possible, I always like to have a nice sit-down meal on the last night of these getaways, and this was no exception. The food was definitely tasty.

Belly full, it was time to call it a night before the long drive home the next morning. 

While I don't like being away from my family and friends, I do really enjoy these end of summer "solo" trips to the Smokies. Despite the fog and rain, this one was a clear success on many fronts, and it's soothing to know that I have a little escape to look forward to each year. Cherokee, see you again in '23!

May 28, 2022

Deep Creekin' with Spurky

It's been a few years since I've seen my old Pennsylvania fishing buddy Spurky. We had been loosely planning a reunion for a little while, and we were finally able to coordinate schedules and meet up a few weekends ago at Deep Creek Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I had spend a few days at Deep Creek a few weeks before, as it hosted TenkaraCamp, a get together of tenkara anglers for a long weekend of fishing, clinics, and good times. It was helpful to set the stage for the trip with Spurky, as I was able to get the lay of the land (& streams), scout a good campsite, and feel positive that we'd have a good time.

It was really good to see Spurky again. (And not just because he was wearing a T! Party t-shirt). We were both a bit older and grayer, but the man still has a passion for fishing, so I was happy to play somewhat of host and guide and find some waters that fit his style of spinner and spoon fishing.


Not arriving at camp until after 4PM, it didn't leave a ton of time for fishing. So after pitching my tent, Spurky & I headed down the trail to go fish a few spots that I recalled looked promising. We didn't hike in too far, but we each found some pretty water and some really nice fish, including a solid brown I pulled from a riffle with the Tenkara USA Sato.


Friday was supposed to bring a little weather, but we lucked out and it was relatively sunny and gorgeous the whole day. We hopped in the car and drove over to Cherokee to fish on this morning. I wanted to take Spurky to a stream that I enjoy visiting, as it has a good mix of broken up pocket water for me to fish with my tenkara rod, while also being easily accessible off the trail and several deep, slow pools for him.

We spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon exploring the waterway, with us both having some luck with the resident rainbows. I found myself having a great time as they were eager to hit up top, so switching over futsu kebari as well as more familiar dry fly patterns seemed to do the trick.

Toward the end of the day we returned to Deep Creek and fished a bit more locally. Feeling the itch, I shelved the Oni Type III tenkara rod I was using earlier in the day and switched to my Orvis Superfine 3-weight fly rod just to get a few casts in. I caught a few small rainbows while Spurky ended up catching a really nice brown beside one of the bridges with spinners.

Before we turned in for the night, I did a little waterfall chasing (there are 3 somewhat close to the trailhead in camp), and I wanted to check each of them out.


Saturday, our last day to fish, was perhaps a bit bittersweet. Spurky was feeling quite a bit under the weather and not totally up for much of anything, much less fishing. So after checking in on him, he told me to go out alone. I visited another favorite stream not that far away and found the fishing to be good. Unfortunately, the weather turned around lunchtime, chasing me off the water.

Returning to camp and finding not only much nicer weather, but Spurky in better spirits, I followed him down to Deep Creek and just watched him for a little bit and snapped some photos. A bit of decompression for myself after a busy past few days.


Sunday was departure day, and the end of our weekend of fishing. We both had long drives ahead of us, so the camps were packed up and vehicles headed in separate directions before you knew it. It was certainly nice to see Spurky again. I hope despite that last day hiccup, he'll look back on the trip fondly. I mean what else can you ask for? We found good fishing, stellar conversation, and beautiful scenery. The Great Smoky Mountains certainly do not disappoint!


I also wrote a bit more about our trip from a slightly different perspective over at Tenkara Angler. That article was far less about the fishing, and more about just slowing one's pace to take in all that a fishing trip has to offer. 

Read "Taking it Slow" at Tenkara Angler

November 14, 2021

Wonderfully Wet in Western North Carolina

A few weekends ago I met up with a few of my East Coast fixed line fishing friends for a little getaway in the hills of Western North Carolina. This escape had been planned for quite some time, and in the days leading up to the rendezvous, the chatter in our text messaging group was indicating that everyone was very excited.

I was too. Fishing with friends on "new-to-me" water... with nights in frankly an upscale cabin (with its own trout stream in the backyard)... it doesn't get much better than this.

Well, it could have been slightly better if the weather decided to cooperate. Arriving on Thursday and leaving on Sunday, I'd personally have two and a half days of fishing. And Mother Nature decided to make just those two and half days mostly chilly and wet in the form of a steady, constant, overcast drizzle. But this was definitely not a big deal, this was going to be excellent, wet or dry.


Arriving Thursday afternoon a little bit before most, the afternoon was mostly spent unloading my (and others') stuff into the cabin. That said, a few of us decided to test that backyard creek out for a short spell and found pool after pool of welcoming rainbow trout. 

It was a great way to immediately shed the skunk from the weekend, as well as spend a little time with the DRAGONtail FoxFIRE fiberglass tenkara rod in just the environment it was designed for.


On Friday our group of nine divided and spent the majority of the late morning and early afternoon on nearby beats of the larger namesake water we all came to fish... while yet another smaller subset split up and drove to a different waterway to try and find some larger fish.

I'm happy to report that the outing was pretty fun, even though for whatever the reason I was finding myself catching a stray tree branch seemingly every other cast. Mentally, I was telling myself I needed to adjust my casting plane more horizontally, but my body just refused to do it. Too much unencumbered Wisconsin & Colorado vertical casting muscle memory I guess...

It didn't matter, my companion on the stream that morning (Bryan) is the perfect kind of easy-going fishing partner I enjoy fishing with.

First, he's incredibly skilled and personally had a fantastic morning vacuuming up fish with a leech jig pattern. Second, he just let me be as I fumbled around on the water, giving encouragement (and many prime spots) to work out my issues. Lots of smiles and laughs, and no ribbing until after we bushwhacked through the rhododendron thicket, found the trail, and were finally off the water. 

As clumsy as my morning was, I eventually settled down and caught a brookie-brown-rainbow slam in the afternoon to round off the day's haul, which was sweet... even if the brookie appeared to have been stocked. 

Made me feel good when everyone reconvened at the cabin for an evening of dinner, fly tying, scheming, and bullshitting. I don't really fish for "numbers", but it seemed as if Bryan & I collectively made out the best of the group.


Saturday was rainy and cold from the jump. You knew you were going to be wet all day, you just had to prepare yourself and dress appropriately. On this day my fishing partners were Anthony & Jay. However, once we got to the water and geared up, Jay decided to take a right turn when Anthony and I went left. I respect that, some days you just want to fish alone.

This day was really interesting to me. Anthony decided to Euronymph with his new custom fly rod, while I got to test drive a new and unreleased tenkara rod, the Tanuki Shinobi

I had never watched anybody fish with Euronymphing gear before in person, so it was fascinating to see how Anthony approached each section of water and the benefits his rig provided over a shorter, more standard length rod and reel outfit. It was in many ways similar, yet still much different than what I was doing with the tenkara rod.

Fortunately, my body caught up to my brain on this day and I stayed out of the trees and bushes. 

The Shinobi is a really interesting rod visually, with an integrated (and tattooed) grip section. It's a 13 foot rod that casts as beautifully as it's constructed, regardless of whether the kebari on the end of the line was weighted or not. 

I mostly fished a peacock-bodied kebari with a 2.5 tungsten bead that I tied inspired by the "honryu" pattern in Discover Tenkara's Complete Kebari Collection tutorial

Due to the overnight rains, the water was much higher and faster than the prior day, and catching was slightly more difficult. I managed four rainbows, and I think Anthony caught one or two. Not epic, but entertaining nonetheless. Wet and cold, we jointly decided to cut the session a bit short and backtrack to find Jay and head back to the cabin.

While Friday with Bryan was more about fishing, Saturday with Anthony was more about testing new things and conversation. I'm definitely intrigued by the Euronymph rig and spent quite a bit of time on the water chatting with Anthony about a wide array of topics ranging from fly fishing to flipping houses.

Thursday night at the cabin was a bit of a blur. The World Series was on TV, we ate brats and venison, drank beer, and chatted by the campfire for a bit. I eventually caught a chill I just couldn't shake, so I searched for the warmth of bed and decided to turn in a little early. This lack of temperature tolerance shows this Pennsylvanian has definitely become a "Floridian."


Departure day. We left the cabin and mostly went our separate ways. A few guys stayed behind and fished, and from what I hear found wonderful weather and solid numbers of trout. Me? I stopped at the supermarket on the way out of town, stocked up yet again on Cheerwine, (it's a thing I do in North Carolina, see my prior post), and headed home. 

I really enjoy fishing with this diverse group of anglers. I can't wait until we get together again. Maybe it will be a bit sunnier and warmer the next time, but even if it isn't, I know a great time is certain to be had.