Showing posts with label Trout. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trout. Show all posts

November 5, 2022

Off the Grid in the Tennessee Mountains

Last weekend was one of those fishing trips that just goes by way too fast.


Spent a few days with my friends at a campground in the Tennessee mountains. The weather was unseasonably warm during the day, and a bit chilly for this naturalized Floridian at night. We spent the better part of four days hitting many of the streams in the area, from larger, easy to access stocked water to off the beaten path bluelines full of wild fish.










A side note was that we were really off the grid, meaning no cell service (or even running water). While that may have interfered with me keeping up to speed on the World Series, that's not why I was there, and the evenings around the campfire more than made up for it. Oh, some of the stories that were told!


In looking back on this trip, I found I didn't take many photos. I guess that's okay with me... the memories remain vivid. This was my first time fishing this specific area of Tennessee, I look forward to getting back again at some point.

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.

Saturday

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.



Sunday

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!


June 19, 2022

Another Great Visit to the Driftless

The Driftless region in southwestern Wisconsin has become one of my favorite places to fish. My excuse to return this year was yet another tenkara gathering, being held in Westby. Unlike last year when I carpooled with a friend and made the long drive up from Florida, this time I flew in to Minneapolis, rented a car and drove the short two hours down to my eventual destination. 


(I had reserved a Toyota RAV-4, but upon arrival they didn't have that model and upgraded me for free to an Audi. Score?)

Considering that I flew in and didn't want to haul too much gear, I didn't camp this year. Instead, I stayed in a wonderful one room cabin on a gentleman's farm along Spring Coulee outside of Coon Valley. It was a great place to have as basecamp, as it afforded a hot shower, comfortable bed, and a bit of a escape from Mother Nature, particularly during a few of the wetter days of the trip.


Thursday

Thursday, June 2nd was coincidentally my 45th birthday. It was also my first day in the Driftless. After that drive and upon arrival I quickly got on some nearby water to remove the skunk from the trip. A dozen or so healthy browns in a quick hour or so of fishing made it a happy birthday for me.






In the evening I headed over to the campground where the larger gathering was being held. It was good to see my friends again. We ate, drank, and caught up with each other. 

A nice stretch of creek also flows right through camp, so I was able to pop in for a few casts for an enjoyable night cap.


Friday

Friday's plan was to hit two very different creeks. The first was one that I was introduced to in 2021. I had a really great day there last year, catching the largest fish of that trip. 

While I didn't quite replicate the size of the fish from a year ago, the numbers added up very quickly despite the cloudless, bluebird skies. And let me tell you, it was HOT in that sun... and that's coming from someone who lives in Florida!








Fishing through the early afternoon on the first creek, I wanted to switch things up and fish a bit more intimate water. And by intimate I mean the size of the water, not necessarily the venue. 

A short drive later put me on a very small creek, only 4 or 5 feet across in most places. The stream also happens to run alongside a popular tavern. I had people watching me fish from the outdoor deck! Fortunately, the fish cooperated, quickly removing any performance anxiety the audience may have created.





After a quick stop at the cabin to cool off and clean up with a welcomed shower, I headed back over to the campground for another evening of hanging out. 

(My friend Zoan summarized the vibes from the Driftless gathering...)


Saturday

Bring on the rains! Weather allowed an opportunity to sleep in a little bit before meeting up with my friends Anthony & Bryan on one of the more popular streams in the area for a morning of fishing. Fortunately, the threat of weather must have been keeping other anglers away, as we had the preferred section of the stream to ourselves... well, with the exception of a very friendly farm cat.







Eventually, Bryan had to leave, so Anthony & I ran into town to grab some lunch before we parted ways as well. 

Really wanting to catch some brook trout, I spent the rest of the afternoon (in steady rains) pursuing my quarry in some "new to me" water. At least the soaking was worth it, catching several browns and even more small brookies before bringing a solid 12-inch brook trout to hand. A definite highlight for this stream.






Sunday

Weather-wise, Sunday was not much different than Saturday. Light, but steady rains fell for most of the day. However, the temperatures were cooler and the fish were active. Very active. Extremely active. Basically eating anything. I was most successful with beadhead kebari, nymphs, and leech patterns, but I don't think it really mattered much what was on the end of the line.

I'm not one to count fish, but if I were actually keeping track, 100 wouldn't have been a stretch to describe my tally from what is quickly becoming my favorite creek in the Driftless. Each riffle, run, or pool seemed to yield at least 7 or 8 fish. And I ended up fishing a lot of riffles, runs, and pools!  











Getting tired of reading yet? Don't worry, only one more day.

Monday

This was the final day of fishing for me on this visit to the Driftless. While most of the region is generally flat, or what I'd consider rolling, countryside, I took the opporutnity to go down into one of the hollows that requires a bit of hiking before you're able to fish. Honestly, it's not that hard to get down into the valley floor where the creek is... but coming back up and out after a long day of fishing on the other hand...

I'm happy to report the extra effort was well worth it. The fish were plentiful, and the last fish caught, the one I'll call the "walk off brown", may have been the largest of this trip at 16+ inches. While that might not sound like a huge fish by Driftless standards, wrangling it on the Nissin Royal Stage 320 tenkara rod made for a fight of rodeo-like proportions.









And then just like that it was over. A return to the cabin, an evening of packing up clothes and gear, and one final night's sleep concluded this year's fishing fun in Wisconsin.

Tuesday morning brought a drive back to Minneapolis, killing a few hours at the Mall of America before catching a flight back to Jacksonville. 

Now back at home, the longing for the "next time" has started to kick in a major way. Spring of 2023 just can't come soon enough!