Monday, May 22, 2017

A New Venture

In the early nineties, rummaging around my grandfather's garage, I noticed an old fly rod hanging among his other fishing equipment.  I had been fortunate that my dad was a passionate bass angler, and had me fishing from a very early age.  Fly casting seemed like a reasonable challenge, so I picked up the old Heddon and taught myself to fly fish.  Nearly 25 years later, the passion still burns as intense as ever.  I certainly couldn't have predicted that.  As I approached the end of high school, I desperately wanted to become a full-time guide.  For various reasons, I put off that dream, until nearly half forgotten.  

I've reached a point in life where I realize that time is finite, and one has to try to live this life to its fullest.  I have also reached a point in my fishing that I am confident enough in my acquired skills to share them with others.

With that said, I am ready to say that with 25 years in the making, I am ready to hang my small shingle.  

I am beginning this venture solo, as I want to focus as much as possible on including tenkara options in my guiding services.  Many fly shops are still leary of the "T" word, but things are changing.  I will start very small, first offering trips on the public tailwater here in Blue Ridge.  I am working on the permitting process for backcountry access.  I have also acquired a small drift boat, but that also falls into future planning.  

I want to make it clear that I am not trying to "cash in" on the tenkara community, or the growth of fly fishing in general.  I don't think anyone goes into guiding thinking they are going to line their pockets.  Its a labor of love, and when one is passionate to the point of bursting, even after nearly a quarter of a century, it hard not to want to share that with others.  I hope that the shape of this business becomes as much about education and spreading the "stoke" as solid catches.  I want, in my small way, to be a part of the journey that creates a lifelong angler, rather than just a forgettable weekend of fishing.

So, let's begin...

Back of Beyond, LLC., catering to tenkara and fly fisherman alike, with plenty of experience in both (8 years & 24 years respectively).  Fully insured, and located in beautiful Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Beautiful Day in the Smokies

Sunday, I had a free pass and nothing but time on my hands, so after my second cup of coffee, I packed up the car and headed out for a much needed day afield.  I hadn't been to the Smokies in a while and figured it was long overdue.  I chose a stream on the south side of the Park that's an easy drive from Blue Ridge, and though crowded in the lower portions, would allow some privacy within just a short walk.  Upon arrival, I quickly suited up and grabbed three rods stuffing them, some water and macadamia nuts into my trusty Vedavoo pack.  Locking the car door, I said goodbye to a jam-packed parking lot.  There is a really nice riffle right out of the parking lot that has varying depth on on side of the current tongue, and a harsh seam/circulatory pool on the other.  To my surprise, I rarely see people fishing this run.  I assume that they assume the water is no good due to the proximity of people, but I have caught some nice fish there.  I also use it as a way to calibrate the day, and warm up the senses in preparation.  After picking off four fish, and missing a dandy of a hit in the pool, I collapsed the big Oni (the Nissin Oni Honryu 450, just right for the largish stream) and took a walk.  The rest of the day was sensational.  Even though it was midday with bright sun and blue bird skies, I still managed thirteen fish by the end of the session.  Rather than repeating the same thing over and over again, my fishing becomes ever more dynamic, changing techniques constantly, rather than flies. By the end of the day, my kebari was totally ragged.  I knew my time was coming to an end, and began to suffer from the "one-more" syndrome, seeking the right fish that somehow quells the imaginative longing for the perfect ending.  There was a long, deep current tongue on the far bank.  At it's head, it dropped off of a shoal into a pool with broken water on the surface.  A tree and large boulder formed the shore, and a deep dark pool with a hard seam edged up against the bank.  I hooked a good fish in the broken-water pool, but he threw the hook in his mad-dash.  I doggedly continued working both sides of the flow, employing as many presentations as I could conjure up.  Finally, I made a pile cast into the top of the strong current seam, allowing the fly to perform a "mystery move" (old squirt boating jargon), quickly dropping into the lower levels of the water column and pulling the line tight. I repeated this presentation a third time, and midway down the pool the line paused ever so briefly.  I set the hook and felt the weight of a good fish.  By the angry, doleful head-shakes, I could only guess that it was a decent brownie.  Seeing that this tactic wouldn't work to shake the hook, he unwillingly left the pool and took to the current.  The fish put a nice, deep bend in the big Oni, but couldn't overcome the uncompromising backbone of the rod.  And just like that it was all over, fish in the net, photographed and released.  A wave of satisfaction washed over me, knowing there was nothing left to do but walk back to the car, drive into town, and grab a few frosty treats for the road.

A good way to begin the day

Creek Chub?  Fought like a brownie twice its size!

A tattered kebari after long day of fishing
Final fish of the day. Not a giant, but hefty and determined.

Nantahala Brewing, always a good way to finish a day of fishing.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Taking a Much Needed Break; New Diversions

I check a few of my favorite blogs daily, and am grateful for their output and content.  Just the other day, as I was discovering a new wet fly pattern, I drifted over to the "B" Blogger icon to check on my own blog. To my dismay, it had been well over a month since my last post!  Same for Instagram, which I am much better with in terms of output; one month!

Sometimes one has to take a step back from it all.  Fortunately, there is the reliable, steady rise of the trout.  There is the continual honing of my tenkara skills; the realization that one is mainly a wet fly fisherman. The latter makes one do a double-take at that 2 weight glass rod collecting dust. That glass rod gets paired with a small tin of favorite caddies dries, and taken to my small stream, running flush with the recent spring rains.

Did I mention the wet wading?  It's wonderful to see the water levels up, especially after a dismal summer last year.

There's also the tiny rivulets that form headwaters; rhodo-choked hellholes where Georgia brookies, literally at the end of the line, cling tenaciously to life.

Not to mention that the local ponds are warming up, and the bass are finally getting aggressive.  I can watch a bass take a popper all day long.

Not Tenkara! 

And finally, I got a new toy, but more on that later...

So it's been a good break, but it's time to step back into the maw of the beast.  I have a few things in the works, and for better or worse, the internet plays a big role in facilitation.  The interconnection is part of daily life now, and like it or not, it is hard to escape its increasing necessity.  But it does feel great to step away every now and then.  Maybe next time, it won't take so long.