Monday, July 24, 2017

The Power of Dreams

North Georgia is finally bearing the full brunt of summer, with high temperatures and at times, unbearable humidity.  It's this time of year that I slow down (a little) on the trout fishing. As streams reach lower flows and the water temperature rises, it seems like the ethical thing to do.  These little guys are barely hanging on as it is.  I try to restrict my small stream fishing to early morning or late in the evening at this time of year. Or, I seek higher elevations and native char.

One begins to dream of cooler weather and better water flows. Recently I was thinking back on a trip last fall.  Prior to the Tenkara Jam of that year, a friend and I decided to check off a bucket-list journey up a very special drainage in the Smokies.  An idea that originally began as a multi-day trip became a one day blitz up the entire drainage, with a bushwhack out of the very top and a decent hike back to the car.  We began in the dark, and it was in the dark we finally reached our cars.  All told, I think it was in the vicinity of a 13 mile circuit, but with all of the bushwhacking, elevation gain and loss, we were both exhausted. On the whole, I would say we did more walking than fishing, but it was easily one of the best days of my life.

Trips like these inspire, not to outdo something or someone, but to seek that special quality that only wilderness can give.

There has been a stream that I have long wanted to fish in the Smokies.  It is not a secret. In fact, I would say that it is the most mythicized of all the streams inside the park. A person can reach it in one of two ways. A really long hike, or by boat.  Because of a notorious bear problem in that area, with frequent campsite closures, the former has never been too appealing to me, especially solo and overnight. One could hire a shuttle, but then you are on someone else's clock, so...

This arrived in the post the other day, all 2.3 HP of potential energy.  It doesn't seem like much, but it should push the Flycraft around at a decent clip. Enough to get a tenkara angler across a lake and into the back of beyond, as Horace Kephart liked to call it.  Enough to power a dream that will see me through until fall, and will likely see me through future moments as well; dreams that haven't even been dreamt yet.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One Bomber of a Day

Dry flies are one of the things that keep a few reels lying about the house.  I couldn't imagine ever giving up that joy.  I have rises from fish etched in my brain from as long as 20+ years ago.  I can recall some of them as vividly as if it were yesterday.  A rise is a rise you would think, but each one is so different. Different lighting, varying outside circumstances, a change in mood or mental state; so many factors contribute to make a few of those rises indelible.
Last weekend, I managed to find a window between relentless rain and thunderstorms.  I hadn't fished dry flies in a while, and knew immediately the way I wanted to spend that precious window.  It didn't take me long to find my faithful small stream companion lying at the very back of a wooden crate that contains all of my tenkara rods and a few short fly rods.  A 6'2" fiberglass 2/3# from Cabelas; a delight to cast up in the headwaters.  I headed to a stream that was a sure bet for some native brook trout, and I figured that the water levels would be good but not blown out.  I had tied a few flies for just such a trip, and I knew exactly what I wanted to tie on:

The Ausable Bomber.  If they worked so well on the Appalachian Char's northern cousins, surely the pattern would do just as well here.  It didn't take me long to find out the answer.

The stream had become so choked with rhododendron growth, that it was impassable in places.  I would fish up to a section, and then have to backtrack downstream.

A stream emerges from the tunnels

Crawling for Brookies

I caught my fill, and then retreated to a nearby clearing for lunch.  I was fortunate enough to apply a good coating of sardine juice on my shirt, which seemed a little sketchy since I was in an area known for decent bear activity.  Satisfied with my Bomber experiment, I moved over to another stream to try another nondescript pattern I had previously tied.

A simple parachute, with little more than moose for the tail, rainbow-warrior dubbing for the body, and a few turns of grizzly hackle over an yellow antron post.  Again it did not disappoint; these little guys are hungry after all.  More of a mental doodling on behalf of the angler.  All in all, not a bad outing.  A few native fish, and time spent in these ancient mountains that I love so.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hand Tying Update

Because of some other pressing projects, I haven't had time to carry out the experiments laid out in the previous post.  However, I did sit down and work on my hand-tying without a vise.  I have seen photographs of really nice kebari tied in-hand by master Japanese tenkara practitioners.  I knew with a little practice, I could do better than the ratty little fly I photographed.  So I tied, cut, retied over and over again until the muscles began to relax to their task, and the process became a little easier.  I also discovered that half-hitches are a hand-tier's best friend.  Anyways, its fun to mess around, and I look forward to doing this in the field.