Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Its that time of year again. Due to increased energy demands, the local tailwaters are running at full capacity which means that the fish are deep and the water for the most part is just to deep and fast to attempt to wade.
Mid June starts my trips to the Great Smoky Mountains to fish for wild trout. This creates the need for two distinct types of fly fishing that, in my opinion, are the hardest to master. Monkey fishing and ninja fishing. Let me explain…
First lets look at monkey fishing. Monkey fishing involves casting with either hand while you hang precariously from ledges, trees, the bank. You are literally dangling in some rather precarious positions just to get the fly in the water. This type of fishing can be problematic for several reasons. You can, as I have in the past, grab hold of a limb or root that has been dead since the Truman administration. This entails the reach, the tight grip, the cast, and then that moment where, much like Wile E. Coyote, you are suspended in midair for a moment before you realize that the law of gravity has exercised its rights upon you and you plummet into whatever may lie below.
Ninja fishing is the stealthy approach to wary trout, who are ninja masters themselves. You crouch and creep from rock to rock, dangling the fly and hair thin tippet into washtub size pockets of water in the hope that you have been undetected and the fly looks real. This all works well until the aforementioned ninja fisherman securely wedges his foot between to rocks that grip as tight as a vice grip and your next attempt at stealth sends you face first into the water with such a splash that fish somewhere along the Gulf Coast are on the lookout. This event also includes the quick yet casual glance around to see if any of the other Ninjas have witnessed your Jerry Lewis like attempt at grace.
Occasionally the Monkey fisherman or the Ninja Fisherman will encounter the occasional Slingblade trout. The Slingblade Trout is one that is simple minded enough to mistake your fall as a thunderstorm and your fly as a French fried tater. In such situations, it is possible to miss seven out of ten strikes before you bring one to hand. At which time you become well aware that sometimes luck shines down and a buffoon can have a productive day.
Ahh….Summer fishing….I love it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Two to remember

The latter part of May was quite eventful around the ol’ House of Payne. Getting ready for baby, home construction, etc. But two events in particular, both of the angling variety made some lasting memories.

In celebration of our wedding anniversary, my bride booked us a couple of nights at a little place in Dillsboro N.C. right on the Tuck. “This woman must really love me to place me right on top of a river during our anniversary, either that or she wanted to see how often I would be lost in that nondescript gaze that anglers sometimes get beside good water. You can talk to them, and they won’t hear. Their thoughts are with the drift, the fly, and the mystery of what is under the surface.

The section that we stayed in was right at the end of the DH water. More Smallie than anything, but just upstream were trout, big ones. I didn’t actually know that there were big ones, but it was DH water so I felt justified in my grand assumptions. It is peculiar how optimistic an angler becomes before he actually steps into the water, and how after switching flies a thousand times with no real success, he determines that there is not a trout within a hundred miles of where he stands, and those distant trout are probably not feeding anyway. Such is the way of sport I suppose.

But I digress….

After checking in and having a spectacular meal, we settled in for the evening. The day had reached the point in its pursuit of evening when those who have been fishing are packing up. It was then that Jill said “why don’t you fish a while and let me take some pictures.” My God!!!! This woman does love me!!!

The only other angler (loosely interpreted), was a fella of maybe 24 years who was fishing with a cup of crawlers, and using a Mitchell 300 on a broken rod. The graphite had seen better days, at least 5 inches broken off the tip, duct tape liberally distributed throughout. An absolute mess. I had been in the water for enough time to have a long distance argument with my wife over her insistence upon getting the “A River Runs Through It” shot while I am trying to fish.

The good ol boy gives a yell and I see his rod quiver as it is pulled down to the surface of the water. “Big ol Trout!” he yells. “My God that’s the biggest trout I’ve ever seen!”

It wasn’t so much his tirade that pissed me off, it was the fact that my wife’s camera lens had now been diverted from her formerly svelte husband of lo these many years and the father of her children, to this…this…bait chunking ridge runner who was about to set the state record trout on a broken spinning rod!

He brought the fish near the surface in front of me. The downturned lips and scales that looked to be the size of guitar picks were all I needed to see. It wasn’t long before the fellas line broke and he walked away thinking that he had just lost the biggest trout of his life. I told him no different. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and he was immersed in blissful elation.
I woke the next morning and looked out the window. The river was the color of chocolate milk and raging, I was fishless for sure on this day. I sighed, made a cup of coffee, slipped back into bed and turned the on the television. It was my anniversary, I wouldn’t be fishing, but that lovely lady sleeping beside me made it all okay.

A few days later I took Lt. Col. Morton to a newly discovered fishing spot that holds tons of quality trout. It is not unusual to say you caught better than double the limit with none measuring less than sixteen inches. I was excited for him. After one solid year of hell deep in the bowels of the Middle East, a hard fight with a big fish would be just what the doctor ordered. We had no sooner entered the water when two hatches of biblical proportions occurred. In most cases this is a cause for that adrenaline fueled elation that anglers look for with passion. The only problem was that these bugs were unbelievably small and we had nothing that would even come close in size. Couple that with the fact that the sheer numbers of bugs coming off the water were so many that it became almost like playing the lottery. Our flies were just one small object in an armada of the living.

Huge fish were eating with reckless abandon, some so close that you could reach out and twp them on the head. It was as if we weren’t even there. Then Morton tied on a small emerger and was walking over to me when something hit it. He hadn’t even really cast, just had it dangling in the water. After a very brief fight, he brought it to hand. A Bluegill. Yep. Here we are in trout heaven with bragging size fish all around us and he hooks a bluegill. I was fishing an old Granger, sweet rod. He turned to me and said, “Here I stand amidst all these trout with a 150.00 reel, a 700.00 rod, and all I get is a bluegill.” Funny as it was, it was one of the prettiest bluegills I have ever laid my eyes on.

We left the water at dark and went to this little drive in/ diner for a milkshake that is the best around, and talked about old times, massive hatches, and one lone bluegill that made the trip one to remember.