Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back to the beach!

In August my family and I took a trip to Carolina Beach for some fun, sand, and surf.  My wife introduced me to the beach several years ago, after we got married, and we have been taking family vacations there since Jack was old enough to travel.  It has been a lot of fun with trips to the boardwalk, Brett's Doughnuts, and days on the beach with nights on the Carolina Beach Pier.  This year was going to be a little different.  My wife suggested that I check into an in-shore charter to satisfy my fishing fun.

After checking the internet for some charter services local to Carolina Beach, I found Rod-Man Charters out of Wrightsville Beach.  Capt. Rick Bennett has a nice website and runs a yearly surf fishing school in Wilmington, NC.  I decided to give him a try since his prices seemed to be reasonable and his location close to our vacation spot.  I booked for a 3/4 day trip and hoped that I would catch some drum.

The weather for my trip was picture perfect, sunny skies and hot temperatures.  We left the marina early and headed out into the Inner Coastal Waterway from Wrightsville Beach.   I am not much on boat fishing, mainly because I don't own a boat.  It was a lot of fun even though it was not a very productive day.  Light spinning tackle live baiting Menhaden is a lot of fun when you get a big fish on.  The guide caught a 4 lb flounder early in the trip and I struck out during the early morning portion.  In the afternoon we switched to drum and I managed to hook a nice 6 lb slot drum.  A drum of that size on a 4000 size reel and seven foot rod was a battle, especially out from under a dock pilling.  I didn't have much luck after that but I had meat in the cooler!

Now if I can connect in the fall it will be a good year of saltwater fishing for me.  :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

What's new? Or new to me!

  It has really been slow around here lately and, once again, I have not really been into updating the blog.  The weather across the South has been blisteringly hot!  This translates into no hopes for fishing unless you are willing to travel deep into the mountains to find cool water.  I am not unwilling to try and find some wild trout but the heat has been so extreme that even those sources are running low water levels and higher than normal temperatures.  It had turned into a Summer of sweat, work, and sit around the house.

Old and busted......

   My Summer got even better when the air conditioning on my old 98' Jeep Grand Cherokee crapped out on me.  Summer temps + no a/c = MISERABLE!  A couple of weeks with no air just about killed me.  So the wife finally relented and we decided to get a replacement for the Jeep.  I looked around and did some research on what I needed.  We finally settled on getting a used 2007 Chevy Tahoe from Flow Motors in Winston-Salem.  I have always wanted one but now was not really a good time to be adding a car payment to our bills.  Luckily my wife did some juggling and we were able to get some breathing room in the bills to afford a payment.  It seemed to be a good deal and I am very happy with the vehicle so far.

New hotness.....

   As I cleaned out the Jeep I thought about all the fun and milestones we went through with it.  When I first got the Jeep it nearly ended my relationship with my wife.  She could not understand my need for 4WD and being able to get to work no matter what the weather was.  We survived.  The Jeep was a great fishing vehicle and took me to the Outer Banks many times and through a hurricane on the Point in Hatteras.  It cruised all over Western North Carolina fishing for trout.  We took Jack home from the hospital in the Jeep.  I hate to admit it but I got a little choked up when I handed over the keys.  The new Tahoe has a lot to live up to.  I can't wait to get it rigged up for the beach.  Hatteras in November!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not a lot to say lately......

I haven't had a lot to say recently which is a little out of the norm for me.  I haven't been fishing much because I got a nasty case of bronchitis and that made some asthma flare up.  It isn't much fun to be outside coughing your guts up or gasping for your last breath.  It's even worse to be doing it deep off the beaten path in the middle of nowhere.  I would kick my ass if I had to come drag me out of the woods.

Work has not been kind to me lately and now I struggle to afford my hobbies.  It is a terrible downer to go from being able to travel and fish at my leisure to being worried that I can't pay my bills and feed my family.  I guess I won't go too much further into this topic because expressing one's opinion in a public forum can get you in hot water.

I did manage to get my son out on a local lake for some brimbusting.  I took my small 3wt and rigged it with a white Hendrickson fly to skitter across the surface while we chummed the water with some bread.   Jack hooked a small bluegill on his first try holding the rod (with Daddy assisting).  We had a good time and it was good to see a 3 year old take a interest in my favorite hobby.  Well, that was as long as we were catching fish.  So much like his Daddy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trout Safari 2010 Wilson Creek

After leaving Dillsboro we decided that we would drive to Morganton so that we could get an early crack at Wilson Creek.  We had a good night's sleep and after getting some supplies from the grocery store we headed out to see if Wilson Creek would produce like past trips.  We decided to fish some popular deep pools since we managed to beat the crowds for once.  After we geared out we headed for the water.  I thought that it was going to be a cool morning but was quickly proved wrong.  My fleece jacket was burning me up so I paused for a moment and take it off then rig my rod with a new fly/dropper combination.  This brief break was all someone needed to walk up behind me and say, "I'm coming up behind you and I am going to fish that pool" (gesturing to the pool I wanted to fish).  I replied that I was headed for that same spot but he continued, unabashedly, to the exact spot that I was going to stand to fish the pool.  Needless to say, I was PISSED!  I tried to fish the pool from around a fallen tree but could not get a good cast.  I trudged off and entertained thoughts of tossing a big ass rock into the pool to spoil his fishing.  You can't count of courtesy anymore.  Unfortunately Wilson Creek is getting very popular and we picked Spring Break to go fishing.  To my detriment, I let this put me off on the wrong foot for the day.  We decided to abandon the popular spot and head for a less fished area.

The rest of the morning was one failure after the next for me.  It was turning into one of those occasions where I became my own worst enemy, fishing angry is no way to fish.  I could not do anything right it seemed, casting knots, loosing my pliers and hemostats, snagged lines, and a fall in the chilly water really put a damper on my morning.  I was ready to pack it in and head for home.  I caught up with my buddy Eric and composed myself long enough to straighten my gear out and tie on another rig.  We were walking out to the road when we decided to give a shady stretch under a tree a try.  I was eventually rewarded with a nice little Brown and a couple of Brookies.  I was back to center and ready to fish the rest of the day.  It's amazing what a couple of fish can do.

After eating lunch and taking off my wet fleece pants I decided that I would don my boots and wet wade the rest of the afternoon.  It had been hot all week and today was no exception with temperatures edging 80+ degrees.  Eric headed off upstream for some new waters and I decided to fish near were we ate lunch.  It is a popular spot but the crowds seemed to have slacked off after lunch.  When I got to the water's edge I was surprised to see trout rising and crashing the surface as they fed.  I tied on a Quill Gordon and immediately was rewarded with some hits and eventually snagged a Brook Trout.  After a while I tied on a Slumpbuster and watched a hungry Brookie attack it with gusto!  After catching a few more Brookies I ventured up stream to find Eric.  I found him fishing around the bend from me and as I walked up to the bank he snagged a big Rainbow Trout.  I tried to take some video of the fight but soon realized that I needed to put down the camera and help him land the fish.  Unfortunately I decided to leave my net behind so that I would wet wade without that bothering me.  Now I needed it.  I gently cradled the ugly looking stocked Rainbow - he had a terrible looking lower jaw that looked like it had been rubbed on the cement holding pond it lived in at the hatchery - as Eric tried to get the hook out of his upper mouth.  We struggled but managed to get the fly out and after a few minutes of resuscitation the fish swam off to be snagged again.  We caught a few more fish after that and the day ended on a high note.  It was time to go pitch a tent, make a fire, and toss back a few Maker's Marks.

 The next morning we awoke to some sun that quickly changed to overcast when we hit the water.  Prime fishing weather!  Again we were into the fish and spent the rest of the morning catching Brook Trout after Brook Trout on Stimulators and  Parachute Adams flies.  I even managed to hook the biggest fish I have ever hooked, ME!  My fly got snagged in a tree behind me and as I tugged it out of the branches the fly shot back and landed with a "thunk" on my right forearm lodging the hook point in my skin.  Surprisingly it did not hurt but I feared the fish nasty on it would cause my arm to fall off.  As you may imagine, getting a fly out of your arm with your weak hand is not easy.  In fact, it is quite hard.  I survived and it's just another scar to tell a tale about.   The afternoon ended with us getting soaked by a torrential downpour. 

Trout Safari was over.  We headed back to Greensboro to get back to our families and work, not so much the latter.  It was a fun week and I appreciated the fish I caught and cursed the ones that got away.  I can't wait to go again!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A couple of signs that don't make you feel very comfortable when seen together.  Evidently, Wilson Creek is a bear sanctuary.

Trout Safari 2010 Tuckasegee River 4/6/2010 "The Suckasegee"

After we left the Davidson River we decided to head over the mountain and make a go at the Tuckasegee.  We took a back route to Dillsboro which was a twisty turny trek across the Eastern Continental Divide, three times.  It felt like it took forever and the steep mountain roads were almost more than my old Jeep could take.  Eventually we found the Tuck's head waters and twisted into Dillsboro.

Unfortunately, as we got closer to Dillsboro we noticed that the Tuckasegee was running very swift and very high.  CRAP!  Lack of planning had reared it's ugly head and now we were paying a price.  I neglected to check the generation schedule and flow for the river and it appeared to be at full tilt.  Sure enough, they were generating from 9a-10p.... CRAP!  So it looked like the Tuck would be a wash.  We did try to make a go of it and waded into the spot were we caught fish last year.  The wading was DANGEROUS and I felt like my legs would be taken out from under me at any moment.  It was the "Suckasegee" so we decided to pack up and make tracks.

After a little debate we decided to abandon our chintzy $40 hotel.  It was OK, it smelled like Indian food and had decor from the 1970's.  Onward to Wilson Creek and tons of Delayed Harvest trout!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trout Safari 2010, Davidson River 4/5-6/10 "Missed opprotunities"

This year I decided that I would take a week off from work and hit some of the best trout fishing areas in Western North Carolina.  We started out on the Catch and Release section of the Davidson River in Brevard, NC.  The section of river runs through the Pisgah National Forest and is quite scenic as it runs below John Rock and past the fish hatchery and Wildlife Education Center.

We visited Davidson River Outfitters for some information and to stock up on some flies.  I was very impressed  by the shop.  A great selection of supplies and flies and the staff was very informative and enthusiastic.  If you go to fish the Davidson River be sure to stop by DRO!  Stocked up on flies and gear, we were ready to do some battle with the brutes that lurked in the waters of the Davidson River.

On our first day we decided to pick a pull off that looked suitable.  Unfortunately, we didn't get on the fish right away and decided to brave the crowds near the hatchery.  The best way I could describe this section of the river is "elbows and assholes".  There were anglers every 100 feet down the river into the woods.  Despite this pressure we managed to find a spot where the fish were rising and crashing the surface.  A tremendous number of bugs were swarming the river in a hatch but I never managed to nab one for closer inspection.  The day was hot and the water was cool, good conditions for a hatch.

The fishing was slow as I went through fly combinations trying to find one that they preferred.  Eventually I settled on an orange colored Stimulator pattern that got several strikes but no takers.  After a while I began to think that I was going to get a big fat skunk when a tremendous crash hit my Stimulator.  My rod immediately bent over with a weight I had not felt before, it was a big fish.  Immediately the inner novice in me took over and I played the fish like it was a race to see how fast I could drag it in.  I horsed the line and drug the trout closer to me as I fumbled with my net.  I couldn't seem to get my net close enough to the fish to get it in and figured that I would just grab the leader and drag the fish a little closer.  I looked down in the water and saw the biggest fish I had caught to this point.  Visions of my triumph were interrupted by a "PLICK" as my tippet departed the leader and my pig darted off into the distance.  If I wasn't standing near an elderly couple when this occurred I would have let forth a stream of obscenities that would make a Shanghai Sailor blush.  The sight of that fish haunted me for the rest of my trip.  It was an all time high for me and my stupidity cost me big.

I continued to fish and fume about my loss when, once again, a trout crashed my fly.  My rod bent over and I once again connected with a big fish.  I had learned from my previous experience and gingerly played the trout until I was able to control it..... or not.  I once again became panicked and played the fish like a dysfunctional idiot.  I horsed the fish within an arms reach when the Stimulator shot out of the fish's mouth and snagged itself in the branches of the tree above me.  I could have cried.  Not one, but two career high fish gone within my grasp.  Why can't I learn from my mistakes?!  The rest of the evening was a let down and we eventually left the river to find a hotel and a bite to eat.  I drifted off to sleep that night with nightmares of lost fish tormenting my soul.

We decided that we would get up at the crack of dawn and return to our hot spot for a second, or third, crack at those fish.  It was a slow morning that lacked the active fish of the previous day.  I fished my Stimulator again and did manage to connect with a nice brown trout that was colorful.  I had heard that the catch and release section of the Davidson held some big fish but I wasn't sure if it was true.  That is until I saw a HUGE brown trout lurking in the water only 20 feet in front of me.  This river holds BIG fish!  We gave up on the crowded section and headed up stream to see if we could find more fish.  After a short hike we failed to find any fish and the crowds only seemed to get bigger as the afternoon stretched on.  It was time to leave the Davidson and head for other fish on other waters.  On to the Tuckasegee...........

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Going "Trout Bum" Update

The excitement is building as the last days tick down until "D-Day", or in this case "T-Day".  Work has been excruciating this last week and every second seems to drag on in anticipation of vacation.  It has really been hard to focus and maintain a positive attitude.  Even sleeping at night has been hard. When I wake up in the middle of the night my mind begins to race thinking about all the things I need to do and what the week will hold.  It's pathetic to think that I am a grown man acting like a kid at Christmas Eve.  Oh, well.

T minus three days and counting!