Day on the Saluda - January 21, 2012
*Cancelling a Cancellation*
Over the years, I have always had a desire to make a day on the Saluda a part of a regular outings schedule. Although it seemed for each one scheduled, we had to pull the plug and not have the event. Previously (without fail), the laws of nature wreaked havoc on ALL Saluda Days. Oh, it was a variety of things such as water flow, bitter cold, snowstorms of the century and the list goes on.
The original outing for 2012 was scheduled for Jan 7th and like clockwork, the forces of nature worked against us. This time, SCE&G had a planned release of water thereby making the Saluda unfishable and more importantly unsafe. The date was moved to Jan 21st for the next try. Like clockwork a 60% chance of thunderstorms with some being severe was consistent in all forecast we monitored. Upon hearing and seeing the forecast, we decided to cancel the event. After making a decision to cancel, boy did we find out about how many folks really wanted to fish. The emails began to fly and sure enough, we had our own little revolt on our hands. Several stated they had no problem fishing in the rain and although some worried about lightening, the consensus and overwhelming message was LET’S TAKE OUR CHANCES AND FISH. Therefore we rescinded our cancellation and cancelled the cancellation and with that my Reference Point had arrived. NOW ARE YOU CONFUSED?
Jeremiah Davis took charge and hosted our hard charging trout chasers for this day. As for me; I was unable to attend the Jan 21st Saturday event. Oh, I had a great excuse and you would too if you were married to Mrs. Cloud. Fact is, this was the weekend of our wedding anniversary and she is in charge and takes precedent for such a special day. The day on the Saluda turnout was excellent with between 15 to 20 folks showing up to fish. Jeremiah made a wonderful batch of chowder for a little noontime snack. Folks must get mighty hungry when catching trout, I am told that there was not a drop of chowder left after the break at the gazebo. Fishing was excellent as the rains held off until about the 2 o’clock hour and it was after that, that the monsoons began and the much feared forecast made its presence known.
Thanks to a great relief pitcher,
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Day on the Saluda: February 4th, 2012
The Tuckaseegee has moved South to Columbia!!!
February 4th was the day of our next scheduled Saluda Outing. As I made way to the Waffle House I was hoping for another excellent turn out for the day’s outing. Since I missed the first Saluda Day, I was ready for my first day on the Saluda and excited about the event. Once arriving at the Waffle House, it looked like a SRTU breakfast banquet was taking place. In fact, we had half the seats in the restaurant. After a quick hearty breakfast we made way to the river for a fun day of catching.
Our participants were ready to get into the river and take their chances. We had several of our newbies who brought their recent gifts for Christmas (new fly rods, reels, waders, etc) and were eager to try out their new gear. Thanks must go to several of our veteran fishermen who assisted with instruction, advice, and mentoring. Dermon Sox was on hand for casting instruction and demonstration; he is truly a master caster and has assisted many chapter members in their quest to learn about fly fishing. Johnny Butler of Fly South tied fly’s and provided opportunities for attendees to cast different fly rod and reel combinations. He was also on hand to answer the numerous questions that come with all this equipment and gadgets fly fishermen seem to acquire.
Lunch was provided by Jeremiah Davis who cooked up a great batch of Chili for the day. As we approached the 12:30 hour, those who desired made their way back to the gazebo for a noon time snack. It did not take long for the Chili to vanish and for a couple of reasons; the chili was excellent and we had 31 people attend this event. Also a special thanks to Gary Hert, Reuben Chandler, and Shawn Kenney who took great pictures documenting the event. I hope folks will check out our new facebook page for the action shots and see if you can recognize some familiar faces.
While on the river I remember looking around, checking out the scenery and thinking that a fly fishermen hatch was taking place. In fact, that is my Reference Point for the day. The Saluda actually had the look and feel of the Tuckaseegee River in North Carolina. With close to 25 folks on the river, I was able to witness several double hook ups and big smiles along the way. In fact, the Saluda was a sight to behold. By all accounts, most caught fish and some had great day’s numbers wise. Dermon quit at 30 fish and the biggest fish of the day was a 26 inch brown caught by ???? . As for me; my day ended at noon and 8 hookups and 8 fish to the net.
To sum up, I must thank all who participated and indeed my dreams of a day on the Saluda Day had finally come true. Jeremiah did a wonderful job on the coordination and preparation for the event. Thanks also must go to all the folks who provided advice and direction for our newer members. I can only hope days like this spark an interest in the wonderful sport of fly fishing. I have a firm belief that once interested in the sport; one can easily understand the beauty that is the Saluda and a common bond will exist for all who wish to protect and enhance our wonderful fishery.
Let’s keep fishing;
It’s worth protecting,
Nantahala River Report for March 16-18th, 2012
A Nantahala trip always has good numbers in regards to attendees and as usual, we had a great group. Attendees were Phil and Ann Smith, Ted Tsolovos, Mac Brown, Curtis Carter, Reuben Chandler, Shawn Kenney, Bobby Padgett, Roy Tryon and yours truly Keith Cloud. Our trip began with a beautiful day and weekend in the forecast. Making way to Bryson City, I always make it a point to stop by and see the good folks at a fly shop or two along the way. The Outpost is located on HWY 74 just outside of Whittier, before you get to Cherokee. Steve and Shannon always have a fly or two to recommend and, occasionally they have a coffey nymph or two in stock. The coffey nymph is the fly of choice for your outings host and the writer of this article Keith Cloud. Unfortunately for this trip, there were no coffey nymphs in stock. Although most folks would think I would panic upon hearing this bit of devastating news; that would not be the case this time. My good friend Johnny Butler of Fly South has begun tying the coffey nymph therefore my supply was sufficient, no need to panic.
Friday afternoon fishing on the Nan was excellent for most of our attendees. Curtis and Ted had a rough time of it and were unable to net very many fish; due in part to being a little rusty since they had not fished in a while. As our day closed and the reports came in, most folks had success while fishing a variety of nymphs. For me, the coffey nymph got nine. Shawn had the fish of the weekend on the first day. A massive hook jawed brown trout, colored beautifully was taken on a Mac Leach (more about the Mac Leach later). As for the others Roy, Reuben, and Mac, they had a great beginning to our trip. Most trout were taken fishing sub surface fly’s such as Squirmy Wormies, Chamy flys and another fly (yes fly), called crystal meth. Phil had some success, but his story for the day involved spotting a nice gathering of copperheads sunning on a streamside rock.
Bryson Patch Cabins served as our place of relaxation at the end of the day and the fine dining establishments Anthony’s Italian, The Station Restaurant, and The Everett Street Diner take care of our bellies so to speak. These folks are like family and have always done a fine job in hosting us for our trips. Please if visiting the area, give them a SRTU shout and patronize these fine folks. We will see them again when we venture back to the Nantahala for our May 2012 trip.
Saturday am started in its usual way, with a quick visit to our friend Charlene at the Everett Street Diner and a good hearty breakfast followed by the 30 minute drive to the Nantahala. Ted and I hurried to secure the spot where Shawn caught the nice brown. Curtis and Bobby soon arrived and soon we were all quickly in the stream. On my second cast, I caught a nice native rainbow. It was going to be a great day for the host of the trip and indeed it was. I finished with 15, but had to fish very hard to get them as I stuck with the coffey nymph and a white wooley for a large portion of the day.
As we gathered for the shore lunch, a light rain was falling. We had to improvise and figure how to keep the food from getting wet and cook in a dry environment. Thanks to the Commander (Phil), we worked thru that little difficulty using the tailgates of our trucks and the bed covers of our trucks. Fortunately as we all sat down to begin to eat, the sky’s parted and a beautiful sunshine enjoyed the shore lunch with us.
The afternoon fishing was successful and although the rain affected the fish, our group relished the fact that we basically had the river to ourselves which was not bad for a Saturday on a mountain trout stream. After our evening meal and talk began on what worked for the weekend, the Mac Leach seemed to be the winning fly. Roy had brought his fly tying kit and was tying as many as he could. When asked about the Mac Leach, he remarked that he named the fly in honor of our very own Mac Brown. At that moment, Shawn and Mac were sitting on the cabin couch. I asked Shawn, how does it feel sitting next to someone who has a fly named after him? “It was indeed an honor to sit next to such a highly acclaimed angler in Mac Brown”, said Shawn. As I think about this trip, this is my reference point (how I will remember this trip) for the trip. My thoughts turned toward a time when Mac first joined the chapter indicating a desire to learn about fly fishing. In just a few short years, Mac has fly fished all over the world, this country, and participated in many SRTU outings. Little did he know that he would become so famous and have a fly named after him, the now famous Mac Leach. Shawn was correct, it is an honor to fish with a fine fellow like Mac and should someone desire, I am certain Mac would not mind signing an autograph or two at the next monthly meeting.
On Sunday, the West Fork of the Pigeon hosted Mac, Reuben, Shawn and Roy for Sunday fishing. Usually after a heavy rain, the Pigeon will run clear very quickly. Mac’s theory was correct and their catch reflected a good decision made by the group. Mac was the man for the day as he cleaned house on a tandem articulated fly tied by Kelly Gallup in Montana. Oh and yes he even caught a few more on the Mac Leach.
For our Sunday fishing, Ted and I decided to take a gander and fish the Tuck. Once there, Ted thought better of the opportunity and decided to inspect the back of his eyelids with a nice nap in my truck. The Tuckaseegee was a little muddy courtesy of the heavy rains during the middle of the night and although we had a beautiful day, I wondered why there were so few fishermen on the river. As I ventured into the river with my coffey nymph eagerly waiting to do battle, I caught a nice brook trout immediately. My thoughts then turned to thinking I was about to have a banner day, with no one on the river, just me and trout after trout making way to my net. After another hour of fishing, not a single bite. Seems like all those folks who were not on the river had a very legitimate reason for not being there, could it be they knew it would be a waste of time? Finally after struggling to catch fish; I had enough and my Nantahala weekend outing was officially over. It was time to wake Ted and make way to South Carolina.
Wake up Ted; let’s go to South Carolina
I hear Roy is tying Mac Leaches,
SRTU Outings Coordinator
April 13-15th, 2012 Wilson Creek Report
Remembering What Wasn’t
Last year 2011 was our first chapter outing to Wilson Creek. Our group had such a great time, and judging from the response, I knew a return to the Wilson would be on the agenda for 2012. Usually I began planning outings about 6 months to a year in advance. My goal is to allow folks plenty of time to incorporate and outing into their schedule, make the appropriate plans to attend and keep cancellations at a minimum. The 2012 Wilson Creek trip was planned and finalized in late September and early October of 2011. Brown Mountain Beach Resort would once again serve as our place of stay as per my last email confirming an estimated 14 attendees on Oct 6th, 2011.
Fast forward to 2012 and a common courtesy call to BMBR (Brown Mountain Beach Resort) a couple of months prior to our arrival, the results of that call placed your outings host (me) Keith Cloud in quite a pickle. BMBR failed to place my name on the reservation sheet for the cabin rentals agreed upon for April 13-15. BMBR was very sorry and apologized, but the cabins were assigned to another group and not us. With the goal of keeping our group together an exhausting search began to secure accommodations for our group. Quickly I found the familiar NO VACANCY phrase in every conversation regarding lodging. Our group numbers began to drop; I had only 6 folks who were willing to attend.
This year’s outing participants were Reuben Chandler, Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Ed Walsh, Owen Forsman and yours truly Keith Cloud. Our place of stay was the Cozy Creekside Cabin at Brown Mountain Lodge, located in very close proximity to Wilson Creek. A big SRTU thanks to Reuben for recommending Cozy Creekside, it is a place that has been frequented by several of our SRTU outing participants. I called owner Jeff Shook and he was more than happy to reserve the cabin for us. In fact, I was quite surprised the cabin was available. Cozy Creekside was very nice cabin and indeed Cozy.
After arrival and a quick check in and lunch in the cabin, it was off to Wilson Creek for the Friday afternoon fishing with a beautiful day before us as we fished above a place called Betsy’s store. Owen and I paired up and began fishing a few rapids and lots of slow water. Although fish were visible, we obviously were not serving what was for dinner. Owen discovered that we needed to go small and provide a steady dose of midges and finally, we began to pick up fish and the very end of the day.
Back to the cabin and soon, the fearsome foursome (Reuben, Mel, Mac, and Ed) arrived. As they exited the vehicle, Mac had that all too familiar look to him. It is a look that if you fly fish, you will some day have it. It is the look of a human wet fly. Mac had taken a spill and according to his fishing partners, he was very close to a perfect 10 on his fall. He scored well as he went completely under the water and brought back half the river with him in his waders. As far as the fishing goes, we all had similar experiences. It was a hard day of fishing with little results, but thanks to Mac we were able to reflect on the humor and not on the poor results for the fishing. Lasagna would be our evening meal.
A good hearty breakfast started our Saturday. For Owen and I, we ventured back to where we ended the day before. On Friday, we picked up fish at the end of the day and we had a sense of where they were at and what they would be taking. It had all the makings of a good plan, but someone forgot to tell the fish about it. After a morning of casting, we met the others at the cabin. The good hearty lunch provided a need for a cat nap and rejuvenation for the evening fishing.
Rueben, Mac, Mel and Ed had success at an area called the millworks. The area consist of some deep pools and dredging the bottom with squirmy wormy’s and chammy fly’s seemed to work best on what was turning out to be a so-so day. The Wilson was definitely under performing and things were not looking good. Owen and I had cast about every wet fly we could think of and our day was quickly coming to an end. With about 45 minutes till sundown, I saw trout beginning to rise in an area of rapids not much larger than a car hood. Yellow May Fly’s were coming off the water and trout were having the evening buffet right in front of me. I sat on a rock, tied on a yellow dry and began to have a blast. Now, this is what a trout trip is all about. I motioned to Owen; he tied on a dry and joined in on the fun. It was a great ending to a hard day of fishing.
Our evening meal of Burgers and Brat’s was served late; we all stayed on the water and fished hard till sundown. There would be little or no trouble sleeping on this evening, we had thrown our best at the river and fortunately we were achieving good results as the trip progressed.
Sunday and another great breakfast and quickly on the water, it was our last day and we needed to make it our best day. The Fearsome Foursome took charge and had a banner day. Between the four, I would say that close to 60 fish made way to their nets. They were on a roll and hated to end the day, but it was a great way to end our trip. We all started slow but finished well and another great trip was in the books. We packed up; left our humble abode the Cozy Creekside Cabin just the way we found it and made the trip back home to South Carolina.
Now for the Reference Point which is how I choose to remember the trip. I could have selected Mac’s imitation of a wet fly or the before the trip incident with Brown Mountain Beach Resort, but have instead decided upon something occurring after the trip.
I received a follow up letter concerning our stay at Cozy Creekside Cabin. Seems like I and the rest of our attendees were not good caretakers of the property we rented out. Little did I know our group was reported for shooting guns, leaving soiled carpets, moving furniture around, bringing a dog and having more than the amount of people (capacity) than the cabin could accommodate. Upon seeing the letter, I quickly called the owner Jeff Shook for an explanation of what was going on. Jeff cited a report from neighbors and the person responsible for cleaning the cabin. My first question was regarding what cabin are we speaking of. Jeff’s reply was the Cozy Creekside. Upon hearing that, I knew Jeff had received erroneous info and was entrusting clean up of his cabin to someone whom I described as a fraud. I encouraged Jeff to visit the cabin; take a look for himself, investigate the claim and get back with me.
It is with great pride that I and SRTU run a fantastic outings program. We send a lot of folks to do business with great folks like Jeff who rent to the many fine folks in the chapter. We had a wonderful time at Cozy Creekside and will return again someday. As I explained to Jeff, on all outings; I have a great cast of characters and participants, we DO NOT conduct business in the manner described in the complaint. Remembering what wasn’t is how I choose to remember this trip. It was NOT the case that we left the cabin in the condition stated. Jeff apologized for the confusion and we ended our conversation on a good note. Next time maybe a camera for the before and after shots, but I prefer to take pictures of the fishing instead.
Are you missing from the picture?
SRTU Outings Chair
Mitchell River Report (April 24th, 2012)
Tuesday Trout Trip Special
Up I-77 to exit 93 just North of Charlotte lay the Mitchell River. It is a river possessing a number of different opportunities to the fly fisherman. Although not a big river, it has its share of challenges. For us; the challenge of overhanging limbs, clear water, a howling wind, steep banks with briars, and slick orange rocks can bring out an ugly word or two as the day proceeds. Despite its challenges, this mid-week trip had another great group of folks attending and we all had a wonderful time. Thanks and congrats to our newest newbie to our outings Tom McCoy. It was also great to fish with fine folks like Tony Bebber , Mel Maurer, Mac Brown, and Stewart Methe.
As we ventured onto the river at 9am, we were about 4 hours removed from our leave time of 5 am from Sportsman’s Warehouse. I took Tom under my wing and begin the process of hopefully locating a trout or two for our newest participant. On the way up, Tom and I had great conversation. I quickly discovered he had made several wise decisions about this thing called fly fishing. Number one, he ventured to a Trout Unlimited monthly meeting and thankfully it was a Saluda River TU monthly meeting. Number two, he ventured over to Johnny Butler’s home for some excellent advice on equipment and a quality education from a great servant of the chapter. A visit to Johnny’s Fly South business is a must visit for any SRTU member or wannabe member, a shopping experience like no other. Number three, Tom was now participating in an SRTU outing and hanging out with those who have a deep desire and willingness to share their knowledge of the sport. Tom was indeed doing the right thing.
As Tom and I began to fish, we concentrated on an area consisting of slow water and big bends in the river. Last year, Reuben Chandler, Mac Brown and Mel Maurer had great success on this section. Although I had never fished this section, the area looked to be a perfect area for instruction and assessing Tom’s fly fishing skills. As with most beginners, some of the common problems are recognizing the strike of the trout, judging the speed of the water and the drift of the fly. Lot’s of things are going on and the challenges listed earlier also make their appearance known.
As we broke for the Now Famous Shore Lunch, it would be a time to reflect upon what worked and what did not. Tony, Mac and Mel had a fairly good morning, their past experiences on this river proved beneficial for these three amigos. Mel seemed to have the hot hand and was definitely in the zone. On the other hand, Stewart (his first trip to the Mitchell) was not having as good of a day. The Mitchell is definitely a tough place for first time visitors. As for me, I was quite disappointed in the section Tom and I had fished. This area had produced in the past; I just knew there were fish in this section.
After lunch, I made what I consider to be the biggest mistake of the day. I took Tom back to the section we fished earlier. It was a stupid move. We fished hard on a section of the river that was not protected from the wind. Oh and did I mention, we fished on a section that had no fish in it. Looking back, I should go and fish where the fish are, instead of where they aren’t. The warning signs were there and I failed to make the right call on where to fish.
Our day was ending and as we met at the vehicles, I discovered Mel continued his hot hand throughout the afternoon. Meanwhile, (yours truly) had only one fish to bite and I had lost that one. Fact is that I was in panic mode. I had yet to land a fish and BOY was I mad. I had not been a good guide for Tom, I had wasted a lot of time on non productive water, and I had recently lost a nice fish. Mel asked, Keith would you like to catch a fish? A resounding YES was my reply. Off we go, let’s go get you a fish said Mel. Tom would you like to come and catch a fish, I asked. Tom’s reply was no, I am bushed. I knew Tom was tired; it was a hard day for the first timer. As Mel and I ventured down to his little spot, Mel asked what I had tied on; a pink San Juan was my reply. Mel pointed and said, cast right under this overhanging limb and catch your fish. I followed instruction and cast, seconds later the indicator stopped its downward drift, a downstream hook set and the show began. Four of five jumps out of the water and the beautiful colored rainbow finally made way to my net. After a series of high fives, big smiles, a picture or two and a hug, this ole boy had his reference point for the trip. Mel asked if I wanted to catch another, this time my reply would be no, I preferred for my last cast to result in a caught fish. No more frustration, I was a happy fellow.
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Nantahala River Report May 4-6th, 2012
Last year I wrote the following on my Nantahala Report for April 8-10th, 2011. “The NAN will always be a special place for me; it is there that I began to cut my teeth and slowly but surely started my fly fishing escapades. Over the years, the Nantahala has seemed to take a step back in regards to numbers of fish caught. Although a step back, it still provides some of the most fun of any of our outings. “
Now, let’s fast forward to May 4-6th, 2012 and BOY what a difference a year makes. Instead of the stepping back, the Nantahala stepped forward in a BIG way. Visions of great fly fishing days of the past became a reality and provided great memories of our 2012 trip. For this year, those who dared to have a great time were Reuben Chandler, Ed Walsh, Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Dwight Moffitt and yours truly Keith Cloud.
Originally 14 folks signed up for the trip and although our numbers dropped to six, we must give a big thanks to Bryson Patch Cabins for NOT charging us for the other cabin rented. It was a tough call to make to Greg and Debbie Livingston (owners of Bryson Patch), and provide news of our desire to only use the one (BIG) cabin. My hope was that they would understand and that I did not take away the opportunity and cost them money for the NON-rental of cabin 1. They were very understanding; knowing sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. We (SRTU) have been staying with them for a number of years and they are grateful for our patronage. It pays to do business with our friends in the stream. One a good note; they were able to rent the cabin very quickly, therefore no loss of income. However, reality has set in and I must (in the future) address issues of cancellations and will soon be seeking advice on how to improve the SRTU outing experience.
Reuben and Ed began Friday fishing with a float down the Tuckaseegee. They brought floatable watercraft and began their float in close proximity to Dillsboro. Earlier in the week, they had received a great fishing report from fellow floaters and with an overcast sky (present for this day), I had a feeling they would have quite a fish story to share once they checked into the cabin. Meanwhile, I, Dwight and Mel and Mac (the M&M) gang made our way to the Nantahala delayed harvest section. It was a picture post card day on the river and the river flow was perfect and the color was a little stained. I began my fishing like I always do, with a visit to an area called The Office. As I sat down to gear up, I noticed a few fly’s coming off the water. Virtually all of these flies had one thing in common and that was the color yellow. Sunshine was prevalent and with this in mind, I decided to fish a yellow dry and concentrate on the shaded (far) side of the river. My plan worked beautifully and at the end of the day, 15 nice quality trout took the opportunity to make friends with my net.
My fishing partner for the day, Dwight also fished at The Office. He was able to hook 11 and get 9 to the net, and I could tell by the smile, he considered it to be a very good day. The M&M gang (Mac and Mel) also did well as they concentrated further upstream from us. Fly’s that worked well were the MacLeach (especially in purple), Squirmy Wormies and Girddle Bugs.
Back at the cabin Friday evening, I anxiously awaited the report from Reuben and Ed. Once back, they delivered the surprising news. All the promises of a great day floating were just that. It had not been the banner day that we ALL were expecting. Only four fish each for these trout chasers. It was quite a shock and as we ended our evening with our trip to Anthony’s Italian restaurant, for some it had been a good day and for others, it was not so good.
Saturday started in its usual way with a quick visit to our friend Charlene at the Everett Street Diner for a good hearty breakfast followed by the 30 minute drive to the Nantahala. Dwight decided to fish the native water of Deep Creek located within the Great Smoky Mountain Park. Hopefully, he would have a good report at the end of the day. Those fishing on the Nan today were Reuben, Ed, Mac, Mel and I.
Our shore lunch at 1 pm. provided our next opportunity to meet and greet. For the am, I fished next to the powerhouse and netted 3 fish, kind of slow. Our shore lunch consisted of BBQ, Chips, Potato Salad, Broccoli Salad, Olives, Pickles, and fresh strawberries and cookies for desert. We managed to wash all this stuff down with some Milo’s Sweet Tea. As the chatter began on what was working (Mac Leaches, Otter Eggs and Squirmy’s), it was very apparent that everyone was having a great day. Virtually everyone was sitting on a 20 fish day for the am fishing. Obviously I had made the wrong decision about where to fish and figured I had better hang around with the M&M gang if I was going to end the day on a positive note.
Reuben and Ed made the decision to go exploring and missed out on some good fishing before the day ended. A wrong turn here and a wrong turn there, put these trout chasers in a bad mood as they finally made their way back to the Nantahala at the very end of the day. Mac and Mel were in the zone and as the day was coming to an end, I caught up to them. Both of them were sitting on a rock in the middle of the river. As I got closer, I realized they were both fishing a little hole (not much larger than the back of a pick up truck) and both catching fish out of this little area of water. That is my now famous reference point (how I will remember) for the trip. There was a whole river to fish and these two were side by side on this little rock and wearing the trout out, and the grin on their faces said it all.
Our full day of fishing was finally over. Back at the cabin, we barely had time to catch our breath before we made way to Jimmy Mac’s Restaurant to close it down. Dwight had a fair day fishing Deep Creek and wished he had revisited the Nan. We all finished our day on the Nan with lots of fish caught and after the big meal, we had no trouble sleeping and resting for the evening.
On Sunday, many of us decided to the Tuckaseegee delayed harvest section at Webster NC and as we ventured into the water, it did not take long to pick up right where we left off from the previous day. Virtually anything we presented was Prime Rib for these trout. At 2 pm, we decided we had caught enough and felt certain we ALL had a 30 plus day. This was Mel’s first time for the Nantahala and Tuckaseegee trip; he picked a great weekend to attend. As for me, I am grateful to Ed Walsh for the Otter Eggs and Squirmy’s, Ed indicated that these were must have’s for the Tuck, he was more than correct. Dwight (being the back to nature guy); fished Noland Creek in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. His efforts resulted in a catch of one beautiful brook trout that once hooked; promptly wrapped around a branch in the stream. Not much fun on the catch, Dwight waded out and netted a fish that was not going anywhere.
Are you not going anywhere?
Trout hang out in Beautiful Places,
Come go with us and see.
SRTU Outings Coordinator
2012 Blackhawk (Premium Trip) Jan27th-29th, 2012:
We could not have asked for a better weekend for our winter trip to Blackhawk. As I prepared for the trip, I had a distance worry about whether all folks who signed up would honor their commitment and not back out on the trip. My worry was true; someone actually backed out and missed this wonderful trip. Although I try not to take it personally, a lot of preparation is devoted to a trip like this and my disappointment was very evident once the late cancellation was received. As I struggled to prep and fill the now vacant spot, I called my ole buddy Reuben Chandler to share the news and vent my frustration. Little did I know, within five minutes the spot to Blackhawk was no longer vacant. I guess you could say that I was sweating the small stuff and failed to realize the great folks of Saluda River Trout Unlimited who take up the slack and make my job a little easier. Indeed it was an answer to prayer; a special thanks to Reuben and thanks to a new found friend in Mike Ridgeway of Greenwood, SC who seized the opportunity and accompanied us on our trip. Looking back, my reference point (How I choose to remember the trip) actually occurred before the trip. I think I will call this my reference point (A).
Our deal with Blackhawk allows for eight fishermen and I am proud to say that this (Premium Trip) was booked and at capacity. For those who do not know, a premium trip is a trip that includes some of the following additional fees, such as guides, fishing rights, rod fees, travel fees, deluxe accommodations, and prepared meals. For this trip, we acquired two guides (Andy Brackett and Marty Waschak) and split the cost evenly between all fishing participants. Our strategy seemed to work very well, we alternated guides and swapped fishing locations between the upper and lower end of the river. As always, on our first day we allow those who are new to the river to start with guided fishing. On our last day, each person was allowed to venture back to a spot where they felt comfortable. Most folks wanted to go back to spots where they missed a big trout and needed that second chance opportunity. Again this worked well as we had some who wanted to fish the upper end guided by Andy and some who choose the lower end guided by Marty.
Attendees for this trip were Phil Smith (also known as the Commander), Ann Smith, (the Commander of the Commander) and doggie Katie, Reuben Chandler, Mike Ridgeway, Mel Maurer, Chas Murphy, Michael Adams, Shawn Kenney, and yours truly Keith Cloud. Blackhawk is a premium trip and meals are provided by the Cloud Family. As usual Mrs. Cloud did her normal thing by preparing some wonderful meals for our trip participants and guides. Our first evening meal featured Chicken Divan, Green Beans, Saffron Rice, a wonderful Greek Salad, and Garlic Bread, followed by cookies for desert. Lunches for the weekend were Ham & Turkey for sandwiches and homemade Chicken Salad. Saturday evening meal featured BBQ Ribs (Red Sauce and Carolina Style Mustard Base Sauce), Green Beans, Cole Slaw, Hash Brown Casserole, Mac n Cheese, Garlic Bread and Apple Pie for desert. We also had a very hearty breakfast featuring eggs, pancakes, hash browns, grits, fruit salad, and Reuben’s homemade biscuits. In fact, I believe Reuben has secured the job of chief biscuit maker for ALL of our future outings.
As we venture onto the fishing, a number of fly’s seemed to work well and fishing droppers were definitely front and center for the trip. The fact that we are in the month of February, kind of ruled out dry fly fishing. Although it seemed mighty tempting because of the unseasonably warm temperatures, we stuck with the sub surface stuff like Wooly’s, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Squirmy Wormy’s and Chammy Fly’s. Our dropper fly’s which were size 18 and below; consisted of soft hackles, pheasant tails, WD40’s and it seemed like and even number of hookups on the lead fly and droppers.
My reference point (B) for this trip has to be (the Commander’s) Phil’s trout caught on day two and as we gathered for lunch, the camera viewing and conversation began. Over the years, I (along with many) have enjoyed fellowship and fishing with the Commander. Phil is a retired Naval Commander who hails from upstate New York and resides in the Charleston area. He is a loyal supporter of Saluda River Trout Unlimited and has attended a large number of outings with his wife ANN and doggie Katie at his side. His 75 plus years have generated many tales as we sit around and swap the lies and stories that are part of great SRTU outings. Phil caught the trout on the upper end of the river fishing with Marty. His cast was perfect and the drift of the fly was in line with the big brown’s feeding range in the 42 degree water. Usually in water temperature of that nature, the trout are lethargic and not going to move far to get their meal. You must make the perfect cast and the drift of the fly must pass the test in order to deceive the trout. Phil did all the right things and the picture produced (from that moment) is what will last a lifetime for me. This (right here) is worth the trip, said Phil. In fact, I don’t have to catch another fish as he provided the details making for the picture produced by his digital camera. As for me, seeing Phil’s smile and naturally the size of the fish (a 23 inch brown), is now a reference point (B) for this trip. With a statement like that, one would think Phil was satisfied and finished for the day. Well, I must report that Phil had such fun on the am fishing, he duplicated the same for the pm and once again caught another 21 inch male brown that was shaped like a football. It was a great day for Phil and a great evening for all as we sat around the campfire listening to tales of trout past.
So many times, I see folks who express a desire to catch BIG trout and have that Kodak moment. Often I see a few folks who are up in age believing opportunities have passed them by or think they must go to remote destinations, fish big water, and pay a lot of money to experience that Kodak moment. It can be quite a dilemma and in the end most become convinced the reality of those desires has passed them by. To me, that is sad.
Folks, this is a simple as I can address this dilemma. Blackhawk and the Soque River is 181 miles from Columbia; it is small, easily accessible, wades easy and a joy to fish. Blackhawk features great guides in Andy and Marty; they have a passion for making your trip all of what YOU want it to be. I am certain if you were to ask Phil, he would testify the best way to experience Blackhawk to take part in what YOUR chapter has to offer and participate in an SRTU outing. The price is right, the fellowship is great and the trout (although a little camera shy) look good as they pose in the picture with you.
Ready for the next Cast,
Of SRTU Outing Participants and Characters,
SRTU Outings Coordinator
South Holston Trip: Bristol, Tennessee June 22-24th, 2012
To Eat or Not to Eat, that is the Question:
On two previous occasions, I have had the opportunity to fish the South Holston. As my third trip approached, I was very excited about the opportunity to fish it again. Earlier visits were in the summer sulphur season when the fishing can be phenomenal. On one visit, I stood in one area and managed to achieve a 50 to 75 fish day. The sulphur is the fly of choice during June and July; the hatches can be a sight to behold. The fishing can be technical and presentations have to be precise because these trout can be very hard to fool.
Our first chapter visit to the South Holston featured one of our largest groups of participants at 14. Attendees for the trip were: Rick Addy, Mike Brantley, Curtis Carter, Keith Cloud, Don Harder, Shawn Kenney, Kerry Lineberger, Mel Maurer, Tom McCoy, Stewart Methe, Ken Overman, Bobby Padgett, and Ed Walsh. We could not have asked for a better group of folks and our host (South Holston Cabins) was a perfect place of accommodation for our group. A short five minute walk to the river provided us with great access to private fishing on a beautiful stretch of river. No long ride or hike back after a day of hard fishing was indeed a blessing. The quick trip back to the cabins allowed for more rest and relaxation as we retired for the evening to swap a lie or two.
This was a very special trip for me. It was my first outing in which my Best Buddies in the world were able to attend. Although we have been fishing together for many years, they have not been able to attend an SRTU outing due in part to the distance they must travel in order to fish with us. They have just begun their journey into the world of fly fishing, I hope it will last. It was truly a joy to have Mike Brantley (Panama City, FL), Kerry Lineberger (Perry, Ga) and Ken Overman (Valdosta, GA) as participants in our trip. Hopefully more trips in the future for these guys. This is definitely Reference Point (A) for the trip. In case you wonder, the Reference Point is how I choose to remember the trip.
As part of the South Holston package, our meals were served on site. A good hearty breakfast (pancakes, eggs, sausage, yellow grits and fruit salad) each morning at the cabins and lunches (chicken salad, ham and turkey subs, fresh sliced cucumbers and tomato’s) were available for our crew to take with them as they chased trout throughout the day. Evening meal for Friday was Homemade Ziti made with Italian Sausage, and a Fully Loaded Greek Salad, with scrumptious French bread also served. I guess you could say, we had a Mediterranean style of meal. Saturday evening meal featured BBQ Brisket and South Carolina (Golden BBQ), Baked Beans, Macaroni Salad, and delicious buttered corn. I must say that preparing and cooking for a group of 14 can be quite challenging. However, I managed to follow orders from Mrs. Cloud and with some assistance from others in the group, things turned out very well. “EVERYONE knows that Mrs. Cloud is really the star of this operation,” thanks for ALL that you do Sherie.
For the fishing, the fishing was NOT what I had hoped it would be. The feeding frenzy witnessed on previous trips stayed more OFF than ON. Oh, there were a few exceptions. Rick Addy had the best catches out of our group. His fly of choice was a purple midge (size 24) tied as a dropper. Very few catches on the lead fly. Mac Brown and Mel Maurer had a guided trip for Saturday with David Grossman (co-owner) of Appalachian Fly Guides. Upon hearing their report, it was a slow day all around. All in all, I do not feel too bad about the fishing. We did our best.
As I think about a Reference Point (B) (how I choose to remember) the trip, I am reminded of Shawn Kenney’s description. “The trout we just like us, they had so much of a selection about what to eat. They could afford to be picky and pass up on what we were offering.”
You see, Mrs. Cloud keeps us very well feed and NO ONE leaves the river and ventures to the store for a cheap sandwich or a hot dog. Everyone is waiting and anticipating an excellent evening meal that has become folklore associated with SRTU chapter outings. On this weekend, the trout knew the difference between a cheap sandwich (tied fly) and BBQ brisket (a scrumptious) living sulphur.
Even if the fish don’t bite, we still EAT!
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Cost for the trip: $120 per person, which included accommodations (2 night stay) and meals. If you are considering a trip to the South Holston, please consider these fine folks and mention Saluda River Trout Unlimited.
Sarah Van Steenis http://southholstoncabins.homestead.com/
Rod and Matt Champion http://www.southholstonriverflyshop.com/aboutus.html
David Grossman http://appflyguides.wordpress.com/
Brownie Liles http://wataugariverlodge.com/