South Holston Trip: Bristol, Tennessee May 17-19th, 2013
*Adapting to the Elements*
This year’s chapter visit to the South Holston featured another fine group of (eleven) troutchasers who would call South Holston cabins their home for the weekend. Attendees were: Bobby Padgett, Mac Brown, Stewart Methe, Mike Ehmke, Ed Walsh, John Pressly, Reuben Chandler, Dennis Mayer, Greg Placone, Ted Tsolovos and (yours truly) Keith Cloud. 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. The blessing of last year 2012 was that the fishing was a short five minute walk to the river and South Holston cabins 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 and the quick trip back to the cabins allowed for more rest and relaxation as we retired for the evening to swap recollections of the day.
Oh last year was truly a blessing, but that was last year and now this year; we would receive our blessings in far different ways. Which leads to my Reference Point for the trip (Lot’s of water=Lot’s of flow) and as our trip was approaching, it was imminent that the ONLY way to fish the Holston would be via floatable craft. Rains that occurred two weeks earlier (see my report on the last Nantahala trip) were factoring into and affecting this week’s trip. There were a few options available and as trip leader; it was my job to make it known to our attendees and provide as much assistance as I could. With the dire flow prediction, wade fishing (the Holston) was NOT going to be an attainable goal. Either fishing with a guide or renting a drift boat or fishing other area fisheries would be the only options. If renting a boat, it was very important that an experienced captain be at the helm. The South Holston or any river for that matter is to be taken seriously and safety a top priority. One option not available was to cancel the trip. It was evident that everyone wanted to fish and no matter what; we were going to make the best of it.
Reuben and John in their excitement decided to start the outing early and ventured up on Thursday. This was really a good thing; it’s always good to have one of our own provide us with any leads that may be worthwhile before we actually arrive. Both reported that the flows were indeed heavy and wade fishing the Holston was a no go. The Beaverdam (located near the Virginia line) and Doe River (located in Roan Mountain State Park) were fishable for anyone who desired to wade fish.
As part of the South Holston package, our meals were served on site. A good hearty breakfast (pancakes, eggs, and sausage) each morning and lunches (chicken salad, tuna salad, ham and turkey subs, pickles and potato chips) were available for our crew to take with them as they chased trout throughout the day. Evening meal for Friday was Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs and the world acclaimed SRTU Fully Loaded Greek Salad, with scrumptious SRTU style French bread also served. I guess you could say; we had a Mediterranean style of meal. Saturday evening meal featured BBQ Brisket, Baked Beans, Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Mixed Vegetables. Also available were freshly baked cookies and what has become another SRTU staple (Homemade Cheesecake) available with fresh strawberries. Yes, we had quite a meal selection. I managed to follow orders from Mrs. Cloud and with 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; our attendees ALWAYS appreciate ALL your hard work for us. Also a special thanks to some fine co-chefs Ted Tsolovos and Stewart Methe; your assistance is always appreciated.
After a drop off of supplies at the cabins, we plotted strategy and decided to split up as a group. By doing that, we could cover more water and then re-assess things at our lie swapping event (dinner) in the evening. Mike, Stewart, Ted and I (Keith) decided that trip to the Doe River was in order. The river is located at Roan Mountain State Park which is 45 minutes away from South Holston cabins. Mac and Bobby ventured to the Beaverdam River which is another 45 minute drive in an opposite direction from the cabins. As for the rest of our gang, they were on their own and would be leaving and arriving at different times.
Friday evening as folks rolled in, reports also rolled in. Mac and Bobby had relatively good success on the Beaverdam. In fact, Mac made my day when he told me of his thoughts regarding the Beaverdam. Keith, he said “this water was made for you; it is similar to the Nantahala and has good runs and very good pocket water. “ It was at that point, that I knew where I would be fishing tomorrow. The Beaverdam for Mac and Bobby yielded about 15 fish. As for our gang (Mike, Stewart, Ted and I), the fishing was good on the Doe, but the catching was a little slow. We managed to catch a few, but it was not the best of days.
Saturday fishing would consist of float fishing with guides for most attendees. Stewart, Mike and Ed Walsh would rent a driftboat and float on their own. Ed has considerable experience with watercraft and would captain as they floated the Holston. Although Stewart brought his own floatable craft, an earlier look at the Holston kind of crushed his idea of attempting to float alone. To rent a boat and have an experience rower in Ed was definitely the correct call. Remember, safety first.
Mac and Bobby utilized the services of Todd Boyer, who by the way is the creator of the famed Todd’s Wiggle Minnow. Reuben and John obtained the services of Blake Boyd while Greg and Dennis utilized the services of Matt Maness of Foscoe Fly Fishing . To sum up the day, fish were caught on dry’s (sulphurs), nymphs and a few streamers. With all the flow on the river, every boat in the area seemed to be on the S. Holston and as we passed the landing at the weir dam, parking was at a premium and boats were everywhere. In fact, I believe we could have walked across the river on the boats alone.
Ted and I were the only two who decided against guided fishing. We ventured to check out the water that was made for me. My recollection of the Beaverdam has not faded, in fact Mac was correct, and it was my type of river. Similar in many ways to the Nantahala, classic mountain scenery all the way to our parking spot at the world’s shortest tunnel located not far from the Virginia state line. By the end of the day 15 trout had made way to the net. Like General MacArthur, I shall return to the Beaverdam for sure.
As we ended out trip on Sunday, we gathered for a picture outside the main cabin. Our trip was done and although we had to make some major adjustments on fishing, I could tell by the smiles and gratitude that we made the correct decision. Our guys wanted to fish and we made the best of what was laid before us. I guess you could say; we took the lemons and made lemonade and it was good.
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Cost for the trip: $125 per person, which included accommodations (2 night stay) and meals.
Nantahala River Report for May 3-5th, 2013:
Smartphone to the Rescue!!!
Only four trout chasers decided to make the May Nantahala trip for 2013. It is a mystery as to why the numbers were down on what is generally our oldest and most popular trip. “The NAN will always be a special place for me; it is there I began to cut my teeth and slowly but surely started my fly fishing escapades. Bryson Patch Cabins would again serve as our host for what was forecast to be a wet weekend. For this year, those who dared to have a great time were Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Dermon Sox, and yours truly Keith Cloud.
Friday’s arrival to the Nantahala delayed harvest section my fishing began like I always do, with a visit to an area called The Office. Dermon Sox was my riding and fishing partner for the weekend. It would be Dermon’s first SRTU outing and I was hopeful for a banner weekend and excited to fish with this Master Caster of a Man. Meanwhile Mel and Mac (the M&M gang) after seeing that one of their favorite spots taken, made way upstream from The Office. For those who do not know about The Office, please read previous reports on the Nantahala for a more complete description.
As we were just about to enter the river, I noticed a familiar site. It was a white Chevy pickup heading in a direction that we had just come from. It was Mel and he had an interesting predicament. Several thoughts ran thru my noggin as I pondered what could be going on. Was it a wader issue, wading boots issue, or fly rod issue? Oh, it was none of that for as he geared up, he thought about his license and decided to verify he had it and that it was valid. The good news was that he had his license; the BAD NEWS was that it was no longer valid. We had not entered the water and I already had my Reference Point for the trip. Mel did not seem to be worried; it was just a matter of getting a signal and letting the Smartphone BAIL the JUDGE out of a temporary setback. Mel is a judge by the way.
I started with my Coffee Nymph and a red midge as a combination. The water level was a little high and visibility was excellent. Quickly the Coffee Nymph picked up a nice rainbow and it was off to the races as I picked up another tri-fecta (Brown, Brook and Rainbow) out of a nice little run only about 50 yards from my parking place. I wanted to venture downstream and catch up to Dermon; but no need to do that if I was catching fish. All in all, I managed to land 8 to 10 fish before venturing to another fine run that looked very fishy on the far end of the river. It was at that point that I made a stupid mistake and paid a price for it. NOTE to self and anyone else who will listen; be very careful when encountering ORANGE rocks, they are very slippery and they have a part time job in working with a fellow named Mr. Gravity. Up from the stream I arose with lot’s of water at my toes. That is my toes on the inside of my waders. Being a Georgia Bulldog fan; this adds to the reasons why I don’t like ORANGE. The day ended with me back at my vehicle waiting on Dermon as I endured the chill of the mountain air. With a T-Shirt on one mirror, my fishing shirt hanging on the other mirror, socks and yes, underwear on the hood, I was actually warmer without clothing than with. Meanwhile for our Friday fishing; Dermon had a good day and midges seemed to work best.
Saturday started with all eyes on the Weather Channel. A gloomy forecast for massive amounts of rain was in play. Mac suggested a change in strategy from our normal agenda for a Saturday. Let’s have a shore supper instead of a shore lunch. By doing this we should be able to maximize our fishing time. Make no mistake; the rains were going to come and once they arrived, they were going to arrive in a BIG way. After quick visit to our friend Charlene at the Everett Street Diner for a good hearty breakfast, we made the 30 minute drive to the Nantahala.
Dermon and I decided to start where we left off on the day before; back to The Office for round two. For the morning, I managed to stay dry but the fishing was a little slower on this day. I guess the approaching front may have had something to do with it. Dermon had a decent morning and picked up a few on very tiny black midges. Lunch was on the stream and consisted of the crackers and peanuts packed away in our fishing vest. The rains had held off and at about 3pm the mist of the mountains began to dominate. From this point on, the weather was going to get worse. We decided to venture and see what the M&M gang was up to and found out that their day was much like ours, the trout were very selective but Squirmy Wormies (White) seemed to be the fly of choice.
Our last segment of fishing for Saturday ended just downstream from the River Road. I guess Dermon must have felt a little sorry for me, he decided to follow my lead from the previous day and this retired minister baptized himself just before the heavy rains arrived. At 5 pm, big drops began to fall and a wonderful site appeared. The site of trout busting the top (one after another) and a hatch of dry fly’s to began to fill the sky. Quickly we switched to dry’s and began having some fun. Trout were rising all over the river, some as close as two feet in distance. Our only problem (if you can call it that) was after catching two or three with one fly, we had to switch to another dry in order to catch more. When the dry fly action would stop, we switched back to wet fly action. For me, a Hares Ear (Tan) and Stone Fly (Black or Brown) worked very well and the black midges used as droppers drew multiple hits and misses on trout. Eventually the chill of the evening sunk in, Dermon could hardly tie on any more fly’s due to his hands not working in the same ways as earlier in the day. Therefore it was back to our humble abode for a nice hot shower; a shore lunch for supper and a peaceful night’s sleep with the rain falling on the metal roof of the big cabin at Bryson Patch.
Sunday fishing would not be possible, the ALL night rains and flash flooding was now in play for the mountains. Now the most important thing would be to arrive safely back home. To sum up, although our number of attendees was low, the fishing was pretty good. It was pleasure and honor fishing with these guys. I also took the time watch Dermon fish; he has served as our chapter casting instructor for many years. I would urge anyone with a desire to learn more or brush up their skills to consider his services; he is indeed a valuable resource.
Flying High on the Dry,
Cost of trip $100 per person SRTU Outings Coordinator
Mitchell River (April 23rd, 2013)
Another fine day on the Mitchell!!!
Up I-77 to exit 93 just North of Charlotte lay the Mitchell River near Dobson NC. Although not a big river, it has its share of challenges. The biggest challenge for our group was to actually fish in the water, many of us presented our fly’s to the wiley TREE TROUT. This year we had a small group of attendees and although there were a number of inquiries, it seems like most folks had other commitments while others appeared to talk themselves out of a good time. I hate when that happens; but oh well, fine folks like Tony Bebber and Mike Ehmke were at Sportman’s Warehouse eagerly waiting at 5 am on Tuesday morning.
Over the years, I have encouraged folks to make suggestions on trips that perk an interest. Once I had a fellow call and state that we never had any trips going up I-77. I ask for a suggestion and he basically said, “You are the outings person, you figure it out.” Therefore the challenge was on and our research and development team; (Sherie and I) set out to find a stream that would meet the needs of the suggestee. The Mitchell River was discovered and was the choice. Later I spoke to our suggestee and happily broke the news of our findings. I have your trip, and we will be fishing on a Saturday, just going up for the day. I don’t fish on Saturdays, too many people he said. Somewhat miffed, I said how about Tuesday; will that meet your desires? Yes, he said and to make a long story short, I have yet to see him on an outing. There is a part of me that believes he was just looking for a hole to punch thru on the trips and that he never intended to fish anyway. As I have said on many occasions, folks can sure talk themselves out of a good time. Thanks for the suggestion anyway.
The weather forecast was perfect for our day; we had a crisp morning with decent cloud cover as we geared up for our day on the water. Mike began with a Wooly Bugger followed by a dropper and Tony began with the ole Hare’s Ear with a dropper fly. As for me, a Red San Juan worm with a red midge dropper. I began the day with my favorite 5 weight rod and while making a few cast, I noticed a rise or two to the top. Naturally the excitement of the day got the best of me and I was able to hook a nice tree trout rather quickly. Could it be another frustrating day on the Mitchell? Hopefully this was not going to happen to me two years in a row. Last year (2012) was not the best for me and now I worried if the ghost of Mitchell past was going to be present today. After retrieval of the little RED’s, I took a deep breath and resolved to forget about last year, calm down and experience the day made for me to enjoy.
Around the 12:30 hour we met at Tony’s truck for lunch. This year, we each packed a lunch and as we dined we shared results of our morning. I had caught 7 and with that seven, I had caught the so called tri-fecta, a brown, brook and rainbow. Tony and Mike had caught 5 or so each. Although for the hour preceding lunch, I had not caught or hooked a fish. We debated about whether to continue fishing on the Mitchell or would we like to go to Stone Mountain State Park and fish its delayed harvest waters. Earlier in the week, I had spoken with the park superintendent who indicated the fishing was good and the poaching problems (by our South of the Border) friends seemed to have subsided. We decided to stick with the Mitchell and continue fishing. Just before dispersing; Tony mentioned hits on a soft hackle as a dropper and suggested I try it for the afternoon fishing.
As I headed upstream after lunch, I took the time to just watch the river. My mentor (Bill Clary) has always preached the importance of just taking in the scenery. Of course; taking in the scenery with a fisherman’s eye and a goal of learning what the river is telling you. Some may think (me included) by doing that; one may be missing out on fishing time. Little did I know, I was about to experience the Reference Point (which is how I chose to remember) the trip. As I faced upstream, activity abounded on the left side of the stream. I observed Tony and realized he was fishing the side where the fish were and soon he would be hooked up with a trout. Unable to enter the river from the right, I had to enter on the side that fish activity was spotted on. Being stealthy on this one, keeping a low profile and not making a big scene as I entered the water, moving at a snail like pace. Once in the water, I stood there for what seemed like an hour, but it was actually about 3 or 4 minutes before deciding to begin the afternoon fishing. I pointed the rod downstream and spooled out about 25 to 30 feet of line and cast upstream to the left. A rise at my indicator and it looked nice. If only I had a hook on my indicator, I would have caught a nice rainbow. My drift ended and back out with my cast (again to the left). This time the indicator quickly stopped its downstream drift. I followed with a quick rise of the rod with my left arm and a pull of the line with my right hand. Dang, hung on the bottom, I thought. Uh oh, the bottom is moving and it has an attitude. In fact, it felt like a Blackhawk type of fish as it hunkered down on the bottom of the stream. For those who don’t know, our Blackhawk trip is known for catching big fish. It would be a matter of time before the fish would figure out how to address the situation and once the fish decided, the fight would be over. After all, I was not rigged for Blackhawk; I was rigged for the Mitchell by using 5X Mono line. The 5 weight Winston was working to perfection and the drag on my Tioga reel was straining with the power of the fish. Finally after several moments and praying the fish would not make a downstream run, I saw the fish. It was a beautiful Brown Trout, a solid 17 to 18 inch fish with good shoulders. My hope came true and to the net was my friend Mr. Brown Trout. As it entered the net, the light green soft hackle fly was no longer holding the fish and was outside the net. Wow what timing I thought! Congratulations from downstream courtesy of Tony. On the soft hackle was my reply, thanks for the suggestion.
By the end of the day; I had caught 15 fish. This was a far cry from the year before and for me, it was a Super Tuesday. Mike and Tony had a respectable afternoon and the Mitchell had lived up to expectations. We made a good decision to stick with it and although we were a bit tired, we all agreed the mid week experience on the Mitchell is truly a special time. The weather was superb, only a few anglers present and plenty of trout for everyone. In fact, it kind of felt good being out there during the week; surrounded by some great guys. Maybe the old fellow meant well years ago when he made his suggestion. I know one thing, he was NOT on the Mitchell and I was, thanks to him.
Suggestions are always welcome,
Hope to see you on the stream!
Keith Cloud (SRTU Outings Cord)
Wilson Creek (April 5-7th, 2013)
Brown Mountain Beach Resort
SRTU goes viral (In a Bad Way):
Attendees for the trip were: Reuben Chandler, Keith Cloud, Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Bobby Padgett, Phil Smith (the Commander), Ann Smith (the Commander of the Commander), Chavaun Smith (the doggie), Ted Tsolovos, Ed Walsh, Dennis Meyer, Hank and Vernon Sawyer. We could not have asked for a better group of folks, and our host (Brown Mountain Beach Resort) was a perfect place of accommodation for our group. A total of 4 cabins were reserved; each located in close proximity (like 50 feet) to the hatchery supported section of Wilson River. After a day of trout chasing; our cabins and their hot tubs made for a good night’s rest with the sound of the stream soothing those tired bodies as we rested for the evening. It was evident from the beginning that BMBR owner Ron McDaniel and manager Kelsey McDaniel were committed to making our stay as simple as possible. They were very appreciative of our business and GLAD to have us. As part of the package for our Saturday, BMBR hosted a very nice breakfast featuring homemade pancakes, fruit salad, and home fried potato and sausages.
As part of the Wilson Creek package, our meals were served on site. A good hearty breakfast each morning and lunches available for our crew to take with them as fished throughout the day. Chicken Salad, Pimento Cheese, Ham, Turkey and Pastrami Subs with plenty of fixing’s helped take away the hunger during mid day. Evening meals for Friday was Homemade Lasagna, the now famous SRTU style Greek Tossed Salad, and to continue the Mediterranean theme French Bread loaded with Salami and Provolone and Munster Cheese. Our Friday evening desert featured Homemade Cheesecake with fresh in season strawberries. Saturday evening meal featured marinated Grilled Greek Chicken Breast, SRTU Greek Tossed Salad, Asparagus Salad, Orzo Pasta, and Grilled Garlic Bread. Our desert was a mixture of baked chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies I must say that preparing and cooking for a group of 12 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.
Friday afternoon after arrival it was off to the stream and the delayed harvest section of the Wilson. The DH section is actually about 5 miles upstream from the cabins. The Wilson has lots of opportunities for fishermen of all levels. Plenty of open space and pools for newbie’s and beautiful bends with undercut banks and rapids for more seasoned fishermen. As for the trip host (Keith Cloud), I hate fishing slow water and choose to fish the rapids using a cream colored Mac Leach. The objective was to locate trout quickly and then to narrow their location for more delicate fly presentations. As the day ended, I was at a deep pool with unsteady rock formations along the edges of the river. The rapids leading up to the pool and the top of the pool held the trout that would be caught by yours truly. As the sun ventured behind Brown Mountain, the unsteady rock formation decided to give way and with it, I was flat on my back sliding into the deeper water. It was my best imitation of a wet fly and once out of the water, I discovered why I should have worn quick dry clothing and not a cotton shirt and jeans. Stupid is, Stupid does as Forest Gump would say. Back to the cabins and time to see what happened with the rest of our crew. My so so day was just that; and it seemed like everyone else had an ok day. It was evident the delayed harvest of the Wilson had lived up to expectations.
Our Saturday would be more of the same as far as fishing and our guys really got into the trout. Reuben, Ed and Dennis were out the door early and missed the Brown Mountain Beach hosted breakfast. Although these guys were out early, they were late in comparison to the countless other fishermen on the river. It was the first Saturday of April and the hatchery supported section of the Wilson was set to open. Quite frankly at 6 am, it looked like an Interstate highway in front of Brown Mountain Beach Resort. All vehicles were heading in one direction and based upon a Friday conversation with a local game warden, it was going to be a banner day for collecting idiot fees from folks who decide to help out the economy by breaking state fishing regulations. Last year, the officers ran out of ticket pads to write tickets. This year they were ready and had back up pads if needed. While on my way to the cabins I witnessed a pleasing site; it was our friends from South of the Border standing silently as they watched their nice F150 pickup truck being loaded on a tow truck. On this day, game officials were on their A game and folks who choose not to obey law would pay the price.
I started my Saturday at another area with fast water leading to a deep pool. The strategy worked on Friday and would work again on this day. One problem that would be encountered would be more fishermen on the river, a lot more. In my case, I had a grandfather and grand-daughter combination. On Friday Mac Brown had a previous encounter with them. There is this thing called space and everyone needs it. However these folks had made the determination that your space was their space and they had no problem in coming in and casting over you with their spinning gear. I begin to catch trout with an olive hare’s ear and (black) midge dropper. I caught a very nice 21 inch Rainbow and once the space invaders saw my catch, immediately I had a line cast over my noggin. Quickly I unhooked the fish and got to my spot. Conversation began and the old question; “you don’t mind if I fish here do you?” comes up as he stands 20 feet to my left. Yes I do was my reply. Somewhat miffed, “I will just watch you,” he says. “That’s fine with me, but if you stand that close I may be fishing with ear” I said as I began to spool out the line so that I could cast with my left arm. He finally took a seat behind me and began the waiting game while I continually caught trout after trout. I knew I was making his day difficult, but I was mad. I knew what he was about and I was not going to leave my spot. As the day wore on, nature was beginning to call. I had decided on peeing in my waders if I had to. Finally just as I was about to bust, Vernon Sawyer walks up and I gladly give my spot and advice to him on fishing the hole. I had stood in the water so long and my legs were aching, my feet felt like needles were penetrating them as I walked out of the water and search for relief. I am proud to say that Vernon took over and had a banner day using the Black zebra midge.
As you can see from my recount of the trip, there are lots of opportunities for the now famous Reference Point (How I chose to remember) the trip. My imitation of a wet fly on Friday, the Interstate Highway in front of Brown Mountain Beach of Saturday, my encounter with a space invader while on the water for Saturday fishing or witnessing (the many) folks giving themselves a pay cut. Sadly, my Reference Point is of the virus that some of our attendees spent their Sunday fighting. Mel took ill at 2 am; Bobby took ill shortly after a wonderful breakfast he prepared for us on Sunday morning. Fighting fish on Sunday would have to be cancelled for these guys; it was obvious the most important thing would be to get home. Mel was a sad sight to see and Bobby was quickly taking on the same symptoms. These two had partnered up with Mac for the weekend and now Mac was going to have to drive them home.
As a trip host, I could not help but wonder if their illness was a result of my preparation of meals or was it a result of a bacterial or some type of airborne virus. Although Mel and Bobby continually stated they did not believe this was food poisoning; I was very worried for in all our years of hosting outings, this type of thing has never occurred. The fact that some of my buddies in the world are ill and not feeling well, was quite a burden to overcome and I was deeply troubled. While on the way home and once in cell phone range, it would be important to contact the one I rely on the most. Sherie would have to be notified and could deliver expert advice from a nursing perspective. In speaking with her, if a virus then Mac would eventually get sick because of the three of them riding together in Mac’s van. Prior to arrival in Columbia, my last conversation with Mac indicated just that and he was indeed taking on the virus. I worried about Ted who stayed in the same cabin as Mac and Mel. Now; Ted was riding with me. Could it be that Ted will be the next to be ill? Will I have to access the SRTU insurance policy? Yes, we do actually have one. What about those who choose to stay and fish? Hopefully they will be OK. All I know is that Mrs. Cloud and I were (pardon the pun) worried sick and hopeful for no more bad news. Mel lives close to us and on Sunday evening Sherie and I took a care package to him. As the day turned into night, and Sunday to Monday, some of the results from our weekend arrived. Ann Smith and Ed Walsh were two others who became ill and although not as ill as Mac, Mel and Bobby, they still felt the presence of a virus or something similar.
The rest of our gang was fine and as I try to remember the great things of the trip, I am reminded of my notes from our first 2011 trip to Brown Mountain Beach Resort which are: “One thing that most pleasing about this trip is the fact that EVERYONE caught fish and while some had better luck that others, I believe everyone would be willing to make a return trip. As our outings program evolves, I can see this as a regular outing. We experienced a wonderful time and we WILL return.”
Next time of course without a virus would be fine with me.
In the Stream,
SRTU Outings Cord
Cost of the trip: $152
Two nights accommodations including all meals at cabins located directly on Wilson River. Brown Mountain Beach is a great place; I hope folks will give them a call (828) 758-4257 and experience a wonderful time, just like us.
Nantahala River Trip Info: March 15-17th, 2013
*Me &Mel and Y2K’s*
A Nantahala trip always has a good number of attendees and as usual, we had a great group. Attendees were Phil and Ann Smith, Ted Tsolovos, Mac Brown, Reuben Chandler, Ed Walsh, Mike Waddell, Lance Gibson, Mel Maurer, Dennis Mayer, John Pressly 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. Finally coffey nymphs were in stock and smiles were making way to faces and although happy about our good fortune; a little sadness to report regarding the coffey nymph. The fellow who ties the fly is very elderly and although his mind is sharp, his hands and body will not allow him to tie anymore. Parkinson’s had taken over and he now resides in a nursing home. Even though I have never met the fellow, my heart goes out to him and I thank God for his talents that over the years have brought smiles to so many fishermen including myself.
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and fishing on the Nan was somewhat slow for most of our attendees. Water level was high from recent rains; fishing pools and long runs seemed to be the way most folks decided to go. As our day closed and the reports came in, most folks had success while fishing a variety of nymphs. Stone Fly’s (Black and Brown) worked occasionally in faster water. Seems like the trout (if they had time to look) there would be no luck on the hook. As for me, I spent my Friday afternoon working on my casting skills and did not hook a fish. As for the others; Reuben, Ted, Mac, Mel and Dennis they had an O.K. beginning to our trip. Although a dry fly did catch a few, most trout were taken fishing sub surface on fly’s such as Squirmy Wormies, Chamy fly’s and streamers including the famous MacLeach.
Bryson Patch Cabins owned by (Greg and Debbie Livingston) serves as our place of relaxation at the end of the day and the fine dining establishments Anthony’s Italian (Tony), The Station Restaurant (Julie), and The Everett Street Diner (Charlene) 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 2013 trip and rest our noggins in the Log Cabin, Cabin 1 and Cabin 4 (if needed).
Saturday started in its usual way, with a quick visit to the Everett Street Diner and a good hearty breakfast followed by the 30 minute drive to the Nantahala. John Pressly and I hurried to the area known as (The Office) to meet Bill Clary the master of the Nantahala. Bill is my mentor and as a retired guide he volunteers his services to any of our attendees who desire to enhance their fly fishing knowledge. He is a great man and has mentored many of our SRTU participants throughout the years. Based upon conversation the night before, Ted requested Bill’s guidance for the day. Therefore Lance and Mike dropped Ted off for his morning with Bill. It would turn out to be a very wise decision for Ted and not so wise for Mike and Lance who would have a tough morning fishing the Nan.
The day before had been unkind. I had worked most of the day on my casting skills and knew today would be a time to catch fish; for I was not eager to face another day of frustration. It was time to pull out all the stops and tie on a Brown Stone (recommended by Bill) and a Y2K. Now for the Reference Point; not any Y2K, but an MMY2K. For on my previous trip to the Chattooga I ended my Sunday fishing the Y2K and really nailing the trout. My ole buddy Mel Maurer was not having much success so I invited him to come to my stretch of the stream and catch a fish or two. I gave him a Y2K and he took over where I left off. While fishing that day on the Chattooga I explained to Mel that once the bead slips on the Y2K, you may as well toss the fly. The Y2K’s I had were of poor quality and would only catch a few fish before becoming dysfunctional.
Now fast forward to our current Nantahala trip and to continue the Reference Point. It was Friday morning at the Cloud house when Mel walked up and presented me with 6 newly tied Y2K flys. Try these this weekend and let me know how they do, said Mel. They will not slip, I guarantee. As we met for the Now Famous Shore Lunch, Mel asked how did they do? I was eager to provide an answer and although I did not blaze a trail for the morning fishing, I had picked up 4 fish on 4 hook ups. I was a happy fellow and as we began the shore lunch, right on Q, the winds began to pick up. It was going to be a rocky shore lunch, meaning that you had to place a rock on top of every lid for each dish to keep from chasing lids and other picnic paraphernalia across the parking area. Folks quickly found a way to keep their plates from blowing away. It was a novel idea to place food on top of the plates and eat while the wind blew. Our shore lunch consisted of Carolina BBQ (Fried Chicken) donated by Bill Clary and other items such as Macaroni Salad, Cucumber Salad, Fruit Salad, Chips, Deviled Eggs, Clausen’s Pickles and for desert we had Million Dollar Bars and more wind.
To sum up the morning, Mac and Mel had a good morning fishing while Ted took high fish honors (with nine) thanks to Bill and his expertise at (The Office). Ted as usual was all smiles as he shared stories of his morning at Bill’s Office on the Nantahala. Phil had picked up one while John and Lance had also caught a few fish. As our shore lunch came to an end and right on Q, the wind ceased and Bill conducted a nice little class on fly line, leaders and tippets courtesy of a request by Lance.
After lunch, Mac decided to seek a little guidance from Bill and caught a couple of nice trout. One of which being a beautifully colored brown that had been in the water for sometime. My MMY2K (Mel Maurer Y2K) was ready for the afternoon and performed wonderfully and stayed in tact as I brought trout after trout to my net. John was not his usual self and was battling an oncoming cold therefore he did most of his fishing; I mean (sleeping) seated in the passenger seat of my truck with the seat reclined. Lance and Mike fished a while and then provided a much appreciated ride for John Pressly back to Bryson Patch Cabins. Ted and Bill finished the day on a high note as we reminisced about the ramifications of my first visit to The Office. Fact is no one would be experiencing this trip had it not been for my first visit to Bill’s Office courtesy of Mrs. Sherie Cloud who’s gift of a fly fishing lesson for me started something very special and has benefited many folks since.
Our day was over and The Station Restaurant now hosted our group of trout chasers for Saturday evening. Reuben, Ed and Dennis passed on the Nantahala fishing and decided for a float down the Tuckaseegee. It was an all day battle on the Tuck, the elements of wind, water flow and a lost anchor by Dennis had removed the early morning zest from these guys and they were bushed. Several fish were caught and with windburn showing on each, it would be an early turn in for these fellows.
After our meal, it was back to cabin 1 to wind down and hear a pleasant rendition by Phil and Ann Smith of an old Irish folk song called the "Rose of Tralee". Each year, our Nantahala trip seems to take place on or around St Patrick’s Day. Phil is very proud of his Irish heritage; his mother's parents were from the Tralee area, specifically the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry. I later learned that Phil is also crafty with the violin; maybe on our next trip some strings will accompany his and Ann’s wonderful singing talents.
On Sunday, the West Fork of the Pigeon hosted Mac, Mel, and Reuben. They managed to catch about a dozen fish apiece on a very pleasant day and streamers worked very well. Mac fished with his Kelly Gallup articulated streamer and looked professional in his Kelly Gallup hat as he waded in the Pigeon. One prime hole on the Pigeon was taken by another fisherman. Reuben patiently waited and wondered why no fish were being caught. As the frustrated fisherman left, Reuben quickly found out why. This fisherman was fishing at a depth of about one or two feet in a very deep hole. Once Reuben arrived at the spot, he cast out a purple squirmy wormy with 4 split shot dragging the bottom and quickly picked up nine fish out of the hole.
Dennis and Ted fished the Tuck (at the Webster Bridge) and picked up a few before making their way home. However, the big winners on the Tuckaseegee were Mike Waddell and Lance Gibson. Per Mike; the color of the day was Red as he and Lance worked the trout over by using Red Zebra Midges and Red Emergers. Water quality was good; it was obvious the trout had developed quite the appetite after the high water levels of previous days.
To sum up: I’ll keep casting: Mel you keep tying
In the Stream….are you?
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Cost of the trip $87
Chattooga Trip Report (2013) February 22nd-24th
*Hip Hip Hooray* Mike caught a fish
A cold rain as we made way from the Cloud house to our humble abode (the barracks) at Oconee State Park. It was an ugly day and we were going to be in for a cold wet Saturday as well. We made a quick and informative stop at the Chattooga River Fly Shop, it is a must for anyone who desires the latest and greatest on the river, it’s flow and what fly’s are working. Although the rains were present, the water level was not as bad as expected and color was good. After a drop off of goodies at our weekend residence; we ventured to the Hwy 28 bridge to fish the Chattooga River. Our attendees for this trip were: Mac Brown, Reuben Chandler, Keith Cloud, Ted Tsolovos, Mel Maurer, Lance Gibson, Dennis Meyer, Mike Waddell, and John Pressly.
Our fishing began with a visit to the lower end of the river, closest to the 28 bridge. On our last visit the lower end produced massive numbers of fish. In fact, we were almost stars as a group of folks filming a fishing show saw our guys catching fish and asked to take our spot. After catching our fair share and feeling a little bit sorry for those guys, we relinquished our spot to some what would be happy trout catchers. Oh what pleasant memories of lower river past.
Fast forward to this year, and the results were much different and the Saluda River Trout Catchers were pumbled and humbled. Reuben, Mac, Mel, Dennis , Lance and John all took the lower end. The so called honey hole was a thing of the past and we later called it the dummy hole for staying and fishing it for so long. Ted and I fished a little upstream at the area where you cross to go to the Georgia side. Ted picked up a quick two while I just worked on my casting skills and did not catch a fish.
Back to the barracks to begin the eagerly awaited drying out period; for it had been a wet day full of frustration. After a day like that, a hot meal was in order. However before the meal, we took the time to think of Larry Craft one of our long time chapter members and former president. Larry is a fellow who inspired me and attended the very first outing (which by the way was a trip to the Chattooga) that I participated in. Larry now has stage IV cancer and has asked for prayer. Therefore, prayer was delivered for Larry and our meal consisting of Lasagna, Green Beans, Garlic Bread, and a wonderful Greek Salad filled our bellies and by 10 pm many heads were nodding and eyelids were heavy.
After a good hearty breakfast on Saturday, our participants began the day. Reuben and John hired guide and chapter member Ben Moore for a guide trip on the Chauga. Mike Waddell and Dennis Meyer hired Karl Ekberg from the Chattooga River Fly Shop for a guided trip on the Chattooga. The rest of us (Mac, Mel, Lance, Ted and myself (Keith), ventured to the Burrell’s Ford area on the Chattooga. A misty rain fell throughout the day and the morning fishing was slow at best. Water level was higher than normal and per Karl at the fly shop; fishing with streamers would be the best approach. I tied on a Carolina Peach streamer (recommended by Karl) and had better activity than the others as we sat around for our lunch in the cool mist of the mountains.
Now time to the second half of the day; earlier I had committed to catching a trout on the Carolina Peach and it had paid off. Being the nice guy that I am, I offered some Carolina Peaches to my lunch buddies who gladly accepted. It would turn out to be a good decision and the afternoon would be more productive for the rest of our crowd. About 4 pm, I really felt as though I was figuring the river and the fish out. Although it was time to go and get the brisket cooking for the evening meal, I decided to make one last cast. Immediately as the fly hit the water, I felt a very quick tug and then it was over. My fly was gone and my day was done; time to make the brisket.
As I stepped out from the river, I met Lance and Mel. Again being the nice guy I took them to my spot and explained what had happened and left them with the knowledge I had gained. Later I would find out that Lance while on his way to my spot; took a spill and broke his nice Orvis TL3 rod. Therefore, Lance was officially done. Mel was able to pick up a couple and was happy with his day at Burrell’s Ford.
Our day done and back to the barracks for the *Reference Point* (how I will remember) the trip. Mike Waddell has caught a fish on the Chattooga. Yip Yip Yippie. Over the years we have had several trips to the Chattooga and on trips Mike has attended, he has yet to catch a fish. Yes, obstacles in life often make their way to the stream. Although a fine fisherman, Mike quite simply had been jinxed on this famous stretch of water. As we sat around waiting on Mike to arrive for supper, our thoughts were all centered on him. Would we rejoice in the moment or be on suicide watch? As the door opens, Mike walks in and proudly announces “caught a fish.” Relief in the eyes of all, smiles on the faces of all and congratulations are extended by all. The jinx was broken and I now feel assured that Mike will feel a lot better about joining us on our next Chattooga outing.
Reuben and John had a great day on the Chauga and fishing with Ben Moore and finishing with close to 10 fish each on this little known river. The Chauga is overlooked and overshadowed by the famous Chattooga. Ben made things a little easier with his knowledge; he is a great guide and one of our own. The Chauga is tougher fishing, but the state is recognizing its possibilities of being a viable trout fishery. With its canopy, the common fly rodder must be wary of the infamous tree trout. This creature can be a great fly catcher, so better be careful.
Sunday morning our fishing took us to the 28 bridge and you would think since the bridge did not produce on Friday we surely would not venture that way again. Wrong oh wrong. We went right back and this time; the changing Chattooga was kind to most of us. However like with most trips; kindness extends to some and not to all. Mac made friends with Mr. Gravity before ever casting a fly. He took a big spill and proceeded to take half the river (in his waders) with him back to his vehicle and he was done. Dennis with Reuben ventured upstream and had a great day as he took what he had learned from the guide trip with Karl and honed his skills for a fine day of fishing. Mel and I fished the lower end (just up from the bridge) and had a banner day with our Carolina Peaches and Y2K flies. It was a bright sunshiny day and the Chattooga finally gave in and relinquished good numbers of trout. The trip home was going to be good; Mike had caught his fish and with that, I (along with everyone else) was happy and relieved for him.
Say a Prayer for Larry,
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Cost of the trip: $75 per person
2013 Blackhawk (Premium Trip) Report:
Jan 11th-13th, 2013:
*The one that did not get away*
Our deal with Blackhawk allows for eight fishermen and I am proud to say this (Premium Trip) was booked and at capacity. For those who do not know, a premium trip is a trip including some of the following additional fees, such as guides, fishing rights, rod fees, travel fees, accommodations, and prepared meals. For this trip, we acquired two guides (Andy Brackett and John Rice) and split the cost evenly between all fishing participants. As always, on our first day we allow those who are new to the river to start with guided fishing and throughout the weekend alternated guides and swapped fishing locations between the upper and lower end of the river.
Attendees for this trip were Reuben Chandler, Mel Maurer, Chas Murphy, Michael Adams, Mac Brown, Roy Tryon, Peter Gaudette and yours truly Keith Cloud. As usual Mrs. Cloud did her normal thing by preparing wonderful meals for our trip participants and guest. This year, our SRTU gang had the opportunity to vote and decide on which meals they would like to have. Our first evening meal featured Chicken Divan, Green Beans, Saffron Rice, a wonderful Greek Salad, and Garlic Bread, followed by brownies, and million dollar bars and cookies for desert. Lunches for the weekend were Ham & Turkey for sandwiches, Chicken Salad, and Abby’s Homemade Chili. Saturday evening meal featured BBQ Brisket, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Corn Salad, and Apple and Cherry Pies for desert. We also had a very hearty breakfast featuring eggs, pancakes, hash browns, fruit salad, and Reuben’s homemade biscuits.
As we venture onto the fishing, on day one it was a battle of the elements. We met the rain a little past the Newberry exit and endured it as we began our day of fishing on Friday afternoon. With the water level up, the Soque was a coffee color and flowing rapidly. It was not a day to wade out and explore the river. Hang close to the bank and make good use of the ole wading staff, because safety was going to be very important on this day. Our guides recommended big dark wooly’s with hares ears and pheasant tail nymphs as droppers. Blackhawk requires a minimum six weight rod and pinch down of all barbs on hooks used. The line type is 2 to 4 X mono as leader and 3 to 4 X floro as our dropper line. Our fishing was somewhat successful, but for the trip to become a rousing success we needed a lot less water and a little more clarity involved.
After a light rain that fell on our Friday night and into the early hours on Saturday, this ole boy along with every one else thought it may be another high dark water day ahead. Prior to breakfast, Andy and John (our guides) inspected the river. The water was NOT as we thought and it was down and running clear. Andy and John surmised that we were on top end of the rain and not much rain occurred north of us. With that bit of news; we were in for a GREAT day of fishing and the rods were going to be bending as the day progressed.
Usually, we break for lunch and swap a story or two. Our morning was successful and we had worked up quite an appetite by catching good numbers of trout. Michael was in the zone and chose to continue fishing and skip lunch. That is the beauty of an SRTU trip with Blackhawk, it’s your trip and the world is your oyster as they say. He was making the most of his moments at Blackhawk and would finish as high man in numbers of trout caught.
The afternoon was an opportunity to fish in Andy’s favorite spot which is my Reference Point (How I choose to remember the trip).He explained the dynamics of the spot; it was a short cast of a heavily weighted fly, quick high stick with tight line, followed by a lift of the line prior to hooking a big rock if you were not careful. It was like fishing in a trough used to feed animals; except in this case, the trough is quite deep and runs with swift water. If a small fish, just hang on and net it while standing in your casting spot. If a big fish, be prepared to chase the fish down a set of rapids or two. Go ahead and get your wading staff out and ready, you are going to need it said Andy. My first cast was on target and sure enough, I was able to land a pretty rainbow in my casting spot. I think you got it said Andy. If you need me just holler. You guessed it, once Andy left all ???? (stuff) broke loose and on seven out of ten cast, I was hollering and making my way down the rapids. Did you know that once on the river and in rapids, it is very difficult to hear anyone hollering? On one particular occasion; I had a huge brown (well over 10lbs) and with my reel singing, line going quickly, I wondered what would be the best way to communicate my needs to someone who maybe could hear me? I decided to make use of something I have never had to use; the ole safety whistle. With the largest trout of the day, I had to pull out ALL the stops. Therefore, a toot of the whistle took place. Upon hearing; Roy Tryon drops everything to come and investigate and assist me. Unfortunately the one thing he dropped is what I needed the most and that was a large landing net. In an effort to assist, Roy made a tactical error that we all have made. He grabbed the line and attempted to guide the trout closer to him with hopes of maybe we could get him in my (smaller) landing net once I got to him. It was at this time that Big Brown decided he had enough and ventured to much safer surroundings. I could tell that Roy felt sick about what just happened. In fact, he was devastated and very sorry. As for me; no such thing, the way I look at it is that on 6 out of 7 trips down the rapids, I caught fish and very nice fish at that.
Oh, there were lot’s of other Reference Point contenders such as: Reuben’s Pork Skins or lack there of, the Missing Brisket, or my 3 visits to Ingles while never leaving the parking lot. However, the choice of the one that did NOT get away is the one to remember. You see, Roy was on the first outing I ever participated in. We were learning how to fly fish and did not know a great deal about the sport. Like many others it would have been very easy to do this for a while; give up and move to another hobby or sport. In fact, many of the folks who participated in that outing have indeed moved on. I am glad Roy was there for that moment; he did not get away like the big brown. Roy has been as loyal as they come when participating in our outings and serving our chapter. He is a pleasure to fish with and indeed a great friend (who will not grab the line next time).
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 and its owners John and Abby Jackson have always been loyal supporters of SRTU. With a visit to Blackhawk; you will experience the very best from dedicated folks who desire to make your trip all of what YOU want it to be. When you go, please mention SRTU and thank them for their loyalty.
Tight Lines and Best Fishes,
SRTU Outings Coordinator