2015 Blackhawk (Premium Trip) Fishing Report
February 6-8th, 2015
**Twitch Tweak Twiggle; but don’t Strip**
When I first began hosting the Blackhawk trip we had a little trouble obtaining the 8 fishermen to make this a capacity trip. Some folks balked at the cost of such a trip and the idea of a Premium Trip was in its infancy. The first trip was optional as far as guides go and only two folks chose to employ a guide. Needless to say; it was afterward that guided fishing became the norm. If one is going to spend this kind of money to access a stream it makes perfect sense to employee a guide; for there were some sad faces on that first trip. The guides make this trip and as we rolled into 2015; I had to turn away several folks who had the desire to go. Fact is; I could have booked this trip twice and today there is no doubt the Blackhawk experience is here to stay and those that participated are looking forward to our 2016 return.
This year’s group included 3 from the Augusta/Aiken area (Chas Murphy, Bob Grimm, and Michael Adams). I have always said that folks from the AA area are top notch fishermen who love to fish and more importantly support SRTU on a very consistent basis. Joining me (Keith Cloud) on the trip were Reuben Chandler, Ted Tsolovos, Mac Brown, and Mel Maurer. I am honored to call each of them friend, for these guys take full advantage of all of the opportunities that our outings program offers.
I encourage attendees to arrive at Blackhawk on a full stomach. Once there the action can be fast and furious and that’s before we even get to the river. The guides are ready to begin assembling and rigging the rods, the fly shop is open for business and waiver forms must be signed before accessing the stream. The fly shop is a must visit for various items including the famous Abby J’s salsa, nice Blackhawk embroidered fishing apparel and anything for your fly fishing needs. Meanwhile as the Chinese Fire Drill of activity is taking place, yours truly is unloading and preparing the kitchen for the plethora of activity regarding meals for the trip.
Homemade (courtesy of the Cloud Kitchen) Lasagna would be the centerpiece of our Friday meal. The now famous SRTU Greek/Italian Salad, Green Beans, Pepperoni Cheese Bread would be served alongside. Breakfast items: Eggs, Grits, Sausage, Fruit Salad also served. Another item for breakfast is the now famous Reuben’s Biscuits served with Red Plum Jelly. Sandwich items for lunch included Homemade Chicken Salad, and Ham, Turkey, Pastrami with sub rolls and croissants. Abby J’s homemade chili would also make a Saturday appearance and was a very welcome warm up to what was a chill in the air during the lunch hour on Saturday. The Saturday evening meal was in honor of Chas Murphy. Mrs. Cloud knows that if Chas is on the trip, then it’s time for Chicken Divan, Rice Pilaf, Green Beans and Salad with Garlic Bread. Based upon the results of the Saturday evening meal, the Chicken Divan did not stand a chance and everyone was glad Chas made the drive from Aiken.
Friday in the stream was somewhat slow. Guides Andy Brackett and Marty Waschak indicated the fishing had tapered off and that we were going to have to work for our catch. Water temps barley made it to 40 degrees in some sections of the river and water level was lower than normal. The fish were not going to move a great distance to feed in the cold (very clear) water. “If we can see the fish; most likely they can see us” said Andy.
As is customary our attendees who are new to Blackhawk fish with the guides first. Andy took Bob Grimm whom was partnered up with Michael Adams to the upper end of the river. Marty took Ted Tsolovos who partnered up with me to the lower end of the river. There is a substantial learning curve at Blackhawk and most folks have never hooked into fish of this size. Typically the rush of excitement leads to a lot of mistakes when attempting to land these creatures. True to form, frustration set in as we lost fish after fish. The end of the day was approaching and finally we landed a few, me with two fish and Ted with four using the fly of choice size 18 pheasant tail using size 22 zebra and gray midges. My last fish of the day was a brightly colored 18 inch rainbow, definitely the prettiest rainbow I have ever caught at Blackhawk.
Saturday morning fishing would hopefully be a better day than previous. We switch ends of the river and stayed with the same guides. Friday fishing for all had been slower than our past trips. Bob had caught 11 on his first day and was amazed when the guides spoke of how slow the fishing was. Once again Saturday morning would be a hit um in the head type of day. When we arrived back to the lodge for lunch; our day was beginning to warm up rather nicely and the trout were beginning to wake up. Abby J’s famous chili was being consumed as the bright sunshine beamed down on us. Reuben arrived with a big grin and showed us the catch of the day, a nice 25 inch trout smiled for his newly purchased waterproof camera. A great rest of the day was forecast and our guides Andy and Marty advised that streamer fishing would be in store for the second half of the day.
Ted and I fished the upper end where the water was slower flowing and action was even slower. Although the upper end had the most and largest trout, after an hour or so of frustration we ventured downstream to faster water. Once there it was streamer time and sight fishing for trout. Marty was standing on the bank and calling out various commands to Michael as he stood upstream drifting out several feet of line down to the trout. Due to the sun shade thing, Marty was able to see the trout and anyone fishing in the stream was blindly drifting a fly and hoping for a strike. Marty had his keen eye on a massive trout that seemed to be looking for food. He had Michael drift the fly toward the fish. Twitch Tweak Twiggle were some of the commands and as minutes went by, the trout finally decided to engulf its prey. It was at that very moment (according to Marty) who was the only one who could see the trout, that Michael stripped the line and pulled the fly quickly away from the trout whose mouth was wide open for the take. With that, Marty fell to his knees asking “Why did you strip the line, don’t you know how to Twitch Tweak Twiggle? Where out of Twitch Tweak Twiggle did you hear the word Strip? Naturally some good natured ribbing arose after this fiasco. Michael is quite competitive and as the evening by the fire wore down and after dinner cocktail or two; the story just (like most of our fish) got bigger and bigger. The fish that was probably a 24 inch fish was now close to 30 and the countless recalls of that moment on the steam had become my Reference Point (how I chose to remember) the trip.
Sunday fishing warmed up with the temperature. Typically on Sunday we swap guides and attendees may go to their favorite spot on the river. It’s our last day and as for our gang, most opted to go to the upper end of the river. Fishing was dominant on this end during our previous two fishing opportunities on Friday and Saturday. I jumped at the opportunity to fish with Andy of whom I consider to be a close friend. He tied on a purple prince for the lead fly and a midge as a dropper and asked me to go fish the lower end of what is called the honey hole. It’s a very short cast; but you must watch your overhead because you could end up in the tree. I ventured down to the location and made the cast; perfectly RIGHT INTO THE TREE. Xiosdhghssfgggksovjzs I thought as I had to attempt to explain how I had made such a mess to Andy. Eventually I got back into the water after re tying and ended my day with a nice 20 inch rainbow that was netted in my newly purchased $10 supersized net from Cabela’s in Greenville.
To sum up, I had several candidates for Reference Points. Mac tried his best as he took a massive fall on his way to the bathroom facilities after our Friday check in to Blackhawk. Bob’s 11 fish day using an Olive RS2 and big grin on his face on his first visit. Reuben’s nice fish that is now posted on the Blackhawk Braggin Board website or my beautiful brightly colored 18 inch and 25 inch pig of a fish on day one. We had a grand trip and cannot thank Blackhawk enough for the fellowship we have. Without a doubt; they enjoy having our group and as the years have now passed, we have sent countless folks who have fished at Blackhawk. If one desires a quality fishing experience, please give them a call 706 947-FISH (3474) and tell them the SRTU gang said Hi and that we sent YOU.
A great way to start 2015 Outings Season;
Hope to see you on the Stream
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Chattooga Trip Report (2015) February 20th -22nd
Idiotosis is a fly fishing disorder:
Global warming made its appearance known to our crowd of attendees as we looked forward to arriving to our humble abodes at Oconee State Park. Sub-Freezing temps in single digits had made way down South and our weekend forecast was sketchy at best. Cold temps, snowy conditions and possible ice would dominate our thoughts as time to leave came near. Two days before leave time, I called my good friend Karl at Chattooga River Fly Shop to obtain a local perspective on what conditions were really like in the Chattooga region. He indicated the fishing would be slow and that the main roads were clear of ice suggesting it would be ok to fish. After that conversation I received a text from my wife (Sherie) who indicated I needed to call Oconee State Park. After speaking with park officials, they indicted the park was closed (due to the weather) but they would be ready for us on Friday. After those two conversations; I decided not to cancel the trip and go full steam ahead for this year’s Chattooga trip.
Eleven idiots (oops) brave souls participated on our 2015 Chattooga iced adventure. Reuben Chandler, Mac Brown, Fred Johnson, Rich Gale, Gary Scott, Tyler Lee, Jeff Harrison, and yours truly Keith Cloud called the barracks our home for the weekend. Mike Ehmke, Vernon and Hank Sawyer who chose to split a cabin rental would join us for meals served during the weekend trip. Upon arrival to the park we became aware that all water in the park was currently not working and power was limited. The maintenance crews of the park were working feverously to restore service and the barracks would be the first to be restored.
I was honored to have 3 new attendees for this trip; Gary Scott from the Atlanta area is a fine fellow who sits by me at the Georgia games. Terrie (his wife) finally got tired of us talking trout all the time and asked Gary if he ever was going to go fishing with me? He jumped at the chance to fish and must have been committed for he actually had a late Thursday arrival from Austin Texas and ventured up to the cold Chattooga on Friday afternoon leaving from Atlanta. Gary was a great addition to the trip; he has extensive knowledge about fly fishing, loves the sport and fit right in with our crowd of trout chasers.
Tyler Lee and Jeff Harrison are two very new fly fishermen and new to the chapter. I have always said the best way to gain knowledge about fly fishing is to hang out with those who actually fly fish. These two fellows (sponges) literally absorbed every ounce of info and actually had a thing or two to share with some of our most seasoned fishermen. These guys were simply amazing; they caught fish on what was one of our most challenging trips. Tyler and Jeff blended right in and it goes without saying; I know these guys will be on future trips for they already have a great passion for the sport.
Friday fishing took us to the Highway 28 Bridge after our visit to the Chattooga River Fly shop. We were loaded up with knowledge and fly’s. After walking down the path for access to the river, our gang split and went their merry ways. I had to break thru ice and once in the water, dodged large chunks of ice floating downstream. The reel had quickly frozen and fishing became nearly impossible as the fly line froze to the rod within just a very few minutes. My wading staff stayed close by as I pushed floating mini ice bergs away while attempting to cast a fly. The wading staff also aided as I waded with caution hoping not to make a mistake in the treacherous Chattooga. Mike Ehmke and Jeff Harrison were fishing in a good springtime spot for trout and I ventured down to join them. While making a few casts, I heard a familiar sound and began to assess the situation. I looked over at Mike who was now finished for the day fishing. It was a snap of the rod and with no backup rod, his day was over. I then noticed Jeff, for he had spotted some fish and began casting a black size 20 zebra midge hoping for a bend (and not snap) of the rod. His drift was right and once hooked, the trout began avoidance of the net and the result was a long distance release. Jeff was not discouraged, for he cast again and landed his first Chattooga trout accentuated by a big grin.
Friday evening meal would be homemade meatloaf, tiny green limas mixed with South Georgia peas, and homemade Mac n Cheese. Desert would be a cherry crisp dump cake which was also homemade. Our crew had arrived safely, no one fell into the cold Chattooga and no hypothermia to deal with. Mac was able to land 4 trout using the size 20 to 22 blue assassins and Tyler and Rich was able to catch a couple as well.
Saturday morning a light dusting of snow rested on the vehicles. The smell of Reuben’s’ Homemade 7UP biscuits began waking our sleepy heads up. Rich brought his expresso maker for those who needed a jump start for the day. Our expected high would be in the low 40’s for the day and a light rain in the forecast. The decision was made to venture to Burrell’s Ford to see some new scenery. As we made the turn on Burrell’s Ford I got this very bad feeling I was making a mistake. The road was coated with snow and ice but once committed to venturing down the mountain to the river, there is no turning back. Eventually we got down to the bridge at the ford and parked on the South Carolina side. Once parked, I ventured down to the river to begin fishing. Tyler was on the other side and I communicated that if the temps did not warm up I may not be able to make it driving my two wheel drive Tundra back up the mountain. Don’t worry; I’ve got a tow rope and a four wheel drive if needed said Tyler. The morning moved into the afternoon and a dusting of snow continued to fall and my fly line and reel continued to freeze up. This was not going to turn out well; I may have to leave my truck because the anticipated melt would not be happening. Once back at the parking lot, I noticed all but one of our vehicles were no longer present. Mike Ehmke was waiting on Virgil Sawyer to arrive back to his truck which was also two wheel drive.
We decided to fish while waiting for Virgil and Mike (fishing with his back up rod) picked up one in late afternoon fishing. With Virgil back, now was time to make the accent up the mountain to Hwy 107. The Chevy Avalanche with positive traction did well as I followed Virgil and Mike up the mountain. Finally my Tundra began to slide; soon I was sideways unable to keep up and the worst of my fears were confirmed. My (Reference Point) how I choose to remember the trip had arrived.
While assessing the situation, two vehicles approached and both were Toyota Tacoma four wheel drives. A short chain was used and I was eventually pulled out, but only for long enough to get stuck again. Eventually a longer tow line (belonging to Virgil) was retrieved and after an hour I was finally able to get to Hwy 107 after being towed on numerous occasions. I wanted to give the fellows (whose generosity was greatly appreciated) money for their efforts and it was at that time I realized I did not have my wallet with me. In fact, I had fished all day without my license due to a change of clothing before leaving the barracks. Virgil supplied a 20 dollar bill to my new found friends and quickly I was on the way back to the park to begin cooking for the evening.
Entering the barracks; several of our casts of characters were there. They quickly informed me that the smell of whatever was cooking was driving them crazy. The Homemade Beef Stew which simmered in crockpots (all day) was permeating our humble abode. Soon Karl and Karen of the Chattooga Fly Shop joined our gang as we shared a wonderful SRTU outing meal of the Beef Stew, Rice, Corn, Lima’s, Mac n Cheese, Reuben’s cornbread and the now famous SRTU Greek/Italian salad. To sum up our meal; there is nothing like a good warm stew after a day of battling the elements on a cold February fishing trip to the Chattooga.
Eyelids were heavy by 9:00 for a majority of our crew. Prior to Karl and Karen leaving we summoned Reuben from his bed and a photo of our group was taken. For those who see it; Reuben is the fellow whom is bare footed. After the picture Karl and Karen donated a couple of goodies for our upcoming banquet; a nice trout blanket and a full day guided trip for two. Our little adventure to the Chattooga not only helps the Chattooga River Fly Shop, it also helps us as a chapter. Our friends in the stream sure did come thru for us and we value their friendship and generosity.
Sunday would be a much better day fish wise and weather wise. A majority of our crew headed back to the Hwy 28 Bridge to fish the delayed harvest section of the Chattooga. Fred Johnson managed to feel the tug of a couple of trout, but longed for the dozen or so fly’s he had lost the day before. Jeff Harrison managed another 4 fish and Rich Gale finished nicely with close to 10 fish (all Rainbow trout) and probably hooked another 10 to 15 fish but lost them fairly quickly. Rich seemed to be the man as he fished the Chattooga like a veteran on his first visit to this scenic river.
To sum up, I am glad to have made the decision to go. Over the years, we have been able to dodge wintery weather on our visits. This time it (the weather) finally got us, but we hung in there and still managed to catch a fish and share a smile or two. Yes; the idiotosis we experienced, seems to be getting better now.
Thawing Out Now,
Cost of the trip: $71.25 per person (accommodations and all meals)
March 20-22nd, 2015 Wilson River Report
The quaint cottages at Brown Mountain Beach Resort (BMBR) hosted our band of participants for the 2015 return to the Wilson River. As usual we had a capacity crowd in what has now turned out to be a favorite among our loyal outing attendees. Speaking of attendees; we had 14 fine folks who made the trip from various directions at various times. BMBR is very remote and not easy to find, but our gang made it and those that choose to participate were: Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Roy Tryon, Bob Peterson, Mike Ehmke, Ricky Schell, Rich Gale, Reuben Chandler, John Pressly, Ed Walshe, Lance Gibson, Mike Waddell, Ted Tsolovos, and yours truly Keith Cloud.
The remoteness of BMBR and the rustic cabins present a few problems when hosting an outing of this size and a trip to the Wilson does not allow for a quick run into town to pick up various items. We must be ready and plan accordingly and therefore prior to a trip to the Wilson, the Cloud house is in TROUT MODE. The kitchen bristles with activity prepping for the meals that are served on site. Mrs. Cloud works very hard to make our trip the very best it can be and as for me, I find it best to stay out of the way but be close by in case of a situation when I am needed. Once everything is ready; Sherie begins the process of labeling the food and writing directions on preparation for each item served. This composition usually begins at the 10 to 11 o’clock hour the night before leave time of 7:30 am the next morning.
The morning of departure we wake at 5:30 am for one last stir of items and eventual transport and loading of coolers into the back of my Toyota Tundra truck. For this year’s Wilson trip this process lasted about 2 hours. One may think two hours to load a truck? Well there are several reasons for that; first and foremost, WE ARE SERIOUS ABOUT THE BUSINESS OF EATING. Also the night before departure, our weather was horrible and earlier rains had made my yard out to be a giant sponge. Typically I am able to back the Tundra up to the house for loading, but there was no way for this trip for I would have been stuck in my own yard. Therefore a manual transfer of all the items in small batches at a time would be the preferred method for this trip. Although it would have been great to load a cooler and then transport, my bad back would not allow for this type of operation and my trip would have been miserable. Oh the perils of getting older!
Friday fishing would be at best slow. As I pulled up to a parking spot a fellow fishermen indicated the trout had been sipping a few dry flys. Although I had a black wooly tied on, something in my mind said to swap it out and start with a dry. I made a beeline to an area that last year (2014) was my home run spot. The spot features a cut bank with a bit of slow water before the river accelerates and turns into decent pocket water followed by nice Montana (long) style run that is known to hold nice trout looking for potential downstream victims. On or around my 10th cast, a nice big fat rainbow rose for some sipping action. The Elk hare caddis fly bit back at the trout and in a moment or two, Mr. Net was welcoming my newly found rainbow friend. My mind turned to previous successes of one of my favorite spots in the river. It’s going to be a grand day I thought as I quickly returned the trout back to the drink.
A thousand casts later I am still laying claim to that ONE trout. My day was ending and memories of trout past were long gone. I had given it my best shot, but quite frankly I felt like I caught the only trout in the beautiful water I just described. Now it’s time to turn attention to Friday’s evening meal and fire up the grill for our gang of 14 whom will soon return to the cabins with hopefully better luck than I.
Arrival back to the cabins I notice a couple of characters holding down rocking chairs on the porch of their assigned cabins. Lance Gibson and the newly retired Mike Waddell were enjoying a cold one and celebrating the beauty of the day while looking forward to our evening meal. The sound of the rushing Wilson at the (Firefly Cottage) added to the beauty of the evening. Ted Tsolovos my riding partner for the weekend ventured to the hot tub in an effort to relieve a cold that had come upon him earlier in the week. The grill was lit and Brat’s and Hot Dogs would be on the menu for the evening. Also on the menu the famous SRTU Greek/Italian Salad, Orzo Pasta, Baked Beans and a homemade pound cake served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
Our gang of trout catchers arrived for the evening wind down. Stream reports were a little better than my adventure. Although none of our guys reached double digits in their fish count, John Pressly and Mac Brown had the most success. Like me, a lot of the folks worked on their casting skills and would have to write the day off while hoping for a better day of fishing on Saturday.
As I was grilling; the owner of BMBR (Ron McDaniel) visited us and brought a guest. With him was a young fellow Garrett Blodgett who was eager to learn as much about fly fishing as possible. Both he and his dad were camping at BMBR. His father was not a fly fisherman, more of a mountain biker and Garrett was in the beginning stages of fly fishing. After speaking with Garrett, I knew whom I would pair him with. Ed Washe was just arriving from Ocean City Maryland would be the guy. Ed is a certified casting instructor and quite the fisherman who loves to teach. It would be after breakfast the next morning that Ed and this newly found outing attendee (Garrett) would take on the day.
The smell of a nice breakfast casserole permeated the cabin called (12 Gates Cottage). Breakfast was served and for those who desired (which was everyone), sandwich items were available to take along for the day’s fishing. Ted and I ventured further upstream to a couple of spots for what turned out to be another day of casting. Frustration has set in as many of us met for lunch. The Wilson of years past was not producing for our trip. After lunch, Ted decided it was time to rest his eyelids and end his pursuit of trout. As for me, I was not going to go down without a fight. I fished as hard as I could at past producing areas. Tying and re-tying was now the name of the game and I quickened the pace of my fishing and for now it was not about a relaxing day on the river.
Finally reality set in and it was time to go. No fish for me, but hopes that others would not suffer the same fate. As I made way back to the cabin I ran into the Reference Point for the trip. For those whom do not know, the Reference Point is my way of remembering the trip. The road back to BMBR took us by Garrett who was standing in the stream with the rod bent and a huge grin on his face. I looked at Ed who was close by, “That’s fish number 12; Garrett is doing very well.” It was with that bit of good news my trip to the Wilson could be categorized as a success. I am truly amazed this young fellow made a decision to jump start his fly fishing hobby. Decisions like that are not easy for a lot of folks; especially the younger crowd, but he decided to hang out with folks whom actually fly fish and I have no doubt this was exactly what he needed. Big thanks to Ed Walshe who mentored Garrett, who was able to see the spirit of Trout Unlimited and the Saluda River chapter of TU. In fact; based upon my parting conversation with Garrett and his dad, I am certain we have a new member in TU.
Saturday evening arriving back to the cabins, I once again see a couple of characters holding down the rocking chairs on their front porch. “Whatever is cooking in those crockpots is driving us crazy” said both Lance Gibson and Mike Waddell. The answer to that question is homemade Beef Pot Roast that will be served with Pennsylvania Dutch Style Noodles, green beans, SRTU Famous Salad and Brownies served for desert.
For Saturday our folks fished hard with many arriving at dark thirty. The reports were a little better than Friday. Rich and Ricky had a fairly productive day with double digit catches using the fly of choice tiny midges. Reuben who had a rough day on Friday re-bounded a little and Mike Ehmke landed a nice fat brook while fishing at the Mill-Works area on the Wilson. Bob Peterson finished with seven for the day while Mac, Mel and Roy managed a decent day as they fished with streamers in areas that held fish.
After a Sunday morning breakfast, several of our guys hit the stream. As for yours truly, I decided I had enough of the Wilson and packed it up for the trip back to Columbia. Once packed and ready to go, John Pressly asked for a souvenir of the trip. What kind of souvenir would you like to take back to Columbia? John’s reply was that he would like to take the handwritten copy of the directions Mrs. Cloud provides on the trips. John wanted to take home to show Bettie Nell (his bride) and boast of how well organized our trips are. With that exchange of conversation, I now had my second Reference Point (another way to remember) for the trip. It was quite an honor to present my job aid to John and quite frankly I have never had that request before. As I reflect upon John’s request, it reinforces the hard work dedicated to the trips. Mrs. Cloud (Sherie) is the backbone of the whole operation and its success makes an impression for many of our attendees. Yes on the nights and days before a trip the Cloud kitchen bristles with activity and on this Sunday (the day of return), the kitchen will once again go into Trout Mode as Sherie and I unpack and look forward to the next SRTU outing with our streamside friends.
SRTU Outings Coordinator
***Cost of Trip***
$160 for two nights’ accommodation and all meals served on site.
***On April 3rd, 2015 I received the following email from Garrett***
My name is Garrett Blodgett, I met you and your group from Trout Unlimited 2 weekends ago down in Wilson’s Creek, and spent the entire day catching more fish than I ever have with a fellow named Ed. I just wanted to reach out to you and sincerely thank you for helping me out and introducing me to Ed Walshe. I had one hell of a time fishing with your group, and I learned a lot just from being on the water with an experienced group. Do you have Ed’s contact info, I would like to drop him a line and thank him as well.
Receiving this from Garrett just prior to sending this report really made the whole trip worthwhile.
Nantahala River Report for April 10-12th, 2015
InVESTments in SRTU Chapter Outings:
Our first Nantahala trip for 2015 has been on the radar for a good while; the trek to the NAN always books quickly and as usual, we had a great group. Attendees were Mac Brown, Reuben Chandler, Shawn Kenney, Mike Ehmke, Roy Tryon, Mel Maurer, Rich Gale, Lance Gibson, Mike Waddell, Don Harder and yours truly Keith Cloud. Our trip began with a beautiful day and weekend in the forecast and Bryson Patch Cabins in Bryson City, NC would be our home for the weekend.
Upon arrival for a quick drop off of goodies at the cabins, I decided to leave my truck at the cabin and ride with Shawn and Mike Ehmke to fish the delayed harvest section of the Nantahala River. As we began loading my fishing equipment, I quickly discovered my REFERENCE POINT (my way to remember) the trip. Yep, yours truly had developed a condition called Vest Heimer’s. My fishing vest was AWOL and inconveniently resting comfortably at the Cloud house in Irmo, SC. It was at that point I discovered the beauty of an SRTU chapter outing and how we always look out for each other. Shawn immediately offered up two options, I could either use his sling pack (which was like new) or a chest pack to replace my vest. No problem on the fly’s or anything else, let’s just go fish.
To take this Reference Point a step further; I called my wife (Sherie) whom was able to locate the vest. I asked her to place the vest on the front porch for a later pick up. I then called Rich Gale whom was in route from Charleston whom graciously agreed to drop by and rescue the forgotten vest. Again the virtues and blessings associated with an SRTU chapter outing; looking out for each other.
Our fishing on the Nan started at the 3rd bridge on the Delayed Harvest section of the Nantahala. I began with what is now of my favorite rod to use on the Nantahala. The 5 weight 10 foot St. Croix High Stick Drifter (purchased from Johnny Butler) of Fly South, is perfect for nymph fishing on this river. On my Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor 5/6 reel, I added a 5X leader, 9 foot in length and tied on a green wooly with a flash of red in the tail of the fly. To accompany the green wooly (as a dropper) I tied on a tiny brown pheasant tail size 20 recommended by Bill Clary earlier in the week.
The location I choose to fish was a little upstream from the bridge. Immediately I began to catch fish casting just the length of my leader and I was able to land the tri-fecta of fly fishing; browns, brooks, and rainbows. As my numbers of fish approached 20, I caught a very nice beautifully colored brown on the lead fly the green wooly. It was at that point I realized how much I missed my net (attached to my vest) located in Irmo SC. My line had been weakened by the numbers of fish caught and suddenly Mr. Brown had Mr. Green and was swimming away and back into the rushing river.
As the day proceeded, I continued to fish with hopes of catching the brown trout with the green wooly and my dropper fly in its mouth. Finally as the sun was slowly descending, I felt the tug on the line and realized I had caught the fish I was looking for. I brought the fish up and finally got my hands on it. I clipped off the dropper and then proceeded to retrieve Mr. Green via surgical procedure and quickly the trout escaped my grasp and was (once again) in the river. My fly was not retrieved like I had hoped, but as I look back on the day; I caught well over 20 fish and anxiously looked forward to the following day.
For most attendees; 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. This time with fishing vest and net in hand, Rich Gale and I proceeded to meet (The Master) Bill Clary at 9am at the area called (The Office) on the Nantahala. For those whom do not know, Bill is my mentor and (The Office) is where he has mentored countless folks in his past guiding and teaching days. Upon arrival a big hug from a great fellow and a couple of fly’s presented to both Rich and I. Try these blue wing olive nymphs (size 20) as a dropper fly said Bill as we began the process of rigging up for a beautiful day of fishing. The pocket water of (The Office) is quite different than most sections of the Nantahala and when fishing (The Office); a tactic used is something I like to call (Search and Annoy), that is you search a little while and then get annoyed and move to another spot in the river. The Office is not filled with deep pools in which one can cast and stay in one area for hours at a time.
When fishing with Bill; it’s all about teaching, for he has that way to bring the best out of each person. Although I have fished this area countless times, he has fished it for years. Before wading in the river, he asked, tell me what you see? I began to describe the lay of the river, pocket water and seams which may hold fish. How are you going to get to where you wish to fish? Just get in the river and work my way to various spots was my reply. Not good enough he said, I am going to show you how to access the stream and fish your way across this river and with that he said take two steps off the bank and make a cast directly upstream using the length of the leader and catch a fish that is holding next to the bank. On or about the 5th cast I had a fish on and although I lost him; I learned not to rule out fish that may hold close to where you start fishing. Fish the whole river and as you fish and (if safe) wade through the areas you fish as to not disturb areas you may fish. As the morning turned to noon, Bill’s little blue wing olive nymph and my brown soft hackle fly had netted 10 fish. It was a grand time spent with the Master and like always; I learned a lot.
At 12:30 the set up for the NOW FAMOUS shore lunch was taking place and our band of trout catchers began to arrive from different directions on the river. The scent of the South Carolina BBQ draws folks from all over. One such character making a surprise appearance was my ole buddy Don Harder a former chapter member whom is an occupational therapist in Asheville, NC. Don is quite the fisherman and has participated in many past SRTU chapter outings. After assisting with the set up, Don did what Don does very well and that’s catching trout. As I was firing up the camp stove, it was quite pleasing to look around and see several hook ups on the river behind me. Our menu featuring BBQ, Cole Slaw, Bow Tie Pasta Salad, Cucumber Salad, Chips & Dips, Chocolate Pecan cookies and Homemade Key Lime Cupcakes knocked the edge of the hunger that catching a trout works up.
After the shore lunch Mac and Reuben took in a session of fishing with Bill. Rich and I headed upstream for newer scenery and managed to finish our day strong. Earlier while the shore lunch was going own, our gang decided on a meal at the cabins for the evening. Rib Eye steak, baked beans, baked potato and our leftover salads would be served at the large log cabin rented for our weekend. Before serving our meal, we lifted up a couple of our favorite fishermen in prayer (John Pressly and Phil Smith) each of whom we ALL hope to see back on the stream in the future. To sum up the day; the Nantahala had produced nicely and the smiles we shared reflected the grand time had by all.
Sunday morning our crowd ventured different ways. Some decided to fish and others decided to opt out of fishing and take a scenic route home. Mac and Reuben decided to float the Tuckaseegee in their drift boats; Mel and Roy headed toward the West Fork of the Pigeon and had a good day. Roy did the most damage with his Blue Assassin catching 9; one of which was a 17 inch rainbow. Actually this catch was a two for one special. While unhooking the rainbow, he tossed the blue assassin fly back in the water and before release of the rainbow a small brook trout was hooked on the recently tossed fly. The blue assassin was indeed a red hot fly for Roy and worked well the whole weekend.
Shawn, Mike Ehmke and I ventured to Cherokee to fish the Raven’s Fork with Bill Clary. The cost to fish this stretch of water is $35 dollars and the river is located inside the Cherokee Indian Reservation. One of the attractions of the Ravens Fork is the opportunity to catch some monster trout. Bill who fishes the river often, advised of the need for 3X to 4X leaders of 12 foot in length. He rigged up the rods and provided tips for our day of fishing. One such tip involved the importance of keeping plenty of weights on the line. If the flys are not bouncing the bottom you are wasting your time; he said and as we began to fish, Mike quickly picked up a couple of very nice fish. Not long after that I began to recognize the bite; for we were fishing without indicators so it was very important to watch the line as it drifted thru the water. Anything that seemed NOT to be normal, Bill would advise to lift the rod and keep a tight line at all times for these fish will hook themselves.
Eventually Shawn and Bill would venture upstream and although Shawn hooked a couple of these nice size trout, they managed not to make their way into the net. The so called LDR (long distance release) affect would sum up Shawn’s day. As for me, I had a banner day (catching 10) with some rainbows over 18 inches caught on a green zug bug trailing a size 16 brown soft hackle fly. To sum up it was a grand day and my last fish hooked was in honor of Shawn, for it was an LDR of a fish well over 20 inches.
Cost of trip: $106
Two night’s accommodations featuring the Now Famous Shore Lunch, Rib Eye Steak Dinner for Saturday evening.
Vested with SRTU,
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Nantahala River Report for May 15-17th, 2015
Meeting a Pioneer on the Nan:
Our second Nantahala trip for 2015 was once again booked to capacity. Attendees were Mac Brown, Reuben Chandler, John Cornett, Sam Crews, Mike Ehmke, Stewart Methe, Roy Tryon, Rich Gale, Ted Tsolovos , Mike Waddell, Ed Walshe and yours truly Keith Cloud. Our trip began with a beautiful day and weekend in the forecast and Bryson Patch Cabins in Bryson City, NC would be our home for the weekend.
My riding partner for the weekend was Ted Tsolovos and after arrival for a quick drop off of goodies at the cabins, we made the 30 minute drive from Bryson City to the delayed harvest section of the Nantahala. Unlike the last Nantahala trip, this time I was ready with my vest in hand. This trip would also be a bit different due to the fact that I had a serious upgrade on some of my tools of the trade and sporting bran new waders and wading boots. Earlier in the month it broke my heart to finally separate myself from the Simms waders purchased many years ago. The waders had served me well, but if I wanted to stay dry I had to make a change; so on a Sunday afternoon Sherie and I made the trip to Orvis in Greenville and my new found friend Chris (the store manager) took care of my equipment needs.
Just like the last trip, my Reference Point (my way to remember the trip) would arrive on the first day of the trip. This time as Ted and I began to suit up and prepare for the day on the Nan, we met a fellow who ventured back to his truck to take in a lunch. He asked how we were doing and indicated the fishing had been pretty good for the am hours. His report was music to my ears and we began to inquire about the fishing, he replied Daniel Boone is the name. So you are a guide I asked? Yep 22 years guiding this river and if you tie on an Elk Hare caddis you are going to have a fun day. Well upon hearing that; I knew what I was going to do and the Elk Hare caddis was tied on. Anxiously I ventured down to the river and on the 5th cast a beautiful brook could not resist temptation. Rise after rise for the Elk Hare Caddis and for this Nantahala trip with my net in hand, I landed fish after fish. Finally after 20 fish or so, there was not much left of Mr. Elk Hare and it was time to tie on something else. As I pondered a decision about what else to tie on; I looked down and saw black ants meandering about the shore. Therefore the black ant would be the choice and I was able to pick up another 5 or 6. Eventually I made my way to the 2nd bridge on the Nan and decided to go back to the Elk Hare where once again I began to catch trout. Finally I decided I needed to check on Ted, with hopes he was having half as much fun as yours truly. As my eye caught sight of Ted, I could tell he was not going to be willing to venture my way to catch a fish. Yep, his line was tight and a fellow who was watching stated that my friend was catching fish as well and upon hearing that I went back to the honey hole at the second bridge to continue my trout catching.
My first day on the Nan for this trip had been a tremendous success and as I arrived back at the truck I saw Mr. Boone who had his client with him. The fellow was from Greensboro, NC and it was his first time fly fishing. He indicated this was something he always wanted to do and regretted having waited so long to try the sport out. His trip with Mr. Boone was worth every penny and he was very pleased with how his day had transpired. As for Ted and I, we were glad he acquired the services of this pioneer of a fellow in Daniel Boone. It was close to a 50 fish day for me and a big shout and thanks for the Elk Hare caddis recommendation from Mr. Boone.
Friday’s evening meal always takes us to Anthony’s for some fantastic Italian style food. As our gang arrived for what we thought was a visit to our usual seating spot. This time however, we experienced a quite different surrounding. Since our previous April visit; MAJOR renovations had taken place and the whole place had a look and feel quite different than before. At first I was a bit concerned and wondered what we were getting into; but soon our waitress (whom has waited on us in the past) re-assured us the food was the same and with that, I was good to go and ready for another great Anthony’s fully loaded Pizza for one can sure work up an appetite when you have the kind of day that I had. As we gathered around the table the reports of Friday’s fishing were very encouraging and folks were looking forward to a great Saturday on the river.
The big cabin at Bryson Patch was full of activity early on Saturday morning for as part of this trip our attendees had the opportunity to make sandwiches and take various little goodies with them for the day on the Nantahala. For this trip, there would be no shore lunch due to spending more time fishing and our evening meal would be BBQ Ribs. Also on Saturday morning many ventured to “The Everett Street Dinner” and as for me, I decided to forgo that opportunity and get to the river as fast as I could with the idea of a return to the spot of Friday’s success. Sam Crews (new member) and new to the outings joined me at the 2nd bridge for what I hoped to be another fast pace day of catching trout. I encouraged Sam to tie on a squirmy wormy and soon he was able to land a few trout. It was a grand time as I watched Sam on his first SRTU chapter outing meet his goal of catching a trout in a rushing mountain stream.
As our Saturday proceeded it was obvious that the fishing had taken a downward trend. Action for the SRTU gang was not as fast and furious as the day before and we all had to work a bit harder than the day before. The dry fly success of the previous day did not pan out for me. I struggled to catch 15 or so while others seemed to have to work a bit harder also. Personally, I think their mouths were a little sore from the day before.
Saturday would end in a very upbeat way and for those who don’t know about SRTU trips and I say it all the time, we are SERIOUS about the BUSINESS of eating. Our evening meal would be another first for the chapter. BBQ Ribs, Baked Beans, Homemade Coleslaw, Corn Bread sure went down good after a hard day of fishing. Our deserts for the evening featured Apple Pie and a Berry Pie. The ribs were cooked and prepared on site by our very own Rich Gale; who also donated the whole meal to our trip. Rich would not accept one dime to offset the cost; he really wanted to do this as an appreciation for the outings and thankfulness for his newfound outing friends. Once he and Ed arrived back from fishing, it was truly amazing to see this guy apply his culinary skills for what was really a wonderful evening at the cabins. I must give a big thanks to Greg and Debbie Livingston for bringing a HUGE charcoal grill down to the big cabin for an evening of cooking and we were grateful they chose to join us for a tremendous SRTU style meal.
After departure from Bryson Patch on Sunday morning; I joined several of our guys on the Tuckaseegee River at for a day of fishing on the delayed harvest section of the river. After a Sunday morning breakfast; Reuben, Mac and Roy had invited our newbie Sam Crews to come along for a little trout time on the Tuck. The fly of choice was a blue assassin and the trout loved it. As I arrived to the spot on the Tuck it seemed like everyone had a rod bent and it was great see Sam experience one of the best Nantahala trips we have ever had.
Cost of the trip: $97 per person: including 2 nights at Bryson Patch, sandwich and snacks to take on the streams for the whole weekend and a Saturday Rib Feast prepared by chef extraordinaire Rich Gale.
A ribbing good time,
Keith Cloud (SRTU Outings Coordinator)