2018 Group Trip
Let Me Tell You About My Ant
By: Keith Cloud
Our second Nantahala trip for 2018 presented another opportunity venture up to scenic Bryson City. As leave time approached, I began to receive a cancellation or two or three. Silently I began to wonder if my deodorant was working but I guess folks had a lot of things going on and had to set their priorities. As for me; my thoughts were that I had a few less folks to contend with on the river, but I did miss my buddies who could not make it.
Though we did not have the numbers of attendees as the previous trip, this cast of characters definitely made the most of their time as we played in the mountains of North Carolina. Attendees for this one were: Bob Grimm, Mike Waddell, Ted Tsolovos, Mac Brown, Roy Tryon, Fred Johnson, Lance Gibson, Mike Greene, Reggie Rowell, Reuben Chandler, and Keith Cloud.
A bright clear sky highlighted our Friday arrival to the delayed harvest section of the Nantahala. The fresh greenery of the trees lent its beauty to the day and although there was a forecast for rain at various times for the weekend, it would have been difficult to match the scenery of the day. I decided to start with a pink squirmy wormmy as my lead fly and a red midge for my dropper fly. The area I decided to fish was close to the road and featured an easy walk in spot so my buddy Ted could make his way down and fish a nice little plunge pool. I try to look out for Ted and find a few easy wade in spots since his knees and back present problems that occur with age. While waiting on Ted to get rigged up, I ventured down and began to scour the river for activity. The water level was a bit higher than I thought and that would quickly change my strategy. I looked over at the plunge pool and the flow dictated I would have to add a bit of weight to get the fly’s down into any type of feeding zone for trout. So before making the first cast; I added weight and then made a cast. I let the fly drift and suddenly I was hooked up and DARN. Yep there was no way to recover my bran new freshly rigged fly’s and about half my 5X leader. A log wedged in water much too swift to safely retrieve the fly’s had captured my trout catching devices. This was one of those times I seriously considered vocabulary that would not make my Mom happy. OUCH!!!
Ted eventually made his way to the fishing spot and with my situation, I decided to rig up and try another place and let Ted fish the plunge pool. After a venture upstream and a few more cast with another squirmy and red midge I finally managed to get a hook up or two. Later on I decided to check in with Ted for a status check. I could see that he was having a bit of difficulty fishing the unexpectedly fast water. Without the proper weight to get the fly down quickly it was nearly impossible to get a good drift with the fly combination he was using.
We were getting a bit close to the end of the day and Ted indicated he was a bit frustrated and had caught enough tree trout. Come on and fish this Keith, I know there are fish in there said Ted. At that point, I decided to take Ted up on his generous offer. As I sat on a rock pondering what fly combination I should use, I made a couple of discoveries which would become my Reference Point for the trip. As I looked at my fly box, I noticed a Black Ant crawling up my sleeve and then I heard a sound. Yep it was the sound of a trout hitting the surface up next to a solid rock embankment on the opposite side of the plunge pool. I wondered if they were feeding on ants. Sure enough another rise and although I could not see any fly’s coming off the water, I thought maybe there was a chance of fly’s (specifically ants) falling into the water. Suddenly my eyes ventured into the fly box and there it was, the ant that was crawling up my sleeve I had knocked into my fly box landed next to an imitation ant fly. The visual of the ANT and the sound of the feeding trout was seen as a sign from above by this ole boy and the decision was made to tie on one of only two ants (one real and one imitation) that I had in my fly box.
With the Ant tied on; I was now ready to do business as I cast right up against the rock ledge of the plunge pool. Immediately I was onto a nice fish and in fact, it caught me a bit off guard with its tenacity and strength; suddenly the fight was over. Yep Mr Trout 1 and Keith 0.
All total, I lost 4 or 5 more fish before I was able to bring a trout to the net. Here it was Ted was frustrated because he could not get the fly into the water and for me; I could get the fly into the water, but not catch the fish. Finally I just had to relax and settle down and with that I began to have a fantastic finish to the day with an estimated 20 to 25 fish caught with my ANT and my Reference Point (the way I choose to remember the trip) had already arrived.
Friday evening our gang arrived at Anthony’s for another round of fine food. Our fishing for the day was not bad and the Nantahala produced a few quality size trout for several of our guys. We had a few folks float the Tuckaseegee at Bryson City and based upon the reports, that float was viewed as a huge mistake. Way to much water for these folks to manage their watercrafts and try to fish at the same time.
Saturday morning and our typical visit to the Everett Street Diner for a great sit down breakfast and fellowship. For this day, the floaters Bob Grimm, Mike Waddell, Mac Brown, Reuben Chandler and Roy Tryon decided to float the Little Tennessee River for smallmouth and just about anything that would bite. Our Nantahala fishermen were Lance Gibson, Fred Johnson, Mike Greene, Reggie Rowell, Ted Tsolovos, and yours truly Keith Cloud. I can’t say how eager I was to venture back to the Nantahala with some freshly purchased imitation ANT’s from the Tuckaseegee Fly Shop in Bryson City. For the am hour I fished the lower end of the river using a fly combination that worked well the month before. The Hot Butt emerger was trailing my dry fly and after an hour or so, I finally decided I needed to make a change for I had only picked up a couple of brook trout before it was time to share lunch with our gang.
Quite simply for the morning, the fishing was slow and difficult at best. Soon it was time to relieve my mind from the difficulties of the day and take in a freshly made roast beef and pastrami sandwich. After a wonderful shore lunch it was time to pay a little visit to yesterday’s catching spot. To accompany me to the catching spot I had my ANT’S with me. I rigged up my 10ft. 2 weight Syndicate fly rod with my ANT on the end of my 5X fly line. In my mind I thought this would be a total re-enactment of yesterday’s fishing. Arriving in the mid to late afternoon and casting Black ANT’s to some hungry trout. Boy ole Boy I could not have been more wrong about how this day was going to go. Cast after cast was made and nothing to show. The ants that were crawling the day before were nowhere to be seen. A bit frustrated I decided to tie on a rainbow warrior and fish deep in the plunge pool. Once again no success and with that, it was time to tie on a wooly and do a bit of rock hoping in search of trout.
Saturday evening was a fantastic time to be back at the cabin as our guys ventured in from various fishing spots. The Little Tennessee was somewhat productive; but still high water took away the fellows ability to manage and control watercraft while making a few cast here and there. Bob Grimm was able to land his largest smallmouth ever at 21 inches or so. As for us folks on the Nantahala River we just did not figure it out on this day and struggled with catching fish on a regular basis.
One thing that our guys did not struggle with was the meal that was served for the evening. Mrs. Cloud sent a wonderful BBQ, with baked beans, Cole slaw, potato salad, and deserts of apple and peach crisp. All of this meal assisted in quieting the chatter from our fellow trout catchers for a few moments, but once finished a few more stories were belted out until the eyelids got heavy and it was time to turn in for the evening.
Everyone should take their Ant fishing with them; just once!!!!
SRTU Outings and Membership Chair
Cost of trip:
$127 Accommodation and Meals