2019 Wilson River
March 1st-3rd, 2019
By: Keith Cloud
One thing for sure is that folks love attending the Wilson Trip and from a host standpoint, it is the most difficult trip to host. We love our good friends Ron and Wendy McDaniel the owners of Brown Mountain Beach Resort, but they could not have picked a more remote place to follow their passion of running a great place for weddings along with cabin and yurt accommodations. Yep Brown Mountain Beach Resort (BMBR) is a 30 minute drive from a carton of eggs and other necessities as I have learned over the years. With that in mind, it’s very important that my Toyota Tundra be loaded down with enough supplies and food for what has turned into our largest and most attended trip of the year. The remoteness of BMBR and rustic cabins located within yards of the roaring Wilson enhances the outdoor experience and the beauty of the Wilson stays in our memories as the years continue their forward progression. So it’s no wonder folks want to take in a Wilson trip.
Attendees for this one are: Mike Waddell, Harry Huntley, Mike Strong, Bob Grimm, Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Reuben Chandler, Ted Tsolovos, Ed Walshe, Steve Storick, Mary Audrey Ackerman, Jose’ Javier, Roy Tryon, Vernon Sawyer, Hank Sawyer, Fred Johnson, Joe Bibbo, Keith Cloud and most importantly Sherie Cloud. WOW that’s quite a crowd and as usual we have our fair share of characters in attendance for ALL our SRTU trips.
After a nice slowly served breakfast at the Lizard Thicket on Exit 27 Blythewood, our trip began on Friday March 1st, 2019. As we approached the expected rains near Hickory NC travel was quite treacherous. Visibility was at near zero almost all the way to BMBR, but once there we were able to unload and begin set up for the weekend. As with most trips these days; we have a few newbies who attend. With that in mind; I have asked that our veterans assist the newbies as they fish a river they have never seen or fished before. For this trip Joe Bibbo and Mike Strong who are veteran fishermen and Jose’ Javier, who is a newbie and just getting his feet wet in the world of fly fishing were fishing, the Wilson for the first time.
Mac Brown and Ed Walshe graciously agreed to take Jose’ and show him the ropes (so to speak). As Jose’ was putting on his fishing armor, we took a picture and boy ole boy was he excited and ready for a weekend of trout fishing. The delayed harvest (DH) section of the Wilson is about 5 miles from the cabins. One note: five miles is a 30 minute drive on the skinny gravel road that leads to trout country. Although BMBR is located right on the river, we cannot fish it due to the river being categorized as hatchery supported (HS) waters which simply means you cannot fish (HS) waters till the first Saturday in April. It’s a bit frustrating but the law is the law and we must abide.
As for me I decided to pass on the fishing and assist Mrs. Cloud (Sherie) in the set up for the evening supper consisting of Brat’s, Baked Beans, Mac n Cheese, Cole Slaw, Fresh Corn Salad and homemade Peach Cobbler with Whipped Cream. I did however venture toward the delayed harvest section and was able to spot and speak with some of our attendees. My ole buddy Bob Grimm was in his familiar spot located at the beginning of the delayed harvest section. Bob was quite successful on his first day of fishing; but to have that success he had to switch fly’s often in order to fool the intelligent trout of the Wilson.
Once back at the cabin it was time to fire up the ole grill and cook a few brat’s and Dawgs. It was certainly a blessing that the rains had subsided. The cooler temps graced the outside and inside of the cabin. We intentionally decided not to turn on any heat with the knowledge that with nearly 20 attendees, the cabin would quickly warm up as folks began to arrive and pontificate the events of the day. In other words; a lot of hot air as the lies and fish stories bent the ears of those who would listen, easily provided enough heat for our host cabin.
Breakfast arrived at 7:30 am and our gang took care of the bagel, egg, bacon, ham and cheese casserole and fruit salad prepared by Mrs. Cloud. No doubt and judging by the looks of the casserole after breakfast revealed how much of an appetite one could work up by sleeping, for we surely had a fantastic breakfast. As part of the trip, we have lunch items on hand for folks to pack meals to take with them as they attack the Wilson. Our menu for the lunch hour would be chicken salad, ham, pastrami, roast beef, turkey and various other side items.
I have to say that for this weekend I had doubts that our gang would be in for a great Saturday of fishing. The river was due to be stocked on the following Tuesday (March 5th), so therefore we were at the very end of the stocking that was previously done in December. The trout in the river had time to disperse and seek good hiding spots and would not be fooled by bright colorful fly imitations. Surely it would have been nice to schedule a Wilson trip on the weekend after the Tuesday stocking, but there was no way I was going to miss our daughter celebrate her BIG 40th birthday on March 9th. Happy Birthday to Tiffany!!!!
I decided to venture to the upper end of the river. My thoughts were that it would be a bit less crowded and the river access was a bit further away from the road. Eventually I was able to hook and land a couple of trout by using my standard Black Stone and a red midge as the trailing fly. The rod of choice was my 2 weight Syndicate 10 foot rod. The reel was my Teton 3-4 weight. It would be a tough go for the morning which had turned into afternoon. The ole belly began to rumble and in my zest to leave the cabins I had developed a case of LUNCH Heimer’s. Yep, I had left my freshly made roast beef sandwich back at the cabin and with nothing to drink and nothing to eat; I decided to head back for nourishment.
Once back at the cabin, I was able to receive a text in the small area that has Wi-Fi. The message simply said; “I am very UPSET. You left the Marsala Sauce at home, it was four batches made for 20 people.” With that message being received from the Bride, I knew a knot on my noggin could be appearing. In my mind I pondered how could this be; I thought I brought ALL of Irmo SC with me when we left home. Very soon Sherie arrived and once back I discovered she had to make two trips into Lenoir for supplies needed for the evening meal. I also discovered that Lenoir has no Marsala wine and with that discovery Sherie would have to improvise and use Merlot wine. Two trips equal two hours at Brown Mountain Beach and with that, I fully understood why she was upset and my Reference Point (how I choose to remember) the trip had arrived.
The evening meal of homemade chicken marsala with buttered fettuccini noodles was delicious as ever as our attendees gobbled it down with the gusto of a hound dog. The now famous Saluda River Trout Unlimited (SRTU) salad and fresh garlic knots were a great addition to the meal. Sherie was able to pull off making another batch of the homemade sauce to accompany the tender as butter chicken served. By the looks of our gang; although they had knowledge of the missing sauce, the clear and empty plates justified the large amount of effort put into preparing the meal. Our homemade dessert of pound cake served with whipped cream and fresh strawberries was not passed upon by our gang and quickly the famous desert was history.
After our meal, we had our usual round table discussion and introductions. We’ve been doing this for a number of years. It’s always great to listen as others share thoughts about fly fishing, the outings and what Trout Unlimited has brought to the lives of our participants. On many occasions when pairing folks up to fish, I just go by my intuition on what people have in common and before the weekend is over; I and they discover those commonalities. It sure is great when I see friendships develop in a short period of time. That was the case Mike Strong and Harry Huntley who fished together at Blackhawk and were now riding and fishing together at the Wilson. Mike was able to share (with GREAT laughter) Harry’s rendition of “A River Run’s Through It” as Harry with fish on was carried away after slipping in the high water of the Wilson. As Harry floated by Joe Bibbo; Joe was in a state of such shock that he was unable to help Harry as he floated by. Eventually Harry was able to get into a stand up position and although soaking wet, land a very nice trout.
The smell of fresh coffee and homemade Hashbrown Casserole adorned the cabin on our last morning at Brown Mountain. With the fishing being somewhat slower than normal; most of our gang began to pack and decided not to fish on Sunday. Although on his first trip, Jose’ Javier had yet to catch a trout. On the previous day several of us worked hard to get Jose’ his first trout. He had a few on, but none to the net. Vernon Sawyer and Joe Bibbo were gracious enough to take Jose’ back out for another shot. Sherie and I packed up and headed back home. One thing for sure is that we were going home with a lot less than we headed up with. A second thing that was for sure, was that we (Sherie and I) were quite bushed as we arrived home and 915 Koon Rd looked pretty good as we ventured down the driveway to a place we call HOME. It would be impossible not to thank our good friend Mel Maurer who was nice enough to follow us home and GREATLY assist with unloading the supplies and helping us from beginning to end. THANKS MEL!!!!
Reflecting back on the trip; the Reference Point would definitely be the Missing Marsala and Mrs. Cloud. The fact that I was able to survive both misses was quite a feat to overcome and the missing knot on my noggin was a welcome relief as I now look forward to another adventurous SRTU chapter outing.
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Cost of the trip $120 accommodation and $54 for all meals, lunches and breakfast for the weekend.
NOTE: Jose’ was unable to catch his first trout. He had several misses; Vernon and Joe gave it their best, but the Wilson was one tough customer for this year’s trip.