2020 Wilson River
March 6th-8th 2020
2020 Wilson River Trip Report
March 6-8th, 2020
One thing for sure is the Wilson has become the one trip folks love attending. With over 40 people signed up; we had to turn away several want to be participants, since we go with 20 or so on the trip.
From a host standpoint, the Wilson is the most
difficult trip to host. The focus is to arrive at the
Wilson with everything needed; so that we can
once there we can dedicate ALL of our time to
fishing and fellowship. 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
located on beautiful Wilson Creek. The
remoteness of BMBR leads to very little access
to local restaurants for meals and you are
30 minutes away from a carton of eggs. So we bring everything but the kitchen sink and plan of feeding over 20 folks for a whole weekend; breakfast, lunch items, and evening meals. For the lunch items we have the following on hand for folks to pack meals to take with them as they attack the Wilson. Our menu for the lunches would be chicken salad, ham, pastrami, roast beef, turkey and various other side items; Lemon bars, Seven layer bars, and Sad cake (like a blonde brownie).
In the lead up to the trip; once again we continued the pattern of heavy rains locally. Yep, all the way into Thursday evening the rains would cause a major headache for prepping for the trip. Also to follow our lead in to the previous trips; there was the headache regarding the rain and another thing called a backache. Once again my back took center stage as I tried to recover from the previous Blackhawk trips. Each day leading up to departure; would take me for my daily visit to Dr. Connor and his fine staff at Collaborate Health Care for treatments and by Thursday evening I felt like I could survive the ride and weekend. Privately I wondered how much longer Sherie and I could continue our outings commitment. Fact is that the year has not gone as I had hoped and my ability to physically recover from previous trips; has been a bit depressing.
One thing that was not depressing was that at about 6:30 am on the morning of departure was seeing my good friends Mike Waddell and Ted Tsolovos ready and eager to assist in the load up for the trip. I guess
the word got around about my back and I could not help but to be thankful for such a wonderful and kind gesture. Another year and once again the ole Toyota Tundra would arrive loaded down with enough supplies and food for an early March weekend on the Wilson. Take a look at the folks I had the honor to have on our trip. They are: Mike Waddell, Harry Huntley, Mike Strong, Bob Grimm, Mac Brown, Mel Maurer, Ted Tsolovos, Ed Walshe, Steve Storick, Mary Audrey Ackerman, Bill Cleary, Howard Pendley, Jose’ Javier, Stewart Methe, Mike Ehmke, Andrew Rye, Elise LaBel, Rich Gale, Lucas Margraf and Austin Morton. As for me, Keith Cloud- the most important guest was my wife- and the backbone of the whole operation, Sherie Cloud.
Another tradition that has become synonymous with the Wilson is the tradition of a slowly served breakfast. This time we decided not to take I-77 because of previous experiences with nice slowly served breakfasts at the Lizard Thicket on Exit 27 Blythewood. This time we decided to venture up I-26 and try our traditional stop at Bill and Fran’s located on exit 74 and wouldn’t you know it; we still found a way to encounter another nice slowly served breakfast.
As I arrived to a blustery Brown Mountain Beach Resort I encountered a few surprises. First and foremost; a new gate that required a pass code (that I did not have) and knew nothing about. Thankfully Ron McDaniel the owner was close by and managed to get me thru the gate. Second as I reached the base cabin; a crowd of attendees were waiting and ready to help unload supplies for the weekend and both Sherie and I appreciated the wonderful assistance and once again, I guess the word got around about my back.
For those who were fishing; I felt sorry for them. The wind was howling and for me; there was no way I was going to take a chance and fish. Tomorrow would be my time; if my back felt okay. As for me, I decided to pass on the fishing and assist Mrs. Cloud (Sherie) in the set up for the evening meal consisting of Grilled Brat’s, Baked Beans, homemade Mac n' Cheese, homemade Fresh Sauerkraut Salad and Apple Pie served with optional Whipped Cream for dessert.
Late Friday, our folks started to arrive and as Sherie
and I looked at the wind burned faces we could
tell it was a hard day on the stream as strong winds
picked fly lines off the water and waved them in
the wind. Reports from the day were very good
and thanks to a previous trout stocking; many of
our folks encountered double digit catches.
Jose’ Javier attended last year as a newbie and
this year on his return managed to catch four and
not get skunked like the previous year.
The wind howled as we fired up the grill for the
brat’s and it was quite chilly as we braved the
elements while attempting to grill. Fortunately we had a couple of grill masters who knew how to handle a grill and before you knew it; Mrs. Cloud and Stewart Methe had the sizzling brat’s loaded on a cookie sheet and ready to serve to our hungry crowd. The cabin quieted down as our folks who were full of conversation tore into the meal with the gusto of a hound dog.
During the night; the wind continued its blustery path. The cabin literally shook and anything on the outside that was not secured was taken where the wind wanted to place it. As for the inside at about 4 in the morning one of the doors to the cabin blew open and provided a scare to us all and a big chill to go with it. In fact, I thought they had moved the
Wilson to Kansas.
One thing that was not chilly was the nice breakfast served after a night with very little sleep. The now
famous hash brown casserole was the featured dish for the morning. We also had a wonderfully prepared fruit salad and fresh baked biscuits served with good hot coffee. Everyone who ventured to breakfast indicated that the wind of the night shook and rattled all of the cabins and yurts and at any moment folks thought they would wake up in the next county. In fact, Mike Strong referenced the Wizard of OZ as he described what he thought would be the separation of the roof from the yurt he was staying in.
After breakfast and close to the lunch hour; I did
however venture toward the delayed harvest section
and was able to speak with some of our attendees.
I felt like I could make a go of it and try to fish as I
spotted my ole buddy Bob Grimm who 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. I arrived just in time to see Bob take
in a big fat brook trout and with that; Bob stated that
he had not moved all morning and had been steadily
catching fish. We decided to share a bit of a streamside sandwich and get energized for an afternoon of catching. After lunch; we reentered the water and Bob quickly picked up where he left off and before one could say howdy doody Bob had another fish on as I ventured downstream.
As for the downstream fishing; Rich Gale who was the man of Friday fishing had provided me with a nice golden streamer that really showed out. With Rich’s streamer tied on; I made a cast toward a huge rock on the other side. I wanted the fly to actually land on the rock and then I could pull it slowly and let it fall in the water. It was a perfect cast and pull down to the water and BAM; just like that, tension on the line. Frustration set in immediately as the streamer caught a limb under water and as I tried to retrieve the fly; the line snapped and the fly could not be retrieved in the fast rushing deep water. One cast and already time to tie on another fly. DARN
After no success fishing downstream of Bob; I decided to move up and check out how Bob was doing. Yep just like before; he was into another fish; but this time a bit further upstream. I guess he
must have felt sorry for me; as he invited me to go ahead and fish in his original spot and within seconds
I was into a fish and the skunk was removed from my day. Before it was all said and done; I had caught about 15 fish thanks to Bob and as the day ended; we celebrated our day with a nice cold beer. Truly refreshing.
Once back at the cabin the smell of homemade baked ziti was pleasing to the senses. I had certainly fished up an appetite and could not wait to delve into the evening meal of the Ziti and the now famous SRTU salad, fresh baked garlic bread and wonderful desert. The evening conversation covered a wide range of topics and with each trip I am amazed at the diversity of our participants. Pretty much if you need assistance on just about anything; we probably have someone who knows exactly what is needed and is willing to assist in any way. As with each outing; the one thing that is talked about the most is fishing and photography. In fact, the two go hand in hand and the ole cell phone starts getting passed around and before you know it; we are trying to figure out who’s cell phone do we have in our hands.
The fishing for the day was simply fantastic and for the most part; the trout were going to have some sore lips after the SRTU folks said good bye to the Wilson. I think of Lucas Margraf and his stepson, Austin Morton, who were on their first overnight SRTU Group Outing together and these guys could not have picked a better trip to be on. In fact, they were so excited about the trip that they arrived a day earlier. As for the fishing on Saturday, Austin and Lucas had great time fishing together and picked up many trout on the dry fly which produced some big time smiles as they shared with us back at the cabin and there was no doubt that their trip to the Wilson will always be a pleasant memory for both these guys.
I am reminded of my ole buddy Harry Huntley who could seemingly do no wrong as he wore them out on the dry fly; but I am also reminded of Harry’s fishing partner, Mike Strong, who said he got tired of watching Harry catch fish. Then there is the M&M Gang (Mac Brown and Mel Maurer) who were up to their shenanigans and managed to catch three trout in one cast. Yep they both cast at the same time and hooked fish at the same time and while Mac caught one; Mel caught two trout; one on the top fly and one on the dropper fly. All three trout over 12 inches in length. I think of Ed Walshe who helped Jose’ gain redemption on the Wilson after a tough beginning to his fly fishing on last year’s Wilson trip. I am reminded of Steve and M A (Mary Audrey) Storick who attended their first outing last year and M A managing to catch her first trout (this time) on the Wilson. Once again our folks stepped up to the plate as they assisted our not so veteran fly fishers make a few memories this time around.
Speaking of plates by the way; yep with all these fish stories being shared the chatter came to a sudden stop once the Ziti started making way to the plates. Prior to the trip; Sherie and I had this master plan of trying to have folks eat in two separate cabin locations. So much for that plan; folks quite frankly did not want to do that and they stayed and dined in our cabin. How do you seat so many people someone may ask? Well, the answer is that we don’t seat them. They stand up and eat and they don’t seem to mind doing it and based on the signup sheets for the trip; all in all, somehow it must work. Crazy isn’t it?
What’s not crazy is how we decided to end the evening. With all the talk and chatter and a few heavy eyelids; we could not help but to work out those vocal cords one more time as we wished and sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY to some of our finest. Mike Strong celebrated his 70th; Ted Tsolovos celebrated his over 70th; Howard Pendley celebrated his close to 70th, Mike Ehmke over 70th. Once the SRTU choir finished their wonderful rendition; Sherie served up homemade hot fudge brownie sundaes with cherries, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. After dessert many folks headed down to the yurts to wind down the evening with a nice fire on the banks of the Wilson.
Breakfast arrived at 8:30 am and our gang took care of the EVERTHING bagel cream cheese with ham/bacon casserole, link sausage, 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. We surely had a fantastic breakfast as we moved a bit slower than when we arrived; for the weekend full of activity took on a slower pace as we began to phase out this year’s trip to the Wilson. Soon it would be picture time and goodbyes as some decided to pack up and head home while others gave the Wilson one more try in an attempt to make as many cast and catch as many fish a possible.
Reflecting back on the trip; the Reference Point would definitely be the kindness and generosity of everyone on the trip. I must say that I was quite sad going into this one and I hated that my back had become such an issue. I really did not know if I could make it. What was not an issue was seeing folks ready to assist at ALL points of the trip. The leaving from Columbia; arriving to Brown Mountain Beach Resort; leaving (BMBR); arriving back to the Cloud House all require a bit of muscle to load and unload the vehicles. When you have an aching back and what I went thru on the lead up to the trip; I will ALWAYS remember the kindness of others. Especially on this trip.
SRTU Outings Coordinator
Cost of the trip $120 accommodation
and $34 for all meals, lunches and
breakfast for the weekend.