Thursday, August 26, 2010
If you live in Middle Tennessee and you want to fly fish for trout you have two choices. You can go to the Caney Fork River or you can mow the yard. If the Caney is screwed up you might as well troll an olive wooly bugger behind your riding lawnmower and for the last year the Caney has been screwed up. I have had the good fortune to fish with Miles Warfield who knows the river so well that he ties flies for the day. Miles knows the hatch concentrates on the drift and presents the fly in a way that no self respecting trout could resist. When no one else on the river is having any luck, Miles is catching fish. For the last year even Miles hasn’t caught fish.
First there is the dam. It’s failing or so the Corp of Engineers is warning. The contract has been let to fix it and they are making good progress and in just six years the repairs should be finished. Add a very wet fall and winter. Because of the repairs the water level for Center Hill Lake is kept artificially low and when it rains they let lots of water through the generators. The water is murky and as the recent run off is warmer, that raises the temperature of the tail waters coming through the generators. Then there was the flood in early May. Though the Caney Fork watershed did not get the 15 inches of rain that Nashville got in 36 hours, the rain that did fall pushed the Caney Fork to levels I’ve never seen. When the generation schedule finally settled down fishing that was poor just got worse. The old hands at the fly shop said it would be years before the river returned to its normal trout producing self. Miles got so disgusted he moved to Mississippi to be a research fisheries biologist. MISSISSIPI. They don’t even have trout in the meat section of the grocery store. Carp yes, trout no. Below is a picture of the only way I get to see trout. And Miles’ Aunt Betty made that possible. That is until last Friday evening.
They have been restocking the river and some of the trout that weren’t washed down to New Orleans have returned. I got in the river about 5 in the afternoon at the boat ramp just below the dam. The fog was already beginning to form on the surface, there was no wind and best yet almost no one there. Within two hours I had released over 15 rainbows, 1 brown, 1 brook and 2 shad. Shad count, don’t they? All were caught on black zebra midge. The fish were mostly recently stocked but a few were more mature and one topped 14 inches. So the Caney is back, but don’t tell anyone.
Monday, August 23, 2010
One visit to the Smith River in White Sulphur Springs, MT, and now I'm a stripper. Sure, I've kind of been a stripper all of my fishing life, but I've always stripped slowly. You know, to bring in line before a re-cast, or drag a dropper or make a dry fly strategically become nymphy. My first experience as a fast stripper was in Patagonia last winter when huge black streamers brought big rainbows out from the banks of the Rivadavia. I got another chance recently with the fine folks at Bar Z Riverside Ranch in White Sulphur Springs, where we shot an episode of Trout TV.
Bar Z owns an amazing eight miles of brown trout and brookie water that winds through their cattle-and-hay fields. The ranch has been in the family since 1881, and has been a working cattle ranch for 100 years. Dave Hanson, the youngest generation, took over the fishing part of the business in 1997 and has grown the outfit to attract guests from around the globe.
On my first day at Bar Z, we hay-whacked to the narrow river's ox-bows and side-armed upstream out over the bank to plunk streamers an inch off the bank. Our amazing guides Dave and Jared had me stripping as fast as I could downstream. They also taught me how to properly splash the streamer instead of place it quietly. That jolted the fish into action, and they bolted from their shadowy banks to crush the steamers as they flew by.I loved fishing with Dave and Jared because they truly love fishing. Jared kept jumping up and down every time I casted. He was just so excited for what might come out from the bank! At one point, I forced him to take the rod and get a couple whips in. Ummmm....yeah. He totally landed THE ONE on the first cast. Typical luck for me. So, check out the fish that I handed to Jared on a silver platter.All-in-all, it was an excellent trip, and one I plan to do again, very soon. And I encourage everyone else to check out Bar Z's website and book a few days. Oh, be sure to bring bug spray. There are so many mosquitoes out there you might want to put on the Deet with a crop duster. But it's not a deal breaker. This place is awesome. I posted some cool underwater video on the facebook page here:
Lumpy's BBQ and Pizza, 1892 Route 70 E Cherry Hill, NJ.
An unlikely find between the Cash for Gold store and the Mathnasium. Located about twelve miles from the Land of the Cheese Steaks, Lumpy's has some of the best hickory smoked, dry rub ribs we have feasted on in some time (read as since moving North of the Mason Dixon). The pulled pork was decent as well. I asked the chef why they bother with pizza and he said it was because the ovens came with the place.
We neglected the urge to sell our gold for cash or do any mental gymnastics...and opted instead for a to go order of ribs.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The postman left something pretty nice on the doorstep of the FlyfishMagazine.com compound this past week, a review copy of Andy Mill's thirty year in the making book, "A Passion for Tarpon." published by Wild River Press, this book is an enormous compendium of man's hunt for big game in warm tropical water. I haven't read it yet (the sheer size will preclude it from going with me on my travels next week) but a thumb through reveals beautiful photography and the promise of some great stories. More later!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The recent convictions of fish house dealers for buying illegally caught red drum in NC has gotten me thinking about what the future may hold for turtles, redfish and gill nets in our state. I am hoping the DMF doesn't succumb to pressure from the commercial fishing lobbyist and go back to what it had been the previous 4 years and give away all of our fish all over again and kill all the turtles that have started showing up in places I have never seen them.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Did anybody really think this wasn't going on? They busted three fish houses in NC for the illegal sale of red drum. They underreported and/or didn't the number of reds they were selling. There is a thriving black market for these fish as they are highly sought after in restaurants in Texas and Louisiana (where I was offered NC red drum as a dinner entree in New Orleans). These kind of investigations need to continue as the only way to stop the illegal catching of reds is to stop the illegal trade of red drum.