We anglers are often accused of exercising a certain amount of “creative license” when telling fish tales. No such license will be needed to tell the story of this beautiful Rainbow Trout that came to us on Friday. The angler was award winning NC author and poet Valerie Nieman, (who also happens to be a bonafide tenkara fishing machine). We had a great morning sneaking around low, quiet water and were rewarded with not just this monster but many of his smaller trout friends. Heavy rain has descended on us now and blown the streams out. I’m tying flies and enjoying my autographed copy of Val’s spellbinding (and scary) new novel, To the Bones. Check it out at valnieman.com!
There’s not much you can say about a sunset like we had last Friday evening. It pretty much speaks for itself. The fringes of a passing tropical storm provided the palette that painted this gorgeous picture. Even better, it was the precursor to a couple of days of much needed rain. The end of a beautiful day? That’s not the way I see it. More like the promise of a beautiful tomorrow.
One of the great joys of tenkara fishing is that nature can provide some wonderful surprises from time to time. An unexpected visit from this huge Bald Eagle was our surprise on Tuesday. We weren’t about to to remind him that the water was under Catch and Release regulation. Low water has made things harder for us human anglers but easier for these beautiful birds who in their own way, also fish “tenkara” which means “from the skies.”
We did get our chances though and had a great morning with our feathered friend.
Wow could we use some rain. Conditions are low, slow and super spooky. That didn’t stop this quick-learning tenkara newcomer from landing some beautiful fish today on a sunny and cool October morning. Patience was the order of the day, along with small flies and light tippets. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning and we got to see a couple of Great Blue Herons through the morning mist as well. They like the low water!
One of my favorite things about guiding is that I get to meet so many wonderful people. Amidst all those people, every now and then, I run across someone who is just born to fish. Their personality, natural inclinations and physical skills somehow draw them to it and make them good at it. I had the pleasure of spending the day with just such a fisherman (and his great mom) last Wednesday. He hiked miles, climbed rocks for hours, took his catches and his misses with equal joy and caught some beautiful Brook Trout in the process. Along with the fishing he took time to admire a fallen butterfly, catch a daddy long-legs and try to grab a salamander for a closer look. It was a day of fishing as it should be. Normally I spend a lot of the day giving instruction. On Wednesday I spent the day being reminded of why I fish and why I love it so much.
A while back I was volunteering on a Brook Trout restoration project over in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yesterday I got the chance to once again join their outstanding Fisheries crew to do a survey on those same streams to see how they were doing. It turns out, they are doing well. Two years ago we took great pains to remove introduced Rainbow Trout from what should be “Brookies Only” water and I’m happy to report that the “natives” were all we found during a detailed stream survey. Unwinding the effects of human meddling with nature can be difficult but, in the case of Brook Trout, essential. We don’t dislike Rainbow Trout, we just don’t want them crowding out our Brookies!
We have all been conditioned to measure angling success in terms of fish size and quantity. Trust me, we’ve been misled. The best fish is the one that leads to the best experience and that has nothing to do with fish size or numbers. Our native Brook Trout is absolute proof of that. Beautiful, elusive, spooky and always hidden deep in the beauty of the Appalachian forests, it provides, in my humble opinion, the best angling we have in our region. Yesterday we spent the day scrambling up the streams of the National Forest and were rewarded, but only when we did everything right, with the chance to catch, admire and release some of these rare jewels. Hike five miles to catch a six inch fish? Sign me up any time!