Sunday, November 1, 2009

Driving, Soaked, Sleep Deprived, Hungry, and Mother Nature’s Canvas

Well I found a crack in my oar that I use for my pontoon boat so floating the Watauga River in Tennessee was out of the question. I found this on Wednesday, and needed to figure out a fix quick! I thought what in the world I’m I going to do now! Well after a long night’s sleep and feeling depressed I called up a good friend in Northeast Ohio and asked if I could crash at his house for a few days. Mind you I call my buddy at 0639 on Thursday! They said come on up and stay with us! I acted like a little school kid again. I then realized I was going to have an easy day in the office on Thursday. I asked my direct manager if I could take off as soon as I had 4 hours in the office. He said I don’t have a problem with that. His response gave me the green light. I told my wife and she said go. I got home swapped out trout dries for steelhead swinging flies! I checked my gear a few times loaded up the truck kissed Carolyn “my wife” good bye and said your awesome thanks! There I was 75 MPH and bound for the Great Lakes shoreline. I must have looked like a mad man trying to get out of southwest Ohio. I arrived on Thursday night at Joe and Wendy’s’ house and we sat around telling stories how I once woke up to 36” snow drifts and me in panic mode! O good times I said, and we all laughed. I was not sure where to fish on Friday. I thought about going automatically to New York, but good friends of mine where telling me to remain in Ohio. So I did fish Ohio on Friday. I was worried about guides getting to my spot before me, and so I was there out of sure boredom 2 hours before dawn! I had so much time on my hands I had a Cliff Bar for breakfast and smoked a cigar. I stared at objects that I thought where moving, and come to find out they were not. I did however scare the raccoon half to death by almost taking a nap on the river’s edge awaking to him scuffing his claws on the rocks! I turned my head lamp on him hoping what I was going to see was not a coyote! It was a cute lil fur ball that about tripped over backwards when I hit him with my head lamp at about 15 feet away! Needless to say I remained awake after that. The sun came up and I proceeded to swing my 5wt switch rod with a trusty olive tube fly! I swung that switch rod for about 3 hours and nothing! I switched tips from T8-T11 from 1’-6” to 4’-6” ad nada! I know this is fishing but wow no takers. This was not typical of this run/pool I was at. I said ok time to succumb to the Great Lakes mentality. I placed my other spool on my switch rod and dumped the Skagit into my back pack for a weight forward Steelhead taper. I placed a bobber onto the leader some split shot an egg pattern and a size 14 olive caddis. I nymphed my little arse off in staging water, fall holding water, and then for the sake I need to look there in winter holding water. My bobber went under I set the hook and there she came out of the black tannic stained water. She was not a happy camper. She immediately took me towards a tree and I pulled her out of that with side pressure keeping her off balance. She then took me for a walk down through two large holes in about a 300 foot stretch. I would then land her tailing her, and then asking myself, “How I’m I going to get a picture of this large hen”! I called to a complete stranger whom almost drowns earlier that morning trying to cross the river in one of the worst areas. I asked him if he would mind taking a picture of this fish. He gasped and said she huge, and I said yes she made my day for sure. Well after taking that single fish my whole entire weekend was made. Years past she did not give up a fish like that to me so that day, and that moment was her gift to me! I would share some water with this new friend of mine, and try and help him connect with a fish before leaving him for the day. I then noticed how black the water was from the tannic stain of the leaves. It was so bad I was not surprised I did not connect with a steelhead due to the floating leaves. There were so many leaves it looked like all the leaves in northeast Ohio came to that creek that morning for a swim! I saw only one guide and his clients on that river in the morning. I did hook the fish below him so it was a happy day! So I hauled my carcass out of the river to return to base camp! The colors on the tree where basically done but you could tell it was an amazing fall as far as colors go. I would then drive to New York on Saturday. I awoke at 0200 to be on the river at 0530. I drove through a rain storm that was so bad I almost stopped to look out for Noah’s Ark. It was coming down in sheets, and I’m not going to talk about that gail force winds! So off to the river to see some old friends! It was good to fish with them. We would be in the rain all day long! I was dry on the inside, but soaked everywhere else. I would not have heavy enough tips to get my flies down to the fish. I had to use the eggbeater! Sorry to disappoint you, but sometimes you need to know your limits! I hooked two fish and landed one! Well this is it so enjoy the pics! I’ll be returning to the promise land the day after Thanksgiving!
Take care,

Tom G.