Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bear walks on the wild side

Last week while coming down route 276 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, I looked up to see the funniest looking dog I've ever seen loping across the road about 200 feet ahead. He really did have a funny gait, kinda clumsy but cute. When he looked up my way, I realized it was no doggie. It was a black bear, which of course is not that unusual in the Pisgah National Forest, and he just kept on getting on, quickly disappearing up the bank and into the forest.

My friends in the city of Asheville have spotted more bear in their backyard than I have in the National Forest, but then where I live there are more trees for the bears to hide behind than in the city.

Well, I did not get a photo of Mr. Bear. He would not stand still long enough. Plus, I didn't have the camera.

But I did want to put something wild on the site, so I put in this photo of a falcon taken just over the hill near Courthouse Falls. He knew how to sit still for a photographer.
I got the trout fishing eagle photo from a friend via e-mail and just can't resist showing it all. Wish I could fish like that. All I have is a fly rod.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Birds on the wild side

While taking photos of the mountains from the Blue Ridge Parkway, I notice a pretty blue flower down the bank from where I was standing. I zoomed in with the camera and snapped a couple of shots. I then went on with my usual routine and looked for a place to fish.

When I got home and downloaded the photos of the day, I noticed that my blue flower was in fact an Indigo Bunting, a brightly-colored bird.

It is not so much that the bird is unusual or rarely sighted, it is not. They are everywhere.

It's just that it fooled me so well while I was snapping the pictures.

He didn't even try to blend in, like most other wild things, to survive. In fact, he stood out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Red lizard walks on the wild side

Say hello to Larry the Lizard, a little scarlet colored reptile I found the other day in my yard. Cute, huh?
I let him go in the high grass, hoping that would be enough to keep him safe from the cats. I thought about putting him in a terrariam, but the cats would get into that too.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Walking on the wild side of ideas

A fishing column with little to do with fish.....

With thoughts of rivers in my mind and a bottle of water in my hand, I decided to take the Blue Ridge Parkway Monday afternoon.
It’s usually a beautiful drive to the cabin, and the sky was full of cottonball clouds puffed up against a cerulean background, a perfect day for taking photographs.
I had a few hours to kill.
Why not sail along with the dips and rolls of the two-lane scenic roller-coaster highway, drink in the sweet summer air and catch a few brook trout at Graveyard Fields?These are things I take for granted.
The higher into the clouds I drove, the darker the clouds became. A light mist sprinkled the car’s windshield.
My photogenic clouds began to lose their luster and by the time I hit above 3,000 feet, the sky was gray as a dull rock. The clouds kept spitting on my car with a steady, indifferent drizzle.I gulped some of the bottled water. I expected the rain to get worse so the day’s flyfishing, which included a fair hike into the valley where the trout were, would be ruined.
I like comfort.Where I was headed is rainforest wet, with 70 inches or more precipitation a year. Riding high into the clouds, I was as surrounded by water as if in a pool.
Everything was wet.These also is something I tend to expect and take for granted.It’s not like this everywhere, though. There are places, I had been reminded Sunday, where life’s most precious requirement is rapidly dwindling or gone. There are once mighty rivers in this world that have all the depth of spit on a rock.
So what? What can one person do about it?This has nothing to do with flyfishing and everything about caring about others. The story of Ryan Hreljac is inspiring: As a first grade student in Canada about 10 years ago, Ryan learned from his teacher that there were children dying in Africa because there was no clean water to drink.
Ryan did not think that was right.So, the little boy in Canada saved his money. After four months, he had $70. Ryan kept doing household chores to help support nonprofits like WaterCan and Free the Children.Ryan never stopped.
Today, his little effort has swollen to a million-dollar organization — Ryan’s Well Foundation. ( date, the foundation has helped pay for 266 wells in 12 countries serving 435,343 people in Africa.That’s nearly a half-million human beings.
That’s awesome.That’s the difference one person can make.I feel puny.
I thought about Ryan as I gulped the last of my bottled water. I climbed higher into the clouds while the insolent drizzle washed over the mountains.
Water is just one battle in the war against world suffering. The United Nations calculated that if the developed nations’ population spent just 0.7 percent of their incomes, more than 500 million people could be lifted out of poverty and 300 million would no longer suffer from hunger.
The lives of more than 30 million children under the age of five would be saved. The Millennium Development Goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, fighting diseases like malaria and AIDS, reducing child mortality and promoting primary education.
That seems like a big piece of pie to bite into. This was all too much to swallow at once as I searched for a break in the clouds, a tiny slice of blue with perhaps a ray of sun peeking through.
I was ready to catch trout. I finally caught a couple, lost a couple and then left my fly in the trees as the light went out. Life is good in the mountains of western North Carolina.
And then I paused. It is not this good in some other places, I thought, but I am just one person.
And what can just one person do?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Flying on the wild side

I found this dragonfly perched on my car's radio antenna the other morning. He looked as if he was trying to tune in a station. Because he had a brownish-red tint to his body, I figured he must be one of those Ashy Clubtail (Gompus lividus) but I am not certain. They are found throughout North Carolina and are frequent springtime flyers in the state.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

We have some new guys in the newsroom and they have been helping me hold up the roof while the roofers do their thing fixing the leaks. Here is a photo of us in the newsroom. Note: they are CUB reporters.

Photo by the late Hugh Morton

Thursday, July 5, 2007

walk some more on the wild side

Trout fishing has been a little spotty, as well as hot and dry, for the past month but we did get a little new water for the ancient rocks in my favorite rivers. The Davidson River, though hammered almost every day during the summer, continues to give up trout, even to each other. I watched, fascinated, for about 20 minutes as a brown trout about 20 inches long tried tyo swallow a 10-inch rainbow. He wallowed from one side of the pool to another, never getting his meal all the way down. I thought something was weird when he ignored every fly I tossed his way ( I thought he was sipping mayflies, ha). I don't know if he ever got that lunch down. Talk about indigestion.

I had a little luck on the French Broad, using a #20 black caddis on smooth, quiet water the color of cafe a'lait. I had a long float, my mind wandered and then the fish hit. I jumped. He was a nice wild brown. I scared the rest of the fish in the pool, I guess, so I moved up to the fire station where my pet trout hang out less than a mile from home. Nothing much happened until almost dark. With a #16 tan caddis on a 6X tippet, I got a brown to hit when I twitched the fly across the surface. A couple more smacked my fly upstream.

The rhododendron has exploded, leaving puffs of pink and white throughout the Pisgah Forest. The look like little snowballs in the branches.

I saw very few yellow stones this time (July 1, 2,3) Caught one sized 16 and put him inside my flybox, then caught another the next day that was about a size 20.

When the water turns dingy, I like to fish black marabou streams. My favorite is a one-feather fly I tie on #6 hooks or larger. (see photo) It's the easiest fly I can think of to tie in a hurry, perhaps at streamside (I keep a briefcase tying kit in the car). Use a really big fly, and you're good for fishing largemouth. A little smaller and you're ready for smallmouth bass. I start with wetting the feather, tying in at the bend of the hook, making the tail, then wrap up the rest over the shaft to the head, tie it all and voila.