Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A perfect fall day on the stream

I was afraid that Mrs. Koontz's errands were going to get in the way of my VFT (valuable fishing time) Monday but it all turned out well since she did not have to pick up her car from the shop until 3 and the best fishing time for the day was between 12:21 and 2:07 p.m.

Those solarlunar tables hit it right on the spot. Although I did not land a lot of those little wild trout, I had plenty of action. The fish slapped at the fly repeatedly. I got hits with almost evey cast but I am not nearly quick enough to hook all of them. They are wild critters, after all.

There were just a few leaves on the water now, so that was not much of a problem hooking dead tree droppings. You could still fish a dry fly.

I did managed to hook a couple hemlocks and I lost a couple of flies during the two hours I spent on the tiny creek up the street.

There was even a small caddis hatch, and the little buggers danced in the streams of sunlight coming through the rhododendron.

It was a great day on the water. I tried again after dinner but the trout were not active at all. I quit when the rain poured out of the clouds.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

On a mission with a stick

This fellow with the blushing red cheeks better be on the lookout Sunday when I pass by his home in the North Fork of the French Broad River. I'll be out waving that silly stick in the air again, hoping the little hook with feathers and fur on it hits the water just right and tempts Mr. Trout into gulping it with gusto.

Or else, I could go hunting for brookies near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It should be a decent weekend for fly fishing.

Report later.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hope to miss the crowds

The photo shows a motorcycle too close to the driver's side of my Troutmobile Sunday afternoon as I took a leisurely ride home on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which by the way was way less crowded than I expected.

Perhaps the lull in touristy hordes will continue through this weekend when I plan to hit the tiny streams at Graveyard Fields. I caught some brook trout there several years ago. They were all tiny and pretty, like the little char are supposed to be.

The leaf peepers will be upon us soon. There's something weird about the folks in Asheville and surrounding areas and their insane fascination with death.

Dead leaves on the ground drive these people crazy. Dead leaves hanging on with their last ounce of life in a tree entrance them. They photograph it, videotape it, pose with their families in it, let the children roll in it.....

They're DEAD, people. Leave em alone. Stay home. Quit taking all the parking places on the Parkway.

And watch the motorcycles, not the dead leaves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Camera takes a dunking

I got to photograph some trout under water this past weekend, and the camera still works. I have had the Pentax Optio waterproof edition for a couple months but had not worked up the nerve to baptize it until recently.

Unfortunately, I discovered that trout are pretty camera-shy in the mountains, just like the human residents who live up in the hills to get away from cameras and people.

I was promised all the errands would be finished by 5:54 p.m. Monday, which was forecast as the best time to fish for the day, but there were stops at the ATM, at the phone company, at the grocery, and at another grocery and one more stop I forgot...and the sun kept sinking deeper and deeper behind the mountains.

It was dark when we got back to the Trout Cave...With little moonlight or starlight, the water was black as new Bibles.

Sometimes, it is not possible to plan for everything.

But the camera survived.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

a sign of the times

Well, now, Mrs. Koontz has erected a fine sign hanging from the maple tree in the front yard of the Trout cave. The other side has our new address number mandated by the good folks at 911 so they know exactly where we are if there is an emergency.
At first, I thought she was making a subtle hint.
But, you know, when Mrs. Koontz says jump ..... I fly...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You dirty rat....

He told me he didn't do it. He never broke into that house to try and steal dog food.
Strangely, I believed him. After listening to him scream his innocence, I broke down and helped him escape from the prison he was being held in, pending his first appearance in court.
I put the whole jail in the troutmobile and took off up the mountain. Ralph needed a nice place to reside with other furry little critters.
I let the door down and was trying to hold the camera with the other hand but I lost Ralph. I didn't know where he went. I called his name, but of course he wouldn't answer, what with him being a recent jailbreak and all.
I got into the car and began to drive off. Then, I stopped, got out and saw Ralph scurrying from under the car where he had been hanging on to the axle or something in a vain attempt to get back to the dog food down the mountain.
Not this time, you little thief.
And I watched him scamper off.
He never found out who ratted him out.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Honey, they ate the kids

This came in the mail saturday:
"A family living on the outskirts of West Milford, N.J., decided to build a sturdy, colorful playground for their 3- and 4-year-old sons.
They put smooth pea gravel all around the play set to avoid knee scrapes and other injuries. They finished building it one Friday evening and were very pleased with the end product.
The next morning, the mom was about to wake up the boys and have them go out to play in their new play center. This is what she saw from the upstairs window."
All I can say to that is...........Da Bears.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Visitor takes dive off falls

One of my favorite waterfalls in Transylvania County is the 70-foot Looking Glass Falls near Brevard off Hwy. 276, but it is also one of the more dangerous for tourists. Every year or so somebody slips or stumbles or trips over a rock at the top and falls to the bottom, usually fatally.
A couple weeks ago, a visitor from Florida did it. Friends said he was an avid waterfall diver and had been doing such for most of his adult life, but he should have checked the depth in the drought-shrunken creek where just 6 feet of water remained to cushion any fall or dive.
I would rather fly fish for little wild trout in Looking Glass Creek, where the fish may not be trophy sized but are still wild and beautiful and fun to catch amid beautiful surroundings.
The water gets hammered pretty good. There are a gazillion pulloff spots, and a fisherman runs the risk of battling family picnics and smooching lovers for a spot of solitude.
I have never caught a lot of fish, but I always catch at least one. Last week I had errands in town and the trip home included stops along Looking Glass Creek as well as the Pigeon River on the other side of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I had hopes of making a slam - catching rainbow, brook and brown trout in the same outing. I caught the rainbow and nailed a little brookie just before the clouds opened like a broken faucet. By the time I made it to the troutmobile parked a half mile away, I was wet as a drowned rat.
I never got the chance to try for that brown, but the day had to be considered a success - I caught trout and didn't fall off the top of any waterfalls.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mushrooms at the Trout Cave

Well, I never expected to find these guys growing on my favorite front yard maple, but there you go...oyster musrooms. Fry 'em up quick and sprinkle with salt or cocktail sauce (just like with fried mushrooms) and you will be surprised.
They really taste like oysters...a little...without the pesky shell or pearls to break your teeth on...
They are the second safest of all mushrooms because they are easily identified. Get to them as soon as they appear so they are tender. If you wait too long, they will taste like wood.
After two years of severe drought, I had almost forgotten about wild musrooms.
This month, to date, I have harvested two different types already - oyster srooms and puffballs from the yard.
And, yeah, they do go well with fried or broiled trout.
I wonder if I can find some chicken of the woods mushrooms? They look like the tail of a turkey or chicken with the feathers spread all out.
And in the spring we will be again looking for the treasured morelles.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Those cats wanted the Hokie Bird

I should have known there was trouble ahead. Just look at those giant panthers sitting and growling outside the gates to Bank of America Stadium. Not the sort of cat you'd want in your lap while watching TV.
I should have, perhaps, picked up on that omen.
Cats love to tear up birds, mostly just because they can and they love to play with anything rough.
Well, Hokie birds are no exception.
But it was a bunch of Pirates, not Panthers that
The Saturday that I visited the stadium, Virginia Tech, my school, managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory when the Pirates of East Carolina University blocked a punt in the last minute of a game that it had been losing all day and ran the ball into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
27-22 and Tech drops out of the college rankings and the Hokie Bird leaves Charlotte with badly ruffled feathers.
This Saturday was better, as the Hokies beat Furman University's Purple Paladins 24-3.
Hokie bird flies high.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fly fishing after the storm

The top photo shows where the fishing probably will be best this weekend, but all I can tell you about its location is that it is near a bridge. For the past two summers there has not been enough water to wet your knees when crossing, but there always seems to be some browns or rainbows lurking in the shadows, especially in the evenings.

The bottom photo shows a typical Sunday afternoon crowd on the Catch and Release section of the Davidson River. Elbow to elbow, and with the right fly you will still catch big. fat trout.
I plan to pass by on the way home this weekend. I may stop. Or not.
The trout generally are larger on the Davidson, especially along the waters known as "The Trough," a section many try to avoid simply because of the crowds of hikers and gawkers and one or two anglers.
Nice to have some water again. Rip some lips.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This guy is not fly fishing

I was both astonished and dismayed to find a young fellow fishing in the river just across the street from our cabin .... with worms.
Another sign the apocalypse is upon us.
There still is not much water there, and the trout are extra spooky, even after the rain last week.
I don't think the kid caught any. He was almost stepping on the fish, which may or may not be a new method in the mountains for catching trout...just stomp on 'em.

Anyway, I tried to get him interested in the SMOKY MOUNTAIN FLY CLUB that features up to date stream reports, adventure stories, photographs of beautiful fish and gorgeous mountain water, PLUS as FREE trout fly with each issue.
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582 Parkway Road
Balsam Grove, NC 28708

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Puffball magic in the yard

I almost stumbled over one of these humungous puffballs in the lawn the other day. There were two of them, poking up through the overgrown lawn like heads of little bald men from Mars.
I busted one open and found no bug damage or discoloration. These guys were big as grapefruits, and I had never tried cooking any this big.
The other mushroom looked a little funky inside when I busted it, so I tossed it.
Rule No. 1 with mushrooms - don't chance it.
Although 99 percent of the shrooms out there will NOT kill you or make you sick, I always like to be extra positive certain before cooking any and popping them into my mouth.
The little puffballs last week were great in a couple of omelets. They were about the size of marbles.
This big guy was pretty good too this morning.
And I have a ton of the white meat left over.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Memorial forest on Parkway

This place is a bit eerie. The sign says the United Daughters of the Confederacy planted 125,000 red spruce pines as a memorial to the men from North Carolina who died in that horrible war in the 1860s.
You almost hear the ghosts of grunts grumbling about ole man Lee, bad food, cold weather, falling apart boots, lack of bullets and pesky Yankees.
Listen closely, and the wind sounds like a mini ball whizzing through the branches.
I thought about great-granddad James Hubbard who, at the age of 16, enlisted his lanky frame in the Army of Northern Virginia and left the family farm in Charles City, Va.
He did return.
He also never owned a slave. Doubt that very many of that 125,000 who died, more than from any other state, owned human beings either.
It is a quiet place, mostly, just up the road from some of my favorite trout streams and just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Brevard, N.C.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fall, football, fungus,& fly fishing

The weekend began with puffball mushroom omlets, and drifted with the tide and into football and fly fishing. Some photos of the weekend that ended with trout, which would not pose for a photo, in the near darkness of a waning Labor Day on the river.
It was all fun.
Summer's done.