Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Along River Road

Saturday I put on an enjoyable 130+ miles on the Harley. Sunday I reserved for fishing with a friend from Pittsburgh. We met early along River Road to do some relaxing smallmouth fishing in the Clarion River.

Along River Road

The slow current flows around my lower body
The warm river water saturates my cut off jeans
The morning sun plays peek-a-boo with the cloud cover
Still rising, the banks are shaded by forest greens

 Everything appears to move slower in warmer conditions
 The birds seem to beat with softer grace
 Only the Damselflies show peppiness
 darting about when not hovering in place.

Mid river casts needn’t be meticulous
Vicinity is close enough when fishing smallmouth bass
With long timed strokes the fly line unfolds
The popper falls, as if parachuting, upon the surface

 Strip, strip, gurgle, strip, strip, gurgle
 My frog popper moves as if in plight
 Strip, strip, gurgle
 The commotion entices a strike

The popper is assaulted from beneath
Water spurts, line tightens, a fight pursues
The calmness of the morning livens
The challenger soon subdued

 As afternoon approaches the heat is felt
 Sweat beads upon my forehead beneath my straw hat
 I feel a cooler breeze against my wet brow
 There’s a moment of hesitation before I cast

Deep throated Harleys rumble along River Road
Breaking the tranquil sounds of the river
‘Not today‘, I relinquish the consideration
My frog popper falls gently near the vicinity
  of a shoreline rock formation


Monday, July 18, 2011

Cabin Fever Day #2

PA Boys Visit the Shenandoah River

Day #2

Cabin Fever
Morning of 6-25-11

The ocean blue sky was picture perfect over the Shenandoah River when I walked outside Saturday Morning. The sun was still rising behind the distant mountainous tree line. Fog rose like a ghostly shadow downriver between the forest. The water had cleared up overnight and now flowed with reflections of the bank side trees upon its surface. The morning sky as well as the warmness in the air showed no signs of rain. It looked to be a good day to put on the straw hat and wet wade the river with a relaxing cigar!
 Giddeon and I drove into town to get him some wading shoes and polarized sunglasses. When we returned to the cabin there was a familiar white SUV parked in the drive. I knew who it was before I even seen the Kentucky plates. Jack, a former PA resident, had been staying in Harrisonburg and when he heard I was coming to fish the Shenandoah in Luray he decided to join us for the morning catch.

 We entered the riverside cabin with the aroma of fried sausage and brewing coffee. After introductions and greetings, Giddeon and I took our warmed breakfast plates of sausage, eggs and toast, from the oven and ate breakfast as the others made the decision of where we were to fish for the day. The morning we would fish the river behind the cabin seeing the water had cleared up nicely. In the afternoon we would fish downriver below the Power Dam. Two years ago we fished this area and had our best day among the rocky and star grass islands and surrounding areas.

I’m not sure if I had a slight memory loss from a hang over but I truthfully only remember a few things about the morning fishing. Jack fished along the bank towards the riffling water downriver where the rest of us started our expedition. On his way down he hooked into something that took off and broke the 6lb leader he was using without even giving Jack a chance to battle him. Later, nearing noon, we had a flow of canoeists and kayakers that interfered with our fishing. I’m all for the freedom of recreation on the river to whomever wants to enjoy it. The river is wide and open to the public. What I don’t care for is when watercraft handlers have no idea how to navigate or steer such watercrafts to avoid others who are also enjoying the river. As a fisherman I should know how to handle my fly rod as to not accidentally hook a canoeist or kayaker and I feel the same goes for the boater.

I heard Mark got bumped by a canoe. I watched time and again Jeremy having to pull in his line and wait for boats to drift through his line of fishing. I had one group of 4 canoes, tied together no less, coming right towards me without any steering ability. I moved to the side as the group came nearer. The far canoe bottomed on a subsurface rocky ledge and stuck fast. The remaining, tied on, canoes pivoted and circled until they could go no further through the deeper narrow channel of water in front of me. I helped the two canoeists, on the downstream side, untie the ropes holding them to the group and they drifted on. The other three canoes finally got freed when a couple of the men ventured out into the water to un-jam the canoes from the ledge.

 As time went on other struggling kayakers and canoes molested our fishing to a point I was ready to head to the cabin for lunch and a cold beer. There were times I was tempted to test my casting skills and try hooking a hat right off the canoeists head but I refrained from such retaliation!

As I looked at the pictures, when I got home, I noticed I had a few pictures from that morning. Again, I don’t remember the details of the catches but the pictures are worth viewing the scenic river.

Jack working a grassy island

Jeff working the flat water

look what I found

Jeremy’s Break

After sandwiches and a couple of brewskies we headed to the Power Dam for our afternoon excursion. The trail down around the fenced in Power Plant was much for Jack so he headed back to Harrisonburg.

From the parking area we walked the trail around the Power Plant to the river below. The abundance of water falling over the high dam wall and exiting the Power Plant stirred up the river to a milky limestone color. It was moving more forcefully than what we would have liked and higher than a couple of years ago. I knew how uneven the riverbed was to wade in and now, with the milky conditions, I wasn’t going to venture far from the flooded shoreline.
 Giddeon and Jeff took the risk and waded their way to the island safely. Mark followed Jeremy downriver and Mark carefully waded his way to the tip of the island. Jeremy stayed focused on the outcropping of rocks and flooded star grass islands about. I started, where I was able to wade, below the power plants discharge and worked my way downriver.
 I got a couple of taps right off and caught one small smallmouth while stripping in a Clouser. After that I couldn’t get a hit in the cloudy water as I made my way downriver towards Jeremy. It was on my mind that I was going to see if he wanted to fish elsewhere. I was about 30 yards upriver when I seen Jeremy caught a snag and was trying to unhook it without daring to wade in and retrieve his fly.
 I had bought him a brand new 6wt 9 foot fly rod combo for this trip; it was an early birthday gift. He used it Friday and said he was getting used to the fast action rod and liked how easy it was to shoot the weight forward line out compared to his older medium action cheaper rod. Jeremy has been fly fishing for over 10 years so he knew how to treat a fly rod. I watched as he tried to pull the line in different directions and cast a loop beyond the snag and quickly lifting it back trying to get free. He pulled again from the side and that’s when the rod snapped and folded. It broke apart 2” above the butt section into the 2nd sectional blank. I didn’t see anything he did aggressively that any other fisherman wouldn’t have done in the same situation. He stood there and looked at me upset as he held the new rod in both of his hands. The rod was bought from The Fly Shop in Reading California. It would be interesting how they will warrant this 2 day used rod.
 I met Jeremy along the shoreline and we decided to go elsewhere to fish in clearer water. I called over to Mark and advised him of our situation. Upriver we let Giddeon know where we were going and headed to the vehicles.

Bixlers Ferry Bridge
Early evening

 I parked in the parking area beside the bridge among the other vehicles. Jeremy put together my 2 piece 5wt SAS Scott rod and attached his 6wt spooled reel. We walked upstream from the small dam and canoe launch area and checked out the water conditions. I always liked fishing in swift moving pocket waters so I slowly waded and fished my way into the quicker current of stony bottom, riffling and choppy water. Jeremy headed upriver and began his fishing in the deeper slower water that slowed before cresting over the abundance of rocks and shallows I was partaking in. 

  I’m sure his intentions, as mine, were to slowly fish our way towards the far bank where the star grass and shaded area were along the bank. Being in this area we were sure not to be interrupted by uncontrolled watercraft. With the sun out in full view and a cool breeze I lit up a Cohiba Pequenos and tied on a popper.

  I caught a couple of sunfish but I was more interested in smallies that didn’t seem too interested in top water imitations. I slowly waded towards the middle of the river and cast into pocket waters and drifted a Clouser Minnow within the riffling water. I was about mid river and found a flat level rock I was able to stand comfortably on. The water upon the rock was only shin deep and being high off the water gave me plenty of height for long casts and control over the choppy current. Casting out into a good riffle of water, across stream, my bugger dropped into the current and swung deep as I mended line upstream. Underneath, in the tail out, my fly line dipped sharply and I immediately pulled the rod upriver to set the hook. The fish reacted with a downriver run avoiding any subsurface rock in its way. There was a good bow in my rod and with my line hand feeling the tension; I knew it wasn’t a small fish fighting against the quick current. When he got below me he struggled some and than shot out towards my left, downriver, from where I stood. I had to give him line as I palmed the spool while the reel sang that ‘good fish’ clicking tone. After swimming with the current I got him under control and struggled with him until I got him below me in a slower pocket pool. He wasn’t ready to give up the fight and I wasn’t going to horse him through the swift current. I brought the rod to my right to get side pressure on him and he swam to my right with resistance. To my surprised, beneath the surface, he headed upriver about 20 feet from where I stood on the flat rock. I saw the dark object of a fish darting through the choppy water like a torpedo b-lining to its target. I lifted the rod and stripped in line quickly to keep excessive slack between me and the oncoming fish. He stopped in a slow pool upriver until he felt the pressure of the rod and line tension. He tried swimming out away from me but my leverage on the rod and pressure was more than what he could handle by now. He darted downriver in retreat. I let line pass through my finger until he settled in the pocket of water straight below me. I got my line and rod under control and began to reel him in. He rose top water and I seen his big mouth gaped open with my bugger firmly planted in his lip. I knew it was dangerous trying to bring him in against the top water riffling current so I brought my rod level with the surface and stepped off the rock into the knee deep water. I had him coming in like a small bashful puppy attached to strong rope. He tried circling around my legs but I lifted the rod and got a good lip hold on him. I hollered out to Jeremy as I lifted the fish to show my catch. Oh ya, what a great fighting fish and successful landing!

 Soon after that the other three showed up and we fished till around 5:00pm. We decided to finish up the evening just outside of Alma along a good stretch of water we were familiar with.

Saturday Evening

 While the others headed upriver, from the parking lot, I concentrated my fishing around and below the bridge abutment. It didn’t take long when I got a good hook up with a dark lengthy smallie beneath a channel of choppy running surface current.

 Just before nightfall the others met me in the parking lot minus Giddeon. Jeff had said he caught a few smallies on top water poppers. The other two caught a few fish also. We stood around waiting for Giddeon to show while quenching our thirst. When he crossed the parking lot towards us he had a big smile on his face. Evidently, on his way downriver, he was casting the new Zonker pattern, I had tied, towards the shoreline. He picked off 5 or 6 nice size smallies and that’s why he got back so late.

 That night we feasted on Pizza and cold micro brews. We related our recent catches of the day to each other. A few of us relaxed in the hot tub while others relaxed with a big stogie between their teeth! Another satisfying smallmouth fishy day!


A Fallfish I had caught throughout the evening



Monday, July 11, 2011

A 'Holy Chit' Morning

A ‘Holy Chit’ Morning

Saturday morning my intentions were to tube float the Clarion river for smallies. I pumped up the float tube at home and put it in my van with the rest of the gear. Cruising up river road I was looking for a section of water I hadn’t waded or float tube through. Most of these areas are upstream from Cooksburg with private access to the river only. I found a nice section with plenty of deep water along the bank side. When I opened the back of the van the float tube was soft. In other words it had a hole somewhere. Good thing I didn’t fill it at the river and decide right then to take off with it. Knowing the Clarion River well I decided to wet wade the river up above Belltown.

As I stepped off the bank, into the water, I lit up a stogie and looked downriver. The water was shallow around me but there might be a smallmouth just hanging around cruising the shallower water for food. I tied on a bugger and slowly fished my way towards the bridge.

 It had been about ½ hour of no hits on a variety of streamers by now. I was upriver from the bridge deciphering the combination of riffling current, slow deep water to my left, shallower to my right all emptying into a deeper stretch before the riffling water just before the bridge. I tried a couple of Clousers and was swinging a bugger when I was surprised by a ‘Holy Chit’ strike. I’m not talking about ‘Holy Chit’ the water just all of a sudden got deeper or the eye opening ‘Holy Chit’ that bikini is quite revealing! It was the unexpected  ‘Holy Chit’ what just happened?! As I went to strip the bugger in something at the same time decided to grab the bugger and rip away with it. I’m talking like when the first time you went water skiing and the boat operator moves the lever full throttle to bring you out of the water. You got your hands gripped tightly, so you thought, and the rope shoots out of your grip before you even know what happened. It was that fast and an unexpected pull.
 I reeled in and seen my line broken up from my bugger but below my knotted 3X tippet, at least I knew what color the fish wanted now and tied on a bigger hooked longer Zonker pattern. Within 5 casts of searching I got another strike. I wasn’t stripping in so harshly and not keeping the free line held as tight. The line straightened and I set the hook. All of a sudden I had a freight train on the other end of my quickly bent Vapor rod. The reel came alive and I hurriedly clicked more tension on the reel drag while trying to keep my wrist steadying the rod as the fish pulled away. I felt helpless waiting for the fish to at least give me a chance to turn him around or something as I palmed the reel. No, he kept pulling line out like he was going to beach himself on the far rocky shoreline. When he finally started to slow his escape I nudged the rod tip down and away like tugging on the reigns of a horse wanting him to change course. He hesitated and swam back reluctantly with his sides against the undercurrent.

I just came back from fishing the Shenandoah a few weeks ago. I caught some nice size smallies in the fast current they were feeding in. This bad boy was fighting just as heavy and with just as much vigor in this slower pool.

He started to rise, as I took in some line, but all of a sudden dove deep. The rod dampened the quick dive and pull and I was able to give him enough line to keep him overbearing the tight line. He was struggling furiously in the deep pool that it felt like a ten minute round 1. I just about had enough by this time and began to pull him closer like a mule that doesn’t want to come along. I reeled line in and got him to my legs. He swam around and wouldn’t let me get a lip hold on him just yet. The Zonker was hung up in his top lip so I had to watch how I lipped him. With the rod high I got him to raise higher in the water column and thumbed him lower jaw. What a nice river smallie.

I spent another 30 minutes or so trying to coax another strike but there was nothing doing.

 I than turned my attention to fishing the water beneath the bridge and than concentrate casting poppers along the far bolder ridden shore. I spent about an hour wading downstream in the sunlight without even a tap. I waded to the roadside shoreline and made my way up river from the bridge again. Positioning myself in the same area as earlier I cast out a few different patterns without any luck.
 I reeled in and reached in my shirt pocket for the big Quorum Toro I had waiting. I pulled out the Zippo lighter and lit the big ringed, darker leaf, stogie before tying on the Zonker pattern again. I took time to enjoy a few puffs and scan the water before my next cast.

 I added just a little more weight to the dumb-bell eyed Zonker and than worked the deep area down from right to left below me.

 This time my line tightened at the end of the swing after I let it dangle in the deeper current. I lifted the rod and sure enough the fish started to struggle beneath with good weight behind the pull. The rod was flexing good as my line hand kept tension waiting for what the fish had planned. Than all of a sudden..
“Holy Chit” the fish rose and exploded out of the water in full view. (This was the eye opening 'Holy Chit!) His flipping tail cleared the surface about a foot. This smallie was fatter and looked bigger than the last one. He splashed down like a space capsule in the ocean, water flung in all directions. I held on tight as he dove deep and swam to his left. I felt the rod pressure ease up than..
 “Holy Chit” he explodes again out of the water like a largemouth trying to dismember a jointed plug. He didn’t hang as much air time but this energetic smallmouth put on an aerial exhibition. Upon splash down he swam deep. I had one hand on the rod grip and the other cupping the reel for support. I had no idea what to expect next. He swam with slow pulling force down to my right towards the two or so feet of water. The rod was flexed good with his force of the struggle when I heard a voice call down from the bridge. Looking up, there was a young man hanging out the driver side window wanting to know how big the fish was. I held onto the rod with one hand, took the cigar out of my mouth with the other and spit a little tobacco leaf remnants into the water before looking up again to answer him. We were carrying on an informal conversation as I muscled the smallie in. He wasn’t as frisky as the other and I was able to lip him up easily to show the young man my catch. After letting the fatty go we carried on the conversation a little longer before he decided to leave me alone.

 I spent a little more time trying to tempt another fish but none were hungry. I thought maybe another angle of the swinging and drifting Zonker might cause a fish to take notice. I moved down to my left and took a few puffs on the big stogie before proceeding. I cast out up to where I was just standing and let the Zonker drift beneath the riffling surface water into the deeper tail out. The third drift through the slack in the line started to tighten and I reached back and set the hook. Right off I knew this wasn’t a big smallie but it had some fight in him just the same. I got him to me quickly and had no problem lifting him. 

 Well that was it as far as catching. I fished that area another 10 minutes before calling it quits. I traveled upriver above Hallton and fished for about a half hour without a hit. I drove downriver again and sat along the bank and enjoyed a bottled Yuengling watching the bikini hatch move downriver in canoes and floating tubes while smoking a Palma Real. Later on I stopped once more and fished under the sunshine without a strike or even a chaser.

 On the way, away from the river, I stopped at the Knotty Pines and got myself 6, full sized, Bourbon BBQ wings and two Yuengling drafts. I was a happy fisherman and tired by the time I got home.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Settling in along the South Fork

PA Boys Visit the Shenandoah River

Prelude of our Shenandoah Adventure

Jeremy, Jeff and I met up with Mark while getting fishing licenses in Luray Virginia. After $80.00 worth of groceries and an additional 2 cases of beer we headed to the cabin on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River we rented for the weekend. Later on two former Pennsylvania residences, Giddeon and Jack would be joining us for a day or two of fishing also. A few of us fished here a couple of years ago and had such fun, for a get-a-way fishing for smallmouth trip, we decided to do it again. The main difference was we had a cabin on the river instead of a few miles away. With the cabin furnished with everything needed, except a portable dishwasher, we were more than equipped to take on fishing the Shenandoah and than being able to come back and relax in the confines of pure comfort.
Here’s my story of our adventure..

Settling in Along the South Fork
(Day 1, 6-24-11)

After settling in Jeff, Mark and I put out an assortment of smallmouth tied flies. From streamers to poppers as well as Hellgrammite, large tied Humpy’s and hopper patterns. They sat on the table all weekend like a buffet spread for smallmouth. In different shapes and colors there had to be a few patterns that the smallmouth would like to get their teeth into. We picked over them to fill our own fly boxes for an evening of fishing to see what might work for the oncoming days.

After a healthy lunch we collected our gear and spread out in the off color water of the river. Wading the South Branch can be treacherous if you don’t watch your step. With a dark lager color of water I didn’t stray too far out from shore. Mark eventually made the wade across the river and was rewarded with a big largemouth bass. Other than that we all caught a few small smallmouths and red breast sunfish in the slower flat water but it wasn’t worth spending the time for the infrequent hits. Downriver was a fishy looking section of riffles, protruding rocks and small flooded weedy islands. It looked more promising than what we had been fishing in and I headed to shore to engage in this fishier looking environment. Jeff had the same idea at the same time and started his way towards the shore also. It was near 5:00pm when I entered the new section of water so there was plenty of time to get acquainted with this section before nightfall.

 I started wade fishing my way towards a long stretch of riffles mid river. As I was carefully maneuvering my way across the river I’d stop now and then and toss a Clouser out ahead of me in hopes of stirring up some action. I had a few bumps and caught a red breast sunfish in a slower tail out ahead of me. When it looked deeper and less manageable I positioned myself up river from a good stream of riffles that appeared to deepen into a slower pool before flowing over another subsurface rock ledge formation. I replaced my Clouser with a bead head weighted brown woolly bugger. Because of the fast current and discoloration of the water I figured a brown worm looking pattern was in order.
 From upriver I cast out into the riffling water with lots of slack line. Holding the rod high I was letting the bugger tumble beneath the surface like an uncontrolled night crawler than a swinging bait fish. On the second time through, tumbling within the riffles, my slack line tightened as if I caught bottom. I knew better and pulled the slack line in with my line hand while pulling the rod back sharply to set the hook. Instantly I felt the weight on the other end and knew this wasn’t another 9” smallie or scrappy sunfish. I prepared myself for a good tussle with the heavier smallie in the current and surrounding obstructions.
 He pulled down and away to my left on his first get away attempt. I was using 4X tippet on a 7 ½ foot 3X tapered leader. I’m sure I had enough line strength to bully him in like a bass pro does in a tournament but I’m a trout fisherman and enjoy a good wrestling match. I was standing on a rock ledge in about knee deep water. One or two steps off the ledge could have put me instantly in chest high water or deeper in the uneven depth of the river. Being above, such as now, was a good thing. I kept the rod tip high with most of the tensioned line off the water. This made it easier and safer to defend against the fish, keeping my line from hitting or rubbing against unforeseen obstacles beneath. I got the smallie to turn around and I wrestled him through the deep pool. He used his weight, against the undercurrent, trying to dislodge the stuck bugger. By now I had the butt of the 6wt Vapor rod in my gut and I swung him down below me in a riffle of current. He rose and I seen he was a nice size smallie. I moved my rod towards the surface while reeling in to keep the bass below from the pull of the top surface current. I managed to get him to me safely and lipped him up. I was going to show him off but didn’t see Jeff yet and the other two boys were too far upriver to give a shout out. I let the smallie swim out of my hand safely in the tinted water.

Two casts later, with the same presentation, a fish takes the bugger like a downtown purse snatcher. Instinctly I jerk back the rod to penetrate the hook. Almost instantly the slack line, on the water in front of me, disappears and shoots through my tensioned fingers. The spool spits out more line as the reel lively screams. By the time I get control the fish is across and down river about 25 yards away in a good channel of choppy quick current flow. The top section of my rod is flexing up and down with the tugging current holding fish. My rod is horizontal now facing downriver as I try to pry him out of the fast current but he refuses to give in with the constant slight angle pressure. I tighten up my grip as the cork handle gives from my pressuring fingers and thumb. I shift the rod up river and the fish swims upstream some beneath the strong current. With the rod bowed I shift the rod again across my body downriver and the fish follows, unexpectedly, out of the fast current into the slower current towards me. I keep pressure on him and carefully reel in when he gives me the opportunity as he draws closer. Now in the deeper pool, where the melee started, he tries to turn down river. The rod flexes more but the fish doesn’t have enough strength to overcome the bowed pressure, while my line hand is ready to feed him more line if need be. He struggles as if he has no energy left than to follow the rod pressure with occasional tugs still trying to free himself. He zigzags by my ankles until I get a lip hold of the fine fat smallie. 

I cast a few more times into the pool but no other takes are felt. I reel in and light up a long Brickhouse cigar as a reward!

 Looking around I see Jeff, downriver, slowly working the bank a few yards out. Mark is between me and the shoreline fishing around a flooded weedy island while Jeremy is just upriver from me.

The evening sun is in full view for now but moving down towards the horizon with the coming of evening.

 It was about 7:00pm and the bite didn’t increase any more than the past few hours. I tried a few different patterns with limited success catching sunfish and small smallmouth. I was down river a bit now and decided to switch over to the brown bugger again. There was a deeper looking pool with an even flow of current out towards the middle of the river. I added a little more weight to my line and cast into the pool and hoped for the best without hanging up on the unseen riverbed. With long heavy casts the bugger plops into the upper part of the pool and I let it drift, with slack, towards the tail end before cresting over a shallow rocky ledge. I watched as my fly line sunk quickly and pulled in line and raised my rod trying to get enough tension on the long length of line and slack I had out to set the hook. When I felt the resistance I thought I had an underwater tree branch swaying in the current still attached to a log. When I pulled back on the rod further the caught object started to swim across the river below me. I kept enough tension on the fish until I got all the excess slack in my reel. I knew it wasn’t a smallie and it didn’t fight like a fallfish would have. I had no idea what I had but I knew it wasn’t little by a trout fishermen standards. When I got a good bow in the rod is when he decided to start a skirmish with bodily shrugs and propelling tail swats.
 I looked up to let the others know I had something big on and seen Jeff, a few yards from shore, up to his chest in water. The water he was in looked to be a slow pool of deep water without much current flow to push him downriver to shallower water. He wasn’t in a panic and looked as if he had a toe hold on the bottom. I glanced over to Mark and asked if Jeff was alright. We were both far enough away that trying to hurriedly get to shore would be just as dangerous for us.
 As I fought the fish I kept an eye on Jeff and watched him paddle his way to safety. When I got the fish nearer to me I saw a long whiskered channel cat with my brown bugger attached to his upper lip. I’m not used to picking up catfish in the middle of the water. Usually they are a bank side catches. I carefully grasped him around his body, avoiding his bony fins, and gently lifted him for a picture.

After releasing him I had enough fishing for the day and headed for shore.

 Back at camp Jeff told me about his river plunge while I cut up and sautéed onions and peppers for venison chipped steaks on Philly style buns topped with Mozzarella cheese for the evening meal.
 After a good meal, with the crew, and cold brews Giddeon showed up from his long drive from Asheville North Carolina. He finished off the chipped steak hoagies and engaged in the cold brews with us.
 After cleaning up it was time for me to relax.
 I poured myself a full glass of imported Italian Moscato wine, lit up a Fuente Rothchild stogie and relaxed in the hot tub! Mark joined me on the screened-in back porch and smoked his corncob pipe filled with black cherry tobacco. He sat in one of the chairs and we carried on with good conversation while the others stayed inside drinking micro-brews and carrying on as fishermen do…