Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two Cigars Worth

Two Cigars Worth

Winter fishing for trout is for the patient fisherman. It’s solitude at best and as pleasurable as you want to make it. For me it’s a time to gather my thoughts, puff on a good cigar and enjoy the wonderful wintry day. The fish are lethargic so as far as the catching goes it’s usually slow going, nothing to get too excited about.

 This particular winter day I only caught 2 trout just before dark after having smoked two cigars. It was about a 3 hour fishing excursion. Pure white snow covered the ground, creek banks and tree limbs. There wasn’t a boot print to be found along the banks, pure solitude! In the distance I could hear the splashing of water as it spilled over the dam wall and plunged into the water below. Surface water rippled with the downstream current flow. Occasionally waves of water would gurgle beneath ice shelves that extended off the snowy banks. Creek water faintly riffling over and between snowcapped boulders made for a pleasing harmonic tone to the otherwise quiet evening. A soft cold breeze would stir now and than to keep my body aware its winter time, warm beneath layers of clothing. My feet on the other hand are no stranger to such cold. At the end of the day they feel frozen and heavy as lead boots. It’s only after direct heat will I feel the tingling sensation that they are returning to warmer circulation.

It’s all good though. A few hours on the creek is always worth the time spent, no matter the weather or catch. A couple of trout and a couple of good cigars just make my time spent much more enjoyable.



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reminiscing from the Overlook

Reminiscing from the Overlook
End of Christmas Weekend 2011

 It was a 10 degrees drop in temperature from Asheville NC into the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest. We added another layer of clothing when we stepped out of the vehicle and felt the colder mountain air. My grandson could't wait to cast the new Joe's Flies I got him for Christmas for trout. All bundled up, I watched him cast the lures out into the flowing clear water of the North Mills River. Though he didn't catch any trout his dad did let him bring one in on the fly rod. He was proud to show me the trout and was careful not to let it fall from his hands.

 After an hour or so he got bored and his mom picked him up. Giddeon and I hung around a bit and we both caught a couple more trout before he talked me into going upriver to a more remote area.

 After driving a couple of miles, up the dirt road, we pulled off at a gated parking area. We got our gear together and he took me for what seemed like a 3 mile walk along a mountain bike, horse, and hikers trail. There was more laurel that covered the landscape than trees. The hillside was steep and as we walked I heard the faint but distinct sound of tumbling water somewhere down in the valley of the forest. Where we started fishing was like a narrow passage confined to a rock quarry with flowing water over and between the assortment of rock formations. The banks were covered with round boulders of every shape and size with laurel branches outreaching over the stream. I found myself holding on to branches with one hand while casting with the other often. Rock stepping, as I fished downstream, watching my balance more than concentrating on my fly line. About 25 minutes later my son showed up and suggested we head down river further to calmer water and wider sections.

 Downstream my son set me up before a long slower flowing stretch of water. The far bank-side had a nice flow of deeper darker water and I found this stretch was much easier to wade. Slowly I cast into the far bank current and let my woolly bugger swing and drift beneath the under brush and along streamside debris. Looking down the trail I watched as my son disappeared through the forest. I lit a cigar and began to relax some and enjoy the environment. Before a half submerged loose branch I hooked into a small rainbow and missed another. From the trailside bank I was able to see a couple of trout follow my bugger on my 9' leader. I would let the bugger drop a good distance away from me and let the fish turn away before they could see me upstream.
 From the boulder lined bank I cast the bugger across stream just beneath the outstretched branches of laurel. I looped a short mend downstream, in front of me, upon the slower current. Within seconds the line pulled and I instantaneously raised the rod tip to set the hook. My 4 weight arced and the hooked fish surfaced, splashed, and dove deep into the quicker undercurrent. Confined in my movement, along the rocky, laurel bank, I fought with the rainbow as he struggled against my will within the clear mountain water. I was able to feel every tail swat and propelling thwart in his sudden moves beneath the oncoming current as my rod tip section waved and arced downstream. He surfaced again near my side of the bank momentarily than headed back into the current. I hollered for my son and he appeared below me with his net ready. Raising my rod some, I swung it beneath the laurel. I was able to guide the frisky fighter to the net. Not a big trout by any means but the most enjoyable trout melee of the day.

 Many times it was difficult to continue to wade downstream. Tangles of laurel crowded the bank-sides where the river narrowed. These areas also were crowded with boulders and rocks that caused slippery conditions and deep pools of white water force. I'd walk along the lower trail to continue my adventure downstream. Every now and then I would follow a goat path between such laurel and brush towards the sound of the river. Sometimes I found just enough room to roll cast a woolly bugger across the water and let it drift with the current. Occasionally, if I was able to keep myself hidden, I would be rewarded with a quick take and a good scrambling fight of a wild brook trout.

 As the lower trail inclined from the stream I found an area to wade across the water and continued to fish from the opposite bank. I came across a good looking fishy area where water flowed between the steep bank and mountainside cliff spilling into a wider bend in the river. The water was a deeper olive color from the turbulence above. Laurel brush thickened the far side bank and it appeared to be deeper along this brush. Midstream the water slowed and small whirlpools of water would develop occasionally and slowly swirl downstream with the current. I added a little more weight and roll cast my bugger within the pool.

 The first take was a sharp short tug and I set the hook instantly. A brook trout fussed in the slow current but was no match for the 4 weight. 2 casts later a rainbow gave a little more tussle on the end of the line. 3 more trout later, all around 7" to 10", my son showed up and motioned to me to follow him downstream.

 We ended our fishing excursion on a sandy bank fishing a long semi-deep run that bumped up against a rocky cliff across stream. Underground water found its way between rock crevices and fell in droplets onto the slow recessed pools beneath the rocky ledges. We knelt on the sandy bank keeping our profile low. Giddeon and I missed a couple of quick rising natives on small Adam dries. The other fish didn't want any other imitations we offered them.

 My son looked atop the mountain behind us and mentioned we had about a half hour of decent daylight left. We had about a 25 minute walk back to the vehicle. We called it quits and I slowly and carefully followed him up the steep bank to the main trail.

 I stand here now at a scenic overlook off Interstate 26 just shy of the Tennessee line. I'm mesmerized, as I look south, at the North Carolina mountains and valleys beyond. A drizzle of rain comes and goes with the passing of strong winds. I push my Harley hat down tighter upon my head. The sun tries to peek out between the gray skies trying to make the morning less gloomy. I notice one more swallow of beer in the Pisgah Brewing Co. growler. I salute to the Tar Heel state and gulp it down. An A. Fuente Lonsdale will accompany me, delightfully, on the first leg of my drive back to Pennsylvania.

It was a pretty special Christmas weekend!


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some Past Photos

Pictures from 2009 and 2010 for you Photographers

Hawks View of 20 Mile

Maple Creek Shades

Under the Pines

Nothing but Net

The Loop

Volant Covered Bridge in the Fall

Turtle in the Box 

Peace on the Shenandoah

Narrow Passage

Coming at You

Warming Up

Ice Cold Steelheading

Whistling in the Morn

Millstone Evening

Less Than a Handful


From the Float Tube

Hardy at Rest

Simple Pleasure

Peaceful Pool

A Winters Break

Pike Hideout

Morning With Shakespeare

Tangles in the ANF

Bass'n Among the Pads

A Few Favotites

GW Fly Fishing Co... introduction

 If you have followed my blog you have read about my fly fishing in North Carolina with my son Giddeon. Well, he has been wanting to start a guiding service in Western North Carolina for some time now and finally got his license to do so. As his father, I could brag about his abilities, however, you can learn more about him through his website. If you plan on visiting Asheville or surrounding areas to fly fish for trout or smallmouth I wholeheartedly recommend him.

Without further ado, I introduce to you, my son Giddeon.


Giddeon White

Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Guide.
 I grew up fishing the rivers and streams of Western and Central Pennsylvania. When I was about 15, my father gave me this crazy looking fishing pole. I asked myself "is he serious?" The reel didn't even have a bail or a button! I really thought he lost it when he showed me the "bait." Flies, I thought?
 Well, over the next couple weeks he taught me how to use my new fly rod. The first time I landed a rainbow on a dry fly, I was hooked. Since then, I have never left home without a fly rod. I even took it to college and taught my Parks and Recreation class how to cast.
 Over the years, I have been fly fishing rivers, streams, lakes, intercoastal
waterways, and even the ocean. I've caught many different species of freshwater and saltwater fish, but nothing beats catching a big brown trout that has no intention of giving up without taking you down to your backing once or twice.
 These days, I fish the rivers and streams of WNC, and am always happy to pass the knowledge and excitement of fly fishing on to a fellow angler. When I guide, if you do not have a destination in mind, I take into consideration the species of fish you want to catch, the weather, and recent fishing pressure of streams. I can customize any trip to fit your time frame and fishing style.
 A few things are certain on my trips - it will be a great adventure, and I will show you how and where to catch fish. Once you fish the streams of WNC, you'll want to return again and again.

Good luck Giddeon and I hope to be down there, when I get a chance, to help you out!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Essentials..on a Winters Day

Essentials..on a Winters Day
Jan. 8 2012

 As I drive east on the interstate the sign, before the bridge, reads ‘North Fork Creek.’ I veer over to the passing lane and glance down over the bridge. The trout waters looks inviting and too hard to pass up.
 It’s January in Pennsylvania. The weatherman said the high for today would be 34 degrees and cloudy. Hopefully he’d be wrong and the sun will come out to warm things up a bit.

 When I get to the parking area snow and ice partially cover the ground. I put an extra layer of clothes on and get my trout gear together. Knowing the bite would be slow, do to the cold conditions, I make sure I have the essentials to bide my time out on the water. I grab my lighter and a few of my favorite cigars.
 The creek water looks cold with the snow covered banks. The clear water is running at a good level while midstream the color darkens in the deeper run. Broken ice chunks float like jellyfish near the shoreline and slowly move towards the stronger current.

 I tie on a nymph below an indicator, figuring the trout will be in a lethargic state and won’t move too much should they take my offering. Out in the water I roll cast upstream, mend my line when needed in the nearer slower water, and watch it drift with the current. I work the seam of water just this side of the rolling stronger midstream current. There’s a sharp breeze that kicks up and I’m glad I let my wooly beard grow thick. I wear a glove on my left hand and it doesn’t take long before the tip of my index finger, on my right hand, to start to feel stone cold. I keep thinking of putting the other glove on but I decide not to. As I slowly wade along the shoreline I cast across stream a bit, still trying to work the seam. The current slowly eddies back towards me and then flows upstream. My indicator dips down slowly and I figure I might be caught up on the bottom in the slower, almost motionless, current. I lift the rod with pressure to free it while holding the line with my gloved hand. Instead of the indicator rising it pulls away and the rod tip arcs. I can feel the trout on the other end fighting to get free but my glove hand prevents me from feeling the line tension. I start to guide him towards me and have a tough time knowing whether I have a good grip in my gloved hand as I try to take in line. The trout rises towards the top and I can see it’s a playful brown. He pulls away and excessive line slips out of my glove and slack develops. I look down and gain control of the line again between my glove fingers and am surprised that the trout is still on. Now I look at my gloved hand each time I bring more line in to make sure I keep a grip on it. The first trout comes to hand.

 After releasing him I pull a Don Tomas cigar out of my insulated shirt pocket. Good time to light up my first cigar of the day. I turn my back towards the breeze, cup my hand and light up the Robust Maduro.

‘All right back to my fishing.’
 Casting out I try to get the same current swirl that brings my nymph back upstream. This time the indicator stops briefly without going under. I twitch it back and feel a heavier resistance. Like a little kid I start to bring the fish in without setting the hook hard enough. The fish comes to the top briefly, wiggles and turns away without my nymph. I chuckle at the mistake.
Wading down creek I work the second pool pretty well.

 Without getting a strike I decide to switch to a woolly bugger and strip it in slowly. Sure enough my line tightens during the strip in and after a short wiggling match I bring in another brown trout.

 Time ticks on as I continue to brave the cold, switch patterns often and puff away on a stogie. I fish through the long flat section with only one follower of my woolly bugger. Occasionally the sun peaks out between the clouds but doesn’t add any warmth to the creek below.

 I look down creek, and even though I haven’t had a hit for over an hour or so, I decide to continue on.

 I try to work the slower moving current behind rocks and deeper moving runs between small boulders. The indicator, in the faster current, moves my nymph faster than what I like so I take it off and try indicator free nymphing. Casting out I loop a good mend upstream and watch the end of my fly line. Continuing with short wrist mends upstream, to keep my nymph somewhat drifting downstream before my fly line, my fly line hesitates with a noticeable pull. I pull back on the short length of slack line and feel the trout on the other end. He works with the current keeping low beneath at midstream. I feel there is too much tension trying to bring him upstream nearer to me so I swing my rod down towards shore. He doesn’t have the strength to fight with any force and I get my third handful of trout

   I decide to cross the creek and fish from the roadside bank. As I stand near the bank small slabs of ice bump against my legs. They aren’t forceful enough to knock me off balance but hard enough to let me know to keep this in consideration when I’m stepping within the creek.  
 After nymphing a while longer I tie on a streamer and add a little more weight. Slow stripping and dangling the line beneath the rolling current I feel a strike as I raise the streamer. Silver shimmers just below the surface. The fish wiggles free and disappears below. During the next hour I miss one more trout and have a quick release of one near my boots. After that I decide to head back upstream. 
 Upon stepping onto the crackling brushy bank a grouse springs up from the under brush and noisily flies upstream to a safer place. Two more steps and another takes off from the brush and soars downstream.
 I follow the trail and climb the steep bank to the road. On the road I light an Arturo Curly Head Cigar and walk towards the parking area. Back in the water I fish for another half hour before the rod eyes start to freeze up. The overcast sky turns darker and the wind chill is a bit nippier. With a cold stiff smile on my face I head to the van and call it a day.

 I start the engine, to warm up the inside, while I take off my fishing gear. I break down the five piece, 5wt Kettle Creek Stream Rod and lay it on the passengers’ floor board, with my reel, to dry.

“Not bad for a cold January winter afternoon” I figure, as I warm my fingers in front of the heater vents of the warming van.