Slippin Off Solo
I have a had a great first quarter fishing wise. I got to spend a weekend camping with my youngest son and one of his friends in early February. It was cold but beautiful and we managed to catch fish. I spent most of the 2 days helping my son work with his friend who had never fly fished before …. We traded off so each of us could catch a few fish on our own as well. All in all a great trip and a great opportunity to bring the fly fishing experience to another new comer. After that trip my son decided that I owed him a 17th birthday fishing trip with just him so he could focus on his own fishing. I decided to pamper him and we hit a half day on Jimmy Harris’ Unicoi Outfitter’s water. We had a great day spending time together and catching fish and I really enjoyed seeing him jump headlong back into the fly rod game…. He will be busy for all of lacrosse season but I bet I get him back on the water as soon as Lassiter lacrosse is done for the year and that was my main purpose. But somehow even with all of that fishing I felt like I hadn’t gotten any time with my other self……… the peaceful side of me ….. the by myself enjoying a casual day of fishing self .
I had about convinced myself that I had too much to do and that I should postpone the trip but after waking up late, I said to heck with it and quickly shoved my stuff in the car and headed out the door. A nice peaceful drive from Marietta to the Nant listening to the sounds of Jerry Jeff Walker and John Hiatt had me in the perfect fishing mood. To make matters even better I had a windshield of bug guts by the time I arrived at the river which lead me to believe that even though this was early March it might already be time for the dry/dropper routine and maybe even time for the canyon stretch. There is a magic for the first day of catching fish on full sized dries in shallow pocket water after a long cold winter dredging the bottom with split shot nymphs and streamers. So I decided why not and pulled in at the pull out for the canyon strung the four weight and tied on an ausable wulff and a soft hackle dropper and vowed that was my choice for the day… no changing for me …………………… bold huh……….. or maybe I had left my vest at home in my rush to get to the river and had to make do with whatever happened to be in the odds and ends storage sack where I keep my reels………… nah I wouldn’t admit that to ya’ll …… even it was true ……. so I must have made the bold decision to "go dry" or "die trying"………
Anyway it proved to be a good choice. The sun was out and there was bug activity and the water was up but crystal clear … a perfect spring day.
Soon enough I had landed the first true dry fly fish of the year and was feeling that soft buzz of a great days fishing start to wash over me ……..
It was obvious that the fish had spread out with the warmer water temps and I managed to catch fish in all of the “usual suspect” places. I just kept casting and grinning listening to leftover tunes from the car ride as they echoed in my empty head. Not a care or worry in the world. I just picked and poked … stopping to marvel at the beauty of this little section of canyon water. I am always amazed about what a little difficult terrain will do to the majority of fishermen who won’t venture more than a few hundred yards from the road much less travel through a small canyon where access is limited to rock hoping through the whole thing or climbing out across the side of a boulder field. A road roars by not 50 feet above me but it is hidden from sight and the noise of the white water hides most of the traffic sound, leaving me to imagine that I am in some exotic remote beautiful setting …… not a heavily trafficked North Carolina delayed harvest stream. And it actually makes me smile even more, fishing this unspoiled little section of the river reminds me that it is true the best gems in life are often “hidden in plain sight” and free for the taking………. Here are a few pictures of the water falls and tumbling white water that greets the occasional fly fishing visitor’s who actually make it to the canyon floor.
At this point I just sat there at the base of this little water fall and smoked a wonderful pardon 1926 and took a small nip or two of a flask that just somehow managed to find its way into my waders. You really have to worry about a man’s priorities when he forgets his vest but remembers the bourbon and cigars. I had caught enough fish for the day that I could just sit back and enjoy the solitude and the beauty around me, sitting on a rock dangling my feet in the water and watching the curling blue smoke of my cigar waft upward getting lost in the neutral steel gray of the sky which was darkening with the fading afternoon light. How long I sat there in my solitude I couldn’t tell you …….. cause I really didn’t care……. I was sitting right where I wanted to be…….. doing exactly what I wanted to be doing ……. With exactly the person I needed to be spending time with. When I finally came out of my reverie I snapped one more picture of the falls wondering whether my perspective from my mental break would make for a better picture …….. and in the end both shots are beautiful to me and most people can’t tell them apart and really don’t care…… but oh well I love the thought that they are somehow different ... I know my mental state was.
I caught one more fish just to burn the final memory of the fishing day into my floppy hat head…….clipped my fly off as I watched him swim away …….. and managed to scramble gracelessly up the side of the boulder field to the road above me. I stopped and took a few shots of the holes I had been fishing smiling at the memories and the changes in scenery as the perspective of height changes………. Or else I just had to stop and rest on the way up and taking pictures seemed to be a good excuse…….. but hey I wouldn’t admit that to ya’ll either.