Monday, April 25
Fished the stocked section of the Tellico upstream from where I fished previous. Water level dropping. Kayakers thinning. 12 to 14 inch fish, nothing bigger. Camera person napping. Oh well.
Tried a Tellico Short Striker on my spinning outfit, Yellow. Bam! Bigger fish!
Late afternoon I went back down to the lower Tellico and did some long, lazy loopin', dry fly fishing. Midge hatches so thick I was breathing them and they at times covered my glasses lenses. Some green drake hatches too and Light Cahills but no surface takers. Not even any dimples. Put on a brown stone nymph and started hooking up with wild fish again, 7 to 10 inch size, nothing bigger. Called it a day. Stopped at the church at the 2 mile marker on 360 and called Stana Claus to confirm our morning fishing date. Breakfast at Tiffany's. Well, actually the Town Square cafe, which is my Tiffany's in Tellico, Tennessee.
Tuesday, April 26
Met Stan at 8:00am. After we shook hands, I new it was going to be a good day, no matter what happened. We shared maps and info. Stan is amazingly knowledgeable. We worked out a plan of attack over breakfast. It was good to be in the company of another fly fishing, trout loving person. Read Stan's report.
Only thing I have to add is, it's true about the warpaints running off a larger trout from my fly. They just swarmed over it and the trout tailed off. I did have another unusual experience up river with the warpaints. I was using a #14 blue dun, dry. The warpaints kept swarming after it like before, so I placed it in a current seam. A brookie porposied out of the water and dove down on top of the fly, which I set too soon. I felt the hook hesitate with a thudding feeling but it was short lived. I was completely taken off guard by: 1). a brookie even being there, and 2.), it's strike. Mostly smaller bows and pests.
Stan, Stalking A Big Bow
Wednesday, April 27
The beginning of the end (of my vacation)! Storm warnings galore in the morning. Lightning, wind, rain, havoc!
Decided to stay out of the mountains for the morning.
Turned on my Amateur Radio and tuned into the weather net on 146.940, Knoxville, District 5 Skywarn.
Not going to be a good day. Storms coming into eastern Tennessee from Alabama and Georgia. Katie bar the door.
Reported into the net giving my FCC call sign and Skywarn ID. Monitored intently. No bad weather, yet. Sky cleared. Net went on standby. Decided not to go fishing.
Later that evening I would see the destructive force of three successive tornadoes in the Etowah, Tellico area sweep up from Georgia with EF3 force winds, golf ball size hail, not to mention the fallout that comes when a tornado destroys homes, farms, businesses, property and the like, and drops their splintered remains from the sky all around you as you stand in awe, not believing what you're seeing. And I have done this for ten years, but I still can't get over the sight.
The first one hit us just before dark. I actually got a picture of it, but it came out blurry because of the water damage my camera had received when I did a butt plop in the Tellico river the day before. My camera was in my wader pouch and took on some water. Oops!
My wife and I were the only people in the campground. Buddy, my lab and Bug-Bug, our cat were terrified.
Me, standing in the campground meadow watching the clouds and the funnel. I looked up! Three eagles were soaring above me at about 1000 feet, just looping the updrafts. Then they flew off. Things started falling. The low pitched roar of the twister churning up Bell Town Mill road along the Tellico River shredding trees sounded just like a very loud chipper made for that purpose. Only this chipper wasn't being controlled. Barn siding, shingles, bits of two-by-fours, road signs, porch swings, metal pipe, insulation, falling from the sky and hitting the barn roof across the meadow. I heard a huge crash as I dashed for the log cabin. It turned out to be the pool maintenance shed being bounced up and down. The wind was blowing about 80 miles an hour from observing the trees, which were breaking off like twigs. Ten to twelve inch trees snapping, crashing to the ground. Larger trees being uprooted and tossed around like a child's toy.
Five or six deer ran from the edge of the Cherokee National Forest into the meadow where I had been standing. They looked behind them, like something was chasing them. They ran across the 3 acres of meadow to the tree line on Cane Creek. They hesitated, looking once again over their shoulders, then ran back in the direction they had come from. Stopped in the middle of the meadow, spinning around each other, running into each other. All but two ran down the farm road and back into the national forest. Then the other two headed that way. Then all was quiet, still. Spider lightning lit up the sky to the north, and then came the distance bursts of bright white light called power flashes, when the twister ripped transformers and power lines from the power poles. We tried to leave, but couldn't. The road into the campground was blocked by downed trees and there was no way around them. Trapped! No power, no water. Later we learned the state road a quarter mile away was also blocked and would not be open for days.
An half hour or so later, I lost track of time, another one came through in almost the same track as the first. I reported what I saw to the Skywarn net controller. I was advised to take cover. I did. Then I heard a report that yet a third twister was headed my way, but this time it was coming right up the boundary line of the Cherokee National Forest, right where we were.
I felt like a bowling pin waiting for the strike. Then it hit. The roar of the wind was deafening. The only thing I could hear above the roar of the wind was the golf-ball size hail pounding the metal roof of the cabins. Then the rain, at about six inches per hour rate. More wind. Finally it all died down and it was eerily quiet again. This time, at about 12:20 AM, the National Weather Service issued an all clear transmission, the tornado warnings had expired or were cancelled. Three was enough for me.
I laid on the bed in the dark, not willing to close my eyes or let myself fall asleep before I thoroughly thanked the Lord for keeping us safe in the storms. Then someone from the road above shined a powerful spotlight on our cabin briefly. We later learned it was the Monroe County Sheriff's Department coming to check on us after being called by the campground owner. They couldn't get in because of the downed trees.