Townsend, Tennessee
October 19, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is very foggy and cold in Townsend this morning.  The water temperature in Little River was 48 degrees in town.  The air temperature was 34 degrees.  And there is plenty of it.  The flow is very strong.  The water isn’t turbid but there is a little color to it like you would expect at 485 cubic feet per second. 

It was cold in the mountains last night.  I have not seen the numbers but I’m sure they will prove to be in the 20’s up high where the streams are born.  I did see that the low was 19 degrees Saturday night at Mt Leconte.  The temperature was in the 30’s everywhere else. 

If you go fishing today be careful.  The water is cold and the flow is strong.  I would be using nymphs fished deep.  They would probably be a Prince Nymph or Girdle Bug.  I spent the weekend in the woods a little south of here.  We saw some large orange caddis around the lights at camp.  So, I would choose an orange caddis imitation or an Orange Stimulator as a dry fly.  Terrestrial activity is going to drop off now that we have had our first freeze up high and we’ll probably see that tonight, down low.   

It is going to be sunny and clear for a few days so the water levels will recede fairly fast.  The high temperatures will be back in the 70’s by Wednesday and we may get some rain on Friday. 

The fall colors where I was in the Cherokee National Forest were splendid this weekend.  After the drenching we got Friday night the woods were inviting and comfortable.  The creeks and rivers were running fast and this was one of the most memorable beautiful three days I’ve spent in the forest in a long time.

I was with about 20 guys, most I had never met, we stayed in a small cabin and we were on a very well organized bear and boar hunt.  The cabin was crowded so I slept on the front porch on my cot.  A large campfire was kept alive all night and I was a happy as I could be.  This was a perfect sampling of East Tennessee culture and I loved every minute of it.  I will never forget this weekend. 

In addition to the hunters or “Standers” as we were called there were several guys who were the dog handlers.  I saw and talked to them all weekend.  I listened to them talking to each other all day on marine radios.  Their pickup truck beds were equipped with a covered area for the hounds.  Port holes lined up on each side so the dogs could stick their head out.  In some cases a smaller cage mounted on the cab held the hound with the best nose.  When that hound started barking the handler stopped the truck.  They would release that hound and let him sniff around.  If he took off howling other hounds were released.  The chase was on.  In the area we hunted there might have been between 50 and 100 hounds sniffing and chasing.  We heard a lot of chases this weekend.  The excitement was extremely high.  It was a good hunt.

On Saturday one of the guys in our group shot a huge boar.  We think he weighed about 250 pounds.  His tusks were long and sharp.  The boar came face to face with the hunter on an old logging road.  The hog stopped in his tracks when he saw the hunter.  The distance was 90 feet.  The hog died of a bullet wound right between the eyes.  He fell in his tracks.  Saturday night we grilled part of the hog’s backstrap as an appetizer. It was excellent.   

Two other bears were shot that day.  I saw one of them.  It was huge.  Yesterday one of our guys shot a bear.  It was about an average sized animal. 

I met a lot of nice and fun people this weekend.  I held my Winchester Model 94, 30/30 caliber rifle all weekend and never shot it.  We ate well, laughed a lot, rose at 5:00 am every morning and were in the woods at daybreak.  I learned all about the hound hunting, electronic tracking and watched on my map as the handlers described where the packs were and what they were chasing.  I hoped that big boar would run right into my view.  That didn’t happen.  It didn’t matter. 

We were staying in the cabin built by the first Tennessee Fish and Game wildlife officer assigned to the Tellico area in the 1940’s.  His Grandson, Scott was our host.  Scott is younger than me, he’s a great guy, we became friends this year and he invited me on the hunt.  Some of the guys from the second generation of friends were there.  They were on their 19th year of the hunt.  All the dog handlers know Scott.  He has been urged by the family to continue the tradition through another generation.  He is doing just that.  I was proud to be part of that tradition. 

Like I said, I’ll never forget this weekend.  There were some questions I forgot to ask on Friday and I pondered them all day Saturday while I was in the woods.  What if a huge bear was running right at you?  Where do you aim?  What if you missed?  What if you wounded the animal and he kept coming at you?  What if your second round jammed or didn’t make it into the chamber?  Should I carry my .357 magnum pistol as a backup?

The answer to my first question was “aim at the bear”.  There were no answers to the other questions, just smiles.  I noticed that there were no semi-automatic rifles used.  Only the more reliable lever actions were the common weapon.  I had one of those.  I did see one guy with a pistol on his belt.  I decided to leave mine in the truck mainly because of the extra weight and problems sitting down with a six shooter on your side. 

I decided that if put in that situation with a large bear running right at you is first, “don’t miss”.  If you have to make a second shot make sure the cartridge is chambered and “don’t miss”.  And since I’ve seen so many bears running in my life and know how fast they can move the answers to the other questions don’t matter anyway.  After that second shot the time has probably run out.

Like I said, I’ll never forget this weekend.

Have a great day and thank you for being here with us.

Byron Begley
October 19, 2009

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