Townsend, Tennessee
December 14, 2009

Welcome to the Fishing Report.  It is cloudy and fairly warm this morning.  Traffic is almost non-existent on our streets.  The highest mountains are totally blocked by fog.  Little River is flowing strong at 542 cubic feet per second.  We are 2 days shy of the middle of December and the rainfall so far this month is 1.78” above normal.  The wet trend continues.  I’m not complaining. 

If you go fishing today watch your step.  The creeks are running strong.  The water temperature of Little River in town is 46 degrees.  If you fell in that temperature would feel like zero to your body.  I would stand on the edge of the river or stream and chunk big nymphs, possibly a Girdle Bug.  You might get your fly line straightened and your fly rod bent.  But overall, fishing should be slow.  There is some good news.  It may get up close to 60 degrees today in the valley.  It will be almost that warm tomorrow.  The low tonight will be relatively warm.  So, fishing may pick up later today and tomorrow.  Then, it’s going to turn cold again.

I stopped at a fly shop Friday because I had never been in and I wanted to meet the young man who owns it.  I’ve talked to him on the phone and even offered some advice a couple of times.  I pulled in and immediately noticed a sign on the door.  It read, “40% Off all merchandise in the store”, or something like that. That was not a good sign.  The lady I met inside was the owners mother.  She told me they were clearing out the merchandise and closing the store.  I got that sick feeling that overcomes me every time I hear something like that.  A young man’s dream has temporarily taken a downturn.

I can equate to that.  I’ve had plenty of downturns in the 36 years I’ve been a business owner.  And, I closed a store once.  If a business owner is like me, and that happens, it is one of the most devastating moments in your life.  And the fear is always looming in the back of your mind.  What if that happened to me?  Well, I’ll tell you this, that fear makes people work their butt of to make sure that doesn’t happen.  And still, sometimes it does.  A lot of people have asked me, “What drives you”.  My answer is always the same, “Fear of failure”. 

I hope this young man bounces back.  Almost every smart, successful business owner has failed. What also troubles me is, another fly shop, an independent specialty retailer, and small business, is gone.  It makes me sick.

I’ve got a couple of great “feel good” stories derived from the bear and boar hunt this weekend.  No, I didn’t shoot a bear or boar.  None of us did.  Yesterday morning a little after daybreak we were driving up a logging road in four trucks.  I was last in line.  In front was Bobby one of the best dog handlers I’ve met.  He has tan Plot Hounds.  They are friendly, beautiful and relentless as bear dogs. 

We got a strike!  That means the hounds in Bobby’s truck thought a bear had crossed the road.  When that happens everyone stops, gets out and starts searching the ground for tracks.  If you find tracks in the mud or the hounds keep striking a few are turned loose.  Bobby decided to turn 4 hounds loose.  I had two guys in my truck, Jim and Big’un.  Bobby told us to drive down to the horse trail gate and spread out.  We did.  The other hunters or “standers” were going to stay with Bobby and wait until the direction of the bear and the hounds was determined.  Then we would all hear on the radios where to go from there.  The bear moved quickly with the hounds on his trail.  They were past all of us before we knew what happened.  We all drove down to the river.  Evidently, the bear swam the rain-swollen river and got out on the other side.  The hounds were afraid to cross.  One of the hounds, a young male almost drowned a few weeks ago crossing a river when he got tangled in a tree.  He didn’t want to have anything to do with swimming in that 40 degree water.

Bobby’s cousin put some waders on and tried to cross the river.  The current was too strong and the river too deep.  Bobby finally got the older female to swim across.  But her full-grown pups stayed on the other side.  Bobby kept trying to get them to swim to him but they wouldn’t.  Finally, the mother swam back across the river to her kids.  They conversed for a minute then all three of them dove into the river and swam across to Bobby.  Can you believe that?  I don’t know, maybe you had to be there.  I’ll never forget that event as long as I live.

Here’s another one.  We got back to the cabin yesterday afternoon and started packing our gear.  This big, starving brindle Plot hound came up to us.  This poor animal was near death.  I got a full package of ham out of my cooler and gave it to him.  He devoured it in seconds.  Then, Chance got a package of lunch meat out and gave it to this poor starved dog.  That dog was friendly and good looking.  We all discussed his situation and certain demise.  I tried not to look at him.  It broke my heart. 

Big’un was sitting on the porch swing.  I heard him say “Hey Rufus”.  The starved hound looked up and his ears perked.  OK, that’s a good first step.  Big’un named him Rufus.  There was some smiling and winking going on behind Big’un’s back.  A few minutes later, Big’un showed up with a piece of rope.  He tied one end to the poor old hound’s neck and the two of them walked to Big’un’s truck.  Big’un’s big heart got the best of him and he decided to take that hound home, nurse him back to health, save his life and be friends for the rest of that dog’s life.  I was patting Big’un on the back and calling him my hero.

Now, that made the trip for me.  By the way, I made up the name Big’un.  I could never remember his name and we just met this weekend.  He didn’t seem to mind me calling him that.  Now, I guess he will always be Big’un to me.  And I’ll never forget what he did for that dog.

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

Byron Begley
December 14, 2009 

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