|You are here: [ Articles ]
This month NGTO presents "Appalachian Odyssey" by Paul Preston. This is basically a journal of Paul's entry into
flyfishing and NGTO. It truly captures the spirit of NGTO and is a GREAT example of what we are all about. Thanks
for putting this together Paul and welcome to NGTO.
By Paul Preston
About 10 months ago I was channel surfing and ran across the program " Fly Fish TV".
I watched it and thought, that it looked so peaceful and relaxing. I watched the show the next week and checked out their web site. I noticed that they advertised a complete 9ft. 6 wt outfit for $109 and I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a try. So I order the outfit and go to the Library and get some books on fly fishing. And the more I read, the more interested I got. I took some casting classes to learn how to tie knots with no hands. I got some fly tying stuff ( gee this is costing a lot! and found fly tying both challenging and fun. I've always liked doing things with my hands. ( Mom said I'd go blind). Of course I needed a vest, waders and shoes also. (Gee this is costing a lot more than $109!)About this time I found NGTO and started asking a bunch of questions on the board. I fished a few ponds in the area for Bass and Bream. Then last November I made it to the fall fling at Nantahala. That did it! I was hooked and started planning a real fishing vacation in the mountains.
This is a diary or log if you will, of my recent weeklong trip to North Georgia and North Carolina.
Saturday March 25 230 p.m
I arrive in Helen GA and go the Unicoi Outfitters to get my license and directions to Unicoi State Park. I go to the park and check in at the Lodge. I find my campsite then head off to Smiths creek. I manage to catch a couple trees but nothing else, but I at least get in some casting practice before my big day at Nacoochee Bend the next day.
I call the wife to let her know that I arrived safely, and try to contact Owl to setup a fishing trip during the week, no answer (darn). I go setup camp around 6 p.m. What a beautiful park with great camping facilities. There's some wood on the site and a fire ring , so I start a campfire and have two Nathan's hot dogs over the fire and a Budweiser. I look over the Georgia trout stream map and Jimmy Jacobs' guide, to decide where I'm going to fish while in the area. I haven't been camping in about 5 years, and I'd forgotten just how peaceful it is in the woods, listening to the birds, the little critters and the wind through the trees. Man this is great! After 6 months of 60 hr. workweeks in the concrete jungle, I know right now, that even if I don't catch a fish, I'm going to have a wonderful time in the mountains, truly God's country....
The wind starts picking up and I feel a few sprinkles so I decide to call it a night. I get in the van, pull up the covers and go to sleep listening to Lenny Kravitz.
I wake up to two Nathan hot dogs!! :-( I grab a couple Tums then back to sleep..
Sunday March 26 8 a.m.
Oh shoot! I oversleep, (I refuse to take an alarm clock on vacation), I've got to be in Helen in an hour to meet my guide, George McMillan, at Unicoi Outfitters. A quick bowl of cereal, a pot of coffee and I'm off. I arrive at 8:55 a.m. just in time J, and meet George. I tell him about my limited fly fishing experience, and that I want to accomplish two things:
1. catch some nice fish
2. learn how to fish trout streams.
We suit up then off we go down stream. George checked out my 6 wt 9 ft. rod and reel I got from Fly Fish TV and says they'll do the job, and puts on one of his knotted leaders. Then we head for the river.
We get to the first hole and after about a dozen casts and one tree, BAM! , a nice 16 inch rainbow that took the Island Park dropped from a black wooly bugger. Half-hour later bang, another 14 in. bow. Then nothing... George tied on a variety of combinations but no more bites. So we move on to another spot. I catch another tree ( this is embarrassing) Then I cast an Island Park along the bank under an overhanging tree, and pullout a nice 14 inch Brown. I get a couple more bites but miss'em. I quickly take notice that after about 8 casts if I don't get a bite, George changes flies. This information will serve me well later in the week...
We move on to another spot with a deep run and some nice big fish in the bottom.
Then it happens,, I get a bite and set the hook and the line starts going out and keeps going out,I can tell the this is nice fish. Then he comes out of the water, this thing is huge! When he goes back in it sound like a kid making it a cannonball! Woosh! Biggest Trout I ever saw!! George says it's the biggest one he'd seen in a while too and to relax and take it easy because it's going to be a while before I can get him in. George reminds me that I have 4 lb. tippet and about an 8 lb fish so keep my rod tip up. I take in some line, and he takes out some line, I take in some line, and he takes out some line again. My right arm starts to ache so I switch the rod to my left hand for a while. This goes on for 10 minutes, he jumps again with another big splash. Biggest Trout I ever saw!! I finally get the leader to the rod tip and start working him over to the edge of the river toward George and the net.
When he sees the net, he makes another run, slowly taking out line and then, a few seconds later, he's gone. Spit the Island Park out. Biggest trout I ever saw…..Oh well, that sure was fun!. George gives me the defective fly as a memento. Does anyone know Mustads address ?? I want to register complaint!! Wherever we go, the most successful fly was the Island Park. I catch a couple more and lose a few and miss a few. We move up to the dam behind Nora Mill,where at the end of the day I catch a real nice bow 16 to 18 inches.
Boy what a great day . Nacoochee Bend is a great place to fish!
It's 5 p.m. so we call it a day. I go into town get some ice, call the wife ( I gotta tell somebody!) and go back to camp. I build a fire and have just ONE Nathan's hot.dog over the fire, some grapes, a banana and another Budweiser. I watch the fire burn to ambers, listen to the forest, and keep thinking about the day's fishing. Biggest trout I ever saw…
I make a "TO DO list for tomorrow.
1. Register for another night.
2. Go fish!
It's great to be on vacation!!!
Monday March 27 7:30 am
I go to Hofers for a nice breakfast (thanks for the tip Owl) then head for the Soque river near Clarksville. I catch 1 bow about 10 inches then it starts to rain and lightning. I head for Helen. The rain stops so I try fishing in Helen, no luck, not even a bite. Must be the weather, can't be my ability!! It's great being a fisherman, you always got an excuse. Back to Unicoi for another night. I give up on Nathan's hot dogs for dinner, but build a fire anyway and tie up some wooly buggers, BWO's and a bunch of Island Parks by the campfire.
Tuesday March 28 8:00am
I drive over to Dukes creek but don't see an easy way to the water so I head over to Noontootla. Fish for about 3 hrs. and get one bow about 10" on a Prince nymph. Decide to head for Nantahala. Stop at a place on GA Rt5 and get a GREAT barbecue pork sandwich. BBQ is like sex; the worst I ever had was wonderful J.
Get to Brookside Campground and setup camp. It's an OK campground but very close to the Nantahala DH section. I notice that it's about 20 degrees colder than GA. A Scoutmaster with a troop that's camping there says they had ice in a cooking pot that morning. No campfire so I get in the van and readup on nymph fishing.( I must be doing something wrong!) I start the van to warm it up, and fall to sleep listening to Lenny Kravitz, again.
Wednesday March 29, 4:00 a.m.
I wake up shivering! This ole Florida boy has got thin blood! I start the van, warm it up then go back to sleep.
Wednesday March 29 8:00a.m.
It's still cold! I make some coffee, have a bowl of cereal and off I go, determined to catch some fish.
Nantahala, my kind of river, easy access and fish everywhere! But I can't buy a bite!
Finally, after catching 2 trees, a bush, and several misses, I land a bow on a BWO 16.
I see fish in every hole but just can't get them to play. Oh well, still having a great time and will try it again early tomorrow. I go towards Bryson City to the Mountain Steakhouse for dinner. Have a "real" dinner, salad bar and the works.
Thursday March 30 8:30 am
Getting a light rain but head for the river and start fishing. Around 11am it clears off and the fish start playing with me. Fish with nymphs most of the day and land a Brown 12 " and a Bow about 10", both in the area by a big tree in the water. I notice a few bugs flying around one is gray and looks like a helicopter. Don't know what it is and can't catch one for a closer look. The other is kind of cream colored and is fluttering around. I'm getting comfortable with my new 7ft 4wt Cortland. I really like casting drys with it. Get several refusals on dark EHC's and BWO's size 16. It's fun watching them come up and looking at it. Although I only land two, the fish are more active and I look forward to tomorrow. I call it a day and drive into Andrews for some supplies. I find a good Mexican restaurant for dinner just past the Dollar store on the right.
Get back to camp and it's getting cold again. I setup my fly tying bench in the front passenger seat in the van and tie up some EHC's and red quills size 18 to try the next day.
Friday March 31 8:30am
Nice morning, partly cloudy and warmer. I get a breakfast to go at the BP station and head for the spot with the tree. I'm setting in the van eating breakfast and I notice that a few fish are rising. So much for breakfast! I hurry down to the river and tie on a 18 black EHC. After about three casts I get a strike but miss him. Couple more casts and bang, land a 10" bow. About a half hour later I get a beautiful 12" Brookie. Boy we're having fun now! I catch a tree, get a refusal, and catch a fish. This goes on for about an hour then they stop biting. Probably got 'em all spooked, so I move on to another spot. The fish stop rising so I go to nymphs and catch three more in pocket water. After catching about 9 fish and missing a dozen, I call it a day. My best day so far. I got back to camp and the NGTO folks start showing up. Grizz, Beedub, KB Superchub and Lady Jane all show up. I pick their brains a little on fishing techniques and they are all helpful. It's great to finally match some faces with the Board names. Grizz gets a campfire going, we set around and talk and Superchub shows us his new reels. Before hitting the sack I tie up a few more small drys to replace those left in the trees.
Saturday April 1 8:00am
I pick up breakfast at th BP again and stake out the hole with the tree. Nothing rising so I get to eat breakfast this morning. Start fishing with nymphs. Get a pretty Brookie on a Prince. About 9:30 the fish start rising to some bugs. I try BWO's black EHC's and brown EHC's. I catch a few, get some refusals and miss a few, but it's not boring, that's for sure. Owl shows up at about 10am and informs me that I'm in his hole!! He watches for a few minutes. He says " there's one rising", then" there's another!", then " look at that Brookie!" He gets so excited I think he's going to pee his pants. He can't stand it any longer and heads for his truck for his rod. After things slow up, I tell Owl that I saw a bunch of fish yesterday by the bridge. We go up there and Owl proceeds to catch 8 using a little green and white streamer. Owl shows me how to work streamers and I try my luck. Then he loses his magic streamer to a snag and they aren't interested in anything else. I finally get one with an olive wooly bugger. We move on up the river and Icatch a couple more in pocket water on drys. I end up with about a dozen for the day. What a great way to end a vacation!
I run into town to get some chicken for the pot luck dinner. Jeff Durniak of the GA DNR stops by and
discusses with the group some of the DNR's plans and fishing in general. Seems like a nice guy. Grizz
builds a BIG campfire. Beebud, Superchub and Owl tell some great stories. We play in the fire burning pop cans and make ash tray out of beer bottle to kill the evening.
Sunday April 2 8:30am
It's raining and everyone is packing up. Some are going fishing, and some are heading home. I've got a 10 hour drive back to Florida. I don't want to leave…..
Biggest Trout I ever saw……