Ms. Carolina

By TB

Leaving North Carolina was incredibly difficult for us.  We fished in some incredibly beautiful streams.  Caught some spectacular trout including all three species (brown, rainbow and brook) on both the Nantahala and Tuckasegee and made some new friends from our awesome guides, to new musicians, to restaurant owners, fly shop gurus and more.

The video above is a recap of our time in NC.  Its set to the song “Ms. Carolina” by Asheville-based duo Bird in Hand.  Band members Bryan and Megan Thurman are a fantastic duo playing what they describe as Appalachian Thunder Folk.  We were so fortunate to hear them play at Evolution Wine Kitchen in Sylva, NC on April 1st.  Their tour starts soon and has many stops including at the 5 Spot in Nashville (4/22), at Westport Station in KC (4/29), Lions Lair in Denver (5/5) and Adair’s Saloon in
Dallas (5/11).  You can check out their entire tour on their Facebook page and their music on ReverbNation.  I promise you’ll love to hear them.  To all our friends and subscribers, go see them and please tell them Tom and Barb sent you!

We are celebrating our 30th day of our adventure.  We’ve driven 1581 miles so far and have been in and through 9 states.  We have fished 7 of the Trout Unlimited Top 100 Trout Streams:  our home river, the Guadalupe in Texas; 2 Georgia streams, the Chattahoochee and the Toccoa; and 4 in North Carolina, the Chattooga, the Davidson, the Nantahala and the Tuckasegee.  In addition to those 7 TU Top 100 streams, we’ve now fished 9 additional streams that could all have been in the Top 100.

More importantly, we’ve met the most incredible people along the way.  We’ve been staying in RV parks, forest service campgrounds, state parks, and a national park.  The camp hosts have been incredibly welcoming and helpful.  We’ve had the most incredible fishing guides.  Big shout outs to Chris Scalley of River Through Atlanta, Chuck Head of Unicoi Outfitters, Hunter Morris of Unicoi Outfitters , Harrison Beckwith of Brookings CV Anglers, Miller Watson of Hookers Fly Shop, Nick Johnson of Endless River Adventures and J.E.B Hall of Davidson River Outfitters.  We cannot say enough about their patience, their sharing and their enthusiasm in putting us on fish and keeping us safe as we hike and float the rivers.  The fly shop staff have also been invaluable in helping us get the right flies and pointing us to the best spots to fish when we trek out on our own.  Big kudos to Jimmy at Unicoi, Marc at Brookings, Walker at Davidson River Outfitters and Bobby at the Tuckaseegee Fly Shop.  We’ve made some lifelong friends along the way.

The SaraLinda has been our transport and our home for these 30 days.  Yes, we’re living in about 180 sq.ft. but in reality we’re outside most of each day either fishing, hiking, touring around or taking care of the RV.  Our backyards have been the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, the Nantahala Gorge, the Blue Ridge Mountains and numerous streams.

We hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along with us on this journey and will continue to follow us.  We’re headed to West Virginia next!

We divided our time on the Nantahala between doing a couple of wade fishing trips on our own to the delayed harvest section and doing a float trip with Nick Johnson of Endless River Adventures.  Both were amazing experiences with more stories to tell.   Rather than a video, I’m going to try and describe our Nantahala adventures with pictures and words.

It all started when we first drove down from Bryson City NC to the Nantahala.  As you drive along you see a sign welcoming you to the Nantahala National Forest and the Nantahala Gorge.  We were excited to see the fishing symbol on the sign but a bit perplexed when we also noticed the whitewater rafting and kayaking signs.   Then, reading the bottom of the sign we saw  it was the site of the 2013 World Freestyle Kayaking Championships.  Our immediate thought was…. and we’re going to fish this?

We had some great advice from The Tuckaseegee Fly Shop in Bryson City from Bobby about where to wade fish and what to use.  Purple was the color fly he recommended both in a girdle bug and a bead head nymph.  He was so right.  We caught beautiful fish in pretty much every hole we fished.  It was so good we went back the next day to wade fish the section again.  Still, every day we had to drive by the section of the river that was crazy with whitewater and saw nothing but rafters and kayaks on the river.  Not a single fisherman.

Finally, it was our day to go.  It was cold and we both had on layers of pretty much everything we had to keep warm.  We met up with Nick at the shop and proceeded to our put in spot.  Seemed calm there but we had to wonder as we walked down to the boat and saw the sign, “Life Jacket Required”.  Undaunted, we put in and started our float fishing trip journey down the Nantahala.

We immediately were into white water and didn’t even put a line in the river for about a 1/4 mile while Nick navigated the drift boat through a rapid called Patton’s Run.  When we finally did wet a line, it was fish on.  While the fish we caught up in the wade section were bigger, the fish in the whitewater section of the river who were willing to let us catch them were in the 6″-12″ range.  But oh my they were so colored up and gorgeous.

We proceeded to fish our way between rapids with names like Tumble Dry, Raft Trap, Isle of Dumping, Pop’NRun, and Pyramid Rock.  That was all before pulling over in an eddy and having lunch.  After lunch we fished between the rapids Delebars Rock, Quarry Rapid, Root Canal, Whirlpool, Little SOB, Blowing Springs, Picnic Rock, Surfing Rapid, Eddy Rapid, Devil Kitchen Caves and The Bump.  Whew!

Shortly after going over one of the last rapids, we were fishing a hole and saw a young woman floating down the stream, obviously in distress.  She’d fallen out of one of the rafts and was floating down through the rapids clutching her paddle.  She also was apparently having an asthma attack.  We were able to pull her into the boat and get her to the side where help finally came.  It was a blessing we were in that spot at that time.  The next rapid she would have encountered was Nantahala Falls, a Class III/IV rapid.  Two things came to mind:  1.  Our guide, Nick, was well trained in rescue on the river.  2.  Life jackets required!!!   It was a very sobering experience to end our day but we’d already caught well over 20 fish on the river so it was time to get out.   Only one problem….

Our take out spot was below Nantahala Falls.  Luckily, Nick let us get out in a soft water spot just prior to the falls.  We were able to hike down and watch Nick go over in our drift boat.  He did it with no problem but it was clear that you need to have an experienced guide when you are on such waters.  He’d rowed hard to get into position to go over the falls.  We were happy to greet him and head back to the shop for a great day ending pic by the boat.

We normally would have done a “Guide Talk” video with Nick at this point, but we all felt like our day had been a full one with fishing and helping out others.  It was a special day and one we will always remember.

Time to Ramble On!

 

 

J.E.B.

By TB

The Davidson River, like most of the rivers we’ve fished, is really many different rivers.  The various sections hold different fish and take different techniques to catch them.   We went out with J.E.B. Hall of Davidson River Outfitters in Brevard, NC.   We fished both the “trophy” section of the Davidson as well as the main branch of the river in several different spots.  J.E.B put us on fish in each spot.   I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of J.E.B.’s book, The Southern Appalachian Fly Guide.  Its got a wealth of information that we will be putting to good use when we come back to this area to fish.  For now, enjoy this interview with J.E.B on fishing the Davidson River.

Miller Watson, our Tuckasegee guide from Hookers Fly Shop in Sylva, went to Western Carolina University and indicated he might have skipped a few classes to fish.  What makes the Tuck so special is the pristine water that feeds it.  Here you can find rainbows, browns and brook trout.   You will find stocked and wild browns and rainbows.  Also, stocked brookies.   The “grand slam” of the river is to net all three.  Biggest in boat for Miller was a 27” wild brown.

Trekking through what seemed like a rainforest filled with rhododendron,  we followed Harrison Beckwith, our guide from Brookings Cashiers Village Anglers, to the Chattooga River.  From shop rat to guide, Harrison Beckwith has been fishing in and around these area waters since he was 6.  He takes great pleasure in helping others have a successful day on the water.  His shop (and now Instagram) name, River Wizard, is so perfect!

Our time in North Georgia was filled with fishing, good food & drink, music, camping and more.  We fished 2 of the rivers on the Trout Unlimited (TU) Top 100 Trout Streams list, the Chattahoochee and the Toccoa.  We actually fished two different parts of the Chattahoochee River.  We fished the tailwater section near Atlanta with Chris Scalley of River Through Atlanta and then fished the Upper Chattahoochee with Chuck Head of Unicoi Outfitters in Helen.  We fished the Toccoa tailwater with Hunter Morris of Unicoi Outfitters and Fly Fishing North Georgia.  We also fished the Toccoa above the dam and had great fun catching these beautiful rainbows.  Their color was amazing.  I know getting to the mountains in North Georgia may be hard for some, but for all of you that fly in, out or through Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport…. you have no excuse not to call Chris Scalley and go fishing.  Just do it!   And take a few extra days to go see Unicoi Outfitters in Helen.  For now, click on “Read More” for highlights about this incredible special part of the world and watch the video highlighting our time in North Georgia.

Hunter Morris is a renaissance kind of guy with a background in business, fly fishing and music.  We were lucky enough to spend the day with him recently talking about all three while floating and fishing the Toccoa River.

In setting up our adventure into North Georgia, we contacted Unicoi Outfitters in Helen.  Jimmy Harris, co-owner of Unicoi Outfitters, befriended us and really helped us set things up for a great 4 days in the area.   While we were in the area, Jimmy recommended we come out to an education event being held at Smithgall Woods State Park and on Dukes Creek.   When we arrived, we walked in on Ron Thomas, a guide for Unicoi Outfitters and creator of Tie 1 On, a series of fly tying classes and videos.   Ron was talking about fly tying and had the audience engaged and ready to start tying.  These two were perfect for our first authentic ramble.