Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I saw it in the sky, I thought it was the 4th of July

Doc asked me to fish last week, and we had planned to go on July 3rd, but he wasn't keen or passionate about fishing with all of the rain we've had lately, so we cancelled.  With the rain, it occurred to me that Dukes Creek might be an option.  I checked with the Dukes receptionist on July 3rd to see if there were any openings for the 4th of July. Much to my surprise, there was an opening for the afternoon.  We went to the parade in Blue Ridge on the morning of the 4th, packed up a big pastrami sandwich and I hit the road to Helen, Georgia, with my six weight and a box of big streamers in the back.  I arrived just prior to 1:30 and jumped on the shuttle. I went to the lowest section and hiked down to the creek. I was hoping for high muddy water, but the water didn't seem that high and was relatively clear.  I dropped my sunglasses on the trail, which resulted in about 45 minutes of delay, but I found them and rigged up a big streamer on 4x tippet. 
After about 20 minutes of working my way upstream I cast to a shallow run of fast water by a big downed tree in the creek.  I saw the fish come out from under the tree and slam my streamer. I was then in for the best fight I've ever had on a fly rod with a trout. Despite a six weight and fairly heavy tippet, it was a challenge.  He ran downstream a good 20 yards, and kept trying to wrap my line around rocks and branches.  I must admit, this was probably the first trout I've ever had where I had to use my drag.  To make matters worse, I didn't have a net.  I finally landed the fish after about 5-10 minutes.  Thankfully, I had decided to bring my net glove or I would have never been able to handle the fish.  I didn't measure, but I'm guessing it was around 24-25 inches.  Who knows how heavy.
After I finished fighting the above pictured pig, I was sweating profusely and frankly, a little worn out. I felt like I had accomplished my goal, and I could have gone home and been happy. I started hiking upstream, casting and exploring, but not really fishing that seriously.  Around 5:00 I made it to section 2 and ran into two other anglers. I found a nice deep run and drifted my fly through the deepest part: fish on!  This fish was not a great fighter compared to the first, though he was probably 18 inches or better.
I drove back to Blue Ridge, ate some delicious BBQ, and then took the family to watch the fireworks.  This was a 4th of July I'll never forget!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sling Pack - is this finally the answer?

Like many folks, I started out fly fishing with just a rod, a reel, and a few flies.  Someone eventually gave me a vest.  I enjoyed the vest, and used it for years.  I could carry just about anything, and hooking up a net and carrying a gatorade was no problem. Like many things in life, I thought there might be a better answer. I tried out a chest pack.  I used it once and that was it.  If you can benchpress a decent amount of weight, the chest pack is not the answer.  At least it wasn't the answer for me.  Then I switched to a lumbar waist pack by Simms. This pack was pretty cool. I used it for a few years. I could carry all my fishing gear, plenty of liquids, etc.  After a while, I started using my lumbar pack as a sling.  Of course, the lumbar pack wasn't designed as a sling.
Earlier this year I was presented with a birthday present - an Orvis Safe Passage Sling. The lumbar pack is now retired.  The Sling pack is perfect for me.  It carries everything I need - multiple fly boxes, water, tools, tippet, pliers, etc.  The pack doesn't get in my way while I'm fishing - it fits as snug as I want it. I can move it around no problem. I'm sure there are other great slings out on the market - I'm quite happy with the Orvis.  I'm not entirely convinced that a sling is better than a vest, but I for me, it's better than the other options.