Monday, July 20, 2009


As I have ventured to my immediate west for a couple of fishing trips this year, as usual I have taken a gander at Google Earth to get the lay of the land. From North Georgia, clear up to Northeast PA. the western side of the Appalachians looks like a wrinkled and squished together piece of tin foil from a hundred miles in space. Row after row of closely spaced ridges running the length of the must have been a sight to behold when those mountains were formed! The collision, the pressure, the violence... it’s like the ground was turned on it’s edge 90 degrees.

On Sunday, after the very successful South Holston Fly Fishing Festival I walked about fifty feet from the Angler’s Rest Cabin to the river. The water had finally cleared and gone down to a wadable level and I was going to give it a try. My first sight of the river bottom looked just like the view from space and I knew that these old knees of mine were going to be tested. After falling for the first time in my fishing career last summer on the Toccoa, I tend to get a little wobbly on an extremely irregular stream bed. I had borrowed a wading staff just in case, but I wasn’t prepared for what I had before me. The rock base seemed to run for the width of the river and it looked like millions of different sized industrial saw blades stacked side by side.

I had reviewed the Guest Book at the cabin the night before and had seen the notes left by Bob Clouser, Joan Wulff and many other less famous anglers, so I just naturally figured that this stretch of the river was prime territory and that if I could manage to stay upright I might catch a fish or two. WRONG. I was skunked.

You should have been here yesterday was the story of the day. But of course, I was busy at the festival meeting some great folks and selling some art. I was told that I missed the “squirt” on Saturday. I said what? “The squirt, you know...the squirt,” said our host. Turns out the “squirt” is just’s a small and short release of water from the dam that only lasts for about an hour, and it gets the fish excited and hungry. Not enough water to run the fishermen away, but enough to trigger a feeding frenzy and provide an hour or two of action.

So I missed it. I guess I could blame being skunked on that fact, but that would be untruthful...and as I have committed to a policy of truth telling here on the blog, I can’t do that. (Yes, Jerry...all the truth all the time.) The reality is that I was out of my element. Being used to fishing streams that I can easily cast across, I didn’t know what to do with this behemoth of a river. I tried my usual stuff and even tried to adapt to the local experts techniques...all to no avail. I did manage to hook one but it was a very brief affair. Our romance lasted just seconds before she broke it off.

But I'll be back, thanks to a gracious standing invitation from our hosts, Jim and Bob. There's even been talk of some drift boat action which should improve my odds dramatically....especially with my two hosts in the boat. Yes, I'll be back...especially if they can arrange a squirt or two.

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