Friday, May 29, 2009


Jesse's Rainbow
For anyone that dabbles in art, there is nothing as challenging as a commission. And if that commission involves recreating an anglers’ special catch it is REALLY challenging.

Most artists will spend the majority of their time creating whatever happens to strike their fancy...and if someone likes the result and wants to hang it on their much the better. Commissions are different. The pressure is on to create a personalized masterpiece and it had better be good. But if you succeed the rewards are fantastic!

To see the look in the eye of the buyer when they like the results is the best reward imaginable. To be a part of preserving a memory that will last a lifetime is kinda hard to’s the next best thing to actually catching that trophy yourself. I know for a fact that young Jesse had the time of his life catching this beautiful Rainbow...but I had a pretty good time too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to the Davidson...and beyond

On Saturday I fished the stretch of the Davisdon River that parallels the hatchery with my son-in-law Chad. Started at the dam and worked my way down through the pocket water to the bridge. Dancing a black and yellow marabou in and out of the pockets was great fun...caught 6 Brookies, one colorful par marked Rainbow and a very strong Brown of about 14 inches.

Tried everything from a Royal Wulff dry to a yellow rubber legged creation... before striking gold with the marabou. Felt pretty good about getting the brown to the net, as these are the most highly educated fish in WNC.

The intermittent rain provided perfect conditions for fishing ...and vultures. Why do they congregate here after a rain? Must have been 40 of them drying their wings on the hatchery light poles and any other stick offering some elevation. I had hoped to see some wildlife today but I was hoping for something a little more exotic and a bit prettier.

Sunday found us on Cascade Lake participating in my absolute favorite type of fishing. Float-tubes and bluegill. We managed to catch a good number of them but they were a little smaller than in previous years...with the biggest at eight inches or so. We might have been a week early to find the big ones.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Photo by Robbie Robertson, Transylvania Times

Yesterday afternoon I met Ryan Harman and a “student” from the Asheville VA Hospital for an afternoon of fishing the Davidson River. Ryan is the area coordinator for Project Healing Waters and Thursday was the day that we would put some of his teachings to use on the water. Ryan has been diligently working with the local Wounded Warriors...teaching them the basics of fly fishing and fly tying in monthly sessions held over at the local hospital. Kevin Howell, of Davidson River Outfitters had reserved one of his favorite private water beats for us, and we did our best to take full advantage of his generosity.

Normally I’m somewhat of a loner when out on a trout stream. Not that I’m unsociable, but I usually like to cover a lot more water than my I’m always headed downstream looking for that perfect run. Not so on Thursday. Without crowding him, I wanted to stay as close to Ryan Harman as I could. Ryan is on the NC Fly-Fishing team and is an avid competitor on the trout fishing circuit, so by observation or direct teaching, I wanted to soak up all the knowledge that I could.

After watching him coach his student from the VA to a couple of nice Rainbows (she had to leave early), Ryan and I had the beat to ourselves. He knew the water intimately and was very generous in pointing out the likely holding areas. We leap-frogged each other through a few runs...each of us managing to land a few nice fish. I was having good luck with my standby black and yellow marabou and Ryan was tearin’ them up with an assortment of dries and droppers. And yes Jerry, I managed to catch one on your infamous “Nub Worm.”
The fish were averaging around 16 inches...until I managed to tie into a monster. A big Rainbow of at least 24 inches took the marabou and headed straight to the gnarly roots of a downed hemlock on the far bank. As would be expected this big boy knew the stream even better than Ryan. Having been warned that Kevin would have me tarred and feathered if I showed up on his river with my 2 weight, I was using a 9 foot 6 weight. And since the trout were not at all leader shy, I was using 4x tippet. Believe me, I pushed the rod and tippet to their max and was able to pull the fish out of the snag. The fish jumped and headed downstream, and like an idiot full of misplaced confidence I was sure that I could turn him. After all...I’d muscled him out of the snag hadn’t I? Well it turned out that the tippet was stronger than his mouth and the fly came out. Opps! Slack line. I blew it.

Later, as we were getting out of our waders and replaying the afternoons events, Ryan said that he had watched the whole thing and was screaming (to himself) “Cut him off! Run out into the water and head him back upstream!” Well I must admit that that had never occurred to me. Ryan went on to explain that when competition fishing and you have to land that big one, you’ll do whatever it takes to direct the fish to where you want him...and “getting in his way” can be very effective. So, in addition to many other lessons learned yesterday afternoon, this one is REALLY carved in stone. Thanks Ryan. I’m already looking forward to my next class!

(Here is a link to a news story on our trip to the Davidson. My thanks to the Transylvania Times and Robbie Robertson for the good coverage of Project Healing Waters. )

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mea Culpa

I know, I know...and those of you that are counting also know. I’m behind. When I started this year long fish-a-week project it was wintertime and the big decision I had after dinner each day was... do I watch House reruns or work on my art project?

Well, it aint winter anymore and the grass needs mowing, the weeds need pulling, the roses need planting and the fish are biting! And I’m wondering how I’ll manage to create a fish a week. Yes I’m behind. I know, and it’s bothering me. But not bothering me enough to cancel tomorrow afternoons trip to Davidson River or this weekends camping/fishing trip with the grandkids to Cascade Lake. I’ll catch up on the art...I promise I will.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Shirley and I arrived home about 9:30 last night from Troutfest. If, from where you live, you can get to Townsend TN in anything less than a week's drive...put it on your calendar now for next year. They call Townsend “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies” and indeed it is. Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the other entry points to the National Park are fine if you want to shop, ride go-carts and fight traffic. But if you want the mountain scenery and laid back attitude of the real southern Appalachians this is the place to be. And when you throw in a professionally run event for fly-fishers, it can’t be beat. The folks from the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited put on a great weekend.

Name dropping
This year I have had the great pleasure of meeting the legends of fly fishing. I got to spend some quality time with Dave Whitlock while attending the Fly-Fishing Show in Atlanta. Bob Clouser’s booth was next to mine at the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, and Joe Humphreys and his wife Gloria spent the good part of a memorable afternoon in our booth at the Project Healing Waters 2Fly event at Rose River Farm. These are all quality guys! Friendly, unassuming and willing to impart their wisdom and experiences to comparative novices like myself. The last “celebrity” on this year’s “hit-list” was Lefty Kreh, who I hoped to meet at Troutfest. I would have been sorely disappointed if Lefty was not of the same caliber. Well, Lefty did not disappoint. Another great guy, which only proves what we already knew: There aren’t a better group of people in the world than fly fishers – especially those at top!

And speaking of great people, situated next to our display at Troutfest was Dan Sharley and his wife Betsy. If you haven’t seen Dan’s incredible fish art until now (see the image to the left and the new link to the right) you will be seeing a lot of it in the future. Bold colors...great design... absolutely beautiful artwork...and a fantastic guy to boot. We really enjoyed sharing the big tent with Dan and Betsy.
And last - but certainly not least - thanks to all of you that stopped by our booth! The best thing about these shows (in addition to selling some art) is the chance to see some new faces and get to know some new friends. We look forward to seeing all of you at next years show...if not sooner.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If there is anything as beautiful as a trout it’s a Formula 1 race car. My apologies to thoroughbred horses and beautiful women, but my fascination with racing began about the same time that I took an interest in fishing.
The technology, the speed, and the sleek, graceful designs are what draw me to it.

Today on the Midcurrent site I found the ultimate combination of my passions through a link to the website of Alastair Gibson, a former F1 chief mechanic and team leader. Photorealism it aint, but it sure is cool. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Golden Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita
These little creatures might be the reason that catch and release became a way of life for trout fishers. Originally found in the high elevation waters of the Kern Plateau in southern Nevada and eventually transplanted to numerous high country lakes, the Golden Trout is a beauty to behold. Many years ago we fished for them in the Beartooth Wilderness out of Cooke City, Montana. A jewel of a lake named Star had a decent population, but as I recall, we were skunked. Just as well...we’d have probably cooked them for dinner.

The pen and ink version of this was done a couple of years ago as one of my very first P&I efforts. It seemed a shame for him not to be seen in his full glory, so over the weekend I dressed him appropriately. For the black and white version follow the link

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The Brookie that you see above was done in preparation for my showing at this year’s TROUTFEST which will take place over in Townsend, Tennessee on the weekend of May 16th and 17th.
Troutfest is a Fly Fishing Exposition and Fundraiser held in the Great Smoky Mountains. All profits earned from this event minus some seed money for next year’s event are donated to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fisheries Department for brook trout restoration and other fisheries projects in the park. The Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsors this event as their major fundraiser and annual festival. This year the event will be one of the largest venues for fly anglers in the Southeast United States and it should be great fun!

There's something in my eye

Earlier in the day one of the Project Healing Waters organizers set up a very high-tech speaker on the end of my display table. I was at the 2 Fly Event at Rose River Farm over the weekend. As I talked to the events participants that wandered by ...both pro-guides and the vets that were there... the speaker just set there silently.

Probably two hours later the music started. Suddenly there appeared a rather scruffy lookin' individual in a tattered cowboy hat. He moved close to the speaker, cocked an ear towards it and stood there listening. I could hear the music but really didn’t pay that much attention to it. I was more focused on the cowboy. He stood silently listening with an occasional nod of his head - in obvious agreement with what he was hearing. Although the cowboy clearly wasn’t, I’ve seen the same look from an inebriated cowboy or two in the bars I frequented in my youth. You’ve seen them rapt attention to the jukebox as if the song were just for them.

Well the song ended and he walked away. I would see him again later. At the closing of the day, at the beginning of the awards ceremony, he was introduced. They said his name was Sam Tate and that he was going to sing a song or two for us. And sing he did. Since I quit listening to popular music about the time that some fool invented disco, I had never heard of the guy. Turns out that old Sam has a pretty good reputation among country music fans...Song Writer of the Year... and I heard later that he was listening to a recently recorded version of his song, The River Just Knows as he stood by my table.

So Sam sang his song and all of us that could stood and clapped. We all seemed to develop that eye irritation about the same time too.

You owe it to yourself to link to the music:
4 a.m. comes awful early
And I was dead on my feet
But if you're gonna catch the biggest fish
You gotta lose a little sleep
I packed my gear and a couple beers
And I headed for my favorite spot
But I cursed my luck
When I saw his truck
Right where I pulled off
Was hopin' to have the river to myself that day

'Cause the river don't talk
The river don't care
Where you've been
What you've done
Or why it is you're standin' there
It just rolls on by
Whisperin' to your soul
It's gonna be alright
The river just knows

The way the sun bounced off the water
I could hardly make him out
But I could see he had a fish on
A big ol' rainbow trout
The fight went on forever
And as they headed down my way
I saw his military haircut
And the new scars on his face
Right then I knew
What brought him to this place

You know the river don't talk
The river don't care
Where you've been
What you've done
Or why it is you're standin' there
It just rolls on by
Whisperin' to your soul
It's gonna be alright
The river just knows

He held the fish down in the water
And he coaxed it back to life
He said 'I'll help you get your wind back
'Cause you helped me get mine'
And all I could think to say was 'Welcome home'
But I think that river said it best on its own

'Cause the river don't talk
You know the river don't care
Where you've been
What you've done
Or why it is you're standin' there
It just rolls on by
Whisperin' to your soul
It's gonna be alright
The river just knows
Just knows...