The Nantahala- and Some Wild Eyed Southern Boys
For over eight years now, my friends and I have been meeting two times a year for a three day weekend on local waters. Every Septrmber/October we have a Fall Fling on one of the local tailwaters which usually ends up being the South Holston in upper East Tennessee, and every February/March we have our Frostbite on one of the streams in North Carolina.
This being the season of the Frostbite, our gathering place which was selected back when Valentine's Day stuff first hit the shelves (the day after Christmas), was the Nantahala. This has always been an excellent trip and the history of the antics both on and off the stream have become the stuff of legend.
And now for the Nantahala anecdotes
My first trip to the Nan had me envisioning this wide vista of a river with rolls of epic white water- rife with danger. Yet when I arrived with my buddy Gary, I found a freestone mountain stream. Somewhat disappointed I geared up halfheartedly and strode down from the truck while Gary finished up. I put on a new leader, stretched it a bit, and while standing three or four feet from the water I flicked a pheasant tail nymph out to get the leader in order. Bam! A sixteen inch rainbow. And the felt of my boots weren't even wet! hmmmmmmm.......
Another time, I was walking upstream and saw an older gentleman casting dries in what has always been a good pool. I watched for a moment and headed on upstream. Maybe an hour and a half later I cam back by the pool and found it empty of anglers so I stepped down into the water and started fishing. I had brought a couple to hand when the same old gentleman steps back down into the pool. He then proceeded to cuss me out while letting me know in no uncertain terms that I was in HIS run and that I was to leave with haste. I told him it was empty so I stepped in. He replied that he had to go to his truck to rest his legs!
We came off the river one evening just as snow started to fall. The forecast didn't say anything about it so we just passed it off as flurries. That night at least five inches fell with authority. And so, as grown men who had a good day on the river and a good night at the cabin are want to do...we suited up, grabbed trash can lids, and sledded down the hill in front of the cabin. One of the poor chaps misjudged his path however and put a handsome gash on his chin. Funny how stumps will stop a trashcan. Or perhaps even funnier, how a University educated Engineer didn't see it coming.
Bad Karma can also visit this roudy bunch. One Frostbite, delayed harvest water most of us hadn't fished in a month or more. We round a bend and find a stock truck with the hood up. The alternator on the truck went out right in front of the best pool in the place...and no one...I mean no one was on the river but us. These guys called for a backup truck...which was on the other side of the county. It is a safe estimate that on that day, The North Carolina Fish And Game dumped well over a hundred or perhaps two hundred trout right at our feet! I was fishing the tail of the pool as trout sailed over my head. We all had triple digit catches that weekend. Ahhh.....but there was a price to be paid. For at least ten months afterward...none of us had outings that were worthy of being classified as sorry. The skunk hung around...yet we fish on.
And then there is this year. Typical outing for us. Moderatly crappy weather, and the usual cast of charactors, with a few new faces added to the mix. One of these gentleman was a friend of one of the guys that comes up from Georgia. This is the same guy from Georgia who has won an Emmy as an angler in a short film about Gary Lacy and Granger Rods. This is the same guy who dropped a camera in a Colorado river...only to find it a year later....and it still works. This is the same guy who shows up with an Ipod that has over 21,000 tunes on it. Anyway, my friend from Georgia shows up with a friend from Colorado. Extra nice fellow, extremely inteligent, witty, and knew more about fly rods that any normal person could ever dream of learning. It wasn't until day two of the trip that I learned the truth. This man in rod building circles is like a god. His bamboo and graphite rods are arguably the best of the modern era. And he was now calling the south home. My Georgia buddy told me that on the down low. He just wanted to be one of the guys. And he was.
The Frostbite. A weekend with the boys on the Nantahala. Just a fishing trip? With this bunch of Southern boys (Writers, Engineers, Photographers, Venture Capitalists, Educators, Medical Staff, and now a rod building Icon), it is always more than just a fishing trip.
Oh yeah, and I now have double pneumonia three days post trip. More stock truck Karma I suppose. But it was dang well worth it...