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#SouthernDrift

Drifting isn't just about fly fishing, or rivers for that matter.  The word drift implies constant change, ceaseless movement.  It's the same in life.  We move from one phase to the next, each with its own set of challenges and rewards.  Recently I have found myself drifting.  Drifting back towards the place where my fly fishing life all started.  Light weight rods, a patch of water anywhere I can find it, and a handful of simple bugs to do the job.  It seems these days I am very content to ease into a small stream and just let myself drift.  Let my soul, my heart, and my mind.... drift.

I recently had the opportunity to finally meet Cameron Mortenson of The Fiberglass Manifesto .  As I'm sure you know, Cameron deals in all things fiberglass.  I had messaged him many times over the past couple of years seeking his advice when I began looking for a light glass rod that would be matched to my local waters.  He was eager to usher me in the right direction.  Sorta like a dealer to a suffering addict.  

Recently Cameron highlighted a one day sale on the Cabelas CGR rods on his blog, and I jumped. A beautiful little olive glass rod showed up a few days later.  I had an old Martin 63 fly reel in my tying desk and rigged her up with a fresh 4 wt line.  I messaged Cameron and, we quickly agreed a formal testing of the new glass rod was imminent.  I had the perfect little place in mind.  As I worked through the week my mind constantly drifted to summer afternoons spent crawling its banks, and wading through its deep pools.  Low and slow...thats what I needed.  Like good southern BBQ, this couldn't be rushed.

We stepped out into the stream on the afternoon of the afore mentioned meeting.  It was obvious that both of us were still wearing the long week and very eager to baptize ourselves in the cool waters of this nameless flow and wash it all away.  We talked and caught up like old friends as we rigged and readied the rods.  I pointed to a deeper run in the creek and remarked that it usually held a few fish.  Cameron wasted no time.  After a few swings he was rewarded with one of the gems of my local haunt.  The Bartram's Redeye Bass.  This was the fish I had hoped to show Him. The one I had hoped we could add to his long list of fish caught on glass.  The mutual admiration at the accomplishment of this task cut us loose, and set us adrift.  As the afternoon turned into evening, the talking quieted.  We moved to different areas and were both deeply concentrating on the task at hand.  While redbreasts are often eager and willing players, this afternoon was a little different.  They wanted our little bugs drifted.  Dead drifted.  The silence was intermittently broken with laughs and the sound of line ripping off of the water.  It was a fine evening, for a good #SouthernDrift.

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Fishing With Dad

It's all his fault. Plain and simple.  He brought me to it, let me taste it, then supplied me with the opportunity as often as time allowed.  I have been beyond addicted ever since, and I thank him often for it.  I followed my Dad around creeks, out onto piers, and up mountain streams all throughout my time growing up.  These are some of my earliest and best memories.  They are the times I always hold sacred.  Lessons about life, hard work, and discipline.  Learning that life doesn't always play nice, and neither do the fish.  If you want it, you have to work for it.  There is no doubt it was much more work for him during those years.  I know he sacrificed a lot of his own fishing time to endure my tangled lines and lures hung up on limbs.  There was more than one broken rod, that he worked hard for, that never got replaced.  

I'm a Dad myself now, and these truths are becoming evident in my own life with my two boys.  Dad and I don't get to fish together as much as I'd like any more.  So a few years ago I started trying to make sure we got at least a good trip together around his birthday.  

This year I hired Guide Ben Moore.  A local southern native of Georgia Ben has spent the last 16 years guiding between Ga/Sc and Montana in the summers.  We floated a river that will remain nameless.  If you'd really like to know, look Ben up on Facebook under his page "East Anglers", and have a look at his info and photos. 

Ben is an excellent guide.  I have only hired a few in my day, but in my estimation he is the best I have encountered so far.  He was great with my dad, a skilled drift boat operator, and very knowledgable about his fishery.  We had an absolute blast.  More than that I was free to watch my Dad enjoy for himself what he had shared with me so long ago.  I was glad to give back to him in that regard.  He caught his largest rainbow and brown trout on fly that day.  We managed over twenty fish on this trip.  I was amazed at the strength of even the smaller fish on 6wt tackle.  I had only caught a few trout on fly prior to this float.  Most of my fly fishing has been saltwater and warm water.  I have to admit I have often scoffed at drifting nymphs under indicators.  No more.  It was an amazing experience. One I plan to repeat.  With my Dad...

Flux

A lot has happened since my last blog post.  There has been a turning point in my life, of that I am quite certain.  It started with the sinking of my beloved poling skiff "The Double Haul".  The months it took to work out all of the details with the insurance company etc., left me plenty of time to think.  For the last 4 years I have chased fish in saltwater, on fly, almost to exclusion.  I am hopelessly addicted to sight fishing, and that just doesn't exist in the inland waters where I live.  You see I live about 2.5 hours from the SC coast.  I used to live Beaufort, SC.  Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I have been trying to get back there ever since my family moved away.  

I now have 2 small boys.  I have a full time career at a busy medical practice.  I have a wonderful wife whom I adore.  As I began making plans to replace my skiff, things began to change in my mind and in my soul.  It didn't feel right.  I tired to brush that feeling away and forged ahead.  No matter what I did, I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't doing the right thing.  

One Sunday a few weeks ago I took my youngest son to the lake.  We played on the playground, and fished a little bit.  We had a picnic and held hands while we walked down the bank throwing rocks.  It was then that I realized that I had only done this a few times with him.  It was then that I realized why my conscience wouldn't be still about another skiff.  My life had changed.  I had two small boys who were growing so fast that I could barely keep up.  I realized more than anything that I didn't want to miss this time.  It no longer made sense to make the long drive to the coast and chase redfish.  I wanted more time with my family.

The next day I cancelled my skiff order.  It wasn't an easy thing to do.  Somehow doing the right thing never is.  In the process of all of this soul searching, I also discovered a world of fishing at my doorstep that I had neglected for years now.  There was smallmouth in my backyard, endless creek fishing, stripers in the lake, shad in the river.  There was no shortage of fishing to get into.  

I have picked up a little 14 foot jon boat.  It'll be perfect for showing my boys the world around us.  Im looking forward to more time on my home waters.  Im not giving up on redfish by a long shot.  I'll still make an occasional trip to see my crew on the coast and chase tailers.  Until then, I have a lot of work to do here at home. Im a husband, a father, a church worker,  and a healthcare professional.  Even though Im busy doing all of those things, Im still a fly fisherman, and that will never change.  

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Paradise

Back in 2014, I took and old 1987 gheenoe highsider and built her into a sight fishing machine.  Powered by a small Mercury 9.9hp, we set off on our yearly Everglades trip to put her to the test. What we found that year was a paradise of slick calm days, rolling tarpon, and plentiful snook.  I will never forget it.  Never.




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