Monday, July 27, 2015

Ep:5 Alone in the Woods is "High Church."

Today I had the pleasure of fishing with my favorite fishing buddy. I floated a local flow and fished as hard as I could for 11 hours, caught a few fish and cleared my mind. I didn't hear a negative word and I didn't see another person... I like to fish alone.

I've spent countless hours roaming creeks and woods by myself since I was a kid  and I guess I've grown accustomed to it. I like the solitude and peace that goes along with that but I also crave the challenge of accomplishing a several night solo camping trip complete with weird sounds in the night and all the other creepy things that may go through your mind. I like that fear, I also like squashing it. I have realized that most of the things I've been warned of that created fear are false...usually old folk tales or stories passed down that were originally told to keep folks off of a mountain that held a precious whiskey still or simply told by someone ignorant of nature. "Lions and tigers and snakes...oh my!"

Enough of are some things that are only OK to do when you're fishing alone but will definitely draw unwanted attention among other fishermen.
-get hung up in a tree
-set the hook on a stump
-mix canned tuna with my instant mashed potatoes.
- forgo the day of fishing to wade through the bramble and thickets of a creek bottom to pick pawpaws

***last but not least***
-while camping I can snore all I want.

My favorite time of year to fish and camp is the dead of winter. I like when my face is chilled by the cold wind. I love the sound of snow landing on my hammock's tarp, the crackle of an essential campfire, the deathly quite the winter woods have and to be honest ...trout taste best in winter. I love the challenge of finding fish in 38 degree water then trying to catch them, it's almost as  challenging as finding another human that equally enjoys these same things.

So what benefits does all of this give me that being in company can't? Besides the  challenge of fending for myself, it offers solitude and in solitude is where I'm closest to God. When you are free of petty fear, can stop talking and pay attention... nature can speak in a spectacular way. My idea of the perfect place has no negativity, fear or hate and I've only been able to find it...alone in the woods. It is "High Church!"

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ep4: Hardcore Fishing Buddies...the mainliners.

The guys I've wrote about in the previous stories are guys that I know inside and out. I know their wives, their kids, beliefs, politics etc. To say that they're less skilled at fishing than my next group of buddies would be a lie but this next story is about a group of guys that like me are "fish junkies" and to be more precise "kayak fishing junkies"...

I was least for a while, that something bad was wrong with me. This kayak fishing stuff was consuming me, I was either kayak fishing or reading about it; I tried my best to turn everyone that would listen onto this great sport and succeeded in quite a few cases. The problem was that I didn't know anybody as "gung ho" as me until I was introduced to ReelKrazy and some Chattanooga boys.  Ate up, strung out, geeked out about kayak fishing would be suitable descriptions. The only thing they're missing is a room reminiscent of a 19th century opium den to meet in.

We are a circle of addicts that come together and trip on our drug of Some are competitive anglers, some soul fishermen while  others are the perfect mix of both.

I don't know any of their spouses, what they worship or who they voted for and I've never been asked about any of my personal life by them. I like it that way, we talk the sport...we share knowledge and most importantly we fish.

The appearances of some of these included may be a bit a tournament half of the field will be sporting tattoos, long hair, beards and a mixture of any or all of the above . All are excellent fishermen, none of them care what kind of kayak you paddle as long as it gets you on the water and you have fun. But,  their heart is what's important .These guys go out of their way to organize and support charities like Kayak Anglers for a Cause, Heroes on the Water as well as local individuals that are in need. They are a standup group of men.

Although I've only known these guys a short time, their passion, commitment and skill puts them in a class of their own...a perfect fishing buddy. Peace

Monday, July 6, 2015

Ep 3: Perfect Fishing Buddies...adventure!

As a kid it was always ghost stories, pretend adventures and fishing with my next "Perfect Fishing Buddy"...

He was 10 and attempted to shoot an ORANGE off of his brother's head with a bow and arrow. Confidence oozed as he drew the bow, anchored and released...almost on target. The metal tipped target arrow struck his little brother just outside his eyesocket creating a scary but superficial wound. I got to watch an epic asswhooping of mass proportions seconds after his mother heard of her archer son's attempt....he is my most adventurous fishing buddy, he's a bit more prepared for the task at hand than he was that day in my back yard 39 years ago. But, he'll still sling a proverbial arrow from time to time just to see where it lands.
On our first kayak fishing trip we paddled 19 miles on lake Blue Ridge setting the bar for our version of adventure. We didn't catch a single fish and were both worn out but we enjoyed every single minute of the 14 hours on the water.

Since that day I have fished, paddled and camped in 4 states with him. Nothing has been easy, its required extensive planning, creative logistics and a lot of luck. I've seen him catch his first walleye, biggest smallmouth and biggest trout. He was there with me when I landed my first Suwannee bass that was also my 31st freshwater fish species from a kayak in a year. He has a great eye with a camera and when it comes to computers, he is a master at online scouting and recon of potential areas to visit.

 We've camped in some of the most remote and beautiful places I've ever seen. We hiked into Ellico'ts Rock Wilderness area with the Polar Vortex of 2014 bearing down on us with the main intent of testing our camping gear. -3 degrees were met with confidence and anticipation the second night of our trip and we emerged unscathed and actually had fun.

We paddled over a mile across Tybee inlet to one of Georgia's uninhabited barrier islands, Little Tybee, bushwhacked to it's heart, set camp and claimed her ours for 3 days.

We repelled a well planned attack from a gangly band of racoons on our camp at Little Tybee island without a single drop of blood being shed.

We've had tornadic storms pass over while camping in one of the most remote areas of the Cohutta Wilderness and he's never said anything but that he's ready for the next trip.

We floated Florida's Santa Fe river for 3 days stopping to camp in the jungle like setting each evening all while witnessing some of the most beautiful flora and fauna along with bizarre river features (sinks and rises)we'd ever seen.

With the amount of time we've spent on the water and in the woods we were bound to see some extremely rare sites...a fish eating snake on the Chattahoochee, a hitchhiking squirell on Carter's Lake and a mysterious large footprint along the banks of the Conasauga river in the middle of the Cohutta Wilderness.

There has been some minor count is 3 lost fishing rod and reels and 2 broken ones, several on the run gear repairs and a hellacious case of giardia (probably caused by the combination of a faulty water purifier and a heaping pile of fresh bear mess located next to the spring 100 yards up the hill from our camp). My poor car is a 2014 model and has almost 30,000 miles on it (at least half of that has been fishing/camping trips), I currently have 4 fishing reels in the shop being rebuilt and another two that needs it yet none of these things have deterred us from the next adventure. Like the postman...come hell or high water we're gonna hit the woods.

He loves and respects nature as much as I do and I will admit that I probably wouldn't have visited half of the places I did if not for him. We witnessed God's creation on a level that many only dream of...not from a car window but actually feeling it, tasting it and down right wallowing in it for days on end....thank God for little plastic boats.

What lies ahead? Who knows, we've talked about several trips including the Flint River and the Collins in Tennessee for the immediate future and paddling the Grand Loop(Google it) after retirement or if we stay alive long enough. But whatever it may be, my buddy will be willing, prepared and ready to go. While shooting an apple off of someone's head with a bow is a daring feat he's gonna find an orange to nail. Peace

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The richest man has a bag full of worthless gold...

 The sound of that first paddle stroke at sunrise thunders deep in my core. I know with that sound where I am headed and that adventure lies ahead. The sound of the highway disappears as the shoal takes its place. I am where I need to be...on the river.

They say heaven has streets of gold but gravel bars and bluffs that rise from the flow and grand mountains are what I expect. You see, gold does not impress me unless it's meshed in to the skin of a trout, a smallmouth or even a red horse sucker...that is the gold that God placed for the true fisherman to admire. Not worth a penny to most but priceless in the wet hands of the right man as he banks memories to share with those with a like mind.


 At the end of the day, when the sound of the city takes over the river's music with the eagerness of a frightened herd of buffalos the kayak fisherman has his bag full of gold that will pay his fare until the next time he can float.

...thank God for little plastic boats.