I never will forget a three day fly fishing trip I made a few years ago in Western North Carolina. I had been invited to explore the newly mapped Western NC Fly Fishing Trail. I was concerned about the timing of the trip for a few reasons: it was a very cold April, it had been raining for about a week, and I was sure the water would be high and fast. However, when I called to confirm I was assured things would be okay.
So I booked the camera crew and off we went. We had a nice large cabin with a rocked fireplace overlooking the Tuckasegee River, and the view could not have been better.
We were getting settled in when our fishing guide, Alex Bell, showed up to make sure we had everything we needed. Alex is a highly respected and well known fly fishing guide who spends much of his time in the mountain streams and offers guide service year round. He also manages to make his way to warmer waters for a bit of salt water fishing, which naturally provides more fishing tales. Alex knew the best places to go and he made sure we had a good time.
There were also a few writers who joined the adventure, which as you might imagine made for colorful social gatherings. It was during these evening get-togethers that we sat around and told stories of our various adventures. It was no surprise that the fellow who had written the book with the most pages also had bragging rights for the largest catch of the day. It should also be noted that we were fishing catch and release and when he caught the BIG one he was around the bend by himself. We, of course, did not doubt him. Why should we? He was a fisherman, after all.
Some of my best memories of the trip were being in the middle of the cold, surging waters of the Tuckasegee River with a camera crew, doing all we could to not fall in while talking to fellow fishermen on camera. This was not as easy task. I remember approaching Doc Lawrence, a travel writer and producer from Atlanta who had just cast his line.
"Doc," I asked, "are you available for a quick conversation?"
He said sure, so there we stood in the middle of a somewhat angry river, having a conversation on camera, both of us hoping upon hope that we would maintain our footing. We did and we soon became fast friends.
The next day we went over to the Cherokee portion of the trail to fish in some of their waters. While the water had calmed a bit, it was still aggressive. Victor, our cameraman, loves outdoor adventure and was more fit than the rest of us, was setting up his shot in the water near the bank. I was talking with Alex and the next think I knew I heard a big splash and a few Spanish words. When I turned, I saw that Victor had fallen down. The cold mountain water was filling his waders but he was holding the camera safely in the air. We quickly rescued Victor and the camera, but I think it took the rest of that day and the next for him to thaw out.
That was a great trip, even in the cold. To this day I remember with fondness my first visit to the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail.
It’s funny what we recall in life. I enjoy fishing but it’s not the fish I remember.