First Class Experience...
Okay, so me and five friends decided to do an overnight on the Nolichucky River that runs through upper East Tennessee and eventually backs up into Douglas Lake near White Pine, TN. The buckets of rain that were falling as I departed for Erwin, TN, that Monday morning in mid May didn’t bode well since the “Chucky” is a free stone river and any moisture from above builds the stream higher and makes it dark and almost impossible to fish.
Luck would have it that the storm went both sides of the Cherokee National Forest, and our river, so our three guides decided it was a “go.” We were on the river by 8:30 a.m. Excellent, considering the six of us assembled there from Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee. It turned out to be a great day of fishing on the “Chucky.” The river’s scenery is magnificent, with little of mans’ clutter to mar the view on either bank. A hot lunch of crabcakes, salad and By Golly Pie on the river was interrupted by a 20-minute downpour, but the rain let up and we were on our way again in our three rowable pontoons.
Clark, my friend from Atlanta, and I probably landed 80 fish between us, including about 14 trout and the rest smallmouth on fly rods and light weight spinning outfits. I snagged a good size smallie that was blind in one eye, which, of course, provided me with bragging rights of best angler. “On that drift, do you know how hard it was to put that lure in front of that fish’s good eye?”
There are rumored to be some monster musky on this river, but alas, none peeked for us. That evening we arrived at our already assembled riverside camp while our guides/chefs quickly prepared a fine steak dinner for the six of us. It rained that night all around us, but not on us, which was nice, except the next morning the river was up another foot and colored darker than a witch’s wart.
After coffee, eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns and some discussion, it was decided that we would pull the boats and transport them to the nearby Holston River. The Holston, Upper, Lower and Lower Upper sections, yeah, I know it’s confusing, even to a native, has some great fish habitat on it as it flows from Virginia south into Tennessee, eventually joining the French Broad to form the Tennessee River. The Tennessee Valley Authority threw some dams in along the way, one of which forms Cherokee Lake, making the river mostly tailwater in Tennessee.
As beautiful as those habitats are, it’s not where we fished. That morning, we fished “citified” waters in the heart of downtown Kingsport with Eastman Chemical plant on both sides of us for miles. You’d think this would be “toxic” water, and likely was at some point, but today it is full of trout on the upper end where we put in and the water is cooler and then many smallmouth bass on the lower end of our float. It’s kind of strange fishing into effluent pipes, but by God, there are fish there. Now, we did not eat any of these, so I couldn’t tell you if they have a slightly off taste to them from the frying pan. Again it was a good day. Lunch of blackened Ahi Tuna was served on an island in the middle of the river with freight trains providing background music.
This was a great trip and credit has to be given to our guides Adam Vurnakes of Silverbow Anglers, Elizabethton, TN, and to Judson Conway and Evan Merrill with Elk Creek Outfitters out of Boone, NC. In addition to an unfathomable knowledge of the rivers we fished, they provided a first class experience for the six of us. If you’re “fishing right” with these guys, expect a reward of Blueberry Pie and a liquid concoction that goes down smooth, but for the uninitiated, “sure caries a bite the next morning!”
for a wonderful time yesterday on the Holston. The trip
far exceeded my expectations. That was one of the best day trout
fishing I have ever had in the southern appalacian mountains.
This size of the fish were incredible! I lived in Missoula MT
for appx 5 years and fished several private streams for brown
trout. None of these streams in MT could produce the large fish
as the Holston did. I also grew up on the French Broad in Transylvania
county. I always caught a lot of browns on the FB but never the
SIZE the Holtson produced.
We saw trout yesterday that were world class. Although they did
not end up in the boat, I am sure we had fish on and saw fish,
that were over 30+ inches. The monster Striper that Dale had on
at the end of the day was a perfect ending to an almost perfect
Wonderful Day Was Had By All...
family and I did a float trip on the Watauga river with Judson
and Elvis. With me being the only one that had ever fly fished
I was rather skeptical how my wife and two sons would do. We put
in at the dam and immedaitely were fishing dry flies to rising
trout. With Elvis' excellent guidance, my youngest son Justin
caught 5 trout right at the dam before we ever started down the
river. The river was really low so we got to do a lot of wading,
which I prefer anyway. Judson and Elvis even made a special effort
to drag the rafts into a landlocked hole which Judson said would
have some rainbows over 20 inches in it. And he was right on as
I hooked one over 20 inches on a dry fly. By the end of the day
we had all caught several trout of all three species rainbows,
browns, and brookies. We also had a great day with the weather
fishing in short sleeves. A wonderfull day was had by all and
it was a very easy trip to do as ECO provides everything even
including the drinks and lunch. Thanks again for a wonderful time.
Cape Carteret NC
Linda and I had the pleasure of floating the Watauga (in Tenn.)
this past Friday with guide Mark Gould of www.ecoflyfishing.com.
During the day's trip, we caught and released about a dozen rainbows
and a few nice browns as pictured. The scenery was outstanding,
the weather terrific, our guide was knowledgeable and PATIENT!
We would rate this a four star fishing trip!
Michael & Linda Laughlin
gets wild, courtesy of hungry muskies
The Greenville News
Saturday, May 15, 2004
By Scott Keepfer
In the eyes
of many anglers, the elusive muskie ranks as the most difficult
fish to catch, often being referred to as the "fish of 10,000
true, Andrew Howard will be fishing on credit for years to come.
amassing his deficit last weekend during an annual fishing outing
known affectionately as "Old Whitey Weekend" in reference
to a particularly effective white plastic fishing grub that has
become an integral part of their tackle selection.
On this yearly
assemblage of eight Greenville-area friends on North Carolina's
New River, the standard quest is the smallmouth bass, for which
the river is indeed much revered.
But in recent
years, another fish has captured at least a few anglers' imaginations.
once in a while in the past few years our guide would get all
crazy because he'd see a muskie," said Howard, a veteran
Old Whitey Weekend participant. "We'd try to sling a lure
toward them a couple of times and of course, they'd never bite."
a wily, big-toothed, top-of-the-food chain predator such as the
muskie has to eat every once in a while, and last weekend happened
to be one of those times. Suffice it to say that the Old Whitey
Weekend got wild.
As the group
of eight buddies and four guides set adrift on four raft-boats,
lead guide Judson Conway of Boone, N.C.'s Elk Creek Outfitters
offered this early observation: "Boys, these first several
hundred yards are flat, so we're hunting for muskies."
the full story
New River Bronze Back Float Trip
Not realizing that I would get hooked on Small
Mouth Bass Fishing, a little over a year ago I accepted an invitation
to try it from my close friend and business associate Jamie Ramm.
Jamie and I go a ways back but weve only been fishing together
a few years now. He was raised up in Maggie Valley, NC so fly
fishing is second nature to him. While we both enjoy fresh and
saltwater spinner fishing our passion is fly fishing for native
trout in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee,
and Virginia. Some of our trips include the Hazel and Eagle Creeks
along the north shore of Fontana Lake and Bradley Fork over in
Cherokee, NC to name a few. One of our most memorable trips was
on the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers in Oregon.
Put all of
these trips together and we would both agree that weve never
had more fun than doing the overnight floats the last two years
with Elk Creek Outfitters out of Boone, NC. Owner and master guide
Judson Conway really knows how to put on the do. Judson is a young
but well seasoned guide with many years of experience in numerous
foreign and exotic places. North Carolina is fortunate to have
such a professional guiding on her streams. We all benefit form
his constant passion for keeping our streams beautiful and zero
limit on taking the fish.
the full story and see the photos
May 6, 2004
Appalachian Trips Are First Class And Fun
AN EXCERPT FROM
THE ANGLING REPORT, NOVEMBER 2002
NOTE: If you're looking for a fun, productive float trip that
you can enjoy on a quick getaway, then subscriber Eric Shea may
have found the trip for you. It's for rainbow trout and smallmouth
bass with an outfitter who guides on numerous rivers in Appalachia.
We think its such a find, that we're adding Shea to our Subscriber
Honor Roll and sending him a cap for sharing it with us.)
had been itching to wet my fly line somewhere within a day's drive
of my New Jersey home, when I got a call from Cory Tumolo, suggesting
I come down to North Carolina and fish with him for trout and
smallmouth bass. I had fished with Tumolo two years prior in Dillon,
Montana, and he proved to be quite competent as a guide, so I
decided to take him up on his offer and booked two float trips
with Elk Creek Outfitters in Boone, North Carolina. Boone has
developed a reputation among lovers of the outdoors as a great
base from which to fly fish, hike, mountain climb, kayak, and
even ski. If you have never been to Boone, you will find it to
be a charming and lively college town with decent restaurants,
pubs and an array of good hotels and bed and breakfast establishments.
I knew I would have a good time, but my expectations for the actual
fishing were moderate. I was correct on the first count, but wrong
on the second. The fishing was superb.
Creek Outfitters (ECO) is owned by Judson Conway and Mark Gould,
both very experienced fly fishing guides and natives of the area.
Besides having extensive knowledge and experience of their home
territory, they have guided in Montana, Alaska, and Chile, just
to name a few places. All the guides at ECO are experienced, possess
a wealth of knowledge and are extremely enthusiastic. It is a
pure pleasure as a customer to see real enthusiasm in a guide.
It happens, but not as often as it should. My son and I fished
with Tumolo as our guide with our trip consisting of a smallmouth
float down Tennessee's Watauga River.
my insatiable quest to fish as much trout water as possible, I
had forgotten how fun fishing for smallmouth could be. While on
the New River, we fished almost exclusively with small popping
bugs and caught a lot of bass in the on- to two-pound range, a
few in the three-pound range and one over five pounds. It was
great fun, and the fish were feisty. The New River is virtually
unpopulated, and I felt as if I were on a float trip somewhere
out West. We floated eight miles of river and did not see one
angler the entire day.
river also has many, quite large muskie, and we tried to coax
a few of them to bite by sight casting, using some big lures from
time to time, but we only had some follows. This is a tough fish
to catch, although a few anglers have landed some big ones with
ECO. For those who enjoy spin fishing for bass, fishing with rubber
worms can be incredibly productive here as well.
an action-packed day of bassing, fishing for trout on the Watauga
was a nice change of pace. The Watauga holds a small native population
of brown trout, but is jammed packed with good-quality stocked
rainbows. Most of the Watauga's water is textbook dry fly water.
We fished exclusively with #18 elk hair caddis with a bead head
dropper on 6X tippet using a five-weight rod. The upper part of
the river produced many smaller rainbows - 10 to 14 inches on
average. We must have caught 30 or so trout in the first few hours
of fishing. Floating this river also gives you the opportunity
to nymph, if you wish. Nymphing can produce good action - and
is the only way to go when you float over the "brooders"
on the lower river.
lower part of the river holds some very large rainbows - 19 to
22 inches on average. You can see them in the crystal clear water,
and we spent a good part of our time trying to lure these monsters
to our flies. This river is incredibly beautiful and offers every
opportunity to catch many good-looking, strong fish. We fished
a Saturday and thus experienced some traffic on the river. The
river was not crowded, however. It was very tolerable for even
the most discriminating angler.
I did not have the opportunity to fish the South Holston, my son
did, and this river holds large trophy trout, with two-pound fish
common. Again, this is a picturesque river, and it offers more
challenging/technical fishing, much like some of the larger rivers
out West. These are difficult fish to catch but well worth the
effort. Other fisheries in Southern Appalachia include the Nolichucky
River in Tennessee, the New River in Virginia/North Carolina and
the Holston proper in Tennessee. These are mostly smallmouth rivers,
but they also host populations of trout when water temperatures
offers full- and half-day walk-and-wade trips for $250 and $125
respectively, and full-day float trips at $275 for one person
and $350 for two persons. Everything the angler needs is supplied,
from flies to sunglasses. Only licenses and gratuities are not
included. They supply an excellent lunch, including crab cakes,
and offer an overnight package, which is two full days of fishing
and one night of camping, with two lunches, a gourmet dinner of
steaks etc., and full breakfast for $425 per person. All in all,
it is an excellent value, and I give it very high marks.
My dear friend Judson,
How Pam and I are longing for a trip down the New with you boys….good times.
We were just talking about some of our experiences with you over the years to someone the other day. Of all the Teambuilding experiences we had over the years, that our trips with ECO were by far our favorite. That says a lot considering we did a few trips to Grandover Resort and Spa in Greensboro to have spa services done!
We have many special memories, pictures, fish tales, and Judson Conway stories to treasure wherever we end up. I keep 2 photos of scenes from the New on my cube wall still it’s my “happy place” and I can look at those and escape to another world whenever I need to. One is the abandoned white house with the fence around it to keep the cows out. : ) That’s my favorite spot on the river except of course wherever we stop for lunch to eat crab cakes!
Tell all the boys Pam and I said hello and that we’d love nothing better than to be on the water with you guys. Take care and happy fishing…