Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Proceeds benefit the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust

My publishing adventure continues to be a rewarding experience. The first royalty deposit from December's sales has been deposited and we've written a check to the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust for $250. More to come in the following months, and yes we're excited by the success of Mexico Returns as it climbs the Amazon Best Sellers lists in Sports/Humor and Sports/FlyFishing. not to mention the three, 5 Star Reviews.

Look for Mexico Returns at the Fly Fishing Show in Winston Salem this Friday and Saturday, February 7 & 8. The Green Drake of Winston Salem will have some copies for sale! Or stop in at the Lyin' 'n Tyin' at the Marriott.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter reprieve

Winter weather and the TVA have been keeping me off the water, but a break came after the Polar Vortex retreated back up north. Monday was shaping up to be a warm and sunny day with plenty of time to fish after they turned off the water on the South Holston dam.

We started off the day fishing the nearby Watauga, but we had trouble finding the fish. The only ones we saw were caught by fishermen on the bridge who were tossing spawn sacks and catching browns one after the other.

Moving on over to the South Holston we found all the other fishermen in the same location and we walked up and down the river trying to find a polite space to squeeze into the river.

There were bugs in the air but the wind wasn't helping things at all and the conditions were tough. We worked the water and the few fish that rose became our targets. Only a few smaller fish were caught until we bailed and headed down stream for some action on the falling water.

 Unfortunately others beat us to our destination and we were forced to fish around him. We both threw big streamers with the hoped of finding an aggressive brown trout. Nothing happening with that plan, so after the water dropped we switched over to nymphs and I caught my best fish of the day. I was hoping and expecting a lot more and bigger fish, but sometimes the river wins.

We kept on fishing, kept on hoping, until half past reason and ended up the day with an IPA.

With the weather turning bitterly cold in the coming week, it may be sometime before I get back over to fish the Tennessee tailwaters.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last ditch effort

I've had a pretty darn good year fishing several times every month up until December. Work, weather, and everything else conspired to keep me off the water. I kept looking at the TVA generation schedule for an opening long enough to justify the 3 hour drive over the mountains. I knew the big fish were on the move and December is always a good month to hook into one of them. With the TVA you never know for sure until the evening before what the next days exact schedule will be, when I checked the the TVA app I saw an opportunity for 5 or 6 hours of fishing, with more rain in the forecast, I knew it was likely my last chance for 2013! Unfortunately every angler from TN, VA, and NC had the same idea and the parking lot was full when I arrived. Anglers dotted the river from the weir dam on down out of sight. I began walking the trail hoping to find a good spot to jump in with out being obnoxiously close to anyone else. I eased on in and managed to catch a few while waiting for the water to fall on downstream.
Around three o'clock I hiked back up to the car, rigged the rod for deep nymphing and drove on down to a favorite spot. Others had similar ideas and were beginning to wade out into the slowly falling water. As I got to my spot, I hesitated to get out in the raging water and sat and waited for 10 or 15 minutes. I started off with some BBs and nymphs and picked off some better fish, and hooked some badass fucker but it ran in between some submerged rocks and broke me off. “Fuck a bunch of #22 flies and 5x,” I thought, “I’m going to throw streamers!” On the second or third cast, pay dirt!
Yes, I had a nice fish to end the year! I didn't need to catch another one, but I continued to cast until it was dark.

On another front, I've been working on the Mexico Returns book, finally all the pieces came together and I got it published on Amazon. I was hoping that the conversion process to e-book would be seamless, but I struggled with idDesign formatting for a while before I finally got the Kindle version up on Amazon as well. Proceeds from the book go to benefit the Bonefish and Tarpon trust.

Mexico Returns on

Have a Save and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Publishing a book

A while back the Drake message board was flooded with spam. Fatman flushed the spam be reposting post from Mexico Returns. At that moment I realizes that he must have an archive of all of Mexico Returns' post. I contacted him and sure enough he has saved most of them, At that moment I thought that there was enough material to publish a book of Mexico Returns stories. I was able to get some friends to contribute art for the cover and chapter headings and things began to fall into place. Now, several months after starting this project I'm almost ready to publish the book. I hope to have them available on by the end of next week. Maybe you can get a copy for Christmas.

The cover art was done by Brad McMinn, you can see more of his work at and the illustration was done by Bob White of

You can find out the latest news about Mexico Returns on our Facebook group...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My local water

Responding to my daughter’s question, I replied, “Well, you could go to church”. To which she replied, “Why? You don’t go”.  “I went to church last night, I was on the river,” I stated. “That’s not church,” she retorted. “It’s my church! I listened to the birds chirping, waiting for the sulfurs to hatch and the fish to rise. I watched the birds sweep down over the water, picking bugs off the surface. How do they do that? The nymphs are emerging under the water and they molt on the surface and are there for only a few seconds before they fly away. How do the birds see them and swoop down and pick them off the surface? I mean, I can see them, but the birds are flying around, while I’m just standing there and watching. It’s really amazing, so yes, I was at church last night,” I explained.

I expected sulfurs, but I got midges, the fish weren’t really rising, and I refused to nymph, I thought about it, but decided to drink a beer and wait, hoping that the evening would bring on a hatch like I’ve seen before. “Are they done for the season”, I asked myself?  I rigged up the ole Orvis Bamboo,  man, they feels heavy, especially after fishing with the One Ounce last weekend. Got into the groove, feeling the rod throw the line out there like only bamboo can do. I managed to catch a few of the smallest brown trout. An angler upstream from me, fishing the flat water, casting up against the rhododendron covered far bank, set the hook with a Bill Dance special, “A little less pepper on the hook-set,” I yelled. Laughing, he replied, "Too much slack in the line".

There were a few sulfurs but not many, and the midges were taking over. I sat down and drank another beer.

Finally the fish were looking up a little and I managed to catch a number of the regulars and a stocked rainbow too. This was the first rainbow that I’ve caught in this section of the river, I hope it’s not a sign of the future.

As the sun set a small number of sulfurs hatched along with a billion midges and a few more fish were caught. Nice evening of the river with the dog.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Spring into Summer

Spring Into Summer
A lot has been happening over the last several months.

The 17 year cicada, Brood II, has been hatching in the south, and I’ve chased after smallmouth on the James River in Virginia and Carp on Belews Lake in North Carolina with large Cicada Patterns.
We floated the James from Lynchburg down about eight miles to the next state boat ramp which is located above Joshua Falls. The James was rolling high and mighty on my first trip and not too many fish were boated, but by the next week the level was down to a more normal flow and many smallies were taken including a 20” brute.  Although this smallie took a Gurgler, I noticed that it had a cicada in its gullet, and perhaps we should have stuck with that pattern.
Then I got a call to go carping! I was a little skeptical, but met a couple of internet “friends” at the boat ramp during some sketchy weather brought to us by a tropical depression. We motored around the lake shoreline looking for cruising carp, most were Grass Carp, but we also had a number of shots at Common Carp, the more aggressive of the two species. Luck over skill brought this 34” beast to the next and gave me a new appreciation to perhaps the largest fresh-water species that can be caught on a fly rod. The second crap trip was filled with frustration as a number of fish were missed but at the end of the day everybody had boated some fish and I also caught two catfish on the surface as they too were looking for the Cicadas.


The TVA has been dropping the lake levels to normal summer pool from the excess highs that the strong spring storms brought to the southeast, finally giving us a few wading opportunities on the South Holston River. The Sulfur hatches, E. Invaria , have been magnificent, and the trouts, while not always easy, have been gorging themselves on natures bounty. The rainbows were plumped up with their bellies filled to the gills.  Many anglers had the same idea and hit the river during the low water wading opportunities. The crowed conditions forced me into unfamiliar waters, but I managed to find fish in areas that I hadn’t caught fish before. The conditions changed throughout the day and many different patterns were used as the nature of the hatch changed with the pulse of the dam’s generation.

Next up was a visit to a friend’s place in the NC high country were we hit the small headwater creeks for some rainbows and browns in a remote and beautiful setting.  These trout were eager to hit large hopper and stimulator patterns and were fun to catch as they hit the fly with lightning speed and required quick reflexes to hook.


Now we’re headed into July and the dog days of summer, will my local streams be fishable soon? Or will the daily thunder storms keep them high and muddy, with the TVA and Corps of Engineers running water to keep the lakes below full pond.  This might be the summer of the small creeks, or perhaps more carping and smallmouth action. I’m not sure what opportunity will pop up next, but I’ll be ready.
As always, check out the BRFFF for full Woolly Bugger Trip Reports, and much, much, more! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Floating on the S. Holston

We’ve been blessed with a wet winter, lots of rain has fallen and the lakes are filling up ahead of schedule. The TVA has been running generation 24/7 on the Watauga and South Holston Dams since the middle of January and are now sluicing additional water on the South Holston in order to get the lake level back down to the flood plan. It looks like it may be the middle of March, if we don’t get hammered with additional rainfall, before they return to a normal generation schedule which allows for wade fishing on the river. There is no telling how this will affect this year’s class of fish, other flow events earlier may have had a negative impact on the redds, exposing some of them when they cut the water off for some maintenance issues. 

The only way to fish the river now is by drift boat, and when my friend Kyle called up offering a seat in the boat, I jumped at the opportunity.  Fly shops and guides reported success on nymphs and eggs, but we were determined to toss some meat with the hopes of landing a few big fish.


When I arrived at the boat ramp, it looked like every other fisherman with a boat had the same idea. I don’t recall ever seeing so many drift boats on any other river. The flow was over 2800 cfs, which is ripping on this river. We tossed big streamers to the bank and had a few hits, but no hookups. After a while we joined the crowd and nymphed for a while with decent numbers coming  to hand. 


Anchored up in one eddy, the boat began to float, and we realized that, when we dropped anchor, we really dropped it. Somehow it came off the locking D-ring. Knox, after measuring the depth, jumped in and saved the day by working the 30 lb anchor into shallower water and rolling it into the net as I held the boat in position by grabbing onto a beaver  gnawed  stump.


We moved some good fish on the streamers, but only brought average fish to the boat. The day ended up all too quickly. It was good to be out on the water with good friends, a day well spent.