Gathering of the Clan

Fishing trip
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Author:  Colston Newton [ Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Fishing trip

Ed Laine invited several of us up to his daughters place in Banner Elk, N.C. last weekend. We fished Wilsins Creek and the Watauga River and nobody caught anything although Neilson says he did. (He was out of sight and didn't take a picture, so we rate that fish a "possible.") I did get a column out of the deal. Here it is:

When I go off on a fishing trip I look forward to quiet all but unpopulated mountainous territory. Looking at a map, you'd think the region around Banner Elk, N.C. deep in the Great Smokies would be like that. Wrong. It used to be, but isn't now.

The first clue I got was that traffic along the way caused me to conclude entirely too many North Carolinians can afford automobiles. That notion sort of subsided once I reached the mountainside home at which our group was staying. It wasn't remote but no other houses are visible from it.

I began realizing how populated the area is when we had to wait an aggravatingly long time to make a left turn into the Valli Crucis area where the Watauga River flows. That every restaurant in Banner Elk had long lines waiting for tables the night before hadn't put me on high alert. It should have.

Once we reached the park where we could access to the Watauga, the numerous families and kids were a tad disconcerting, but, its a public park. What would you expect on a pretty Saturday morning? Well, maybe kids in the park but not a troop of Scouts taking up the water and slashing it to a froth with their lines as they tried to learn fly fishing. So much for the Watauga.

Talking to a local at the park, I found out where the crowds were from. About 20,000 people were in Banner Elk for its annual “Woolly Worm Festival.”

It seems that about 40 years ago, a fellow had written a piece in a local magazine about how woolly worms are supposed to be able to predict the coming winter's weather. That led to folks worrying about which woolly worms were the better forecasters: the all brown ones or the black and brown ones? Somehow, that turned into an event at which woolly worms are raced up a length of nylon cord and the fastest is accepted as the most reliable weather predictor. Since the blacker worms are said to be harbingers of a hard winter, the winner's color is important, at least to North Carolinians. This year, 1000 worm trainers competed. All that got me to wondering what we could race around here to create such an event. Oyster races clearly wouldn't work but crab races might.

Anyhow, after finding out that another piece of what in the past was good water has been bought up by condo developers and posted, we dragged on back to the house and started consoling ourselves with libations on the deck.

It was a pleasant evening. Old friends, most of whom are pretty long in the tooth, we were retelling old tales when somebody said “Bear!” Sure enough, about 20 yards away, a black bear was ambling through the trees toward the driveway. It wandered up onto the driveway and paused. I hoped it would come toward us so I could watch all those allegedly arthritic elbows and knees flying in the scramble to get into the house, but it didn't. It just sort of shambled own the drive and around the corner.

That bear saved the weekend for me. It let me know that despite all the condos and woolly worm racers, nature still exists in the Banner Elk region. That's right reassuring. It lets me know we haven't altogether ruined everything.

Author:  Buxtehude [ Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fishing trip


You should have mentioned that this was the last weekend of the "summer season" and the crowds were not typical of the area. True, it was a surprise to us all. All of the "summer" shops had declared the weekend as the "end of the season". Thus, the many antique shops held sales along with the potters, arts and crafts and others that serve the summer tourists. Add to all that the football games...high school and college, AND the forecast of the peak autumn color display the full length of the surrounding mountains.
It is truly an idyllic "getaway" spot, and quiet...most of the year.

Not to worry, it won't happen to you again.


Author:  Colston Newton [ Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Fishing trip

I knew all that but woolly worms and black bears would grab readers interests more.

Glad you are safely home.

Author:  Gene L [ Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fishing trip

I had a great time. On Friday, I tripped over my large, clumsy feet and bruised my left side, which put me off my usual exuberance. NO one caught any real fish. Nielson claims he caught one, but he also claims to have seen a UFO. I haven't caught a trout in year; got rained out of GOTC in May, so right now my fishing appetite is very low.

Author:  Buxtehude [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fishing trip

The North Carolina trout season is alive for another couple of weeks - limited thence by how much cold you can stand...and how cold the water is should a misstep cause a soaking spill.*
John and I are searching for a reasonable date or two before we hang up our gear for 2017.
The good news is that many fishers have already "booked" until next spring, so we won't be crowded.

* There is an old saying about winter fishing, "Cotton Kills" is the simple gist. If you have ever fallen into the river in winter wearing cotton pants and shirts/sweaters, etc. you'd understand that warning.
WEAR WOOL in cold weather!

Author:  Tailingendloop [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fishing trip

Y'all are funny. Any cloudy day in the 50s will comfortably produce fish on the Davidson, maybe even on dry flies, but I could just be posting out of jealousy. I did dream about catching a bass last night, but it was on a spinning rod and only 4 pounds, despite the mouth and body of a 10-pounder (so maybe it was a nightmare).

Author:  Colston Newton [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Fishing trip

I'd love to take another run at it, Bux, but November seems to be my medical month...more dern rets and procedures than I can shake a stick at. Nothing wrong that I know of, just annual stuff that's spread across the month.

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