*** This is going to be separated into a few different parts. for a few reasons. The main one being the Roughfish photo/text system never seems to work very easily for me..me. And I have to put all the photos after the text because of that. Many pics of or by Tim Aldridge***
Tragedy, comedy, tragedy, and more tragedy. The Great Appalachian Angling Epos of 2018.
"Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of those rabid fishermen skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderers, harried for days and weeks on end, after they plundered the stronghold of the Green River on the proud foothills of the Blue Ridge."
Alas, Cabin Fever
After a long, depressing winter of which I feared there would be no end; the plan would finally be put into action. Not completely ridgid, but not quite fluid; it relied mostly on my understanding of the western North Carolina region and the many kingdoms and unknown territories outlying it. What started off nearly a decade ago as the reading of some scrolls and scriptures had blossomed into a working knowledge of the area. The plan this time around was centered around pieces pasted together from past trips attempted and spoiled by the Gods. Floods from Poseiden and Zeus's thunderbolts had often driven me away from the Conasauga and the prospect of obsucre black bass in the rocky rivers of Georgia on over the hills into the Atlantic slope.. or back home to the Ohio Valley, to catch the more unadventurous prizes..
For the past few years I'd dug myself into a hole so deep I didn't need the Gods wrath to be stranded on an island far away from adventure and fishing and the worn in peaks of the Smokies. I'd smited myself quite effectively. But this time around there was nothing the Gods could do. My ego was dipped into the sacred waters; heel and all.
I'd finally figured out where to hook into numbers of monstrous river and sicklefin redhorse with ease.. plans fishing from indian weirs.. of musky and shoal bass. The Conasauga; my arch nemesis, would finally lie below my conquering wader-boot. This was my Trojan War. And at the end Tim Alrdridge and I would celebrate our brave conquest at the NANFA convention; a place to tell our stories of war and woe and ultimately, victory. Then I would float smoothly home..
But the Fish Gods are a tricky foe... and little did I know, Poseidon, who hates most.. had already planned his move..
Why doth he hate-ith me, you ask...? same as Odysseus before me.. who in the ($*# knows. The Gods are just dicks. As you shall see..
The Lotus Buffet
Western NC greeted me as it usually does. Halfway to a heatstroke after a few hours of sleep in a car seat that actually went further back than expected. This place is as close to Heaven as Earth has to offer. Behold, Appalachian Mount Olympus as seen from a Wal Mart parking lot.
Armies of redhorse slurped up baits between "Cherokee" bass takes, mountains lush with a proper spring towerd overhead, scores of hellbenders crawled to and from their dark caves in broad daylight; stopping to bask in the mud and warn me of my inevitable clash with an angry Poseidon's fishy-wrath..
Many - a -day.. well, couple - a -day.. would pass with Tim and I after his lifer silver redhorse. It quickly became the main focus of the trip. Anyone who knows me knows I will gladly try to think, plot, plan, guide, and give the most productive water to someone to reach their goal. I figured it would be an easy-ish one; with all the experience I'd gathered with them.. my many a' goals could wait..
I did end up in my Sightfishing Tree. A perch from wence I caught my first sicklefin redhorse so many years ago... and would miss one or 2 from this time around.. the low water, hard fishing, and my rustyness costed me the brief sicklefin wave..
The Gods had already done a number on us.. But western NC is western NC... and it kept me there catching river reds, chasing reasonable chances at small sicklefins while Tim was silver fishing, and crossing the divide to catch my first brassy jumprock and v-lip redhorse.. I was intoxicated and had completely forgotten about my home.. a place I had to get to for a Dr.s appointment.. But it was ok.. I would be back down to NC to taste the fruits of the lotus again for at least a few more weeks.. or so I thought.. The Gods had different plans..
I was finally pulled away from the hypnotizing lotus buffet.. and upon leaving, I decided to convince Tim to come with me to experience some PA fishing..
Our success thus far, though limited, was quite a good time. But Poseidon was about to rear his ugly head..
Through everything he would toss at us I would be Hell-bent to get Tim his silver redhorse and get us back home safely..
Part 2 coming soon.