Every once in awhile I decide to have a no work day. I declared last Monday as a 'No Work Monday!'. No racecar work, no Oakmulgee work. I wanted to go somewhere my phone didn’t work. Who better to call when I have the 'get lost for hours' mood, than my laid back friend Charley.
Charley is originally from California, and has a love for the outdoors that rivals mine. I wasn’t sure what Charley and I were going to do, but he is always down for an adventure. That morning I packed all my lumber jack tools, and my bike in my car. I figured we would clear Charley's new lot where his future house would go, followed by a mountain bike ride. When I got to Charley's I was met with fantastic black coffee, and an egg and potato medley meant to fill a mans belly for a full day of outdoors mishaps and shenanigans.
Halfway through my second cup Charley threw some North Carolina National Forest Maps in front of me with all the rivers highlighted. I knew immediately where this day was going. I hadn't fly fished since I was 18, working at Black Mountain Ranch in McCoy CO. Admittedly when I fished in CO it was in a stocked pond, and my skills were just good enough to teach the ranch guests to get there line in the water. That coupled with my recent viewing of 'A River Runs Through It,' made me just good enough to be dangerous. I was excited to go fly fish nonetheless.
Charley and I spent the next 15 minutes loading gear into the truck. Heck, I was just excited for a good long ride through the countryside. On the drive we kept discussions to only serious issues; standard salted or lightly salted sunflower seeds. Anticipation built as we drove.
We arrived at our fishing destination, and I loaded my pack with the fishing gear Charley loaned me. I have learned with all my outdoor activities that looking like you know what you are doing is half the battle. Before even getting to the river we ran into some fellow fishermen who divulged some spots we may try. The excitement was overwhelming. I tried to act cool with all the gear strapped to me, but battled with the 9'0" rod while trying to make my way through the trees down to the fishing hole.
Charley sent me to a hole he had fished before. I was grateful, but immediately frustrated as I realized the hole was tight with over hanging limbs. I put in a valiant effort trying to cast in a 'S' motion through the limbs but was frustrating quickly while hearing Charley land fish up river. The only thing I had landed was 4 tree branches, the overpass behind me, and a wet foot. Sensing my frustration, or just plain tired of catching fish, Charley called me to swap spots.
Getting to Charley's spot up river, I was relieved to find a forgiving tree canopy where I could put my amateur rod action to work. On the second cast with a black nymph I landed a small Rainbow. I was hooked now! I released the fish and went back for more. Rainbow, rainbow, brown, bigger rainbow, BIG brown! My day was made, my week was made! I took the time to take stereotypical pictures, which was immediately followed by some harassment from Charley, but it was worth it. All professionals know in today's outdoor world the catch/hunt is not valid without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchats.
I educated the fish quickly and the rest of the day was slow no matter the spot. We worked the river hard up and down, even went over the hill to a separate tributary. We met up with some experienced fisherman from the area who divulged some more trade secrets. Driving off the mountain back toward home I couldn’t believe how nice the fellow fisherman of the sport were. I was completely relaxed, a feeling that was long due in my life.
For the next week the fishing stories got big. I explained to all my fellow co-workers how I had caught Moby Dick on a fly rod. In the name of conservation I let Moby go. Looking back I probably fall somewhere between pre-amateur and amateur fly fisherman, but the joy it brought to my life that day propelled me through the next week of work. That joy is what the outdoors brings to my life, and that is why the outdoors is so important to me.