by FC Sales Rep, TJ Maurer
The River Calls
It was a morning no different than other Saturday mornings, only that I was up at 6 am to go fly fish, something I generally waited around till 9 or 10 am to do. Too many days had passed where I had wanted to get out by sunrise but decided to sleep in, wasting perfect mornings. I gathered my things, going through a mental checklist as I have before forgotten such important items as my wading boots or fly box. I assured myself I had everything after the third walk through.
It was a typical early spring day, well before the sun crept above the eastward horizon, so as I began my drive I opened my windows to let the crisp cool air in. I enjoyed this feeling-- early in the morning-- my mind and body knew it was about to do something it loved. I stopped about 15 minutes out from the river to grab a biscuit and more coffee. At convenience stores such as these during Southern spring mornings, hunters and anglers tend to gather and speak in a bit softer volumes like they are already out in the tree stand or river. Anticipation was building.
I drove along the road tangent to the Hiwassee River to review the extent of the fishable areas. I had fished here quite a bit throughout the winter's delayed harvest days. But now trout could be kept, and those who wanted to keep them were out in full numbers. One of those was me.
The Game of the Catch
The first spot I chose to fish was a familiar one where I knew there would be plenty. The spot didn’t disappoint, but I only was able to net three worth keeping. Feeling somewhat awkward with a stringer of caught fish, I found a small crevice in the rocks where I kept my net and the keepers. The third one caught was a nice brown and apparently a strong, adventurous, and shifty one. After setting it in its holding spot, I heard a splash and saw him flopping his way out. Rushing over, I was too late. He had accomplished what he had set out to do and I couldn’t blame him. I had two fish remaining, still needing two more, to feed myself, my wife and our two friends we had invited over for dinner later than night.
It was noon and I knew I had to stop fishing around 3:00 to have time to clean them, drive home, and prepare them for eating. Stress began to creep in, a feeling generally not felt during a day of fishing, but I felt the pressure to provide. The two small rainbows on the stringer had already paid the ultimate price, and I couldn’t let them or my future dinner guests down.
I moved on to a section of the river that I had never fished-- a risky move when looking for absolutes in catching trout. This section had deep runs, swift currents and unforgiving, unpredictable underwater terrain. For those who think fly fishing is not an adventurous pursuit, I would challenge them to try crossing waist deep pools on limestone bedrock in a current. Many times in the past I have mis-stepped, but luckily this day was not one of them and my clothes under my waders remained dry. Alas! the angling gods were with me there, landing two more. The sun had risen to its highest point and began the afternoon descent and I began making my way back to the shallows to clean my catch.
Preparing for Providing
Like a surgeon, I made the two careful required cuts and pulled out the insides. I noted each trouts diet for future fly tying nights. I wrapped the cleaned fish with olive oil, dill, salt, pepper and lemon in aluminum foil.
I made it home after a much needed and anticipated beer run, washed up and started preparing dinner. I had picked up some produce from the farmer’s market the day before. Finally, dinner was prepared and served. The dinner was incredible. We all thought about how easy yet too infrequently we prepare meals with both locally caught and harvested protein as well as locally grown vegetables from the farmer’s market. I had injected myself into the food chain rather than being an oblivious bystander and the result was an entire dinner from within 50 miles of home. It had been an entire day spent in a pristine mountain river doing something I loved. It is very true that “trout don’t live in ugly places” and I intend to spend more and more time in these places chasing them.