Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Monday, April 16, 2012

Industry Failure

Another couple of articles on the problems faced by the fly fishing industry just jumped out at me.  While fly fishing companies seem to be racing to make more and more expensive gear, the sport is quickly becoming unattainable financially or at least much more difficult to participate in.  James Marsh added his observations on his Fly Fishing the Smoky Mountains site in two different articles (second one here and check his website for the first).  People are recognizing that the fly fishing industry is pursuing a broken business model but the question is whether or not the problem will be addressed in time.

Simms Digs Deeper

For those of you that are big fans of Simms gear and products, you probably appreciate how well their gear normally performs and how well it holds up to use.  I have used the same pair of L2 Waders for 3 years now although it is taking a fair amount of Aquaseal now to keep them dry inside.  However, there is a darker side to Simms which several other bloggers and fly shop owners have been posting about.

Tom Chandler from the Trout Underground has been covering this situation for a while (apparently Simms has not appreciated his journalistic efforts on behalf of the angling public).  His most recent post highlights the continuing problems as well as pointing readers to other great pieces about the problem.  In a time when the local fly shop is largely going the way of the dinosaurs as more big box companies and online shops continue to gain a larger market share, Simms' strategy may be good for their bottom line but definitely won't help local fly shops.  Chi Wulff has added more to the discussion in a couple different posts, the most recent found here as does Jerry Lappier in two separate articles (first and second) from The Trout Shop in Craig, Montana.

When Simms did an abrupt about-face on making felt-soled boots, I applauded them for recognizing a mistake and listening to their customers.  They have always been strong on the customer service side and this was another case of respecting their customers.  Unfortunately, their more recent stumbling will not be felt by most fly fishermen because we can just go online and new gear is just a click away.  It is the small shops that will suffer.  I find it hard to support a company who is willing to throw all the small shops who made them successful under the bus as they seek to continue growing their business.  Please read all of these pieces if you care about the fate of the small shop that have contributed so much to most fishermen's growth in the sport.  Be an informed consumer and support the brands that are worth supporting.


Random Monday

Fishing continues to be seasonally abnormal.  Warm temperatures and a lack of precipitation means area stillwaters are already getting low and warm.  This does not bode well for the summer fishing but a chance of rain both today and this next weekend will provide a welcome reprieve.  In fact, next weekend should usher in much cooler temperatures at least in the short term. 

I have a break from teaching this week with the last break before summer starts this Tuesday.  The Smokies are in my plans, hopefully for a couple of nights.  I may hit up a local lake or pond one evening this week, but if the past few days are any indication, it might be worth my time to find somewhere else to fish. 

As the local fishing continues to be challenging, I find myself spending more time with the camera.  The other evening I got the bright idea to try and shoot the evening sky along with the first stars and planets to make themselves visible.  One thing led to another, and soon I was getting some pretty intriguing pictures. 



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Photo Contest

Help me out with this photo contest by Yeti Coolers by voting for my picture on Facebook!!!  Here is the picture I submitted.  It was taken on a trip to the Gunnison River in Colorado.

"Resting Rainbow" 

Dogwood Winter



East Tennessee is just emerging from a recently rare coldsnap.  We have not experienced frost since early March so you can only imagine what two nights of frost have done.  Thankfully I think the majority of trees are handling it pretty well.  Flowers haven't appreciated the freezing temperatures as much.  The blossoms on this pink dogwood have rebelled against the cold by rapidly dying, their drooping petals covered in frost. 


By this weekend, the temperatures should be more reasonable again so if you live in the southeast, get ready for an epic weekend of fishing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Low and Slow


Those two words sum up my Caney Fork experience late this afternoon.  Rumors of minimal numbers of fish in the river needed to be tested, and I found it to be true, sorta.  The river still has fish in it, but overall I would say that the fishing was as slow as I've ever experienced there.  The water was unbelievably low.  I have no idea why the Corps is not at least running a 200 CFS sluice but something clearly needs to be done. 

Information from reliable sources suggests that trout stocking has not really been taking place much over the winter months because of poor water quality.  The water seemed unusually warm to me for this early in the year, and I can only hope there is enough cool water in the lake as we head into the warm months to support trout through until next winter.  At least some big fish have survived but the larger rainbows in particular seem to have taken a hit.

The good news is that the fish will still eat.  Good midge hatches are happening on the upper river.  You will notice right away that the birds are working above the water for their food.  The other thing you will notice is the distinct lack of rising fish.  If you go, focus on the deeper water and on the shoals where faster water funnels into the deeper runs.  Midges and sow bugs will catch some fish...

If you really want to fish, there are still fish to be caught but until the flows improve, expect to work hard for every fish.  The low clear water produces some very spooky trout.  The fish you do catch will all be healthy looking fish with their fins intact, at least until the stocking truck shows up.  Don't expect big numbers of fish, but at least you're out on the water.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Pigs Beware

While wandering the rugged eastern Cumberland Plateau in search of new fishing holes, I came across an area where the locals are putting a hurt on the pig population...no, not big fish, I mean literal pigs.  After shooting them and skinning them out, the hunters apparently hang the skin and/or head on the fences.  I'm not sure if they are showing off their hunting prowess or trying to send a message to the pig population.  Regardless, it was an interesting diversion from my drive through the country although my camera is still revolting against any responsibility for these slightly disturbing pictures...



The Professional

Having a professional photographer around can be a nerve wracking experience.  Anyone who has ever been in a professional studio knows what I'm talking about.  Sit like this, turn your head slightly to the left, drop your chin, place your hands here....you get the idea.  Fortunately, that demanding attitude that is so necessary to getting a good shot does not always carry over into real life outside of the profession.  On our trip to the Everglades, we had a genuine photography/filmmaker professional along for the ride, and it was definitely a treat.  Tanya Not only did she shoot a lot of video of the trip to put together a short movie of the experience, but she also shared her knowledge and we all became better photographers because of it. 

Tanya behind the lens of her camera... 

Having four DSLRs on a trip is a great way to get multiple perspectives.  Each person focuses on a different aspect so the sum of their perspectives can give a much more well-rounded view of the trip.  The following are a collection of pictures that Tanya graciously sent me to use.  My first request was obviously for some fishing-related pictures, but I also mentioned that any other really cool shots would be nice. 

If you are interested in seeing more of her work, or in need of a professional photographer for shooting weddings or anything else, check out Tanya's blog.  All of the following photographs are by Tanya Musgrave.




















Lightning!!!

Along with spring comes the return of thunderstorm activity. Several recent storms have produced some dramatic skies which I love to document with my camera.  Two recent storms passed at night, giving me a great chance to shoot lightning.  The first storm produced a much more dramatic sky but the second had some interesting lighting as well as lightning. 


Monday, April 02, 2012

Lostman's Five Version 2.0


One of the most relaxing parts of the Everglades trip was spending extra time at Lostman's Five.  Two nights was just about perfect for recuperating from the paddling of the past 3 days.  The wooden platform that was built upon the site meant we were able to sleep perfectly flat.  Best of all, we paddled up towards the freshwater Glades, began seeing alligators and birds......lots and lots of birds. 

On the first morning (second day) at Lostman's Five, we woke up to find a Black Vulture sitting atop the porta-potty.  Apparently the terrible odors wafting out smelled more like breakfast to the bird.  Before eating breakfast, I had good shots of a Turkey Vulture flying over as well as a Brown Pelican.  While not an avid birder, I do enjoy seeing and taking pictures of birds.  Basically this means that I like to see them but can't always accurately identify them which is kind of nice.  I prefer to keep some of my hobbies uncomplicated. 




The day's paddle towards the freshwater Glades was challenging for the first couple of miles as we had to paddle up Lostman's Creek and across a long bay.  The wind was blowing straight down the bay towards us and we had to fight for every gain.  Once we entered the small creeks on the other side though things improved. 

Alligators appeared with regularity, often sunning on the banks, sometimes floating half-submerged while keeping a cautious eye on us.  Some of them were rather large, or at least, it seemed so to us.  A canoe can suddenly seem rather small when it is sharing the water with an alligator nearly as large.  Still, they are generally shy and did not pose any serious problems.


Our hopes to paddle all the way to pure freshwater were not realized as we ran into a dead end pond with the water still brackish.  On the way, we saw many birds as well as lots of fish.  A particularly large snook had me wishing I had been fishing upstream instead of paddling.  By the time it rocketed past the canoe I knew any hope of catching it was gone. 

As the afternoon wore on, we all started to get hungry.  Returning to camp, we spent the remainder of the day relaxing, eating a good meal, and preparing mentally for the big day ahead of us.


After eating, I tried to be creative with the camera.  The next day was going to be tough and I wasn't sure if I would have many opportunities to get the camera out once we made it to the big water along the Gulf of Mexico.
 




As evening descended, a large alligator swam slowly past camp and up Lostman's Creek. 

Can you find the alligator in this picture?