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Old 12-15-17, 03:26 PM   #1
Dylar
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Default 2017: Your Year in Fishing

After checking out the vulgar display of brown trout browniez started up on the Hooch sub, I found myself picking through my fishing pics from 2017, trying to piece together the story of my year on the water. I always love year end retrospectives, which aggregate a bunch of sexy, sexy fish porn in one place to provide a little diversion in these cold dark times. I have chosen a month-by-month format for my 2017 story because that's how I organize my photos, but also because I like the way it captures the push and pull of the season as it marches along. It turns out I had a great year on the water, and I hope y'all did, too. Can't wait to see what y'all did.
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Old 12-15-17, 03:27 PM   #2
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2015 and 2016 were rough years for me. I was stuck working for a company that was slowly circling the drain and two years of hard drought did a real number on the trout here in Western North Carolina. By the time January rolled around, I was near to being completely burned out, and our streams were so low that many brown trout still hadn't even attempted to spawn, though fall was now long past. Unfavorable low water conditions, several days of extremely bitter cold and an ongoing bout with what Hemingway and Churchill always called, "the Black Dog," kept me in the house most of the month.





Lots of scenery shots in my folders are an inevitable sign that the fishing was kinda crap.



I took a picture of a sucker, so I must have been grinding hard to produce any fish at all.



Here's another sign the fishing wasn't so hot; I had time to hand wrangle a sculpin. I have over the years caught hundreds, maybe thousands of crayfish by hand. It's easy; they're slow. Sculpins are not slow and they're not easy. Let that be a lesson to you.




All I'm saying is that it was a struggle

Conditions continued to suck as we moved into February, and I started scanning weather reports over a 3-4 state area, hoping for an opportunity to chase some rain. For most of the month, the rain failed to materialize, and I ended up heading well to the north, seeking a redemption on small creek that is an eyesore, an open sewer, and a miracle. There wasn't much water there, either, but I did manage to stick a couple of decent fish, including a personal best wild bow.






Finally, near the end of the month, a little water showed up in the region, and I finally got the first encouraging signs of the year in the form of a couple of meat eating browns.




March turned out to be both mild and wet, and the improved conditions, along with an improving frame of mind, got me out of the house more often than in the depths of winter. The streamer game got a real workout, and the browns were chewing all month.






Typically, I hand land everything, but a buddy was giving me hell about not carrying a net, so I got one.




Lost the net on the first trip. Hand landing it is.






CONTINUED
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Old 12-15-17, 03:28 PM   #3
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April ended up being one of those months where, for various reasons, I just wasn't able to fish as much as I would have liked to. Water levels and temps were just about perfect, and I regret not getting out more while the getting was so good. I did catch my first smallies of 2017, and the browns remained on the chew.








One of the things I love most about fishing is the time you get to spend with your friends. It had been a good long while since I'd had a chance to hit the water with my best fishing buddy. Mike isn't precisely the guy that taught me to fly fish, but I've learned more from him than any other single source. He's also more responsible than anyone else for my addiction to small stream fishing, so when Mike came to visit in May, there was no question what we were gonna do; smash some bluelines.

Those small streams really are some of the most beautiful spots on earth, and watching Mike fish one is to take a master class in the craft.




The fish are, of course, also quite lovely.








We worked our way far up one flow, where I caught a brown pushing 18". The fish came out of bathtub sized hole at over 4000', at a point in the stream where it drains less than 3 square miles. For where it came from, this was a total stud fish, and one I'm as proud of as any I caught all year.




June brought with it the beginning of my favorite "hatch" of the year. You really can't go wrong fishing an inchworm once it starts to heat up. That green worm in the summer months is probably the single most consistent action I get year in and year out.






During the drought summers, the smallmouth bass fishing was absolutely on fire. The biggest impediment to a consistent smallie bite around here tends to be rain. The lower valley rivers quickly silt up and the bite shuts down for days after the rain pushes through. With no rain, we had ultra clear water and a red hot popper bite in 2015 and 2016, and it was starting to look like 2017 was going to be another banner year for the smalljaws.






CONTINUED
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Old 12-15-17, 03:30 PM   #4
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As June turned into July, the weather started playing a dirty game on me. Persistent short duration afternoon cloudbursts dropped just enough water to keep the bass flows dirty and the trout streams low and hot. The frustrating weather sitch left me feeling salty, so I did the only thing I could think of and ditched out for the ocean. My cousin Drew lives in the South Carolina Low Country, and his place has become a refuge whenever the weather or social environment here in Asheville heads south.

This is a photographic narrative in three parts. See if you can figure out the story.





Waded grass flats looking for redfish. Found some.





I finagled a seat on a bay boat to sling the big stick in search of a little something different. If you've never seen 100 yards of backing come off your reel before, try it; you'll probably like it as much as I did.





The dog days of August rolled in and brought a little less t-storm activity, offering better shots at smallies.




High above the valley rivers, the little trout in the bluelines were still munching that green worm.




Later in the month, I headed off to the north again chasing fuller streams, and found a few browns.







In September, I caught back up with Mike and we ran a series of missions over the course of the month, mostly in search of brookies. He had a friend in tow this time, a fella who had flown in from London to fish with us. That's something else I love about fishing—all the folks you meet that you'd never have known otherwise. Don't let the stupid grin fool you. I watched the guy roll cast huge deer hair frogs 80 feet. I gotta get three double hauls and some elevation to carry that much distance.






(This fat girl was up over a substantial barrier fall living with the specks)



Continued
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Old 12-15-17, 03:31 PM   #5
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October proved to be a bit of an oddity. I only got to fish twice, but was quite successful in those outings.

The first chance I got to fish, the weather was looking tough. We had 3"+ of tropical storm rain pushing into the area. Too much water. I looked for something that was going to be well to the edge of the system, and, four hours out, the forecasts for the miracle sewer looked promising. A quarter to half and inch of rain, most of it not arriving until very late in the afternoon. Well, obviously, the weatherman meant 5", starting right after I arrived. I got in less than two hours of fishing before the creek was blown out. Fortunately, the first good hole I rolled up on had a very large brown demonstrating for anyone who cared to read the body language that it was ready to eat a streamer. I cut my nymph rig back to the thick stuff and put a streamer on and it immediately got crushed. Trout of the year so far. Makes 7 hours of miserable weather driving for an hour and a half of fishing a little more palatable.




Towards the end of the month, I did something I haven't done often; I went out to the North Carolina coast. I haven't been to the beach in my home state in at least a dozen years. The plan was to sight fish reds in the surf. Honestly, I was skeptical. The surf zone water clarity I'm used to precludes that kind of thing. I was wrong though. You could see them clearly as they rode the wave faces, sometimes within a rod length or two of the tide line. I suppose there's a reason they call it the Crystal Coast.




Fishing has always connected me to family. I learned to fish from my grandfather and grew up fishing with all my cousins, but Drew was the fishiest of us all. So, early in November, when he texted me and said, "It's real good," I had to find a way to get down to the Low Country.

His message was accompanied by a photo that was a touch subpar.



Here's one I found from November 1989. I'm the one on the left, Drew is on the right. The more things change...



Fishing was great. It was the latest I've ever seen reds tailing on a grass flat.










Found a ride and borrowed some gear to get after some bulls.






I got home from the coast and didn't fish much. Brown trout spawn was in full swing and I like to avoid stressing them. Got back out at the end of the month to get after them, but all I caught were some dirty egg sucking bows. I used my best heron impersonation to sneak up on one and take a couple pics.







So here it is mid-December, and I've only been out once all month. Put my back out to start the month, then it snowed a foot, then it got freezing, then I finally got out freezing or no, just to stay sane. I did stick a couple, though.




Soon Christmas will be here and behind it, the new year. If 2018 fishes as well as 2017 did, I think I'll be alright.

FIN
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Old 12-15-17, 04:04 PM   #6
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Fabulous. That's quite a year! Thanks for taking the to make such a detailed post.
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Old 12-15-17, 05:09 PM   #7
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What a splendid report! Many thanks for sharing your year with us.
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Old 12-15-17, 05:21 PM   #8
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Thread of the year, book it, and done.

That's a rad year my friend, a rad year.
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Old 12-15-17, 05:33 PM   #9
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This is stupid!!! Soooooo many different fish and most all are good ones! I really like the 'bathtub blueline brown'! Helluva fish! Reminded me of a 21" my uncle pulled out of the Coleman river many moons ago! Well done sir, helluva way to make an entrance!
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Old 12-15-17, 06:45 PM   #10
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Well, that was pleasant!

Pretty much every shade of green in this photo.

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What's up with this? Did I miss a mention?

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