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Old 02-26-18, 02:18 AM   #1
Lumis
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Default Absolutely amazing day with a few new friends!

WARNING: LONG POST

Hello NGTO, Lumis back at it again with another juicy special! It's been an extremely eventful day and I finally get to tell you guys about it.

Splatek continues to be in my reports. What hasn't this man done for me. He started the day. Few days ago, Splatek tells me he's been talking to a DNR biologist friend of his. Biologist might have some waders for you, he'll see what he can find. I'm interested, but quickly forget about it not expecting anything. I was looking online, maybe there's a cheaper pair of waders I can find that will last me at least at least this year.

I get a message in the morning. Splatek. Not unusual, I spam him with questions so he's probably answering to one. No, it's different. It's a long message from DNR biologist. Meet me at unicoi outiftters he says, I want you to pick something up. The message was of course longer than that but that was the part that adds to my story. I think about this. Seems crazy to just randomly get in my car and drive to Helen which is a fair distance from me. But, I could be really missing out if I don't. I pack my rod and gear, jump into my car and drive. Takes me over an hour to arrive. I arrive.

I get into the fly shop. Nervously say I have a package of some kind waiting here. They ask "are you Lumis?" to which I reply yes. They go to retrieve a big white bag with a bunch of stuff stuffed inside. I'm curious. I buy a leader real quick because my current one is slowly dying. At that same moment, DNR biologist JEFF DURNIAK walks through the door. The clouds open up and a beam of sunlight shines onto the man. I may have made that last line up. He greets me. Sits down. Eats his sandwich. Tells me to check out that bad I have.

Finally. I look inside. Put it all on they tell me. A nice fly fishing jacket. A nice pair of waders that fit me pretty nicely. A nice pair of boots that fit me very nicely. Splatek must have takes notes when I fished with him, he knows my sizes. Even a small goodie bag that I assumed was something forgotten in the pockets. So now I'm standing here wearing gear I can definitely not afford, even if it's used, and they're just like "it's yours". So I'm pretty excited at that point. Not sure how to really express myself.

Jeff says "lets go fishing". I'm just like "right now? you sure?" and he's like yeah. So we pack it up. I say my thanks yous to everyone. We leave. Some time later, we arrive at the water we shall call Voldemort. The water that must not be named.

We gear up. We get in the water. He ties on two nymphs. A pink worm and some type of black bug. I forget the name. I'm too busy thinking about catching something. Oh no. We've forgotten a net. He tells me I'll have to tire the fish out if we want to land them. He teaches me the ultimate power. Its name?

THE DRAG FREE DRIFT

He show cases his skills. I watch carefully. Sometimes not so carefully as I get distracted. No. Watch me he says. Watch my hands. I pay attention. He then also teaches me the roll cast. I do it wrong. A few times. A few more. Stop fishing like a spin fisherman he says. I eventually get it.

I fish on. Indicator flashes down. Fish. Jeff is practically in my head. Tells me to set. I set. Fish. I fight him for a few seconds. He's gone. The fish won. Or so he thinks. I'm coming back for his family now. I've only grown stronger now. I ask Jeff what I could have done to catch him. He gives me advice. I fish on.

Now that I've perfected my technique (cough cough), I keep fishing. I cast upstream. Beautiful roll cast. I pull in a little line. My drag free drift is 10/10. I could give Jeff some lessons at this point. The indicator takes a dive. My "superhuman reflexes" kick in. "Superhuman reflexes" may be a nickname for Jeff telling me to set it. I set it.

Bam. Fish.

It's a nice fish. I haven't felt a tug like this for months. Jeff tells me to stop pointing the rod at the fish. I bend it up. To the side he says. I point it to the side. My rod curves like something you'd plot on a TI graphing calculator. The fish runs, my drag makes that "ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ" noise. The fish takes a break. I reel him in some, mostly because Jeff is telling me to reel. He pulls a little, I let him do whatever. He takes a break, I reel. This fish refuses to tire out. We don't have a net to land him. Jeff tells me I need to raise my rod and swing him around a little. I do. Eventually, years later, he's tired. I bring him near the waters edge. Jeff grabs him. Picture time. Photoshoot commences. We keep him in the water as much as possible. Time to release. The fish rests for a good minute. I give him a little tap and he darts off.

Trout Number One

I'm thrilled. Jeff is pretty happy too. He lessons have bear fruit. Nice fruit too. I can't stop here. Time is against me. I repeat my lessons. Minutes later? Another fish. The Lord has blessed my flies. These fish are hungry. I repeat my techniques. I pull him in and Jeff handles him. Photoshoot two commences.

Trout Number Two

I'm really getting the hang of this. But we all know it's only because Jeff's infinite wisdom is there to guide me. I repeat my lessons. Time goes by. and suddenly.

BAM. Like big BAM. BIG FISH.

This thing is heavy. Huge. A dinner for 5 (really skinny people). I hear a MMA referee. He says fight. I fight. Probably for a good minute. The fish is a rod length away. Jeff says he must be 17 or 18 inches. The fish is playing games with me. He calms down. Too calm. My line is tight. But not tight enough. He squirms around at an Olympic level. I take bronze. He takes gold. He's gone. I'm disappointed. Jeff says a beginner doesn't deserve that kind of trout. I disagree. I won't admit that he's right (But he is).

We fish on for some time. The day is going by. I could have probably caught a few more. But life calls. I have to make it to church and I won't make it if I stay too long. We pack it up. I bother Jeff with some questions. He makes millennial jokes about me. Thank you's are said and I head home. I put the car into cruise control and think about this heck of an experience. The end.

Big thanks to:
Splatek, for somehow settings this all up. His connections are far and wide.
Jeff Durniak, for the gear and knowledge he passed onto me.
Jimmy Harris of Unicoi Outfitters, for the gear he passed on and being a part of this.
West and Jim from Unicoi, for helping out and answering questions.


I honestly cannot describe how grateful I am for the opportunity that was given to me, and as you guys have stated, I hope to indeed pass my fortune onto others one day.

Thanks for reading. Hope this report wasn't too long. I spent about an hour writing it. It's 2 am. Good night.

Last edited by Lumis; 02-26-18 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 02-26-18, 03:24 AM   #2
Sighter
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What an awesome report! Huge props to everyone that helped and especially splatek for organizing it. You have been blessed with the necessary equipment, instructors, and connections to excel at fly fishing. The only thing left is perseverance, and from the looks of things, you got plenty of that as well . Hope to see you on the water sometime and thanks for sharing a great moment with us.
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Old 02-26-18, 05:40 AM   #3
RScott
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Awesome report! Sometimes we all get focused on what isn't good about the sport, and then read a story like this about what is ALL GOOD about the sport. You have a guardian angel looking after you, fishing with Dredger on Voldemort is your first trip of a lifetime....
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Old 02-26-18, 06:59 AM   #4
huntfish
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Great report and Kudos to everyone involved.
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Old 02-26-18, 08:49 AM   #5
cjones
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Awesome report!

Durniak is a class act! The only 'Fling' I ever attended, I got geared up for the DFD seminar and was standing at the back of the group as we made our way towards the river. I think I had worn my waders about twice before that day, so I was as green and 'out of place' feeling as possible. As I'm pulling up the rear of the line of folks walking down the trail to the water, some guy walks up and introduces himself as Jeff. We continue chatting on the short hike to the water. He's asking how long I've been fishing, if I'm in a TU chapter anywhere, etc. etc. And all along, he's subtly downloading info to me on where to get maps, areas to poke around at, etc. All sorts of tidbits of info that I wish I could remember more of now. He even suggests a TU chapter and says "Tell 'em Dredger sent you."

It wasn't until later that I realized I had been accompanied by THE Jeff 'Dredger' Durniak and what a wealth of knowledge and willingness to share that he had.

I can easily say that Dredger is the most friendly and least 'newbie' intimidating person I have encountered in my short time fly/trout fishing.
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Old 02-26-18, 09:44 AM   #6
splatek16
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I completely concur with CJones about Jeff.

One of my first outings I went to Smiths DH. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the ranger truck. Then I looked up and saw Jeff on the bank. I must've just oozed "newb" - within three sentences he'd mentioned TU, NGTO, and drag free drift. It sounded like a person speaking a foreign language, speed of light and I was mostly just concerned I wasn't breaking any laws. "The Google" helped me translate his troutese into something that made a little sense. He is always on the search for finding an interested and dedicated learner. His mentorship to me is likely the reason I am so enthusiastic about trouting!

Great report @lumis! I didn't really do that much, but pay it forward, by putting you in touch with the right people.
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Old 02-26-18, 11:14 AM   #7
Lumis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjones View Post

I can easily say that Dredger is the most friendly and least 'newbie' intimidating person I have encountered in my short time fly/trout fishing.
For sure, he jokes around enough to make the situation much less stressful. You can definitely tell he enjoys working with people!

Quote:
Originally Posted by splatek16 View Post
Within three sentences he'd mentioned TU, NGTO, and drag free drift.
You got that right!

You say you didn't do much but heck, none of this would have happened if you weren't always trying to help! (Don't stop )
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Old 02-26-18, 11:59 AM   #8
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I should also add that I will make sure to pick up an extra tippet or a few extra flies at Unicoi next time I'm up that way, regardless of whether I need them or not.
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Old 02-26-18, 12:06 PM   #9
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Great post! But next time, maybe show some enthusiasm
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Old 02-26-18, 12:48 PM   #10
FishWillie
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There was one other guy at the shop and I forgot his name, which I feel bad about. He's got a beard. bwahahahaha.....Jake darling.
Great story....congrats........will;
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