Saturday, May 19, 2018


Spring is perhaps the most anticipated time of the year for me. Finally the colds of winter disappear. The dark gloomy skies and lifeless plant life are on the way out. In southeast TN, GREEN comes on and it comes on fast! The green begins to pop everywhere! New life is born! It is a beautiful time to be outside. Coupled with these delights the fishing also ramps up to be, what I consider, the best of the year! For the last two months I have been up on the Hiwassee river at least once or twice a week. And I have been killing it!!!! One day I recall catching more than 50 fish in an afternoon! Last week the fishing had slowed down considerably since those big fish days but a solid day of fishing can still bring many fish to hand if you are in the right water. This is the first year in several years that I didn’t catch an absolute pig in the spring. My largest fish length wise was probably 18 or 19 inches but lacked the girth that some of the ones I have caught in the past. On the bright side I caught several well built browns and rainbows in the 15-16 inch class. Brook trout were stocked in more abundance this year and some days I caught upwards of 20 brook trout in a day!!! Maybe they replaced some of the bigger stockers with more brook trout this year? I’ll have to check into that! Regardless, get out and enjoy the fishing before it is too late!!! Until next time...


Saturday, April 7, 2018

First Fall Trip

The time had finally come to take a fall trip out west. I had made several trips in spring and summer but the fall trip had been eluding me for years. For 8 days I was planning to be in Hungry Horse, MT, right next to the famed Glacier National Park. I had visited and backpacked Glacier National Park several years before and it was incredible. On that trip I did minimal fishing, but this trip would put me right next to the South Fork of the Flathead River, perhaps one of the best remaining Westslope Cutthroat trout fisheries in the world. I was thrilled and excited to see what I could get into, however it should be mentioned, the purpose of this trip was not to fish or backpack, so I knew time would be limited. I was able to get up to the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork of the Flathead river on my trip. I had mixed success. Some mornings the air was so cold I could barely cast without my guides freezing up. The crisp fall air made fishing quite a challenge! One afternoon I enjoyed tremendous success on the South Fork fishing beetle patterns. These were some of the finest cutthroats I have caught to date! Outside of fishing, I spent a few days hiking and exploring Glacier National Park. The beauty there is absolutely unreal! On one day-hike a friend and I bit off a little more than we could chew and ended up walking several miles on the trail in the dark. Any one who has been to Glacier NP knows one of the main guidelines is hike in groups of 3 or more and never hike at night! Well we broke both of those and came stumbling across something huge. Whether it was a Grizz, Moose, or huge elk, I will never know. but it was massive. Sounded like a tree was going to fall down on our heads. That was the scariest 2 to 4 miles I have ever hiked in my life. Bear spray pulled, shouting to make my presence known well in advance, praying for help. Lesson learned!!! Exploring Glacier NP was an absolute thrill. I was late enough in the year, that the crowds were completely gone. Just me and wilderness!! It made for a truly enjoyable and RELAXING trip to a national Park,which sometimes it hard to say with all the people! After spending time in Hungry Horse I had decided to travel down to West Yellowstone, MT to fish for big migrating brown trout on the Madison for a few days. The first day I arrived and geared up it was dumping snow. I sat on the river all day in heavy snow without even the slightest tug on my line. The next day I spent scouting new areas to fish. I wanted to drive up to the northeast corner of the park to see how the cutthroat fisheries were looking this late in the year. What I found was amazing. There was absolutely no one fishing and the fish were abundant, hungry, and willing! I decided to forego my big brown mission to travel up to the northeast corner the next day. I had it all to myself! Cutt after Cutt I pulled in on hopper patterns, grey wolfs, and almost anything I threw. By far my best day fishing in Yellowstone to date! I had some unfinished business on Soda Butte creek, since a year earlier I had lost a massive Cutt there. So after tearing up the Lamar River for awhile I visited that same place on Soda Butte creek that had conquered me before. I didn't find the same fish but I found numerous willing large trout. There is something about watching a large trout feed on the surface in about 5 inches of water that is truly unforgettable. That image has repeated in my mind several times since then and it continues to build the anticipation for my next visit! The day was a smashing success and I was glad I made the call to skip the brown trout fishing for a day in Cutthroat waters. This trip had come to an end all too soon, but I felt somewhat more confident that I would be back. It had taken 5 years between my first trip to Yellowstone and my second. And now it seems like I go every year! I hope the trend can continue! Enjoy the pics and til next til.


Stopping in to see a Glacier

Overlook at the top of one of my dayhikes

The long trail up! 

Dumped some snow while I hiked today!

Beautiful scene as the sun went down

South Fork of the Flathead

Up high in Glacier National Park

Exploring a road deep in Glacier NP

Day Hike!

Getting DUMPED on snow travelling to the East side of Glacier

Fall colors are OUT!!!


Beetle and Cutt!

Got em!

First day fishing for browns in Yellowstone

Firehole river!

Back Home on the Lamar

Fun day!

Soda Butte Creek

Saturday, March 31, 2018

West Again

After much wait I am finally getting around to posting the rest of my summer 2017 stories.

August 2017,

As usual, I had been frantically trying to find a backpacking destination for late August. It is always difficult matching up reasonably priced flights with backpacking destinations that fit our schedule and permits. We had initially settled on a trail in Olympic National Park - really there were two trails we were discussing. One option was a remote hike following one of the major rivers in the park. The other was one of the more popular hikes up to a glacier. We eventually settled on the hike to the glacier, but flight prices would not cooperate to get us near our destination. As the trip grew closer and closer I started to look at alternative destinations. Burnt into my mind was the hike I had done the year before through Kings Canyon National Park. Rugged and jagged peaks! Beautiful alpine lakes! Fantastic fishing! The Sierras were calling my name once again. I found good deals into Sacramento and I started planning. We were too late to acquire a permit for Yosemite and many other places, so I started to explore an area that had always intrigued me. Years ago when I looked at my Yosemite map this area beyond the park border had always struck an interest from me. I had daydreamed about trips to Thousand Island lake and what it might be like. So I started explore trailhead options in the area. Permits were hard to match up, but I finally found an opening beginning in Inyo National Forest along the pacific crest trail. We booked it and our journey was set. But this was only the beginning we would soon find out! 

We touched down late in Sacramento with plans to travel all the way to Mammoth, CA some 5 hours away. We made our stop at the local In and Out burger and started our trek to Lake Tahoe. Somewhere past Lake Tahoe we encountered our first obstacle. We had turned off and started traveling south toward mammoth when all of the sudden we came to a road block and sirens flashing. The road was closed due to wildfire. After consulting our map we found the only way to get where we needed was to drive back towards Tahoe and cut into Nevada. Knowing we wouldn’t make our destination at any sort of reasonable time, we stopped in the early hours of the morning in a small hotel in Nevada. Not my ideal first trip to Nevada! But the next day we awoke and travelled south to Mammoth. After picking up our permit and bear cans we were all set. We hit the trail in the early afternoon and started our longest trek of the trip. The first part was grueling as we climbed up high on the ridge side above the tree line almost immediately. This vantage point offered impressive views, that were somewhat clouded with smoke from wildfires. As the day progressed we ran into a spot up shower or two. Enough for me to put on the rain gear only to take it right back off. I was a bit bummed that the smoke had obscured some of our views and I didn’t know what lied ahead for the rest of the trip. Would it all be that smoky? Would it become a problem? We would soon find out. We made the most of the long hike spending some time on an exposed cliff face for lunch. As evening came we arrived at thousand island lake. As is the case with many alpine lakes, the scenery was unreal. Towering in the background was Mt Ritter and Banner Peak. We set up camp at a beautiful exposed piece of land overlooking the lake. It was then that we found out we forgot tent stakes. Had this of been last year in the Beartooths this would have been a major issue, but we made due with sticks and it worked just fine. Awaking in the morning the skies and smoke had cleared! It was a new day! We would hike to Garnet lake next. This trek was not overly hard, but choosing a campsite on the far end of the lake made our trek a bit further. It was worth it to get to the far side of the lake though. After setting up camp we walked to the top of the Ridge that was saddled in-between thousand island lake and garnet lake. It was a beautiful scene to see. We soon realized that the mosquitos were horrendous and they were relentless. Constantly attacking one after the other. To get my mind off the struggle I strung up the fly rod and went hunting. I found a few willing brook trout that had good meat on them but none exceeded 12-14 inches. I was using my new echo 3 weight rod, which I really liked. We wrapped up the day there and started hiking to Ediza Lake which would be our last stop for two nights. Once we crossed over the outlet of Garnet Lake we blindly followed a group of people down a trail we thought was ours. We had talked to them earlier and they were going the same way. After climbing down some sketchy terrain we realized we were going the wrong way! Simple lesson in being careful who you follow! And don’t trust other people’s map reading skills! We climbed our way back out and got set up the right direction. Lake Ediza was a climb. But we made it there and picked out a high campsite on the far end of the lake with Mt Ritter on one side and the Minerets on the other!! There was a small meadow stream that ran nearby our site and we had an overlooking view of Lake Ediza and the canyon below. Perfect and ideal to spend the next two days. I hiked up through the small meadow stream and found several willing rainbows. All were small, but still fun in the setting. The next day we hiked right up to the base of Mt Ritter. It was an awesome view! We looked over the ridge at the lakes we had initially considered staying at. Beautiful, but I was glad we stayed were we did! The next day we packed out the canyon and shuttled back to mammoth. It was another awesome trip that I will add to the list of favorites. Maybe someday I will be able to return again!

First Night Camp

High on a ridge between the lakes

Making our way

High Sierra

Lake Ediza

View from Camp

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Back For More

It had been almost two years to the date of my last exploration of the Winds and I knew all too well it was time for another trip. As usual I searched through backpacking destinations around the US but found myself drawn back to a place that I have grown particularly fond of over the past several years. It's a place of no roads, a place of no crowds, a place of freedom. You won't find tour buses unloading people at the trailheads here. You won't find traffic backed up for miles. You won't find rangers issuing permits. One word describes the Winds for me and it is freedom. Freedom to explore, freedom to mold a trip as you go, freedom to experience nature at its finest. And the Winds offer the best of it! With the snow levels seemingly too high to attempt a cross of the CD we decided to fall back to a familiar option. We headed out on our first day and made it to Seneca lake by 1pm. We always enjoy setting up camp early, then fishing and exploring the area before nightfall, so reaching our destination early is always a plus! Surprisingly at Seneca lake we found willing rainbow trout scattered throughout the deep waters. As always rainbows put on quite an aerial display once hooked! Makes for some fun fishing! Our next day would take us to Island lake, which we bypassed for more solitude in Titcomb basin. Over the years I have grown particularly fond of Island Lake. Something about the peaks along the CD that loom in the background. The lake is incredibly scenic and one I would recommend to any hiker. I had been to the Island lake/Titcomb area twice before, but each time I have been able to explore new terrain. This year we climbed the massive snowfield to what would be a mostly frozen over Mistake Lake. Titcomb basin was as beautiful as always. So many pictures you bring back from the Winds cant capture how vast and incredible the views really are, but some pictures of Titcomb basin are able to given the outside viewer a small sliver of what the Winds have to offer! From Titcomb we followed the outlet of Island lake down to Fremont crossing and then cut across to the Jean lakes. This was new territory for me and boy did I enjoy it! We settled at a campsite at Lower Jean Lakes that was unbelievable. 360 degree mountain views with a pristine lake sitting some 60 feet below us. I don't recall ever seeing anyone pass by our campsite even. Total solitude. The next day we would climb even higher over snowfield after snowfield to Upper Jean lake, the unnamed lake above that, and the finally down into the Elbow lake. It was an incredibly scenic hike, but one that took us much longer than expected fighting through all the snow. Back at Elbow lake we saw two other people the entire day. One stopping because of a storm, the other just passing through. It was like a piece of the wilderness was cutout just for us! Or perhaps everyone was deterred by the storms. The next day we headed back to Seneca lake via the highline trail and then hiked out the following morning. It was an awesome trip! Fish were caught! New sites were seen! Snow was trekked through! And I somehow failed to mention in my report it rained almost every single day, accompanied with hail on occasion! When I stepped out of the wilderness I was ready to give my feet a rest, but I also was eager to begin planning my next trip back! Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later! Til next time


Beautiful Morning

Looks like we are in for some rain today!

From our campsite 

A morning cloud rest upon the mountain

Looking down through many of the snowfields

Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Sensation

It is that time of year once again! The colors are changing, temperatures are rising, animals are coming out, and new life is being born! I have made it up to the Hiwassee river several times in the past few weeks. The fishing has been fantastic! I haven't had an epic days yet where it seems like every cast is a fish, but I have had great luck with streamers and nymphs. Over the last few weeks I have managed to fool a couple big boys, lose a few hogs to line snaps and insecure hook connections, and still remain in the hunt for a few big fellows I have spotted! Exciting times! Yesterday, as darkness was getting near, I notice a bald eagle soaring just above me on the river! It had a certain majesty to its flight. Freely cutting through the air and eventually diving down to snatch its prey! Truly an unbelievable sight to soak in! So far it has been a great spring! Get out and enjoy the fishing! Enjoy the weather and springtime! Here are a few pics from the trips. Til next time...


This was nothing short of an adventure bringing this fish in

Same fish as above. Had a nasty kype jaw!

This one flashed fast to take the streamer

Get you some!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

California Smoke? Showers? Sunshine!

Kings Canyon 2016

It was a long awaited trip two years in the making. We were supposed to make this trek last year but got sidetracked in the Winds for another fishing adventure. It did not disappoint. This year we saw our plans through and got the permit to hike again in Kings Canyon National Park. We had a grueling trek of over 7000ft of elevation gain and 7000ft elevation loss and around 50 miles. Every last bit was worth it. Hands down one of the most scenic places I have ever been. We were immediately greeted by the deep canyon as we traveled in from Sequoia National Forest to Cedar Lodge. Unimaginable and indescribable are two words that come mind. We began our hike with towering granite walls on either side of us forming a perimeter we would not grow tired of. The first day of hiking took us over 2000ft up into a nice valley on the South Fork of the Kings River. It was a beautiful stretch of river ranging from cascading falls to gentle meadow stream. As soon as I got to camp I strung up the rod and went at it. A number of rainbows were to be had instantly. Native to this drainage, the bows were some of the most beautiful I have ever caught in my life. I find such joy in be able to appreciate the biggest of catches in the mountains of Montana and the smallest of catches in the high alpine meadows of the Sierras. Both different in their own right and both incredible fun and thrilling. The next day we made the trek up another 3000-4000ft to our next campsite. This day greeted us with huge rainshowers. We tried at first to hunker down and wait it out; besides this is California, it never rains here right? WRONG!! We had already received a shower the evening before. But this turned out to be much more than a shower. Thunder, lightning, rain, hail, the works...After a while of trying to wait it out we decided to pack up and hike on through. It was a grueling day of travel soaking our gear to some extent, but we finally found a campsite and made the most of it. The next day would lead us up to some beautiful Alpine Lakes. We were to spend two days there, so this was our destination in the hike so to say. Climbing over the ridge we were not disappointed shortly after crossing the 10000ft elevation barrier. HUGE peaks towered over the lake valleys in every direction you could see. Beautiful streams caught your eye with occasional deer prancing by. As we made it to our campsite we sat in awe of the scenery for some time. This place was a paradise. The rain held off for the most part, although it threatened all day long. We strung up the rods and fished around one of the lakes for some fast action Brook Trout fishing. Fun as expected. When we made it to the far end of the lake I found 6 deer all grazing together. Three large bucks, 2 does, and an infant. I sat and watched them for probably 10-15 yards away for a good while. It added something to scene I am not quite sure how to describe. Passing the deer we climbed a large rock and fished for alittle more finally sitting down and just soaking in the scene ahead of us. We would turn and question each other, is this the most incredible view we have ever seen? We thought back of past trips and tried to compare. Each beautiful in their own right. This one right up there at the top somewhere. The next days would be a free day that we used to hike into an adjacent basin. It was around a 700ft climb but well worth it for the views we got. We debated whether to do this or not, but looking back I am so thankful we did. It was probably that most scenic spot of the trip. As far as you could see mountain in every direction! The next day would be our toughest day. We had to climb 2000ft in just under 2 miles up Glen Pass and then drop another 4000ft over 8 miles to our destination. The rest day really helped us out and getting up the pass was not too overly difficult. The downhill climb took its toll on our bodies but we made it tired and worn out. We still had enough energy to explore the meadow stream near by. Browns and rainbows rose eagerly to our flies - some drastically bigger than the other drainage we were in. The fishing was incredibly fun and reminded me a lot of the fishing I do back at home in the Smoky Mountains. As we made it back to camp I decided to take one last fishing trip up into the meadows above our campsite. It was the surreal meadow fishing experience you always imagine. Beautiful mountain scenery towering on each side and willing trout hiding in every crevasse of the stream! The last day we hiked our way out leaving plenty of time to explore the giant sequoia trees. It is an amazing site to take in. We laughed at ourselves for thinking some of the lodgepole pine trees on the trail were really big. These sequoias made those look like tiny twigs!!! It was the conclusion of another trip. Another beautiful site in God's creation to check off the list! A time and a place I certainly will never forget. Enjoy some of the pics. More to come....


Cool scene climbing into the lake basin

David packing hard

Danny slaying some fish with Finn Dome in the background

Small brook trout from the lake

David casting with "Painted Lady" looming in the background

Morning scene from our tent

Into sixty lake basin

Incredible views

Middle and Upper Rae Lakes

Our campsite was in between the two lakes

On top of Glen Pass 

Made it!

Nothing but mountains as far as you can see

Same thing the other direction!

Danny climbing through an old sequoia that a group of people lived in for awhile back in the logging days


Those are big!