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Snowy Blackberry Winter Hits Southern Highlands

leah kirk

A cold rain turned to snow late last week in the highest reaches of the central and southern Appalachians, depositing up to half-foot of snow last Saturday.

“We’re up to 6″ of snow now,” the LeConte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park wrote Saturday on Facebook. “The winds have started up again. … Temps continue to be in the mid 20s. US 441 just re-closed due to ice and snow.”

Blackberry winter is credited with a rare late-spring snowstorm surprised many in an area that just days before was basking in sweet southern sunshine and blackberry blossoms. Six inches fell on the summit of Mount LeConte, Tenn. (elevation 6,594 feet), making it the second snowiest day in May on record there (blame global warming…). U.S. Route 441 that cuts across Great Smoky Mountains National Park was closed briefly because of snow and ice.

Snow was reported up the spine of the Appalachians with trace amounts measured in several locations in the North Carolina high country including Mount Mitchell and Boone. Snowshoe, WV received 1.5 inches and nearby Canaan Valley up to three inches depending on elevation.

Tri-State Conservation and Fishing Camp

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A joint project of Trout Unlimited in Virginia, Maryland/DC, & West Virginia, the Tri-State Conservation and Fishing Camp is in its 11th year of helping boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 become skilled and responsible anglers and informed conservationists.

Those eligible to attend are boys and girls currently in the 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade, or who will be 13 years old by June 21, 2017, who enjoy the outdoors, want to learn to fish or improve their fishing skills, and are interested in helping to protect our environment. The event is a fun-filled comprehensive 6-day, 5-night residential camp. Student will enjoy an exciting week of hands-on action packed fun in a mountain stream environment that will help you become a skilled angler and an experienced conservationist.

The Camp fee is $850; partial or full financial sponsorship is available for campers needing support to attend. Limited to 24 campers. Led by expert instructors and an experienced staff.  For more information contact Paul Kearney, Camp Director; 540-229-0563 or

North Carolina DH Waters Open to Harvest June 3

leah kirk

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 19, 2017) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will open 34 trout streams and two lakes classified as Delayed Harvest to trout harvest on June 3 through Sept. 30.

From 6 a.m. until 11:59 a.m., Delayed Harvest waters are open only to anglers 15 years old and younger. At noon, waters open to all anglers. During this time, anglers can keep up to seven trout per day — with no bait restrictions and no minimum size limits.

Since last fall, Commission staff has stocked more than 372,000 trout in waters designated as Delayed Harvest to provide anglers with better opportunities to catch fish, according to David Deaton, the Commission’s fish production supervisor.

“We stock Delayed Harvest streams in March, April, May and then again in October and November,” Deaton said. “In early summer, when some streams become too warm for trout to survive, we open these stocked streams to allow trout harvest before stream conditions get too warm.”

Delayed Harvest trout waters are posted with diamond-shaped, black-and-white signs.

The Commission established the youth-only fishing period in the morning of “opening day,” which is always the first Saturday in June, to promote trout fishing among young anglers and to provide special opportunities for young anglers to catch and keep fish.

The Commission also supports youth-only fishing opportunities during National Fishing and Boating Week 2017. From late May through mid-June, more than 40 kids’ fishing events will be held throughout the state.

While fishing, anglers should consider these minimal steps to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species like gill lice, whirling disease, and didymo:

CLEAN equipment of all aquatic plants, animals and mud

DRAIN water from boats, live wells and equipment

DRY equipment thoroughly

NEVER MOVE fish, plants or other organisms from one body of water to another

Murray’s Fly Shop 55th Anniversary

leah kirk

For the last 55 years Murray’s Fly Shop has been a formative component of modern fly fishing in Virginia. Founder Harry Murray can rightly be called the Godfather of fly flicking on waters of the Shenandoah River watershed. It is the oldest full service fly shop in the Southern Appalachians.

“I started Murray’s Fly Shop in Edinburg, VA in 1962 to provide top quality tackle and flies for serious trout and smallmouth anglers,” says Murray.

When asked if 55 years ago, did he foresee the current level of interest in fly fishing in Virginia that exists today, Murray said, “Fifty-five years ago there were many serious fly fisherman for mountain trout in my part of Virginia, but they did not travel very far from home as anglers do today. There is definitely more interest today.”

When asked what he believes his fly shop has given fly fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Murray said, “I believe my fly shop has helped anglers find good fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the schools I conduct, the book I have written and the flies I’ve designed.

“Many anglers are surprised to find there is such good trout fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains for wild trout. If one is willing to walk several miles into the remote sections of these streams the dry fly fishing is superb. Many of these streams and access points are covered in my books: Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams and Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park.”

STM wishes Harry Murray another 50 years of promoting fly fishing in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Battle of Gatlinburg One-Fly Tournament

leah kirk

Part of the much anticipated Sugarlands MountainFest in late September is the Battle of Gatlinburg One-Fly Tournament. The one-fly shootout is parented by Sugarlands Distillery as part of its Sugarlands MountainFest Music and Outdoor Festival. The fly fishing tourney is sponsored by the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Southern Trout Magazine.

“The Battle of Gatlinburg One-Fly Tournament is a first for Gatlinburg which operates its only trout fishing program,” says John Reinhardt. President of the Great Smoky Mountains TU chapter. “The event will attract the growing number of seasoned fly fishermen from several states.  One-fly events like this have become increasingly popular in recent years.”

Sugarlands MountainFest Music and Outdoor Festival is a four days event this fall where outdoor enthusiasts will gather to enjoy live musical performances, competitive races, outdoor competitions, craft cocktails, award-winning spirits and brews—all in the breathtaking mountains of East Tennessee.  Festival goers will experience the world class attractions and shopping of downtown Gatlinburg, TN, all the while enjoying the natural splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains. At Sugarlands Distilling Company, their backyard is your natural playground.

Battle of Gatlinburg One-Fly Tournament anglers will compete in this competition in the majestic rivers and streams of the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the Great Smoky Mountains. The tournament takes place Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 9am. Over $3,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. Registration capacity is 30 individuals

Registration details include:

Gatlinburg Fishing permit fee

Tournament Registration fee

Weekend Festival Pass to Sugarlands MountainFest

Premium Tour of Sugarlands Distilling Company

Meet Moonshiner and TV outdoorsman, Mark Rogers.

EVENT DATE: Saturday September 30, 2017


Registration ends September 30, 2017 at 7:45am EDT

More details to be announced.

MADE SOUTH Coming to Hoover June 2-3

leah kirk

By Jerry Davis, Associate Publisher

              Last week the Southern Trout Magazine family partook of a reception at Birmingham’s Good People Brewery that was hosted by MADE SOUTH, an up and coming new company out of Nashville, TN. MADE SOUTH is quite unlike anything any of us had observed.  The brainchild of Christopher and Kimberly Thomas, MADE SOUTH events celebrate the best artisan goods, food, drink, music and art exclusively made in the South. We’re quite excited about being part of their first event in Hoover, June 2-3.

“We’ve always been proud Southerners, but something about learning this information about our Tennessee roots rekindled our love affair with the South,” says Christopher. “I felt it was time for me to step away from a 12 year career with Dave Ramsey to start a family business. That’s when we began dreaming about what the future might hold for us.” 

"Today Kimberly and I are raising McKinley, Jack and Will on a little farm just south of Nashville. It’s a whole lot of fun, and having them involved in MADE SOUTH is giving us opportunities to talk with them about hard work and creativity and taking pride in where they’re from.”

              "Our family loves the South, and we love supporting the local businesses who call her home. MADE SOUTH is our way of sharing their stories with you. We hope you like them, and we’re happy to launch MADE SOUTH’S four city tour (Hoover, Franklin-Brentwood, Atlanta, and Louisville) at the new Finley Center at The Hoover Met (100 Ben Chapman Drive; Hoover, AL 35244).



Casting For Hope 3th Annual Cherokee Classic

leah kirk

The Casting for Hope Team is ready to their 3rd Annual Cherokee Classic on June 17, 2017.  Teams will fish four, one-and-a-half-hour sessions, with two sessions on the Trophy Water on the Raven’s Fork and two sessions on the Enterprise Waters in this volunteer-controlled event.  This will be a volunteer-controlled event.

All participants will receive a complimentary t-shirt, lunch, and any other swag that the Casting for Hope team can gather before the event.  The Fisheries and Wildlife Management Program of the Cherokee Tribe has brought $6,000 in prize money for the top three teams to the table–$3,000 for 1st place, $2,000 for 2nd place, and $1,000 for 3rd place.  Teams will be limited to the first 16 two-man teams to register. Entry Fees are $200 per team.

Fips Mouche scoring rules will determine final placings in the event.  But Fips fishing rules will be modified to allow for strike indicators, split shot, and tying off the bend of hooks.  Barbless/debarbed hooks will be enforced.

You can send your entry fee via PayPal to  If you’d like to pay by check or cash, please contact us at

7:00-8:00:  Angler Meeting and Beat Draw

8:00-8:30:  Travel to and scouting of beats for Session 1

8:30-10:00:  Fishing Session 1

10:00-10:30:  Travel to and scouting for Session 2

10:30-12:00:  Fishing Session 2

12:00-2:00:  LUNCH

2:00-2:30:  Travel to and scouting for Session 3

2:30-4:00:  Fishing Session 3

4:00-4:30:  Travel to and scouting for Session 4

4:30-6:00:  Fishing Session 4


6:00-6:45:  Travel back to headquarters

6:45-7:15:  Scoring at headquarters

7:15-8:00:  Announcement of Winners at Headquarters

Little River Outfitters School of Fly Fishing

leah kirk

Little River Outfitters in Townsend, Tennessee is more than a fly shop. We are a very serious fly fishing school, offering classes for beginners and advanced fly anglers alike. Their curriculum ranges from free introductory classes, to two-day schools for beginners, private instruction, advanced fly fishing techniques, and fly tying classes. The school has a dedicated classroom on the second level of the shop.

The LRO Fly Fishing School has been teaching fly fishing and fly tying classes since 1996. They strive to keep tuition low, so more people can afford to participate. They hold beginner fly fishing, aquatic entomology and fly tying classes over 40 days this year.  That does not include private or group instruction, which is a significant number.



This is a free 2-hour introductory class, developed by Orvis, and taught by LRO. In this short class, you will learn to tie a couple of essential knots, learn about tackle and get some fundamental instruction in casting.  



You don’t have to take both days.  Some people take the day 1 class, then start fishing.  Others take both days.  LRO provides all equipment needed both days, and lunch is on us.

Day 1 is held in the classroom and on the casting lawn at LRO.  There you will learn about tackle, flies, tying knots, reading the water and casting.  This is an all-day school usually held on Saturdays.

Day 2 is held on streams in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Your instructors will be by your side, showing you how to cast and present flies to trout.  You will learn to control your fly line and land a fish.  This class is usually held on Sundays, following a Day 1 Class.  2-Day Beginner Fly Fishing is the most popular class at our school. 



Private Instruction is perfect for those who may not be able to work with scheduled classes.   Basically, the 2-day school is condensed to one day.  Morning is spent in the classroom and on the casting lawn with an instructor.  After lunch, you will go to a trout stream in the Great Smoky Mountains for on-stream instruction.  One instructor will teach 1 to 3 students.  If your group has more than 3 students, we will arrange for a second instructor.  We provide all equipment and lunch.


This class is taught by Dr. Brad Cook at our school for several years.  Brad is Professor of Biology at Tennessee Tech University.  His passions are aquatic insects and fly fishing.  This class is held in a classroom setting during the morning.  There you will learn about aquatic insects.  After lunch, you and Brad will go to a stream in the Smoky Mountains, where we have a collection permit, and collect specimens, in the stream, using seines and nets. There, you will identify the insects.  


This class is taught by Walter Babb and Brian Courtney.  Walter has been teaching this class 18 years.  You begin this all day class by learning about tools and techniques.  Then, you will tie your first fly, a Green Weenie.  You will watch an instructor do it twice, then tie three yourself, under their supervision.  We have step by step manuals to help you along.  They are yours to keep.  Throughout the day, you will tie 5 different flies, about 3 of each pattern.  All equipment and materials are provided. Lunch is on us.  


This fly tying class takes you one step further, to being a more competent fly tier.  You will learn to tie flies using more advanced techniques.  This is an all-day class.  All equipment and materials will be provided. 


Here you will learn the most advanced techniques, and tie more complicated flies.  Once you reach this pinnacle, you should be able to tie any fly, or have the ability to do so.  As in all of our fly tying classes, equipment, tools, materials and lunch are provided.  


This is a new class, designed to make you a better fly fisherman.  Instructors include Walter Babb, Bill Bolinger, Dr. Brad Cook, Brian Courtney, Rob Fightmaster, Anthony Hipps, Chuck Kline, David Knapp, Dave Carson, Josh Pfeiffer and John Thurman. The first half of the day will be spent learning all about nymph fishing in our classroom and on our casting lawn, learning to make specialty casts.  You will learn about rigging your tackle.  After lunch, you will be on a stream in the Smoky Mountains, learning more and using what you learned so far, on the water.

Ike’s Offer Aqua Bugs App

leah kirk

The Izaak Walton League of America is offering a free app called the Aqua Bugs that helps you solve bug ID mysteries with a few simple questions. Clear directions paired with simple line drawings walk you through each choice. Like magic, the name of your bug will appear along with a gallery of photographs and brief description of its key features. The Ikes’ goal in providing this app is to make it easy to explore local streams and monitor water quality, but is great for fly fishermen.

Aqua Bug is an easy-to-use, step-by-step identification of the most common macroinvertebrates found in freshwater streams throughout the United States. It has accurate descriptions, line drawings, and photographs illustrate each aquatic insect and crustacean and a             “Not My Bug” feature to help with the most common mistakes in aquatic bug ID.

It is available for download at the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.

Catch A Rainbow Kids Fishing

leah kirk

Jamestown, KY – What began as a small event in 1986 has now blossomed into one of the largest events of its kind in the country! This year's 31st Annual Catch A Rainbow Kids Fishing Derby is scheduled for Saturday, June 3, 2017 and will take place at the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery.

Designed as a way to get kids outdoors and connected to fishing, this event provides an opportunity for families to have fun with a rod and reel! Last year's event included approximately 1,400 participating children! Support and planning for the event came about through generous donations of more than a hundred volunteers and over one hundred sponsors. The event offers fishing, prizes, trophies, food, and much more at no charge!

The derby is hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery and the Friends of Wolf Creek NFH, Inc. If you would like to make a donation or volunteer to help with the derby, please feel free to contact the Hatchery.

Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery will kick off another year of Fall Derbies in September for its wounded veterans of U.S. Armed Forces as well as senior citizen constituents. On Monday, September 11th, 2017, from 6 a.m. – 3 p.m. CST, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery (NFH) will host the 6th Annual Wounded Warriors Fishing Event. This free event is open to any veteran wounded during combat and will be a day filled with fishing, food and fun.

Considered one of the finest fishing areas in the Eastern United States, wounded warriors will have the opportunity to fish Lake Cumberland, Cumberland River, and Hatchery Creek. Participants will start the day with a guided striped bass fishing tour on Lake Cumberland. Following a complimentary lunch, participants will end the day with trout fishing at Hatchery Creek or along the Cumberland River.

This fishing event was developed by Wolf Creek NFH and the Friends of Wolf Creek NFH, Inc. as an effort to promote outdoor recreational activities for wounded service members. Veterans who suffered various injuries related to their service are encouraged to participate. This includes but is not limited to amputations; post-traumatic stress disorder; traumatic brain injury; paralysis. All Kentucky Sport Fishing Regulations will apply. Lunch and fishing equipment will be provided; however, participants are welcome to bring their own gear for trout fishing. Pre-registration will be conducted through Wolf Creek NFH. With only 25 spots available for this event, it is encouraged that interested individuals register as soon as possible to secure a position.

On Tuesday, September 26th, 2017, from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery will host the 10th Annual Catch A Smile Senior Fishing Derby. The event is free and is open to anyone 62 years of age or older. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. CST. Hamburgers and other refreshments will be provided, and several door prizes will also be given away. All Kentucky Sport Fishing Regulations will apply, and seniors must bring their own fishing gear and bait. It's sure to be a day of great fishing fun, so come on out and enjoy!

For more information on these fishing events, please visit the or follow us on Facebook and Twitter /WolfCreekNFH. You can also contact Ashley Buffington or Moria Painter, Environmental Education/Outreach Specialists, at 270-343-3797 or via email: or


“Tailwater Tenkara” at Sowbug 2018

leah kirk

Planning is well underway for Sowbug Roundup 2018. t Tenkara, a Japanese technique for fly fishing that has emerged on Ozark tailwater will have a presence at the Mountain Home get together according Paul Ashton in the May Talewaters Newsletter for the North Arkansas Fly Fishers ’t know much about it. Next

“Usually Thursday is a slow day at Sowbug. Next year we will have “Tenkara Thursday” or otherwise a day of “Tailwater Tenkara”. I have been in contact with a number of Tenkara “experts” who are happy to join us at Sowbug and tell us about their passion. Our own Misako Ishimura is one of these! We expect to have Morgan Lyle, author of “Simple Flys”, joining us at Sowbug. We plan to haveseveral vendors who specialize in Tenkara at the show.

“On ‘Tenkara Thursday’ we will also have Tenkara related devicesand goodies for the silent auctions and raffles. I see “Tailwater Tenkara” as an opportunity to widen theappeal of Sowbug and to increase the attendance from out of town.

If you would like to be involved with “Tailwater Tenkara” or the Sowbug Roundup in general,

Contact Michael Tipton ( or 870-404-8845.

Breaking News: Kudos Jimmy Jacob

leah kirk

Jimmy Jacobs, editor of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine, is among the second class of inductees into The Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians Hall of Fame. The Marietta, Georgia resident has devoted his life to providing information to readers on the great fly fishing for trout found in the Southern Appalachians. His book, Trout Fishing in North Georgia, is the bestselling title ever on this subject. 

Jacobs is Inducted in the Museum Hall of Fame’s Communications category for his contributions as the author of numerous fly fishing books and articles, seminar speaking, and photography. Other 2017 inductees who have contributed significantly to the tradition of fly fishing in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region include North Carolinians, Mac Brown and Joe Messinger, Sr. Last month Maryland fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh was inducted at another location.

“We at Southern Trout Magazine congratulate Jacobs,” says Don Kirk, publisher of the publication. “His tremendous impact of fly fishing for trout in the mountain streams of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee are legendary and incredibly far reaching. We look forward to attending the induction that honors Jacob’s life work.”

The second annual Museum Hall of Fame inductions will be conducted on August 26, 2017 at the Southwestern Community College Swain Center in Bryson City, NC. The inductions is expected to draw museum supporters as well as the family and friends of the inductees.

The museum’s 2nd Annual Smoky Mountain Hook & Hackle - Fly Tyer's Weekend event is October 6-8. Additionally the museum is raising funds for Phase II, The Museum Aquariums. The plan is to have additional fly fishing exhibits, and an array of tanks exhibiting live Southern Appalachian species of fish and related creatures, such as a Cased-Caddis tank and a Hellbender tank.. The facility will serve as;

1) The second building of Fly Fishing exhibits,

2) A Southern Appalachian Aquatic Species Science Center (providing support for challenged, threaten or endangered species)

3) Trout in the Classroom Regional Center (helping TU and schools in the SE mountain region)

4) Live Mountain Trout Stream

5) Live presentations of all Southern Appalachian game fish, forage fish, etc.

               Individuals and organizations that contribute $100 or more will be listed as a sponsor for the Donor Tank(s). For each $100 donated, the individual or organization will be given an entry into a drawing for a new Lew C. Parks Hollowbuilt Tonkin Split-Bamboo Fly Rod, 8' 6" 5 weight, 2 piece, valued at $800. Donations may be taken over the phone by credit card by calling 828 488 3681.

High Winds Cause GSMNP Road Closures

leah kirk

Cades Cove and Foothills Parkway are among the areas and roads closed in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to significant wind and multiple downed trees, the Park announced in a press release Thursday afternoon. Parson Branch Road is now CLOSED until further notice due to extensive danger from falling trees. There is no reopen date at this time. - Winds have been recorded as high as 98 miles per hour with sustained winds of 50 miles per hour.

May 10th to September 27th 2017 Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to all motor vehicles Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10am. Hikers and bikes allowed. i.e. forget hitting Abrams Falls bright and early like in the old days.

AR G&F on Water Conditions

leah kirk

“As you all probably know, the rain we received over the weekend has impacted a number of AGFC facilities on the White and North Fork of the White Rivers,” says Christy Graham, Trout Biologist Supervisor for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

“The Corps is currently using flood surcharge operations at Beaver Dam, Table Rock Dam, and Norfork Dam.  All three of those reservoirs are near or exceeding the top of their flood pool elevations.  They are using a combination of turbines and spillway gates at all three lakes to evacuate the water.  Total releases are 52,000 cf/s (cubic feet per second) at Beaver, 52,500 cf/s at Table Rock, and 29,600 cf/s at Norfork.”

  For reference, one turbine at full generation produces close to 3,000 cf/s.  AGFC access areas on the White and North Fork of the White (Norfork) Rivers will also be impacted by the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek flooding that occurred over the weekend. 

“I would advise anyone putting in or taking out at access areas from Cotter-downstream on the White to use caution,” says Graham.  “There is a lot of large debris from the flood currently floating down the river.  Once the water levels drop, I expect debris to be found all around the access areas.  As soon as waters go down, the AGFC will work to assess damages and arrange repairs and clean-ups.  Please use caution while fishing at these accesses after the flood and especially while boating.  Again, large debris, including logs, rootwads, and boulders will have been displaced by the flood waters and your ability to see them in the water may be limited.  I strongly encourage life jackets.”

For more information, visit the Little Rock District Corp of Engineers website:

Swallow Hole Suddenly Appears in Wilson's Creek

leah kirk

Springfield News-Leader

Veteran fly fisherman Mike Kromrey always keeps an eye out for good water holes that might hold a lot of fish. But on Tuesday, while kayaking on Wilson's Creek southwest of Springfield with two friends, something else caught his eye. "I'm always looking for good fishing spots, and was scanning the bank back and forth when I saw this depression in the water," said Kromrey. "When we got closer, you could see that vortex happening." Kromrey and fellow kayakers Loring Bullard and Joey Waitman had discovered a "swallow hole" in the creek. "It was sucking down water, you could hear it slurping," said Bullard, who captured the odd whirlpool on video. "Mike saw it first and said it was really wild and to come take a look. I've never seen anything like that in a creek like this."

That's saying a lot. Bullard was executive director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks for 22 years, monitoring and trying to improve stream quality in the Springfield area. He handed the Watershed Committee reins to Kromrey in 2012. On Tuesday they were paddling the stream with Waitman, a city wastewater treatment plant employee, picking up trash and photographing the creek for some future waterway improvement projects. Bullard said the whirlpool marked a crack in the creek bed, and the whirlpool was sucking hundreds of gallons of water into a subterranean channel that likely exited more than a mile downstream at Rader Spring. "Water basically is going down into this cave system," Bullard said. "It was kind of spooky when you look down into the swallow hole - it's very dark down there. The cave system is probably very shallow, within the top 20 to 30 feet of bedrock."

Beware of the Brown Recluse

leah kirk

The venomous spider, known as brown recluse spiders, has found a new home in a place they haven’t often been found before. Sorry, Michigan, but it sounds like brown recluse spiders have found the Mitten State much more comfortable than experts originally thought. A bite from a brown recluse can have dramatically different effects on humans, ranging from mild irritation to flesh-eating necrosis, and even death.

According to the Detroit Free Press, a homeowner in Davison, Michigan, found a pair of spiders in his garage last month. The spiders turned out to be the sixth confirmed discovery of brown recluse in Michigan since 2011, said Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell. He is especially intrigued by this discovery, simply because this species of spider isn’t supposed to hang around through Michigan’s cold winters. Originally, brown recluse were thought to be native in only Nebraska, southern Ohio, Texas, and states surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

In this case, “it appears brown recluse spiders survived the winter of 2016-17 in an unheated garage,” Russell said. “Does this indicate transported populations, or is this evidence of range expansion? That’s the question, and I don’t know.”

Brown recluse live in the Appalachians as well as Arkansas and Missouri; two states where they’re very, very dense. Oklahoma, the western portions of Tennessee and Kentucky, the southern parts of Indiana and Illinois, and the northeastern parts of Texas round out the recluse’s range.

Though the spiders can travel around – maybe in luggage, or freight – it’s uncommon to find a brown recluse outside its native range. Still, reports of brown recluse bites from states outside the recluse range abound. A six years study of brown recluse bite records derived from three poison control centers in Florida found a total of 844 brown recluse bites were reported. But in 100 years of arachnological data, only 70 recluse spiders (not all of them brown recluses) have been found in the entire state.

A similar look at Georgia, a state on the margins of the recluse’s range, there was a spider study where suspected recluse specimens were submitted for identification. More than 1,000 spiders came in, but only 19 were brown recluses. In the state’s arachnological history — derived from searching through museum collections, historical records, websites, and storage buildings in parks — there were only about 100 verified brown recluse sightings, mostly in the northwest portion of the state. But a five-year dataset from the Georgia Poison Center contained 963 reports of brown recluse spider bites.

Breaking News: Prayers for the Ozarks

leah kirk

by Trent Fleming, field editor

Southern Trout Ozark Edition

Persistent, heavy rains in Arkansas and Missouri over the last week or so have resulted in catastrophic flooding throughout the White River region.  In order to manage the record rainfall, the Corps of Engineers are releasing significant amounts of water through the various dams in the region, raising river levels and impacting surrounding areas.  The Corps recently reported inflows to Bull Shoals Lake that were comparable to flows in the Mississippi River at flood stage near St. Louis . . . on the order of 700,000 CFS at one point.  So lots of water coming down.

I did see reports later in the week of good fish being taken in the Bull Shoals tailwater, from those who are floating the river, but conditions dictate extreme care in those situations.

Flash flooding is also affecting free flowing streams, including the North Fork of the White River in Missouri, where record flooding was seen near Tecumseh, and our friends at River of Life Farms experienced significant flood damage.  The Spring River at Mammoth Spring saw extremely high flood levels, as did the Black River in Arkansas, where a levee was breeched, resulting in significant flooding in and around Pocahontas, Arkansas.  Early beans and other crops have likely been affected by the floodwaters.

For now, remember those who have lost homes and businesses in the flood waters, seek to help where you can, and call ahead if you have trips planned in order to evaluate travel routes and whether your outfitter can still accommodate you.   In the coming weeks I hope to visit several of the tailwaters, and will provide some updates.   These large releases of water almost always change up the submerged terrain, so we get to learn the wading areas of the river over again.  

“Hazel Creek: The Life and Death of an Iconic Mountain Community”

leah kirk

“Hazel Creek: The Life and Death of an Iconic Mountain Community” by Daniel Pierce acquaints readers with this controversial community found with the present day boundaries of the GSMNP. It is published by Great Smoky Mountains Association, a non-profit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many local bookstores, as well as all National Park stores and, carry the book

Daniel Pierce, University of North Carolina at Asheville history professor, wrote about the most isolated area of the national for many reasons, with his love of fishing residing near the top of his list.

 “I’ve long had an interest in Hazel Creek; it’s an incredibly beautiful place,” said Pierce, who has been known to wet a line in Hazel Creek on more than one occasion. “And I’ve long had a historical interest in a place, which has so many wonderful stories.”

The stories Pierce tells in “Hazel Creek” include characters like Moses Proctor, the first white man to settle in the area who “probably squatted on the land,” secure in the belief that the area’s isolation would prevent the State of North Carolina from even knowing he was there. That isolation began to loosen its grip, however, as others followed, said Pierce, who points out that while “it wasn’t exactly a thriving community, by the 1880s there were a number of families living there. Even before Horace Kephart came, Hazel Creek had really been affected by industrialization.”

What Kephart saw happening in the Hazel Creek community gave him the impression that the area was in decline. That turned out not to be the case, as the Ritter Lumber Company would soon move in, bringing with it railroads and heavy equipment to log the entire region between 1910-20s. The town of Proctor was built for Ritter’s employees, who thrived in the area and numbered around 1,000 at the company’s peak. But as quickly as boom appeared, it went away. By the late 1920s, with no more timber to cut, Proctor was almost a ghost town.

 “When TVA closed the flood gates, they flooded the road into the Hazel Creek area and all the communities on the north shore of the Little Tennessee,” Pierce said. The people living there were moved out, but were promised that a new road would be built into the area. Of course, he said, that began the controversy that’s come to be called the “Broken Promise of the Road to Nowhere.”

Fayetteville PHW Fly Fishing Program

leah kirk

                The angling public is invited to join the Fayetteville Project Healing Waters for a Saturday, June 3rd, for a “Low Country Shrimp Boil & Social”.

 the Fayetteville PHW Fly Fishing volunteers and participants are kicking off summer with good food and good friends. The event starts at 5:30pm at the home of Tammy and Tom Carpenter. Here’s the recipe for the low country boil:

Start with a pot of good clean water and add some fabulous Louisiana Crab boil seasonings, a couple of Bay leaves, red skin potatoes, sweet onions and squeeze some fresh lemons in, just because.  Then, add in fresh field corn and a few pounds of that staple of Cajun cuisine, Andouille (an-doo-ee) sausage. Once everything boils real good, we add in some plump, juicy shrimp and soak 'em until they're pink. Then, dump everything on the table, and if you go away hungry it's your fault.

This is a family event and hamburgers and hotdogs will be available for the kiddos or for you, if shrimp is just not to your liking. For more contact Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing-Fayetteville; 7489 Raeford Road; Fayetteville, NC 28304