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Filtering by Category: Don Says

Breaking News: Buddy & Buckberry Back

leah kirk

buddy and buckberry.jpg

After the Lodge at Buckberry Creek was destroyed in Gatlinburg’s November fires, its owner Buddy McLean said they would rebuild. Six months after the fires, he and McLean and designer Jeanie Johnson are weeks away from reopening the only building left at the lodge. Finishing touches are being completed to repairs as vacationers have booked suites for “the Woods” building, which offers a picturesque view of the Smokies from the comfort of classic rocking chairs.

Other buildings that once made up the sprawling complex are a long way off from being rebuilt. However, designer Jeanie Johnson is looking forward to the day when reconstruction begins in earnest. McLean, who developed the lodge with his brother in 2005, says engineers have checked the standing walls and declared them structurally okay. The plan is to build each new building higher.

“We’re planning to keep the retaining walls just like they are. The other idea is we would probably go up a story, which would give us more suites,” said McLean.

The Lodge at Buckberry Creek once housed 100 guests in 42 rooms. Each suite had a balcony. Guests could walk from their room or meeting rooms to the lodge restaurant. Over the the last six months, the process of rebuilding first the electrical system and then other infrastructure has been painstakingly slow.

STM stayed there several times. McLean irreplaceable collection of vintage fly fishing tackle from Scotland along with numerous other valuable pieces of memorabilia were lost in the fire. It was truly a breathtaking collection we sorely miss.

“It will take us about a year and a half to rebuild, but the truth of it is the mountains weren’t ever affected,” said McLean. “It will be fun again. It can’t be anything else. I’m a half full person: that glass is always half full.”

Breaking News: “Vols on the Fly"

leah kirk

By John Reinhardt

On behalf of the Great Smoky Mountain Trout Unlimited Chapter #47, we wish to congratulate these TU 5 River members embarking on a great adventure. It has a personal connection for our chapter as we have been a part of the growth and participation in the University of Tennessee’s 5 Rivers chapter “Vols on the Fly." Even more importantly, we are honored to have become friends and fellow TU members with two of this year's 5 Rivers members who are getting ready for a journey of a lifetime. Brett Winchell and Matt Crockett epitomize exactly what Trout Unlimited hopes to achieve in our future leaders. During their association with the Great Smoky Mountain chapter, they stepped up to the plate for every request we asked of them.  Engaging in volunteer work with children or veterans, designing and producing videos that have been a major part of our media efforts not only for our chapter but also this year's Southeast Regional in Gatlinburg, TN.

Don Says: Why I Kill Copperheads

leah kirk

Greensboro, North Carolina: A birthday party for an 11-year-old turned deadly when the birthday boy, Cameron Robbins was bitten by one of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world. Jennifer Hyatt got a bit of a scare at her son’s birthday party when a friend informed her “your son was bit by a venomous snake.”

“Your mind goes blank,” she said. “Just in pure panic.”

Cameron Robbins said he was “running from a friend who had a water balloon and. . . I guess a snake jumped up and got me.”

Cameron, who appears to be wise beyond his years, says he wants other kids to learn from his mistake and know what to do and what not to do in the event of a venomous snake bite.

“Something I shouldn’t have done I went straight to the bathroom and checked it,” Robbins said.

Instead, he admits he should have called for an adult right away.

“It was already starting to swell and he was in severe pain,” Hyatt said. In a time of panic and fear, it was very convenient to have a family friend who was a former EMT nearby to assist in slowing the venom.

Fortunately, a trip to the hospital would reveal Cameron was not in grave danger and did not need anti-venom. His biggest birthday present this year: a couple puncture wounds from a copperhead snake.

Call Don Kirk old fashion or environmentally insensitive, but please know this. Had I ever encountered that copperhead (or say a rattlesnake) that 11 year olds birthday party would not have been marred by that viper. Yeah, I know the law on killing snakes… it goes, eh?

Don Says: Newsletter Overhaul

leah kirk

Almost since its inception, Southern Trout Magazine has had a weekly newsletter that I have compiled (except during my 6-month suspension when Olive K. Nynne held the reins.) The mission of the ST Newsletter was to create a fly fishing for trout “crossroads” of information from the Ozarks to the Appalachians. Now that I have backed off on what Nynne refers to as “right-wing lunatic fringe element rants.” The newsletter has matured into a popular forum. She still watches me for the smallest of missed ques.

               The newsletter goes out to over 30,000 people and has an opening rate of 42 percent, which I am told exceeds the planetary average. The problem is that with our current four fishing magazines, the newsletter has outgrown the “ST” designation. I am told that sending out a weekly newsletter for Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing, Southern Kayak Fishing and the Ozark Edition would overload most subscribers’ email donkey.

               While I still retain some semblance of order and control here, the editors of these magazines, and the soon to be announced new editor of Southern Trout Magazine, pretty much run their own titles. One plan is to integrate the present ST Newsletter to cover Southern Trout, Southern Kayak Fishing, Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing and Southern Trout Ozark Edition in a single newsletter. The other option is to have each magazine title have a “monthly’ newsletter that goes out on a rotating bases with each editor doing his newsletter. I like both options. Olive will cast the deciding vote (she showed me that it was in her contract).

               If you would, please email at to let me know which option you like.

Trout Civil War

leah kirk

One of the more obscure occurrences in the country’s partisan political shakeup is a little noticed civil war occurring in the trout fishing world. STM has no dog in this fray, but we are watching closely.

I learned a long time ago that there will never be peace between those espousing a conservation approach to the use of natural resources, and those committed to environmental preservation. They kinda sorta sound the same, but rest assured, there is a clear line of demarcation between these two camps.

It’s not my first taste of this sort of conflict. Years ago when President Reagan appointed James Watt to the Secretary of the Interior, outcry from preservationists was identical to what is happending today.  During that time I was fortunate enough to spend time with Watt and then later saw the improvements that he brought to the GSMNP. Despite predictions then that the sky was falling, it did not.

STM strives to represent trout fishing in the South. We bend over backwards to support local chapters of Trout Unlimited, the FFF, Project Healing Waters, Casting For Recover and such, which in our opinion are our most incredible feet-on-the-ground yeoman for the future of trout fishing in the region. If it is happening in the South we want to know about it. However, our interest in covering what is happening in Alaska, Canada, Vermont or Oregon is quiet casual.

Don Says: Who's on 1st -- Watt's on 2nd

leah kirk

Occasionally I like to slow down long enough to share with you what is happening at Southern Trout. As of now we are publishing five digital magazine under what probably appears to be an ad hoc franchising scheme. Each title has its own editor who has virtual autonomy over the content, direction and personality of his magazine. Oddly enough that was the easy part.

        Last weekend I took my annual vacation at the local hospital. I entered “Motel Hell” with ten toes, and despite the considerable efforts of a few carving oriented professionals there, check out with ten toes. In all honesty, it was a nice hiatus from reality.

            So what’s next in my crazy world? I can share that which I am privy to, which these days is not much. Rumor has it that Southern Unlimited, LLC, which is what we are officially known as, we will be launching four more new magazines with survivalist/camping themes and perhaps two more national hunting titles. Also much to the relief of many, odds are I will be passing off content responsibly of Southern Trout Magazine sometime this summer.

            Oddly enough, I am not sure where my spot is at the rapidly evolving Southern Unlimited organization. Each editor is roughly twice as smart as I am. I find myself getting lost in high level conservations in the sales department. The designers do not even know my name. The only staffer that I half way trust is Olive K. Nynne, and everyone knows she is a certified bitch. Mind you I am not complaining, as I hoped this day would come, but I do find myself confused at times. Thank goodness my probation period resulting from that lion being shot ends in November.

Don Says: Legends of the Fly Induction

leah kirk

Last Friday the Atlanta Fly Fishing Show was the site of the first Legends of the Fly Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It was a success. Ringmaster, John Reinhardt, gave a stellar performance as the event’s M.C. I believe it is fair to say that few indeed are the times when so many notables in the world of fly fishing for trout in the South have gathered to recognize and be recognized for the enormity of their contributions and passion for the sport.

The Southern Trout family was humbled by the gathering at the ceremony. We also want to once more acknowledge the support of sponsors: the Museum of Southern Appalachian Fly Fishing, the Smoky Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Sweetwater Brewing Company and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Special thanks too goes to Chuck and Ben Furimsky of the Fly Fishing Show. They co-hosted the ceremony, and will do so again in 2018 and 2019.


In the not too distant future after we have digested this year’s efforts, we will make improvements and tender an offer to all to give their “two-cents worth” on the list of next year’s nominees. As I noted on several occasions last week, the ST Legends of the Fly Hall of Fame quickly grew above my pay grade. I certainly do know how the dog who caught the bus had to feel.

Don Says: 2016--What a Year

leah kirk

Whatta ride 2016 has been. We spent a lot of time in prayer before the elections, and praise God they’re finally done. We avoided turning STM into a political jostling grounds, but without much ado here, our passions ran deep. Like most of the people who still associate with us, we are optimistic regarding the future of our country and for the future this novel publishing business we’ve been nursing along now for five years.


                Tomorrow or the next day, or the next day the second issue of STM “Ozark Edition” goes out. The reception of its launch in November was positive beyond our wildest expectations. The title is yet not where we want it, but with Ragan Whitlock at the helm as editor, it soon will be.  Talk about bright; this young firebrand reminds of how bright and energetic I wish I could have been in the old days. My squandered youth preceded the “trout bum” era. Folks probably called us “trout hippies.” I like the term trout bums better, much more than trout hobos, hippie or tramps.

                January 15th we launch North American Bear Hunter, our first magazine for a national audience. Bill Vaznis, a Yankee (NY) is running it. He’s enlisted an impressive stable writers including Ted Nugent and Bob Foulkrod. Unknown to most here, most of my publishing background is in hunting. It’s nice to be back on familiar ground, although I am not mad enough these days at anything to work hard to kill it.

                March 1st we launch Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing. Familiar face, Jimmy Jacobs (i.e. the Godfather of Georgia Fly Fishing) is at the helm. The magazine he is creating is a top drawer fly fishing lifestyle, destination heavy title that will not only cover coastal waters from the Chesapeake to Galveston, but also the Caribbean and Central America. It will give us three fly fishing titles which we hope to parlay into an attractive advertising vehicle.

                February 3td we’ll all be in Atlanta at the Fly Fishing Show. It’s the first time the Furmisky family will bring this huge event to the Deep South. It’s special for us as it will be the site of the inaugural induction ceremony for the ST “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame. Online voting ended last week, and I have contacted the inductees. We were not sure how this project would go, but I can say that words cannot adequately express how humbling it was when I was told by the inductees that not only would they be there, but that they would also be there with their families. We didn’t see that coming.

                Personal changes in 2016 include kidney failure in March, since which time I have been on a 4-times a week dialysis regiment. Before you go “oh sh…” please know that it is best thing that’s happened to me since experiencing a grand restoration from the Lord above. The doctors drained the swamp here, removing 70 pounds of toxic whatever-it-is. I haven’t felt so good, vibrant and full of energy in ten years. Dialysis has been a tremendous blessing, although I am looking around for kidney donor—hint-hint.

                As much as I enjoy taking credit for what little success we’ve had, anyone that is around us for more than a minute knows that Mrs. Kirk is not only the brains behind it all, but she is also the one that does a lot of the work. Consider this, Leah is an 11th grade English teacher (in Alabama proper English is more or less a second language). She designs all of our magazines, and often builds the ads found in them. She operates our home dialysis machine (Sidney the Kidney), and does all of the bookkeeping and taxes. She has even convinced me to drop my objects to the 19th Amendment (a compromise deal worked out to get her to stop referring to me in public as her ‘ignorant hillbilly’).

                What little bit I know about plans for the final two quarters of 2018 lead me to believe Mrs. Kirk will either need to be cloned, or I will have to also reconsider my position on polygamy, which is very unlikely. 2016 was an exciting ride. We’re strapped in for what looks like a faced paced, productive 2017.

“I taught I taw a putty tat”

leah kirk


Folks in Durham-Chapel Hill “taught dey taw” a mountain lion. Wildlife experts say that it’s possible. Most reported mountain lion sightings in North Carolina turn out to be other animals: cats, dogs, bobcats, even coyotes. But that doesn’t rule out 100 percent a wild cougar migrating there or a captive animal getting loose.

On a neighborhood listserv, several Downing Creek residents reported seeing what they thought was a cougar. Caroline Cameron was at her kitchen sink late Sunday afternoon, Nov. 20, when she looked out across a creek behind her home and saw it.

“It was very large,” she said in an interview. “The tail was very long; it swooped down and then curled back up. It was tan with a white underbelly.” Her husband got an air rifle and looked at the animal through his scope.

“It wasn’t like we got a glimpse,” Cameron said. “We stood there and watched this critter. It was way bigger than a housecat would be. It wasn’t even remotely related to a bobcat.”

On the listserv, another woman said she saw a creature running near the UNC campus.

“It has spots, (a) long tail and (a) head like a cat,” she wrote. “It freaked me out, and I tried to take a picture but was all thumbs and shocked.”

If the animal is a cougar, it could be a captive animal that escaped or was illegally released. In the 1980s, two captive mountain lions were found feeding at a dumpster in NC’s Tyrell County,

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has had 10 confirmed cougar sightings since September 2015 – the first in Tennessee since the early 1900s. Most were caught on game cameras that hunters use to scout deer locations, wildlife biologist Joy Sweaney said. The agency thinks it’s one animal or possibly two.

“We think it’s a wild one,” she said. “Male cougars looking for new home territory can travel vast distances,” she said, adding that one cougar with a radio collar was tracked 600 miles.

Don Says: My health is always better in November

leah kirk

“My Health Is Always Better in November,” a classic hunting volume penned by Havilah Babcock, best describes how energized I feel this month. ST “Ozark Edition” Magazine went out only ten days late. Like every new project we’ve embarked on over the last five years, it took more work and time to launch than was budgeted for it. We’re blessed to get out the first issue and without bragging, add that the premier issue is decent enough—“light years”  ahead of STM’s first year design/format.

Next week Southern Kayak Fishing’s 2017 Buyers Guide goes out. This project has been a bear that just seems to have no end. The designed pages that I’ve been allowed to see look great, but completing this project has been like trying to kill a vampire when the blood sucker sees you approaching with a wooden stake in hand. The consensus here is that there’s got to be an easier way to lose money trying putting together a buyer’s guide.

Changing gears--it looks like North American Bear Hunter Magazine will premier January 1, 2017. Bill Vaznis, former owner of Bear Hunter Online Magazine, is the editor. Bowhunters reading this probably are familiar with this New Yorker.  Frankly, he is the top bear hunting writer in the country.  We’ve been dazzled with the articles he’s already sent in for design.

It’s been quite a spell since I dispatched a bear to the hereafter, something I really got into in the 1980s. Haven’t shot a bruin since Brock Ray and I nearly got killed on a 1999 Labrador hunt. Prayed that if I made it home alive from that trip I would not go back armed to the Great White North. We made it home okay, and I’ve kept my end of the bargain, although I still hold a grudge against bears for what they did to Granny Kirk. NABH will be a fun, content rich publication that will be candy to hunters with unresolved bear issues.

Nothing much else going except to say Ragan Whitlock is the new editor of our Southern Kayak Fishing Magazine, Jimmy Jacobs has a detailed “go ahead” blueprint for the late winter launch of Southern Saltwater Fly Fishing Magazine, and that I have heard unconfirmed rumors of us doing some sort of survivalist magazine. 

Don Says...Buy Local!

leah kirk

Bass Pro Shop now owns Cabela, but then you knew that and probably already forgot it. Both of these big box stores are wonderful examples of how innovation and hard work can turn a sporting goods store in to a Chucky Cheese fun time experience. I suppose that because fly fishing never fit the marketing template of either, neither were really much of a threat to so-called local fly shops.

Since A River Runs Through ignited interest in fly fishing several years ago, scores of fly shops have opened in the South. About half have come and gone, but a good many have prospered because they learned the secret to specialty retailing. For fly fishermen that means having in stock what they want when they want it and providing genuinely friendly, personal service. For shop owners that means you work you rear off 24/7. Keeping a fly shop well stocked requires an abundance of hard work.

The biggest threat to fly shops is not the big box stores. Many shop owners tell of customers who come in and play with rods or reels. Then the customers go home and order the same things online so they can save a little money.

It is safe to say that every single fly shop in the South is a big supporter of FFF, TU and PHW fund raising events. They support the sport far more that an Internet seller does. Everyone likes a great deal and saving a few bucks, but failure to patronize your local fly shop is akin to cutting your nose off to spite of your face.

Don Says...“Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame

leah kirk

Today marks the kickoff of the Southern Trout “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame program.  On February 3rd 2017 at The Fly Fishing Show in Atlanta, Georgia, a ceremony will be held to officially induct six grandfathered in anglers and announce six additional inductees chosen by online balloting.  The ceremony will be the first of its kind to recognize and commemorate the past and present historical contributions of fly fishing anglers for trout south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

                Grandfathered into the Southern Trout “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame are Ernest Peckinbaugh of Chattanooga, Tennessee who founded the region’s first commercial trout fly operation in the early 1900s; the Ozarks’ Dave Whitlock who pioneered fly fishing for trout in his region and is a renowned trout artist; Alabama’s Harry Middleton who authored what many regard as the region’s finest trout fishing literature; Georgia’s Charley Elliot who is the longest serving editor of Outdoor Life Magazine and a proponent of fly fishing for trout in the South; Arkansas’s Jim Gaston who pioneered trout fishing on the White River; and Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Don Pfitzer who pioneered tailwater trout fishing in the Appalachians.

                Southern Trout Magazine is humbled by the opportunity to be a part of bringing much deserved recognition to the rich heritage and tradition of fly fishing for trout in the South. The grandfathered inductees represent the tip of the iceberg of individuals whose passion for fly fishing for trout is reflected in their contributions to this unique sport. Future inductees will be chosen by online balloting, which makes this a unique, people’s choice recognition program.

                The “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame event will occur on the evening of February 3rd in conjunction with its first sponsor, The Fly Fishing Show. The country’s largest consumer fly fishing show circuit is holding it first ever show in Atlanta in 2017. The “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame ceremony is one of the headline events in show where vendor space has already been sold out.

                “We are pleased and honored for The Fly Fishing Show to be a keystone part of the “Legends of the Fly” Hall of Fame event in Atlanta,” says Ben Furmisky, CEO of The Fly Fishing Show. “The fly fishing industry regards the South as the fastest growing segment of the fly-fishing market, and acknowledges the importance of recognizing the rich, often overlooked tradition of fly fishing in the region.” Southern Trout and the Fly Fishing Show are humbled by the opportunity to be a part of bringing much-deserved recognition to the rich heritage and tradition of fly fishing for trout in the South.

                Starting today, everyone is encouraged to vote for up to six anglers who names and biographic information is located at .Currently the list of candidate exceeds three dozen anglers from across the region both past and present. Balloting occurs from September through December.

Don Says...Obed Wild & Scenic River “Wilderness”?

leah kirk

Are there enough "wilderness quality" acres in Obed Wild and Scenic River to be officially designated as wilderness? The question is being asked, “Does any of the landscape that falls within the Obed Wild and Scenic River in Tennessee qualify as ‘a wilderness’?”  Located in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, the area is currently under the federal national scenic rivers/recreation area management program that allows pretty much unfettered access to waters and lands by anglers and hunters. Becoming a federally designated wilderness would restrict a number of recreational uses of these public lands.

A Wilderness Eligibility Assessment is underway among park staff and regional office representatives to determine which of these lands, if any, possess the necessary characteristics to be considered a wilderness. The Wilderness Act of 1964 describes wilderness as “…an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

Should portions of Obed Wild and Scenic River, which encompasses almost 5,200 acres along 45 miles of the Obed River and its tributaries, be determined to possess the necessary wilderness characteristics, the park will request funding to further examine those lands as part of a formal Phase I “Wilderness Study.”

The conclusion of this study would be the point that would constitute an agency decision. Ultimately, however, the actual creation of a wilderness area will require an act of Congress and will be based on the recommendations made in the “Wilderness Study.” Wilderness areas themselves may accommodate wide varieties of recreational pursuits such as camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and canoeing/kayaking. Private oil and gas operations on private mineral lands in the park would not be included in any proposals, hence there would be no effect on current or future levels of activity.

If you have any questions about the Wilderness Eligibility Assessment or the process of designating a wilderness area, please feel free to contact the park’s Wartsburg HQ, or calling (423) 346-6294.

Don Says... Rumble in the Rhododendron

leah kirk

Leeettttttt’s geeeeeeetttttt readdddddy toooo rummmmmbbbbbble—Cherokee style! October 28-30 are the dates for the last of five trout fishing tournaments held in 2016 on tribal waters in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Rumble in the Rhododendron is a two-person team fly-fishing competition that is held on the 2.2 miles of trophy, catch-and-release waters on the Qualla Reservation.
 A modified FIPS-mouche format will be used with a tag out system being incorporated, meaning only one team member may fish at a time. Fishing sessions are three hours long. Registration fee includes tournament registration for two people, competitor swag, several meals served during the competition, and more. - See more at:

Don Says: Grinning Giant

leah kirk

If biologist from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources get their way, starting in 2017 corn will become a legal bait for catching trout in that state. This is positive news for the Canned Corn Cartel. Unknown at this moment is how much corn will be diverted to Utah at the expense of the struggling ethanol market.

Currently Utah is the only state in the West that doesn't allow anglers to use corn for bait. State biologists are recommending a two-year pilot study at eight waters in Utah. The study would help biologists determine if corn should eventually become a legal bait in the state.

The Guide’s Angle

leah kirk

By Chris Scalley, owner of River Through Atlanta Guide Service

                Twelve years ago a gentleman named Andy Mills called me inquiring about the trout fishing on the Chattahoochee River below Buford Dam. Andy had just relocated from the West Virginian Appalachian Mountains where he had a career teaching science at a public high school. He and his wife moved to Atlanta to live closer to their kids and their grandchildren in Alpharetta, Ga.

Andy was pretty bummed out because he was an avid trout fishermen back in West Virginia and thought there was no earthly way there could be any good trout fishing in Georgia, let alone Atlanta. A fishing friend of ours was a member of Andy's new church and told him to call Scalley, noting that Scalley would tell him where to go and what flies were needed to get started. Andy now fishes at least three to five days a week on the river, and when we need a good fishing report Andy is always willing to share his wealth of information.

On a late July morning we bumped into Andy at the boat ramp and he mentioned he saw a big bruiser brown trout chasing juvenile rainbows in the shallows just that previous morning. As he launched his boat we exchanged flies as we commonly do and wished him good luck. The next morning I got a frantic voice mail from Andy from the river saying he caught "Walter" the big Salmo Trutta he had been seeing in the shoals, adding that he had caught and released him on one of those flies we had given him.

Fortunately one of Andy's fishing buddies and church members was nearby and managed to snap some pics of the biggest fish of his lifetime. The fish measured 31 inches in length and 20 inches in girth likely weighing upwards of 15lbs! 

On a special note about Andy from a few years back includes an event with one of my guides. He had some bad luck on the river and had broken two rods in a boat with clients during a paid guide trip. The guide and his clients were about to cancel the trip seeing how there were no fly rods to be used for the remainder of the trip. Andy being the "salt of the earth" kind of guy, loaned our guide his only three rods, so the unfortunate guide could finish the full-day trip. The morale of the story is that some good deeds do indeed go unpunished!

Don Says: Rivercourse Accolades

leah kirk

--Alleigh Raymond

 “Amazing” is truly an understatement to describe my week-long experience at Rivercourse.

 The main reason I wanted to go to Rivercourse was to learn more about fly fishing and hone my current skills. I was absolutely shocked at just how much I learned about conservation education, entomology, falconry, Hellbenders and so much more.

                  The day that I arrived, I was one of the volunteers to help stock the river. Seeing the fish go into the river made me anticipate catching them even more. That was so much fun, but I did end up smelling like fish at the end of the day which was to be expected.

During the week, we campers were doing an entomology presentation. Part of the presentation was to gather bugs from the river in groups of three. One person held the net in the water while my partner and I turned over rocks and brushed the small creatures into the net. We then dumped out the net and collected the bugs in a container for microscopic examination. I found that absolutely fascinating.

While at camp we took a tour of the Pisgah Center Fish Hatchery. We got to see different stages of fish growth and had the opportunity to feed them. That day, we also took a tour of the Pisagh Ranger Station and watched a short film on Hellbenders and their home in The Davidson River. I learned how detrimental moving rocks in rivers can be and destructive it is to their habitat. It really made me more aware of what to do and not to do while enjoying time in rivers. We also learned about silt, pollution, and how not being conscientious of your local rivers can kill future fish generations and life in rivers.

Coming back to camp that day we had an hour of free time. Most kids played Frisbee or just hung around. But I'm not most kids. I wanted to fish all I could while I was there, and since the camp was on a lake and I heard someone saying that a big Largemouth bass hangs around the dock, I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to hook a bucketmouth. My friend loaned me his 4 weight rod, I tied on a sparkle minnow fly and cast near the dock.

A few casts and strips later, my fly disappeared. I set the hook and within seconds my reel was screaming! All of the sudden my fish just stopped swimming. I realized the bass wrapped me around a fallen tree in the lake. I could feel the line rubbing on the tree and knew it was fraying. I told my friend that was with me of the situation I was in and he instantly started taking off his shoes, hat and sunglasses, willing to dive in after this fish. But before he took a swim, I miraculously untangled the line and reeled in this fish. Boy was he ever huge, my biggest bass to date. That was probably my favorite thing that happened at camp.

The last day of camp we had a tournament, testing all that we learned during the week. We were paired into groups of two and could only use flies we tied with the materials provided by the camp. Once my partner and I, Connor tied our flies we ran down to the field for our casting qualification. We both passed and then began fishing. In order for our points to count, we each had to catch a fish. Even though weren't getting any bites, I still managed to catch a rainbow trout the last ten minutes of fishing. Unfortunately, Connor didn't catch anything, but it wasn't about winning. The purpose of this was to test knowledge, partner communication, and personal fishing skills.

Some of the most educational things I've ever learned were taught by the wonderful people that came in and shared their knowledge with us.  With everything I've said, I would like to give a big thank you to Trout Unlimited and every person that helped my Rivercourse possible. I genuinely thank you from the bottom of my heart, and this experience has changed my life.

Don Says: Don’t Miss These Mayflies

leah kirk

Southern fly fishermen have a soft spot for everything mayfly and for the well-being of children in dire straits due to circumstances beyond their control. The Mayfly Project is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses fly fishing as a catalyst to mentor children in foster care. Its mission is to build relationships through fly fishing and introduce kids to their local water ecosystems with a hope that connecting them to a rewarding hobby will provide an opportunity for foster children to have fun, feel supported, and develop a meaningful connection with the outdoors.

On any given day there are approximately 415,000 children in foster care.  23,000 children age out of the foster care system every year, meaning they leave foster care with no support and are left on their own.  1/5 of foster kids will become homeless after age 18.  42% of foster kids will be convicted of a crime. The need for support for foster kids is astounding.

In order to be a volunteer to mentor a child through fly fishing, you do not need to be a professional fly fishing guide. All of the May Fly mentors are everyday people, working regular jobs, who have a passion for helping children and love fly fishing. If you are interested in mentoring a foster child through fly fishing, please contact Jess Westbrook, 1420 Lenore Benton, AR 72019;


leah kirk

The Cherokee Hook and Hackle Fly Tiers Retreat is shaping up to a great place for tiers and tier wannabes to come together to see the best in old time traditional trout flies to the latest, cutting edge hook dressing innovations. The event will be held November 4-6 at the Yellow Hill Community Center located a 1416 Acquoni Road, Cherokee.

“We really want tiers to join in and show off your talents for this special event,” says Bob Nanney who is heading up the Cherokee Hook and Hackle gathering. “We are inviting 60 + tiers from across the region. Currently we have several vendors coming such as Golden Rule Fly Shop, Tuckasagee Fly Shop, Fly Fishing the Smokies and others, plus I am getting several more lined up to join the event. Food will be prepared by Tennessee Casting for Recovery and we will have several other nonprofit groups as well. There is no charge for admission.

The format of the Cherokee Hook and Hackle will be similar to the tying event held last November in Townsend, Tennessee. On Friday November the 4th 15-20 tying stations located throughout the Yellow Hill Community building and there will be four 2- hour sessions, the first starting at 9:00 am and last at 11:00 am. The following beginsat 11:00 am and ends at 1:00 pm. The next session starts at 1:00 pm and ends at 3:00 pm, and the final session will be from 3:00pm til 5:00pm . Each tying station will have an 8 ft. table and ample chairs for tiers and visitors

“The same thing will take place the next day Saturday the 5th,” says Nanney. “We are working on something special for Saturday night, but I can't say more right now because it is in the planning stages. Our goal is to make this one of the most enjoyable weekends you will spend all year...... area shopping, Harrahs, The Great Smokies Railroad, fishing, sightseeing and the list of things to do goes on and on.”

For more, contact Bob Nanney at

Craig Haney: Our Galloping Gourmet

leah kirk

   Something new to look for in upcoming issues of Southern Trout and Southern Kayak Fishing magazines is Craig’s Camp Cooking, written by Craig Haney of Hoover, Alabama. A master of campfire cooking, Haney is widely acknowledged as one of the country’s best cooker over campfires, especially when armed with cast iron cookware. Starting August, his camp cooking installments will be sponsored by Sunburst Trout Farms of Waynesville, North Caroline.

                I’ve known and been befriended by Craig since the early 1980s. A hardcore fly fishermen who has slept on the banks of Hazel Creek more times than the bears living there, Craig’s resume includes everything from owning his own fly shop in Mountain Brook, AL to recently coauthoring a book with J. Wayne Fears titled Buck and Wart: Backcountry Letters.

                We’re excited to have Craig on board.  Like many of us he’s “old school and damned proud of it.” If you are the really bold sort when welding a salt shaker and iron skillet (and not under the care of a gastronomist) try some of his recipes. We vouch for them.