Supporting Great Causes, One Beer at a Time.
Join us for a beer and meet and greet the great folks from the Project Healing Waters (http://www.projecthealingwaters.org/). This month we're not just looking for donations but volunteers as well. Project Healing Waters is currently without a chapter in the Knoxville area and 3 Rivers Angler is looking to rectify that situation. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings and is a very worthy cause. If your interested in learning more about the program and how you can help while raising a glass at the same time then please stop by and join us from 6 to 8 at 3 Rivers Angler.
This time of year 400cfs on the Holston would typically indicate we were in the grips of a drought. If you study TVA’s operating guide for Cherokee Dam you’ll note that somewhere towards the end of July and the end of August the right side of the bell curve takes a decided dip south. In fact, the green line which indicates the balancing guide makes an abrupt right angle at the end of August. In short, August is get’er done time up in the towers on the hill. Given the rain we’ve had over the past few weeks the low flow is an aberration which occurs from time to time for a variety of reasons. If you check today’s predicted generation schedule you’ll note that the average predicted output is back to 7,130cfs; twelve hours of 14,000cfs during peak hours of energy consumption followed by a roughly equivalent period over night of zero generation.
I just returned from a week at Pawleys Island with the family and it shows. I'm a bit beat down and worn out. Chasing a gaggle of youngsters around the beach for a week will do that to anyone. Add to the 6-and-under-beach-contingent the fact that I was up every morning, dutifully, at five a.m. to catch the low tides then you'll begin to understand my pain.
I'm to blame, of course, as I'm a early riser by nature. I'm also a father and family vacations are first and foremost about the kids. That I'm an angler and fly shop owner also means that I typically carry a arsenal of rods with me even when I have no real intention of fishing. On this trip, that certainly was the case and I only threw a few (four to be exact) rods into the back of the truck just in case. My only real fishing plan was to sneak away one day to fish with Capt. Scotty Davis, owner of Lowcountry Fly Shop in Charleston, on Friday.
Despite no real intentions of fishing much beyond the creek with the boys, I spent the week up to our vacation talking with Capt. Scotty as well as Capt. Jay Nelson about what if any fishing might be found during our visit. Both conceded that the only real gem during my visits would be pretty exceptional low tides coinciding with day break. Crack of dawn low tides work with a family vacation and so I saw my opportunity and ran with it.
What I hoped to find was some speckled trout and maybe a pompano or two in the breakers at dawn. What I ended up encountering instead was a relatively large group of migratory tarpon, right at the inlet, every morning at dawn from about 5:30 to 6:15. I wish I could have had a picture of my face when the first tarpon breached on Monday morning about a two feet from the retaining wall of the north inlet.
Now, if you've been to Pawleys Island or ever fished South Carolina for that matter you know that it is not on a short list of places to chase tarpon. Far from it. The water clarity is minimal and the large flats most tarpon anglers are familiar with simply don't exist. Nevertheless, when the big fish feed, and feed with enthusiasm, you have just got to believe you've got a shot. So, every morning, I awoke at five, made coffee, and headed out to throw a large rod at giant fish breaking just off the rocks on the north inlet.
The beauty of the whole affair was the fact that I owned it all. The whole feeding event went off like clock work every morning. First feed 5:30. Ferocious feeding for forty-five minutes to an hour. By the time the early risers chasing trout, reds, and what-not arrived the show was long gone and I was just some weirdo siting on a rock rubbing his arm. They were none the wiser about what I had just been a part of and by 6:45 I was back in the kitchen cooking up some Benton's bacon for the thing 1, thing 2 and their cousin.
While I confess that I never touched a tarpon with my fly, I never in a million years would have guessed that I would have even had the opportunity to throw at tarpon. I was just happy to have something all my own for a few minutes every morning in a spot I had been coming to since I was the age of my youngest son. Optimism and a good show are a powerful thing and despite my aching arm and shoulder I carried on happy simply to throw a fly in the spot that a fish just showed. That changed, however, on Thursday morning when a young guy carrying a large spinning rod with a fluke on it showed up towards the end of that morning's show. It was immediately obvious what he was up to so we struck up a conversation. I mentioned the tarpon, and as if on cue, a large one smashed some mullet on the point of the wall.
Turns out the young man was Capt. Jordan Pate of Carolina Guide Service. After a brief discussion (and another appearance of a fish or two) we agreed to meet again in the morning with Jordan's boat in tow and see if we couldn't connect with the object of our desire. Friday morning I was up and out watching the inlet per usual when Jordan sent a text. He was running a little behind but would be there shortly. It wasn't much of a worry as the early morning low tides had pretty much run their course. Friday's tide was falling but it was still too high and the bait too scattered. By the time Jordan made it around the end of the inlet from the creek I hadn't seen a single tarpon. I hopped on board, stowed the fly rod, and we tossed out two live mullet rigged on circle hooks.
Jordan, who had to be at his day job around eight was on borrowed time and had his two year old son in tow so the whole affair given the tide, time, kids was a crap shoot. With about five minutes to spare, however, one of the rods began to sing. I hopped up and grabbed it and gave it a good jerk. The fish, I'm guessing about 100 pounds, rocketed out of the water and spit the hook back at me. A touch of gold and a perfect ending to a special week; I jumped a tarpon on the north inlet of Pawley's Island...