Monday, May 30, 2016

Hiking Grayson Highlands

The family got out for a day hike in Grayson Highlands State Park. I have seen pictures and heard about this park but never visited. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park and there are quite a few people there for such a remote location.
What struck me first was how green it was. The area has seen a lot of rain lately and the vegetation is definitely flourishing. There are hiking trails that intersect all over the place. Some are for hikers and others are for horses only. 
The trails are very well maintained and there were several crags for kids to climb on. My kids were in heaven scrambling all over the rocks.
The elevation from the top of the rocks lent itself to some spectacular views. 

In the distance you could see what most day hike visitors come here for, can you find them? 
There are wild horses that roam this park. They are smaller than the wild stallions that roam the western plains. These horses have a shaggier coat, long manes, and tails.
The horses have obviously built up a tolerance to people with so many visitors at the park. They are still beautiful creatures and fun to see. 
Even though there are signs everywhere asking people to keep their distance people tried to pet and feed the horses. It's sad how people have to push the limits and ruin it for everyone else. The horses associate people with food if they're always fed. People don't think about what they are giving these animals. Fritos and potato chips don't have the best nutritional value. 
If you are in the area I highly recommend visiting this park. The scenery is fantastic and on days like today, you can really where the name Blue Ridge Mountains came from.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Personal Best Brown

The weather was overcast and the water was higher than normal with a little stain. I had just gotten in and after my 10th cast with a streamer I hooked this guy. It used the current and put up a great fight. I was using a 3/4wt 10ft rod and it gave it all it could handle. Landing the fish was a total cluster you know what. When I went to net the fish it wouldn't fit in the net. I decided to ditch the rod and try to grab the trout. That's when a hilarious scenario ensued. I had to have a friend help me net it. I had already gone through many bouts of having the fish in my hands to only have it slip free. This is the largest trout I have caught. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Sighting

I'm an open minded person when it comes to myths and legends. I'd like to think there are some things out there we can't proove. Even though I feel that way I always had a hard time believing I'd be involved in a situation I couldn't explain. I'm a very logical person so if I suspect something or hear about something I'm pretty skeptical until I see the evidence.

My buddies and I were fishing last weekend in a remote part of Virginia. The access isn't difficult but the location is sparsely populated. The day was overcast with a cold front coming in. There was a constant draft accompanying the front. The wind seemed to stay at 20mph with higher gusts every now and then. Branches were falling randomly and there was an occasional rain shower. I was walking the tree line with a friend. Behind the tree line was the forest and the river. Between the tree line was a field and a few houses on the far side. The tree line didn't run in a straight line it was serrated and came out to points then went back towards the creek. I walked around one of the points and heard a dog barking from a house across the field. I looked back in front of me and saw something hunched down on the edge of the tree line. It was facing into the forest. I thought it was a dog at first but it looked strange. The animal was a good 50yds or so away from me. It was dark colored almost a charcoal gray. I figured maybe it was a bear at first but the back of the animal was streamlined and nothing like what I've seen in bear pics before. The animal was also hunched down like a cat. I took a few more steps and the animal's body language did a move like it sensed or saw me out of the corner of its eye. In what seemed like a second it dashed into the forest. What I saw as it did this is what stuck with me the most. It was the animal's tail. It was long like a mountain lion. I turned to my friend and said, "I think just saw a mountain lion." As the words came out of my mouth I felt stupid for even saying it. I couldn't discount what I had just seen. It was way too big to be house cat. The coloring was nothing like a bobcat plus that tail. I really wanted to say it was a panther but I knew that would be even more unbelievable. The coloring was so dark. It was darker than any mountain lions I've seen in Zoos or in pictures. The problem with thinking it was a panther was the color. The animal wasn't shiny like the panther pictures I've seen.

My buddy was really skeptical and we walked over to where I had seen the animal. There was a trail leading into the forest that disappeared into the underbrush. The overcast skies shaded underneath the trees and made difficult to see. The ground was covered with ferns, tall grass, briars and vines. The wind made it impossible to hear in behind the tree line. I wanted to go down and search but I was scared. I knew I had seen something and I had a feeling it was still seeing me but I had no idea where it was. Neither my buddy or I had the nerve to go down the trail. The ground was hard-packed at the beginning of the trail and there was no sign of any tracks. We told my other friend that was with us and he spent about 5min trying to figure out if we were messing with him. The rest of the afternoon was spent wondering if I was lying, hallucinating or doing drugs. It got to the point where I didn't want to talk about it anymore at all. What I was saying sounded crazy but then again I knew I saw something.

That night we researched online sightings in the area near where we were. There were articles here and there and none were very creditable. The location made sense if there truly was a panther loose. There was easy access to food and water. The forest covered 100's of square miles and provided ample cover. The only thing we could come up with is maybe someone had a mountain lion or panther as a pet and let it go. Or it got loose.

I guess we'll never know.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Rolling In

I filmed a recent thunderstorm rolling in. Watch the sky change it's not getting dark because it's night time. The clouds literally made it that dark. The screen flashes aren't the movie or your computer that is lightning.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Bunch Of Firsts

A few friends and I spent a weekend at a large freshwater lake in NC. It was my first time fishing the lake and I wasn't sure what to expect. The lake has a reputation for amazingly clear water and great bass fishing. The first-morning I got up before dawn and the conditions were perfect.
Glass calm and even though there was rain the night before the water wasn't murky. It took me awhile to start seeing fish. The color of the bottom was a light tan and my eyes were looking for dark shadows. What I found is the bass were lighter colored than I'm used to. They actually looked more like redfish under the water than bass. I was able to hook a few on a stealth bomber. I ran into one bass that seemed to not spook at all. I cast a clouser a few times and the fish didn't budge. As it started to swim away into deeper water I made one last cast in the direction the fish headed. When I started to take in the slack line I felt pressure and made a strip set. The water swirled and I couldn't believe I had hooked the fish. There was some not quite right about this bass. When the fish got closer I realized it wasn't a bass at all. It was a bowfin and the hook was barely in its lip.
All I have ever heard about bowfin is how hard they fight. I was able to get the fish to the kayak but I didn't have any grippers or anything to lip the fish. A bowfin's mouth is lined with small needle-like teeth. Against my better judgment, I grabbed the fly and moved the fish. The bowfin didn't want to give up and it took several tries to get it calmed down. My weekend was made. This fish was well over 22 inches and qualifies for an NC citation. It swam away as though it was never caught. 

The fishing slowed down after that until I saw some activity. Water splashed every now and then between the weeds and wakes would move the blades of grass. Something was obviously chasing bait in the shallows. I waited until I saw a splash and cast a popper in the area. A mouth opened and inhaled the fly seconds after it landed. It was a nice bass and it tangled itself in the weeds. The water was so shallow I was able to get it free.
A few casts later I had my first pumpkinseed.
The coloring on this fish was striking. I have seen pictures of pumpkinseeds but never caught one. The markings on the face are beautiful.
In the same area, this yellow perch came to hand a couple casts later.
It was a great morning. Later my friends and I took a trip to the other side of the lake. It was a huge contrast from the south side. Instead of light colored sand, the bottom was dark green and you could not see the banks through the cypress trees.
We found an area that had a mixture of grass and trees.
The wind started to pick up and we decided to make the trip back across the lake. This is where things got interesting.
The sky started to get very dark and storm clouds moved across the horizon with gale force winds. This lake is shallow, the average depth is 4ft. When the winds pick up the lake acts like a wave machine. We had 2-3ft waves all around and several came close to coming over the bow. The boat couldn't get speed with the rough water and we had to surf the waves more than go through them. The trek across the lake was spooky and the view at the dock wasn't any better. There was lightning and thunder at our backs. The plan was to leave the boat tied up and run to shelter. Breakers prevented us from doing this. The boat could smash into the dock and be destroyed.
The next plan was to load the boat on the truck until the storm subsided. 
The boat and ourselves got out of the water unscathed. It was a scary experience and a reminder that nature is always in control. The wind continued through the weekend and made fishing tough. It was still a great trip and I'm already planning my next trip back. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stressing Before A Fishing Trip

Ok, the picture might be a slight exaggeration. I was already obsessed with checking the weather before I had a kayak. My Native doesn't love the wind so I always have one eye on WindFinder. If you've never checked the site before it's pretty good. I've found it gives accurate wind forecasts for the lakes I usually fish. There is also a free app you can get for your phone. I like the mobile app more than the website.