Monday, August 19, 2013

In the Great Smokey Mountains!

I was on a
stream a few weeks ago in the Great Smokey Mountains during a fly fishing trip and I thought I would blog about this trip. What does "Mayfly on the grille with a little hummer mean?" Well, hang around and I'll tell you. When I was 13, my dad purchased a fly rod and a box of flys. I halfway learned to use this fly rod in the waters around Nashville. I really enjoyed fishing with it for perch and bass. I quickly learned that there was an art to fly fishing and fly fishing was something special. Lately, I've been thinking about fly fishing again...So...a few weeks ago, I booked a trip to fly fish in the Great Smokey Mountains.
It's always more fun to have a partner, and here's mine, Pop, my father-in-law. A great fishermen, but like me, not much fly fishing experience. Oh yeah, Pop just turned 86 years old and is in great health. He can maneuver over rocks like a cougar. I hope I'm like Pop when I'm 86. Anyway, we met our guide, Eugene in Cherokee, North Carolina and drove a few miles to Bradley Fork Creek near Smokemont. We arrived, parking near the creek. Eugene is local, born and raised in the mountains. I knew I was going to like this guy when he asked..."Where "youns" from?" A mountain slang that is used all the way up into Pennsylvania. My go to word would have been... where "y'all from". Now if I had been up in New York, I may have been asked where "yous guys" from. Boy am I off track, lets get back to fishing.
Eugene has been fly fishing in these waters all his life and was very knowledgeable. In fact, Eugene has won many events, and set a couple state records in the process.He currently holds the NC State Record for Distance Fly Cast set with a 9′ 5 wt fly rod that sent a fly 114 ft. Dang, I was having trouble casting a fly 20 feet. Anyway, he has competed in numerous US National Fly Fishing Championships, and Regional Qualifiers, and has won numerous regional events. Now, why am I showing you a photo of the grille of a hummer?...Because it's dinner for the trout. Really, the flying bugs on the grille are what trout are eating at this moment, so match the fly to the flying creature and bingo bango, you have the blue plate special for trout. Now this brings up "What is for dinner?...Mayfly on the Grille with a little hummer." Oh yeah, here's my favorite bug joke: What's the last thing that goes through a bugs mind when it hits the grille?...His butt! He He!!!!

Here's Pop with a small trout. I believe catching trout in the relaxing cool waters (59 degrees) of a mountain stream will give you a "possum grin." Can you tell he's grinning like a possum? I think so.

Hey, check out my fish, a small rainbow trout! How do you like my trout net, fly fishing vest, flys etc...cool right? Well, that's not me, its Eugene the fishing guide. I'm the one taking the picture, just behind the camera. Oh yeah, I was fishing a dry fly and a dropper. All our catches were on the wet end, however I did get a few bites on the dry fly.

Eugene is giving Pop a few instructions on how to improve his technique. Both Pop and I were lucky that we stayed out of the trees and didn't lose any flys. Also, no one got a wet butt from stubbing over rocks, either. Check out that can of bear spray on Eugene's waist, just in case a black bear tries to still a trout.

Here it is "my first brown trout." Eugene indicated that he was a wild brown and the way you can tell is by the pattern. The wild trout are born in the stream and have more and deeper brown markings on each side that look like the images of fingers gripping the side of the trout, sort of. Eugene referred to this as the hand of God. I apologize for the crappy pictures, with mountains on each side and dense foliage, too much shade was around and my cell phone was just not up to the task. I brought my Nikon D80, but was afraid that I would drop it in the creek.
All good things must end and so does this trip. We did catch several rainbows and one brown trout, not large but fun. 


Remember: Life is short, get away from the big screen and get on a big stream!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Custom vintage style Lake, River and Bay maps

Below is a personalized, vintage style map of beautiful Greers Ferry Lake that I completed for a customer a few weeks ago. I used my watercolor  painting of Greers Ferry and added the customers memories (photos) to the map. This map was a gift for someone special that had fond memories of Greers Ferry Lake. The photos added a nice touch that turned a beautiful vintage style map into a wonderful family heirloom and a treasured map.
 

The customer emailed me color photos, in which I converted to black and white to give them that vintage look. I carefully positioned the photos around the map for the best view. Also, I hide a tiny mermaid in the waters.

Here's a letter from one of my customers:
"I was finally able to give my husband the map I bought for his birthday last night. I want you to know how beautiful it was and how touched he was by it. He loves this Lake. His family has a home there and when we are lucky we get away for a few days, it’s the only place we want to be. He actually had tears in his eyes. Thank you for the beautiful art work."

As you can see, my maps make a great gift. To see more of my work click here www.LeoLakes.com. Remember: Life is short, get away from the big screen and get on a big stream.