Monday, December 23, 2013

Taking on Tallulah: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Evenin' Folks,
  I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post!  I hope you're all doing well, and I'll try not to go so long again without some kind of blog post.  When I last posted I was getting ready for my final exams of the semester and preparing for my family to arrive for Thanksgiving.  Well, I made it through my exams and survived another turkey day.  I haven't been able to go fishing since the last time I posted, seems like every time I get the chance it rains and the streams flood their banks, I have done a few other fun things, though.
  My Dad and I have started  a tradition of hiking the day after Thanksgiving, it helps to work off some of that big meal.  This year we decided to hike the stairs at Tallulah Gorge State Park.  The gorge reaches almost 1,000 feet deep, stretches close to two miles long, encompasses six separate waterfalls and is considered one of Georgia's Seven Natural Wonders.  The state park has over 2,700 acres with more than 50 campsites, 63 acre lake with a beach, the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center and Museum and more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails both around the gorge rim and leading down to the floor.  Access to the gorge floor requires a free permit (available in the Interpretive Center, only 100 per day) and is occasionally closed due to high water from dam releases or rain.  The day we were there the floor was closed.
  Dad and I opted to hike both rim trails and down the stairs to the gorge platform, the furthest into the gorge you can go without a permit.  This works out to a bit over three miles and right around 1200 stairs.  By working the trails into a loop this way you get multiple viewpoints of each of the waterfalls, awesome views of the Tallulah River in the gorge, the dam and remnants of the Great Wallenda's high wire tower.
  If you ever get the chance to go to Tallulah Falls, I highly recommend it.  This area was a huge tourist attraction during the Victorian Era and it still holds a great deal of appeal today.  We have the campground on the list to stay at in the spring so I'll be able to give more information about that then and staying there will give me an opportunity to fly fish the Tallulah River.  I'll finish this post again with pictures, but you really should visit Tallulah Gorge in person to appreciate it's history and beauty.
  Tight Lines and Happy Fishing,

The Persistant Trillium. This rare flower is the reason for the limited floor permits.
Photo from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The first look into the gorge.

A view of the cliffs.

The 80 foot suspension bridge coming into view.
A view from the bridge.

Dad checking out the cables.  I think it'll hold both of us!

The same view as earlier, but from the bridge.

The gorge walls.

Looking down on the lowest platform and the gorge floor.

The trail map, posted at the lowest platform.

Hurricane Falls seen from the lowest platform.

To hike the gorge floor you have to rock hop across the river here.

Dad on the ascent from the floor.  That's a lot of stairs!

Looking down from the South Rim Trail.

I should have recorded which water fall is in each picture.  I'm still learning with every blog post!

Another incredible view into the gorge.

A view out over the gorge from the stone picnic shelter.

The highway with the dam beyond.  The rest of the water flow for the river comes from the hydroelectric spillway.

What remains of the tower from the Great Walenda's high wire crossing of the gorge.

The trail continues on straight here, but, as the sign says, a permit is required.
A stunning view from inspiration point.  Dad's sunglasses are down there somewhere!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Frogtown Creek Trout Stream Pics

Evenin' Folks,
  I've been awfully busy with work and school lately, so not a whole lot of time for fishing or blogging.  I fished Frogtown Creek again for a few hours a week ago or so, and  caught one small rainbow out of a nice little pool.  I just thought I'd share a few pictures from the day with you, if you follow me on any social media you've probably seen them already. 
  Hope you're all doing well.
  Tight lines and happy fishing,

Sunday, November 03, 2013

WoodCraft Atlanta's Open House: Hand Crafted Fishing Lures

Evenin' Folks,
  I wasn't really sure if I'd have anything to blog about this weekend.  I spent the whole past week preparing for a couple of tests at school, so fly fishing hasn't been at the forefront of my thoughts.  It's never very far off, though!  I've always had an interest in hand tool woodworking, being the son of a master carpenter, the love of wood was instilled in me at a very early age.  Men like Norm Abrams and Roy Underhill were bigger heroes to me than Wade Boggs and Kirby Puckett.  Most of my working life was spent in construction or a construction related field, so now, working on a computer all day, I've been seeking a creative outlet to work with my hands.  I've been slowly collecting some hand tools lately, preferably vintage, American made tools, to get some small projects underway.  I've got some things in the works, like a fly tying supply organizer, a bench for my patio and a small step stool, but I've been looking for things I can make from wood that are more fishing related.  I decided to try making a presentation fly box.  Not having a scroll or band saw, and preferring hand tools anyway, I've been searching for an acceptable coping saw.  I received a flyer in the mail for an open house at WoodCraft Atlanta and on special, today only, was an English made, wooden handled coping saw that I thought would fit the bill nicely, until a vintage American model can be located.
   The open house proved to be quite popular, the parking lot was almost full when I pulled in before 10:00 this morning.  The store had some great show specials and discounts, including an additional 10% off your purchase if you arrived before 10am (sweet!).  As soon as I walked in I nabbed the last coping saw they had off the shelf and started checking out the demonstrations.
  The list of demonstrations for the day was pretty extensive: offset woodturning, bowl turning, scroll saw use, band saw tuning, hand plane tuning, hand plane use, and decorative inlay.  And those were just the morning demonstrations on Saturday, there were at least as many after noon and also when the show started on Friday.   But, the exhibitor I was most curious to see was Brian Richterkessing, from the Lure Foundry.
  The listing on the flyer only said "Hand made fishing lures", so I really didn't know what I was going to find.  As it turns out, Brian lathe-turns large, hardwood muskie lures following vintage designs and patterns from the 1920's through the 1950's.  These stunning lures are all colored using the various hardwood species.  Brian doesn't use any dies or stains.  As Brian says, these would make great display pieces for the cabin or lake house, but they also catch fish.  Each lure is tuned to match the swim patterns of the vintage lure they're based on.  Brian is even experimenting with different densities of the hardwood to get the lures to swim at different depths!
  When you purchase a lure from the Lure Foundry, it comes packed in  a hand made, hardwood display box padded with burlap.  There is also a multi-lure box if you purchase more than one.  Or the granddaddy of the group, the Ultimate Tacklebox, a hand crafted box that holds a minimum of 24 of these big predator catchers.  If that's not enough for you, the Lure Foundry also crafts wooden rod tubes and traditional style floats with the same care and attention as the lures.
  Brian let me take some pictures of his lures at the open house, so I'll just let them speak for themselves.  If you're interested in seeing more, or in purchasing from the Lure Foundry, you should check out his website,  I hope Brian doesn't mind, he's inspired me to try to make one of these lures for myself.  While at WoodCraft I picked up a couple pieces of hardwood to give luremaking a go.  Keep watching the blog, I'll post some pictures when I get it finished up.
  Tight Lines and Happy Fishing,
A three piece set of vintage style Muskie lures made of Redheart and American Holly.

A finished lure, three blanks, and a box lid in progress.

A single lure in it's presentation box.

The Ultimate Tackle Box, three cedar lures and you can see a rod tube to the left.

Some awesome looking floats in their presentation box.  I may have to try making one of these boxes too!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fly Fishing on Suwanee Creek

Evenin' folks,
 I did a little fishing in Suwanee Creek on Sunday morning. It was a gorgeous morning to be in the stream. It's really starting to feel like autumn here in north Georgia, my favorite time of the year. I didn't catch anything this time out, probably a result of higher than usual water due to recent rain, but it certainly does my disposition some good just getting into the woods. It is fascinating the amount of wildlife to be seen when you consider that this stretch of Suwanee Creek runs between a subdivision and an industrial park.
  I decided to try my hand at filming myself fishing, the quality is not the best from the iPhone, but I thought it turned out reasonably well. I'd like to share the result of the experiment with you here. I'll try to get some better footage next time.
  Until then, Tight Lines and Happy Fishing!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Finally back on YouTube

Evenin' Folks,
  I was finally able to make a new video for YouTube tonight. I just thought I'd take a few minutes to thank some folks, introduce some new projects I have going and give a brief explanation for my absence.
  I hope you're all doing well,
    Tight Lines and Happy Fishing,

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

How To: Kayak {aka: saw} Horses

 Evenin' Folks,
  If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest you know that I posted a picture a couple weeks ago of my kayak up on sawhorses.  I mainly wanted to just keep the kayak up off the concrete floor when it's stored in the garage, but sawhorses are a really handy thing to have around the house.  I really enjoy projects around the house and I'm regaining an interest in woodworking for a creative outlet, so sawhorses seemed like an excellent all around project.  I searched the woodworking videos on YouTube and finally settled on a design by Steve Ramsey at Wood Working for Mere Mortals.  I changed his design slightly by moving the leg brace higher, thinking that the sawhorses would stack when not in use. 
  The one part of the project I had the most trouble wrapping my head around was how to determine a good height for the horses.  The whole "not too low, but not too high" cycle kept spinning through my head.  You can make the horses any height you choose.  I decided to go the way of economics, I wanted to get three legs out of each eight foot 2x4 and 96"/3=32" so that's what I cut the legs to.  The height just happened to work out perfectly.  
  I tried to hit the high points of the steps to making these sawhorses, once you figure out how the angles go together it all falls into place.  If you need more detail check out Steve Ramsey's video here. 

I used the hand-me-down miter saw my Dad gave me to make all my cuts.
Good shop help can be hard to find. Luckily I have the ever present and loyal Jelly Roll to help with my projects. Here she's demonstrating the origin of her nickname.

There are only two angles to cut, 22.5* for all the feet, the cross braces and half the tops, and 45* for the rest of the tops. 

I drilled pilot holes to prevent splits and to make running the screws in upside down and one handed a little bit easier.

Glue and screw the tops together. I used Titebond and 2" drywall screws. 

Four leg assemblies to make two sawhorses.  I can't wait to get the kayak off the floor!

The orientation for the cross brace. 

I measured up from a straight edge to locate and level the braces. I used glue and screws to attach, but I didn't drill pilot holes first.  No worry of splitting in the middle of the board.

My completed kayak horses. Great for projects around the house, too!

All the tools I used for this simple project. 

The kayak finally up off the floor. Now it seems a bit safer and its easier to work on and add accessories.  I might add a cross brace between the legs later, just to make sure it won't wrack.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Frogtown Creek: My First Trout on a Fly!

Mornin' Folks,
  Today I thought I'd share some pictures with you.  These are all cell phone pictures, so the quality isn't the greatest.  The weekend before last I spent a great evening visiting with my grandparents up in the North Georgia mountains.  I got up and left early Sunday morning to do some small, mountain stream fly fishing.  I had yet to catch a trout on the fly, so I was hoping that this would be the day.  I stopped first at Helton Creek Falls and fished the pool at the bottom of the lower falls.  After about 10 minutes I started seeing some fish moving in the pool and showing interest in my Prince Nymph.  Just when a trout looked like he was going to take my fly, I heard a loud thud behind me and the fish took off.  I turned around to see a rather clumsy looking "photographer" had come down the stairs behind me and was jumping from rock to rock taking pictures.  The brush was just too thick to head down stream, mostly because of the cut Chestnut trees, and the "photographer" didn't appear to be leaving anytime soon, so I decided to pack it in and try to find another stream. 
  I'm a little fuzzy on the stream access laws of Georgia and it seemed like every nice place I found to fish had a house sitting next to it.  So, I headed down to DeSoto Falls Recreation Area in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest. 
  In the past, I've hiked the trail of DeSoto Falls, but set out too late to make it to the falls themselves, but I was surprised to see a 24-site campground with shower and restrooms in the recreation area.  I'm going to keep that in mind for a later camping trip. 
  The banks of Frogtown Creek were pretty overgrown.  Stream access wasn't bad, but I couldn't cast from the bank.  The only waders I have are neoprene chest waders, which are way too uncomfortable for a warm, late summer day so they were left at home.  Frogtown Creek is a freestone stream so I thought I'd just rock hop.  I was wearing waterproof boots, so figured I could walk through the shallows.  After I slipped off the first rock I decided the day was warm enough to just wet-wade! 
  I had a great time fishing this stream.  There seemed to be a fair amount of fish in the water.  I got a lot of splashy refusals and a couple missed bites.  I didn't see any fish rising, and no insect hatch that I could detect, so I tried to stick with the nymph style flies.  The fish seemed interested, but I just couldn't get a hard take.  After catching my last small nymph in the trees, I tied on the only small fly I had left.  I'm not exactly sure what the fly was, I think it came in an assortment pack that I got as a gift years ago, but I think it was a deer hair Caddis fly in about a size 18 or so.  I would've posted a picture of this fly, but I lost it not terribly long after tying it on.  Makes me wonder if I tried hooking trees if I'd catch more fish...
  I wish I had tied on the Caddis sooner!  On my second cast next to a boulder in the middle of the stream I got a big splashy strike, but I missed the hook set.  Most of the reading that I've done on trout fishing says that trout spook very easily and if you recast to the same fish you can scare it off.  I think I probably cast to this fish a half dozen times and he splashed at it every time.  He finally took the fly and I had my first trout on my fly rod!  This guy put up a way better fight than the little bluegills I've been catching in Lake Lanier.  I fought him for a few minutes, reveling in the bend of my 2 weight TFO rod.  Since the water really wasn't that cold, I didn't want to fight the fish too long and risk over stressing him.  So I brought him to hand, dropped him a couple times, but I got my picture.  I had finally caught my first trout on a fly, a very nice little rainbow, about 7 inches long and full of energy.
  Having caught my first trout, and promptly losing the fly I caught him on, I decided it was getting late and I had homework and things waiting for me at home.    I look forward to camping at DeSoto Falls, hiking to the falls and doing some more fishing in Frogtown Creek.  And I can't wait to catch another trout!!!

Helton Creek Falls in Union County.

All of the American Chestnut trees were cut down along the trail due Chestnut Blight.

This is why they were cut down, otherwise they would fall. This stump was easily 3 ft. across.

The lower falls of Helton Creek Falls.

Frogtown Creek just below DeSoto Falls at the DeSoto Falls Recreation Area.

My 6 ft. Temple Forks Outfitters 2 weight rod.  Perfect for the small Frogtown Creek.

Further downstream.  Trout don't live in unattractive places.

My first trout on a fly!  Not huge, but he sure was fun. Definitely hooked now, I can't wait to do some more coldwater fly fishing!