This is a story I wrote about 10 years ago.
Hello, My name is Tom Sharpe. My vocation is Airline Pilot, My Avocation is Fly fishing. Although I havefished pretty much all over the USA, my true love is my home turf in Upper East Tennessee. I would like to share with you how I got started fishing and some of my opinions of the sport of Fly Fishing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed reading some others thoughts on the subject. When I first got interested in Fly fishing, one of the
things I most enjoyed about the sport was reading books about fly fishing, written by those who seem to have all the knowledge of this great sport . It always disappoints me though, how most of the modern day writers start their story. It seems most have to make a point of telling how their father taught them to fish, and they were taught the EVILS of bait or spin fishing. Then one night they were transformed into this higher being that awoke with a Bamboo, or Graphite in hand, and catch and release as their sound bite. Although I am a diehard fly fisher, and I do release most of what I catch, (all brookies), I am afraid I do not share these peoples disgust with the way I was introduced to the pleasures of fishing. You see my dad taught me to fish!
He didn’t fly fish, but he was a true fisherman. We fished with worms, minnows, spoons, plugs, corn, cheese, heck, just about anything we had in the boat that a fish would bite. We used cane poles, spinners, fiberglass rods, and at some time we must have used a fly rod. I say that only because one of my most prized possessions is a old glass rod with a auto rewind reel that I found in my dads tackle. I don’t ever remember actually seeing him use it although I know he must have. We often fished out of a boat that a friend once referred to as the boat that the multitude was fed from. I remember once when I was at that rebellious teenage stage the frustration of his instruction. He was having his usual great day on the lake and I was getting skunked. I cast out and he started coaching me. Bring it in until I say stop he would say. Not me man I know what I am doing, I would think. After a half hour of this I finally threw in the towel. OK when should I stop reeling in? Bring it in about 12 more inches. Twelve inches! Oh! Give me a break! I didn’t really say that, back then that wasn’t the idiom, and even if it was we wouldn’t dare talk to our parent’s like that to their face. Wouldn’t you know it, I reel in twelve inches, until he said stop, and wham! I had what we all fish for, both bait and fly fishers. A pull ! I guess knowing where fish hold, is the single most important lesson we fishers have to learn. No fish, no pull, no matter how great the cast or how realistic the fly pattern we have selected may be. Dad knew where fish were. I guess you would say, he could read the water. Sometimes I think that reading water is more intuition than leaned. It may even be genetic. I am a relative new comer to fly fishing, six years , but my success at catching fish most of the time, amazes even myself. I call it being just plain lucky, but it could be I listened more to my dad than I thought. Fish are fish, and they all have to live somewhere. We just have to find them. Yes he kept the fish we caught. Most of them. If they were unlucky or stupid enough to wind up in his boat, they were destined to make a feast for the hungry horde.
My mother would spend hours battering and deep frying all the ones that were too large to escape trough the drain in the live well. We would then have most of the community come over for the darndest fish fry you ever saw. Although he kept most of the fish he caught he never killed fish and let them go to waste. I still like the taste of a fresh caught trout, cooked along the banks of the river. Fly fishing in my opinion is one of the most enjoyable sports one can participate in. Some try to make it more than it is, by getting technical to the point it takes the fun out of it. Its just fishing folks! Its supposed to be fun and enjoyable. I have been on the streams in many different areas, and you will occasionally run into that person who thinks they are the only one who should be allowed to engage in the sport of Fly Fishing. Watch them. Most of the time they are not too successful in catching fish. They probably know more Latin than you or I ever want to know, but guess what! The fish don’t know Latin either. Most fisherman you meet on the rivers however, unless you just tramped through a run of rising fish they were fishing, or threw trash in the stream, would rather talk to you about fishing than actually fishing. If you are new to the sport don’t ever hesitate to ask questions or for advice. I have meet some great folks on the streams, and most love to share fishing stories, theories and flies. Sometimes even an adult beverage.
Whirling Disease & The Drift Boat
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
By Tom Sharpe
No this is not a scare. Or maybe it was sort of scary. Anyway in June I bought a Hyde drift boat. I thought I would do something I have wanted to do for a long time; Fish the tail waters of the Holston and Watauga when they were generating. This way I could double my fishing time. I was getting so little of it lately. I found a good deal straight from Hyde. They just happen to have a showboat in the local area. Show as in, it was at a boat show in Charlotte N.C and instead of hauling it back to Utah they just left it at a local dealer until I came along. With the normal amount of dickering (that’s dealing to some of you) I was able to get what I felt to be a reasonable deal. Some of the accessories were not with the boat and was going to have to be mailed to me. In these accessories was a video tape on how to operate the boat. Now, one must know I have owned boats for at least the last 20 years continuously. Some that was way over powered and would go way too fast. I have floated the river in John (how do you spell John, Jon boat?) boats. However, I have never owned a boat without a motor, nor have I ever floated without a motor. I asked around about floating and what I could expect. I found out real quick, never ask a guide anything, about fishing, they are afraid you are going into the business I guess. My neighbor said the best way was to put it in the water. I was wise, or chicken enough to go to a lake and get in a cove, with still, smooth water, first. After doing that two times I felt it was time to head for the moving stuff. Next problem, find someone who could swim well, been on the river, and would not sue. After explaining what I had in mind and giving me his word he knew what he was getting into, I had my fishing buddy Dave McKenna head to the river with me. I still had not received my tape. The launch went well. I knew exactly where the boat was going. Down stream. This was a fishing trip, not just two hommies along for a boat ride. Dave fished, I rowed. The web site on float boats said to row backwards. No problem.. I rowed backwards and the boat went forwards. I rowed on the left side and sometimes it turned nose left. A lot of the time it turned around.
This is the life. It doesn’t get any better than this. About an hour and forty-five minutes into the trip I was feeling pretty smug. Then we came up on an area we call 44 bridge. Just below 44 bridge is what the pros call “Technical Water.” Us novices call it “a good place to bust your butt, water.” With Dave up front looking like Columbus looking for America, we head for the white stuff. Left looked good, but so did right. So let’s go for the middle. That would have been fine, but right where we went was a huge rock under water. Did I say I panicked? The boat wanted to turn around and head up stream, but I forced it to proceed on down stream. It is just a little scratch, right on the bottom. Boy we were sure glad we got through that one. Found out much later, it is right side, then hard left side and then back to right side to get through here scratch free. Back in the calm water we were back in charge. I even lit my pipe and was laid back for the rest of the trip. The river is so quite and peaceful. You can hear the birds, people on the banks, fish jump, and nothing! Nothing over the roar! David then had a revelation. Since we both love to read about early explorers, he figured we must be feeling like the early settlers felt when they were heading down stream on a wooden raft and heard this same noise. This left right decision went much better this time. Point the nose down stream and hold on.. Amazing! Damn thing went right where it wanted to go. Two cans’s of Vienna’s and a diet coke later we came upon another decision. Go left or right of this island up ahead. I learned the decision should be made early. He who hesitates gets into the trees. Again the boat tried to head back up stream.
The last mile was dead calm. It was where the river joined the lake. How does a drift boat drift in calm water? You row man.. In my best Tom Sawyer fashion I asked Dave if he knew how to row a drift boat. My turn at the bow.
Dave did catch one fish on our first 5 hour trip down the river. Not quite the fishing experience we expected, but now I could at least honestly answer yes, when someone asked if I had floated the river on my new boat.
As soon as I got home I made a call to Hyde. I asked the salesman if my accessory package was sent yet. I especially wanted the video. He said it was on backorder. I then asked him if he had a cure for WHIRLING disease (a disease that causes fish to swim around in circles) . I knew the boat must have Whirling Disease because it kept going around and around in circles.
I have since learned one important piece of advice about drift boats. Point the nose right at where you do not want to go and row like
H_ _ _!
One of these days I will be calling myself CAPTAIN Sharpe! Just like the guides of Key West Fl.