Show Me Your Thing

Written By: Kyle Vaughan    

Many anglers go through a process of maturing or finding themselves within the recreation of fishing. Through this process of maturing and learning, it helps us figure out what type of fishing or water we identify as our favorite, or our "thing"- what we enjoy the most.

For me, a small, wild trout stream is what I would call my "thing". I typically get all Early Cuyler wild and rowdy thinking about these types of fisheries. If you were to give me three things, I would be set for a good day in the mountains fishing: my 3 wt Sage TXL, Abel Creek reel, and a stream no wider than the rod's length in width.

Several weekends ago Jamie and I headed north to one of our favorite small, wild trout streams. We met up with some friends and family stream-side to hangout and cook over the campfire. And, f0r Jamie and myself to inevitably chase our fishy friends: small stream wild Brown Trout.

Jamie and I got started fishing a little later in the day after hanging out with our friends and family for a few. Both of fished dries, a Stimulator and a Parachute Adams with good luck on each. One feisty little trout jumped straight out of the water with my dry in its mouth and he had some hang time! At one of the deeper drop pools, after a few dry fly drifts and no luck, I tied a Greenie Weenie off the hook-bend of the Stimulator. Two drifts later I was laying the wood to a trout that fell for the Greenie Weenie. We had to good time and got a few wild browns to hand before heading back to eat dinner with everyone at camp.

This stream does not promise big trout. There could be a big surprise waiting on us to fool it and I hope to be surprised one day. What this stream does offer is some of the most gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing brown trout you will ever see.

Enjoy a few photos from our trip!

Lots and lots of spots
Lots and lots of spots

A Retrospect: Unfamiliar Waters, Familiar Feelings

By: Kyle Vaughan    

About a week ago, I came across this writing from 2013 and I am not exactly sure what I wrote it for. I'm glad I did though. It brought back a lot of memories from this trip that I had forgotten.


On Saturday Jamie, Byron, and myself set off on a day trip up to the Chattooga River on the Georgia/South Carolina line. After a breakfast from the local Bojangles for our morning sustenance, we hit the road. I had never fished the Chattooga, but in the past I took a trip to its tributaries and loved those small mountain streams.

Upon our arrival to a roadside parking lot we unloaded and setup our rods with the all to familiar bullshitting and trash talking our fishing family is accustomed to. There always seems to be some colorful characters in those roadside parking lots. The two we ran into that day were a 50+ year old man and woman getting geeked for a day of Appalachian Trail clearing. From their conversations I took that they were really passonate about their chainsaws and weedeaters.

Chattooga Brown
Chattooga Brown

Not to tarry any longer, the crew hit the road on hoof to the bridge to see what we were dealing with for the day (with the sound of two stroke motors blazing from across the way). The day started out with sunshine and cotton clouds moving across the blue skies. Our view from the bridge gave us a promising outlook on the day's fishing ahead. After a short walk to the riverside we broke the surface of the river like three baptism candidates at your local Baptist church: on our tip toes and tight fisted as if it would subside the cold water's effects on our non-wader shod bodies.

We spread out and started hitting the water on a mission to catch some trout. It took a little while for us to hook-up with one, after a few hits, missed hook sets, and countless drifts and swings. It didn't hurt our egos too much, and if it did we were not letting on that it did. Personally, I was enjoying every minute of it! It just reminded me that the human element of fishing is why I love it. Man is fallible, but when everything aligns whether it is due to luck or skill, the tight line and shimmy of the trout felt through the rod to your body brings back the rush and excitement of why I do it.

Every one of us caught fish and had a great time hanging out with nature and each other. At one point during our session, I stood in the middle of the river basking in the glory of the day and admiring the handiwork of the Creator: Mountains, trees, wildlife, sunshine, and the unseen breeze moving through the valley. The blissful breeze blew in an ominous looking grey cloud cover that brought rolling thunder and heavy rain. The crew fled to the banks of the river seeking refuge in the dense cover of mountain laurels and anything with thick, full foliage. This little storm that blew through soaked us and had us huddled up like a covey of quail in a thick bush about to be flushed by bird dogs doing their job in the field. The storm ceased and we got back at it working some runs for some trout.

At the end of the day, there were six or seven brought to hand with a few missed. It was a great day to be out and get away from everything back home: work, school, and responsibilities. After a short hiatus from my once often visited and honest recreation of fly fishing due to a summer full of rain, prior commitments, and other unforeseen circumstances; the yearning to get back to a trout stream set in earlier that week and did not cease until this past Saturday. I would not say it ceased but reminded me why I love fly fishing. This trip inspired a promise to never stay away from it and let this busy life intrude upon my passions. If you are reading this, do what makes you happy and don't stay away from your passions no matter what. Make time and do it often.

Kyle has been toting around a fly rod since his adolescent days and we're excited to have him on board as a new contributor. Look for more of his work in the future!

Salt Life Brah

Admittedly I'm a salt novice. I can count the number of trips on one hand and all have been diy, leaving me with nothing more to show for my efforts but some smallish Sea Trout. Like almost everything in my life, I feel the need to go about things the hard way. Figure it out myself and accept that failure will most likely be my immediate friend and success will be that much more rewarding. Around the beginning of February Kyle and I started to throw around the Idea of heading to small island off the gulf coast of Alabama in search of Red's. We scouted the location for prime spots, made sure the tides were right, and had a pretty damn good idea what flies the fish would be eating. We decided that water temps should be high enough toward the end of March that the Red's would be making their way out of the creeks and into the bays where we could potentially have a shot at a few decent fish. I felt like we really did our homework. As the dates grew closer, the forecast started to look bleaker. No matter how much you plan and do your homework you can't control the weather and I knew this trip was setting up to potentially be a tough one. As the departure day finally arrived it was apparent that the forecast was going to hold. And not in a good way. We fished the first three days through brutal winds and intermittent rain. The front that brought the rain also brought cooler weather, causing the water temps to drop significantly from the previous week and the fish were nowhere to be found. On the last day the sun finally broke through the clouds and the winds laid down enough to make conditions manageable. We found an area on the bay side of the island that was wadable and finally after three days of brutal condtions and pure frustration, Kyle's line came tight to a Red. It wasn't a giant by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a fish nonetheless. There were some high fives and a few photos snapped and the fish was sent on his way. Not the result we'd hoped for but definitely another notch in the belt.

I suppose one day I may come to terms with the fact that my stubborn nature may not always be the best approach. But I doubt it. Figuring things out the hard way has always tickled my fancy and I feel like next time I'll be better prepared from having the experience we did. The salt is a fickle mistress and I can't wait to get back and make her my bitch!

Thanksgiving through C&R

The fly fishing community is a small world, and when you catch and release an incredible fish in a small stream you usually never know who will catch it next.  Thanks to the internet and social media, those dots are being connected a lot easier now a days and it sometimes allows you to see who benefited from your own catch and release practices.  A few weeks back a young local angler, Nathan Crowe (@nathan_crowe18 on IG), caught a fish of a lifetime and after some spot comparisons he sent us a message on IG saying he thought it might be the same fish that was shown in the Salmosearch video.  After comparing our own notes on the fish and where it was landed, we confirmed it was the same fish, almost a year after I had caught it. Here is Nathan's story:

"I had fished this stream a long time ago back and was glad to be back in these waters once again. I knew there were big fish here and I am acutely aware of the big browns that lurk in the deeper holes and slower stretches of water. After fishing my way downstream and not hooking up with or catching a glimpse of a nice sized fish, I found my confidence waning and for some reason, something felt wrong, I was throwing a big ol’ green squirmy worm due to the tinge in the water but unable to coax up.  I love throwing huge stuff in and after the rain. I settled into a nice hole with a deep, slow tailout and made about three drifts and my line just stopped dead.  I set the hook and instantly knew it was big, but I had no idea how big until the fish backed out of depths of the hole , I saw what it was and I about crapped myself.  She bulldogged me like crazy and refused to come up to the top.  Surprisingly, she never jumped but she did head-shake hard a couple of times.

Sure enough, that big broad kept trying to rap me around that rock at least five times.  At one point, she took off upstream went up to the hole just above where I hooked into her and then right back down,  Thank God the drag on my reel performed flawlessly.  Sometimes my drag doesn't want to cooperate on bigger fish, but it did for her and I was so grateful.

I finally got her into the net and saw where she was hooked and It was a big relief as I had a really solid hookset. I was fishing 5x mono that I had already landed two fish earlier in the day so I knew it was probably a little frayed which definitely had me nervous.

Once I netted her, I couldn't breathe.  Like everyone who has ever taken up fly fishing, a fish like that was on my bucket list since my first day on the water.

I remembered watching the #Salmosearch video months back and I had my sights set on a fish like that ever since.

Never once did I think that I would get a shot at that one…"


Nathan, Congrats on the catch of a lifetime and thanks for sharing your story with us!  It’s funny that you say you felt something was wrong all day because that is exactly what happened to me.  I hadn’t caught a thing all day up until I set into that brute.

For me personally, the picture of Nathan’s catch was an amazing thing to see.  It may sound ridiculous to some, but catching that fish last year meant everything to me.  I had just lost my mom to cancer a month earlier and simply being back on the water was all I was looking for that day.  Hooking into this fish was affirmation to me that no matter where my travels would take me, my mother’s spirit was with me.  Physically she is gone, but never once during this past year have I felt abandoned, lonely, or lost without her actually here.  I goes without saying the I miss her dearly, but I see things like Nathan’s catch happen and I can say that, without a doubt, she is here and speaks to me every day…all I have to do is look for her and to listen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Fishing Elbow

I remember the day when fly fishing was an old man’s sport.  It seems that day is closer than I thought.  Although I expected to grow old fishing I hadn’t anticipated injuries that would occur as a result of fishing.  I’ve spent a lot of time this year, much more than usual, throwing big streamers in large rivers and double hauling lots of line on open water.  Following my first couple of trips I noticed the elbow in my casting arm had some pain radiating around my elbow and my head hurt around my temples and eyes.  After the first warning of pain I did what any serious angler would do and suffered through the pain in pursuit of what’s really important, fishing and having a few beers (not my health).  It took about 6 more full days of fishing in the course of 4 weeks and I was completely out of the game.  The pain at this point was from my elbow all the way down my forearm. I had a hard time picking anything up and even writing with a pen or typing at my desk.  When whining about the pain, someone mentioned I probably had tendinitis, more commonly known as tennis elbow (and a slight hangover causing the headache).  As I started my internet search to find out more I was surprised how many others had the same problem and there was actually such a thing as “fishing elbow”.  Who knew the thing that relaxes me and brings me joy could actually cause pain and injury. I did some research for a way to treat the problem and of course I got exactly what I didn’t want to hear: Stop fishing.  Tendinitis is an irritation or inflammation of the tendons in your elbow.  Although there are many braces and straps to relieve the pain, continuing to abuse your elbow could lead to tendon tears, cortisone shots and surgeries.  In my research I was surprised to see that there aretournament bass fishing anglers who have undergone surgeries on both elbows to remedy the pain and continue their careers casting.

It seems the best way to prevent a problem is stretching prior to activity, and some recommended following the same regimen major league pitchers use.  I found some instruction videos and I was expecting something a lot less like Shaolin Kung Fu meets the robot dance moves, but if it saves me some pain and gives me fishing it was worth a shot.  I’ve been stretching for a few minutes the night before a trip and the morning of.  Mostly in the privacy of my own house so I don’t look like I’m doing a secret hand shake with myself.  I’ll be honest it’s not the full 5 minute gambit I viewed in the video; I picked exercises that I felt gave me the most benefit.  So far it seems to be helping.  After a 5 hours day of throwing long casts on a lake the other weekend, I had no pain.

It seems early detection and prevention is the ticket to beating fishermen’s elbow.  And although it’s hard to add something new to your pre-fishing routine, it may save you from having to sit out the next trip.  And no one wants to ride the pine.