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!


I thought the day would never come, but it seems pure insanity and people’s greed for material things have finally reached a boiling point.  I’m honestly shocked because I didn’t think it would be this soon.  For years I (and 75% of the WR crew) worked retail for a very reputable and big outdoor company.  Although they asked that I never stop exploring, they insisted I work longer and longer hours during the holiday season, particularly around “Black Friday”.  I remember when the first big box store’s starting opening a few hours early, then it was midnight, and next thing you know it’s the evening of Thanksgiving.  This year many stores will open Thanksgiving morning.  No company gave much thought of what this means for the workers who have to leave family behind to staff a store filled with crazed shopper willing to trample others and fight for cheap junk.  It's all about making as much money as possible.  It has become pretty sad and has made me very thankful to have left the madness of the retail world. Leave it to an outdoor company to not only value their employees, but recognize the importance of getting outside, and leaving behind the material world.  I’m seriously impressed with REI.  Although some REI shoppers may be upset, I really applaud REI for breaking the mold to do what's right.  Every year since leaving the retail world, I spend Black Friday outdoors and refuse to visit stores.  It reminds me of all I'm thankful for.  So glad REI employees can now do the same.  All of us here at WR love the outdoors, and companies who help support folks like us are worth mentioning.

Check out REI's #optoutside campaign and help spread the word.