Not every fishing trip starts out a winner

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After three days at a business meeting in Jacksonville Florida, I was looking forward to a couple of days fishing the Davidson River in Brevard, North Carolina before continuing on to more fishing in Tennessee. The Davidson River is listed in Trout Unlimited’s book, America's 100 Best Trout Streams. Although I have never done well on the public areas of the River, the private waters on Davidson River, of Davidson River Outfitters, are supreme.

I know Kevin Howell and Lou Barlow at Davidson River Outfitters and have attended their fly fishing school. The bonus for me on this trip was a new Sage Fli 6wt waiting for me to pick up at DRO and with that purchase came a free pass for a half-day of fishing on their 2.9 miles of private water on the lower Davidson River.

I did not particularly enjoy my stay at the Jacksonville Omni Hotel. The educational content of the three day International Association of Electrical Inspectors conference was excellent. Getting a cup of coffee in the Omni was nearly impossible.

The coffee shop in the lobby was open from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM, and was closed at lunch time. The convenience store, also in the lobby, opened at 9:00 AM and closed at 6:00 PM. When I went into the hotel restaurant and declined to be seated for their $20.00 breakfast and instead asked for a coffee to go I was ignored.

The Omni also featured $18.00 a day mandatory parking.

Saturday morning I was glad to be checking out. The valet brought my truck down from the parking garage. When I open the back of the truck topper I saw that all of my spin fishing tackle and tackle box had been stolen. Apparently someone had a key that fit my topper locks and was just cruising the parking garage looking for a topper to unlock.

Two Daiwa ultra-light and two Shakespeare medium-weight rods and reels were stolen. Also taken was my fully loaded tackle box that had been a gift from my wife. In all it will take $600.00 to replace the missing gear.

On the upside all of the fly fishing gear was left intact. My Orvis Superfine, and St Croix 4wt fly rods and Orvis reels in their Safe-Passage rod/real case, the Orvis vest, custom Birdseye maple net and more. All of the good stuff was left behind. So it wasn’t all bad.

There was no point in calling the police. I once had a vehicle broken into in Florida. After waiting three hours for a cop to come he chewed us out for having valuables in a locked car at 2:00PM on a Sunday in a busy restaurant parking lot.

It was time to move on and go fishing.

I made it a leisurely drive north to Brevard NC. Stopping for lunch and allowing myself to be distracted by any roadside attraction and scenic overlook, finally arriving in the late afternoon.

After checking in at the Holiday Inn Express I drove the couple of blocks to Davidson River Outfitters to pickup my new fly rod. Then I walked to the private water to plan my fishing for Sunday. You can see from the signs that this is definitely private water.

I am not a stranger to Brevard and I knew before I left Jacksonville where I would be eating dinner tonight. Brevard has a great Mexican restaurant only a block away from DRO and across the parking lot is a great seafood restaurant. After eating way too much Mexican, I went back to my room at the Holiday Inn Express. The Weather Channel report was not looking good for the next couple of days and already the clouds were rolling in and it was starting to rain very lightly.

Sunday morning was cold and raining. I wasn’t in a rush to get out of the door. With the Holiday Inn free breakfast buffet and a newspaper I was content for an hour or so. When it became obvious that it was not going to clear any time soon I got my gear and went fishing.

By the time I got to the gate at the private water it was without question raining.

I put on my Tailwaters XT rain jacket * and not wanting to empty my vest into my jacket I tried to put my vest on over my rain jacket. While putting the vest on over the jacket I inadvertently pulled the handle on the vest life jacket inflator. WHOOSH. That darned vest blew up like a balloon. I was only half way into it and with it blown up I had a difficult time getting the vest off. Well at least I now know it works. What I didn’t know was how to deflate the vest. I looked for a release valve and found none. Then I unscrewed the spent CO2 cartridge expecting the vest to deflate, it didn’t. Then I just gave up, determined to get some fishing done.

I quickly filled my jacket pockets with all of the necessary items I needed and headed to the river.

I walked in along the upper bank for about three-quarters of a mile and then climbed down a steep forty foot slope that was very slippery from the rain. After a few slips and slides I was safely in the water. Once in the water I was able to wade out and relax.

Several casts later with my new fly rod, I hooked up high in a tree. The leader broke off far enough that I needed to replace it. As I reached into my jacket I realized I did not have a leaders with me. They were in the vest back at the truck. I did have 5-6-7X tippet material, so I hand tied a new leader on to the existing leader stub, in the pouring rain. Once the new leader was made up I tied on a nymph and dropper. When I went to trim the knot at the leader end I mistakenly clipped the leader and not the tag end and the nymph and dropper were lost in the river, in the pouring rain.

I retied the nymph and dropper, added a split shot, reaching in my pocket for a strike indicator there was none. They too were back at the truck, in the pouring rain.

I looked into the fly box for the biggest dry fly I could find. That fly was going to be my strike indicator. I cut off the nymph, dropper and split shot. Tied on the dry fly indicator, added a length of tippet and tied the nymph and dropper back on. With the dry fly loaded up with Gink floatant I was ready to fish, in the pouring rain.

A few casts later it was FISH-ON. Having fished here before I knew how important it was to get all slack line back on the reel. These fish will surprise you with unexpected long runs. You should not try to rely on stripping line in and letting it out by hand. A smooth drag is a must here in the Davidson.

After a couple more runs, an 18 inch Rainbow was brought to the net.

The weather continued to deteriorate to the point I could no longer punch thru it with the new Sage 6wt. It was time to find shelter and hot coffee and bask in a great day of fishing.

One fish can make a lot of bad turn good.

* Check out the Tailwaters XT jacket by Orvis. The absolutely best piece of rain gear I have ever worn. You will stay dry and you will not sweat inside. The neoprene cuffs with Velcro tabs seal out all water whether casting or landing fish.