The Braided Wing

Avoid #23

Posted August 15, 2013 Marc Payne.

Avoid #23

For years I held dreams of being a writer. I entertained visions of spending hour after hour pondering my angling muse while sitting at a table in some bohemian coffee shop, laptop in front of me, stacks of fan letters to be perused. Thoughts and stories racing through my imagination as heavily populated and potent as a salmon stream on their return home.

Well... in the few months that I have been able to honestly say that I have been working on a book, I have found that not to be the case at all. As a matter of fact, the only coffee shop in my neck of the writing world is the one you carry in your back pack as you hike in.

Living the glamorous life of an author? Here are a few examples of what I have encountered in the writing of this book.



I have been yelled at by a group of Asian tourists because I was obstructing their photo op of a flower on the other side of the stream I was fishing. "Oh, sorry folks, I forgot it is springtime and that this particular flower is the only one blooming in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park!"

Then there are the volunteer helpers; those who feel so strongly about my book that they want to do whatever they can to insure its success. To these folks, I am thankful, but on occasion the help is a bit over the top.

Ever feel like you were living out an episode of Seinfeld? I had this guy, a member of one of the local TU chapters contact me about lending a hand to my efforts. He told me that he heard that I was writing a book and just wanted to donate some of his weekend to me as a gesture from his chapter. He seemed like a really nice guy, so I said, "Sure."

Big mistake.

Have you ever spent time around a close talker; folks whose personal space is always at least two feet within your own? It was so bad with that I began searching out spots to fish that could only hold one person safely, but he would follow me anyway. In one particular spot this well meaning individual had to be rescued when he committed himself to join me before realizing that zero foothold and swift current seldom if ever mean anything other than full baptism. Dripping from every spot of his body, I handed him my camera (waterproof), and told him to take a few shots of me fishing. My reasoning being that if I gave him the camera, it would keep him at a distance.


Every photo this guy took was close enough to count the hairs in my nose.

There is a section of water located within the park that year in and year out produces some amazing fish. Browns in excess of 30" and bows in the 24" range pulled from this deep pool are not uncommon. The trick have to approach it a certain way or you will put them down. They don't fool easy even if you do everything right. How do I know this? You do anything and fail enough times you will finally figure out the right course of action.

(Authors note: for full information on this spot and how to fish it, buy my book 25 Best Places Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park available spring 2014, Stonefly Press)

It is mid-Spring and I am at "the spot". It is a typical chilly mountain morning, maybe in the upper 30s and the water is in the 40s. I invest maybe twenty minutes, sometimes on my hands and knees moving to the place where I know I will have the best shot at one of the monster browns. I can clearly see two large shadows and they are in a great position for me to present them with something that would hopefully encourage the take. I get into position and am almost to the point of casting when I hear someone yell, "Hello! Hello"!!! In the early dawn hours of a cool spring morning, this guy comes swimming by right through the middle of the pool. Of course the trout are very aware of his presence and vanish.

"Just didn't want you to hook me", he says.

In my mind, I did hook him. I hooked him multiple times in multiple ways throughout that day, and a few days since.

The best laugh of all throughout this process has been God's chuckle. There is a saying that "Man plans. God laughs" and this is one of those times.

The day I put my name on the contract to do the started raining. It didn't rain just one day, but multiple days. The entire stream system of the Smokies was blown out for weeks. A stream no more than twenty feet wide that ran about 250 cfs (cubic feet per second), was at thirty- to fifty-feet wide and running between two and three thousand cfs. Rain has brought park waters to this level and beyond multiple times this year, so much so that by mid-July we had reached our rain totals for the entire year.

So far this year twenty-two people have required rescue from the waters of the park. I just hope and pray that I am not number twenty three.