Tag: david knapp

Wading in a Kaleidoscope

Wading in a Kaleidoscope

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

Colors exploded on the water’s surface. The sky was filled with shimmering yellows, dotted with oranges and reds in vibrant contrast. Often, I found myself stopping mid-stream and letting the fly rod rest while I captured photos of the kaleidoscope of color.

David Knapp, of Troutzone Anglers. Photo by Simone

David Knapp, of Troutzone Anglers, was guiding me on a fly fishing trip, but was very patient in my obsession with color and reflection….and beauty. He understands, as a photographer and nature-lover. 

Photo by Simone

Brilliant sunshine illuminated the trees and they glowed in their autumn glory. Oh, yeah, and beautiful rainbow trout danced with me. And I was introduced to a new section of water. And I got to climb over boulders and play among shimmering pools that were alive with trout and colors—all the things that help me feel alive and happy and in balance.

Photo by Simone

I started my fly fishing education with a guide that works with David. Travis started with the basics and helped me begin a practice that has quite literally changed my life. Since then, I have fished with David when I wanted to expand my skills and learn new water. I guess there are many guides that can do that, but with David I find another person that is in awe of nature as much as I am. He gives me space to enjoy the beauty yet he keeps me focused and challenges me to be a better fisher by teaching new techniques and ways to read water.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

After our last outing in July, I started a dialogue with him about wanting to work with women as a guide and help empower them through fly fishing. On our trip last Friday, while wading or hiking between fishing spots, we discussed guiding. When I imagine a future of guiding women on fly fishing excursions into the wilds of the national park, I know the mentoring I am receiving will be a light for the way forward.

Photo by Simone

Lately, the idea of connecting with others has been coming to me through conversations with Cherokee elders, books I’m reading, and even social media posts. Connection. Real conversations. Imagine opening ourselves to connecting…listening to others…being present. Being genuine. Last Friday I had the opportunity to be outdoors, in water, around rocks, under crazy-colored trees and connect with all of that Mystery and Magic and connect with a professional guide that is willing to engage in a genuine way through his work. For all of that, I am deeply grateful.

And the stars of the day…rainbow trout. It’s all catch-and-release. Photo by David Knapp

When you find someone that understands your vision and supports it and is excited about it, it’s a true gift. So I’m grateful for David. And I’m excited to work with women wanting to deepen their relationship with Nature, with themselves, through fly fishing. When you find kindred spirits, you know you are on the Path. Keep searching. Keep listening. We’ll all find each other.

David Knapp pausing to allow me a moment to ooh and ahh about the colors…. photo by Simone.
Big Adventure, Small Creek

Big Adventure, Small Creek

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

Mists of the morning filtered light rays as we entered the creek. The sight and sound of clear, rushing water was the focus of our attention, but every tree, moss covered rock or flower added to the beauty. But perhaps even more beautiful than all of that, was the colorful glistening shimmer of pink, silver and dark green of rainbow trout or the bright orange-red fins and dots of native brook trout. 

Photo by David Knapp

When leaving the pullout parking area on this busy mountain road, it’s like walking into another dimension. Heavy foliage hides the road, the sound of rushing water filters out traffic noise. It’s like walking through a doorway into another world…of Nature, of magic.

Newfound Gap. Photo by Simone Lipscomb

Higher elevations call when the July fry begins in the mountains. This summer seems hotter than usual here in the Smoky Mountains. Melting hot. Stay-in-air-conditioning hot. Icky hot. 

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

In fly fishing catch-and-release for trout, warmer water is not good. Trout are a cold water species and they thrive in water temperature is between 55 and 65. If a fisher catches and releases a trout in water much above 65 degrees, their recovery time increases and their chance of survival decreases. This also depends on how long they are on line and how quickly a fisher is able to release the fish. Quick landing, quick release, cool water are important pieces of catch-and-release practice for trout.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

I had been looking forward to a guided trip with David Knapp, owner of Trout Zone Anglers, for many months. I chose July because I’m off the entire month from my usual job and thought I’d be doing lots of fly fishing this month. The heat and thunder storms have made that challenging, but on our day of fishing, we had higher elevation temperatures and no lightning. And trout. And beauty. And rocks. And clear water.

David scouting for trout. Photo by Simone Lipscomb

I thought I had fished a small creek before but I found out that small is relative. And what I had thought wasn’t fishable without great difficulty, while looking at the water along Highway 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I discovered was indeed fishable and fun and beautiful. 

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

Like many places in the Smokies, entry and egress points are scattered along the roadway. In between those points are dense rhododendron thickets, nearly impossible to push through, along steep banks, nearly impossible to climb. So going with a guide who knows the area or scouting and marking places on a GPS app is important to safety and peace of mind. In fishing a completely different type of water, it’s important to go with someone who knows the area and can guide through it, not only for safety but for instruction on learning to fish this very different environment.

Photo of Simone by David Knapp

When one thinks of fly fishing, those big loops might come to mind…the graceful back cast and forward cast where the dry fly lands like a kiss on the water’s surface. Forget all that in a creek that might be 15 feet wide with heavy vegetation on both sides and overhead. New skills are needed. Thankfully, David is a wonderful teacher so I learned two new casts and techniques that broadened my skill set. From reading the water, to a modified bow-and-arrow cast, I came away with new tools, but more importantly I came away with memories of cascading water, flowers, trout and wading cool water in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Photo by Simone Lipscomb

On a small, mountain stream at high elevation, the mundane fades away and the mystical realm of mists, rocks, rushing water take over the senses. Trout become the teachers and jesters, the humbling masters. We’re lucky just to have a few hours to be in their presence.

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Featured image of Simone by David Knapp. Check out Trout Zone Anglers for more information on booking David and the guides that work with him. The level of learning and fun is a perfect balance.

The Green

The Green

Intense green seemed to ooze from every expression of Nature. Grass growing in the creek, trees gracefully arching over moving water, trees with newly unfurled buds—all of these elements joined together to create a glowing green realm that quite honestly seemed otherworldly, as if I had wandered into the faery realm.

It was a rainy day that started with heavy, gray clouds. Being prepared with the right gear made the rain a non-issue. Fish tend to like the rain. Or perhaps fly fishers like the rain because the trout aren’t quite as able to discern hand-made flies from naturally occurring insects hatching. It wasn’t a disappointing day wading, casting a line, and generally enjoying what I think of as a typical Smoky Mountains perfect day—cool, rainy, foggy, and beautiful.

Generally, I fish alone and enjoy it immensely; however, I fished with guide David Knapp, owner of Trout Zone Anglers, and was able to explore and wade places I wouldn’t generally go by myself. We went off the trail and made our way upstream using the creek and rhododendron thickets and moss-covered banks to navigate. The only other indication that others used the area was fresh elk droppings. The road wasn’t far away, but it felt as if we were immersed in a magical ecosystem of cold water, rocks, moss, trees…and trout. Lots of trout.

In past writing, I’ve said it’s not about the trout. But it is about the trout—and everything else, too. I occasionally fish another river, outside of the national park, and it’s pretty and there are many stocked trout, but it’s not magical like these remote areas that require extra effort to traverse, extra miles driven down bumpy gravel roads, and a capacity to enjoy beauty that stretches one’s ability to take it all in.

I won’t go into detail about what I learned about fly fishing, which was a lot. I’ll simply state what a pleasure it was to fish with someone who enjoys the whole experience of fly fishing, not just counting trout that are landed. Wading, stalking, casting, listening to birds, noting insects, watching trout rise to flies—these elements and more absorbed, appreciated and celebrated. 

April 29th of last year, I started fly fishing. Almost a year to the day, I was able to feel the confidence I’ve gained and skills that have improved as I’ve enjoyed over 65 fly fishing experiences, most of them in the national park and most of them solo. I’ve come to appreciate the intricate innerworkings of these cold, mountain creek ecosystems and am so grateful they have received me into their beauty.