It’s 11 a.m. Outside, it’s unseasonably cold, there’s a persistent drizzle and the nearby mountains are completely obscured by clouds. Usually hot-natured, this morning, I’m wrapped in a fleece blanket, sitting on a couch, watching the Travel channel and typing on my computer. Betsy and I have put life on hold for at least a morning, and we’re enjoying a lazy, restful day after a very intense – but fun – weekend.
Troutfest 2011 was held this past Saturday and Sunday, and as mentioned in my previous posts, I participated as a vendor in the fly-fishing exposition for the third consecutive year. As in previous years, the event was really good – full of friends, fun, fantastic food and, of course, fly-fishing fanatics. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see some fellow vendors who we’ve befriended in past shows; I was floored by the number of repeat customers who made time to stop by my booth and express their appreciation of my artwork (thanks Sophia, Keith, Bobby, Gail, Charity, David, Barry, Matt, Dan, Doug, Gary and Gary!); and, of course, I got a huge kick out of meeting a ton of new people.
The Sharley booth
It’s not Troutfest if it doesn’t rain, and the 2011 didn’t buck that tradition. Storms threatened throughout Saturday, but the sun made regular appearances, helping to maintain an impressive number of attendees. Sunday, however, featured cold weather and a pesky drizzle, forcing many to stay in the warm, dry comfort of their homes. Can’t say I blame them, but I certainly appreciated those who braved the elements to stop by the Townsend Visitor Center to spend some time learning a little bit more about the fly-fishing scene.
As in past Troutfest events, fly-fishing royalty was on hand, and Lefty Kreh, Joe Humphries and Bob Clouser showcased their skill and stamina by hosting an array of instructional clinics and fly-tying demonstrations. With each of these gentlemen, just a few moments of watching and listening to them can lead to a lifetime of learning. All anglers – whether you wave the long rod, or prefer more conventional tackle – owe a lot to these guys.
Lefty holds court on Day Two
But, it didn’t stop there. Little River Outfitters’ Byron Begley and the rest of the Troutfest organizers attracted an impressive roster of fly-tiers (including my frequent co-angler, David Perry from Southeastern Fly, and new friend, Eddy Whitson of the Clinch River Trout Unlimited Chapter), the Itinerant Angler Zach Matthews and the 2011 Angler of the Year, Tom Rosenbauer.
Lefty uses the Force to direct his fly line
Sunday evening, after Betsy and I finished deconstructing our booth and loading up our vehicle, we spent the remaining hours driving through the nearby mountains and even made a quick visit to Cades Cove. Despite the rain and the fog, we ended a really eventful weekend by spotting a couple of bears and at least 75 deer. They were literally everywhere.
One of a bunch from Cades Cove
Today, we’re resting up and trying to spend the next 48 hours both agenda- and (relatively) stress-free. Work, our new house construction and all the anxiety that goes with both will have to wait until Wednesday. Until then, we’re takin’ it easy.