Joe and I have been business partners for over seven years. We have torn out drywall together, installed windows in the restaurant together, done Bele Chere three times, and canoed to the restaurant during the floods of 2004 but have never gone fishing together. This is probably because neither of us fish a lot or, more likely, that we just didn’t have the time.
A friend of ours, and fellow Biltmore Village businessman, Richard Witt of Curtis Wright Outfitters, has been trying to get us on the river with him for a couple of years. He is very friendly and not pushy, but insistent in a way that is hard to say “no” to. In late March of this year, he hit us with the offer at the right time. Joe and I both said yes and Richard set the trip for early on a Monday morning. It was cold and rainy. “Do fish still bite in the rain?” I asked Joe. I think the answer was “They are already wet, what do you think?” or something like that. Long story short, the trip was still on.
Richard picked us up in his van, which is outfitted with everything several people could possibly need for fishing, including a goodie box with Clif Bars and other assorted foodstuffs. Our destination was the Davidson River near Brevard. We actually parked in the lot near the fish hatchery. Richard helped us get outfitted in our waders and talked us through what to expect. The fly rods he gave us were very light and the flys were just a size larger than a large gnat (probably slightly larger than that, but they seemed TINY.)
In the parking lot, Richard actually helped us act out how we would cast, what to do when we caught a fish and how not to make mistakes that would let the fish get off the line. I commented on the fact that he actually seemed to think that we would really catch something that day and he seemed completely sure of it. After making sure we had all the equipment and Richard had his camera we walked a couple hundred feet to the river.
Now, most of my fishing experience has been with my grandfather on the French Broad River or with my brother-in-law in Florida. Both of these required packing up the car, driving to a spot to park, and either walking a half mile or so to the river, or taking the boat a half hour down the Intercoastal Waterway. What we did with Richard was positively too easy. Park, get out, walk for a minute and start casting.
To set the scene, the day was overcast, the water was cold and Joe and I were doing something we had never done before. To top it off, I had sunglasses but not the right kind. Richard would look over my shoulder and say “See that big brown trout over there? ” or “There are several good-sized ones under that rhododendron on the far bank.” I saw water. So I just cast into the spot he pointed to and after about ten or twelve casts I hooked something. I pulled back and low like Richard had instructed but either I had no fish or I had pulled the hook.
The next cast, however, I hooked a trout. Nice! Richard came over (he stands in the river with you and gives very patient, very calm instruction while you are standing there thinking “Holy Crow- I caught something! Let me rip this sucker out of the water!”) and talked me through being easy on the fish while keeping it on and steadily reeling it in.
When he eased the net under my first trout, I saw that it was about 8-10 inches long. Not very big, but it was beautiful to me. He took the obligatory pictures and then we let the fish relax in the net in the water and released it. On the Davidson River, apparently it is only legal to catch and release, which made it easier to face my daughter Lauren later in the day. Soon after this first fish I caught another little guy and then I hooked a nice 15-inch brown trout. I was having fun now.
Richard had worked his way down the river toward Joe, who had caught a fish as well. Richard was showing Joe a little overhang on the far bank of the river that had a dark, cave-like entrance beneath it. Joe kept casting into it with a fly Richard had put on that just floated on the water. This was fairly tricky work as Joe had to be pretty precise with his casts. I had already put my fly into the rhodos a couple of times which is not a lot of fun, but Joe avoided this fate. After a series of casts, a big rainbow hit Joe’s fly. He set the hook and worked the big guy in. This was the fish of the day.
We needed to head back to town for the work/family/soccer obligations, so we were off the river by mid-afternoon. I was a little tired and hungry, so I dove into Richard’s box of goodies and had a snack and a drink. Richard complimented us on being quick learners and on the fish we had caught. He may have just being nice, but no one could deny that we had caught some fish. Having Richard there made it easy & fun.
We are looking forward to taking our kids back for a day with Richard on the Davidson. It is a great way to bring your blood pressure down and a beautiful setting to boot. If you are looking for a great guide and patient teacher, Richard Witt is your man. He can be reached at curtiswrightoutfitters.com or by phone at 828.274.4371. Give him a call or visit the shop – you’ll be glad you did.