By Steve Siciliano
In the morning the high regard we had for our Asheville accommodations ratcheted up another notch when we went downstairs and saw the complimentary breakfast that was laid out in the dining area adjacent to the lobby. It was a smile-inducing sight in view of our disappointing meal the previous night. After mollifying our hunger with scrambled eggs, sausage links, fried potatoes and fresh fruit we were ready for a day of fly fishing on the Laurel River.
During the half hour drive to meet up with our guide I kept one nervous eye on the sky and the other on the temperature. My wife loves fly fishing for trout almost as much as I do but she’s a self-avowed fair-weather angler. That early morning sky was threatening and the temperature was hovering around freezing.
When we pulled into a supermarket parking lot in a small burg northwest of Asheville we immediately spotted a silver pickup with rod racks suspended above the bed and a tall young man leaning against the tailgate. “That’s gotta be Paul,” I said to Barb.
Paul Kisielewski from Southern Appalachian Anglers (SAA) is an excellent guide. On the drive to the river he told us that he began fly fishing at the age of three, has a degree in business administration from Appalachian State and has been guiding on the area’s rivers since forming SAA in 2003. After tucking his pickup in a clearing on the side of a winding mountain road, Paul rigged up the rods while Barb and I put on layers of clothing and slipped into our waders. “My wife’s a bit anxious in the water,” I whispered to Paul while we were walking down to the river.
“No problem,” he whispered back. “I’ll stay with her.”
Sometimes I think Barb feigns nervousness about wading so she can have the undivided attention of the guide.
As usual Barb started off fast, netting and releasing a twelve-inch rainbow and two nice brookies before I even had a strike and, as usual, I began fretting about getting skunked. But by the time we sat down for lunch at a table Paul set up beside the river, I had netted four nice fish of my own. It ended up being a pretty good day both fish wise and weather wise. By mid-afternoon the sky had cleared and the temperature had reached the mid-fifties. Between us we had landed fourteen nice-sized trout.
That night we Ubered downtown and had an excellent meal at The Blackbird. When we returned to our motel we watched Animal Planet and sipped our nightly nightcaps. The next day we were going brewery hopping in Asheville.