What I will miss about NC

I moved to North Carolina just over 7 years ago.  And later this week I will be moving away.  So I thought I would write a couple of posts about North Carolina.  Yesterday I wrote about the things I will be glad to not deal with once I leave North Carolina. Today I am writing about the things I will miss about NC.

  • My house – I have lived in the same house for 5 years.  I believe that is the longest time with only one address in my entire lifetime.  Not only have I lived in the same house for 5 years. But it is a really nice house with really good grass in the front yard.  I have issues with that sycamore tree in the front yard, and I'm not crazy about the utility room being on the carport, but otherwise I’ll miss this place.
  • Distance from my family – I know what you are thinking.  This was on yesterday’s list, you are right it was.  It is a bit of a bummer living so far from family.  But there are some positives about it as well. When you live 1/3rd of the country away from your family you only see them about 3 times a year.  It turns out, that seeing less of my family makes me appreciate them a lot more.
  • CBC – I really enjoy my classes at Carolina Bible College.  Teaching adults is very different than teaching teenagers, which is what I have done for the last 13 years.  But it is a nice break and I get to delve deeper into topics I can often only scrape the surface of when teaching teens.  Also, my students are generally appreciative of my teaching, even if not my grading.
  • Cookout & MiCasita – Two very different restaurants go here on the list.  Mi Casita is a Fayetteville Mexican restaurant where I eat pretty much weekly.  I will miss it very much.  Cookout is a fast food restaurant that is unique to North Carolina.  The food is wonderful.  Seriously, where else can you get a double cheeseburger with fries and chicken nuggets plus a drink for under 5 bucks.  I’ll tell you - nowhere.  Also, it has without question, the best milkshake in any fast-food place anywhere.  My favorite fast food restaurant will now be hundreds of miles away. Sad.
  • The watershed lake I fish regularly – I love fishing.  And for the last 4 years I have had the opportunity to fish a healthy lake with virtually no fishing pressure.  I have fished there dozens of times and could count on one hand the occasions when there was more than one boat in the water.  Last year alone I had 3 bass that would have been my best fish ever if I could get them into the boat.  I have caught bass, pickerel, bluegill, shellcrackers, and crappie in healthy amounts from that lake.  I hardly ever have a bad day in that lake and I will definitely be sad when I can’t drive 5 minutes and be there.
  • My friends and church family – Let’s be honest, the really sad part of moving is not going a long way from a great restaurant, or a house, or a lake, or any of those things.  The hard part is leaving behind all the people.  I will not attempt to name all the folks here who I will miss.  I will miss friends from seminary, pastors in my association, students and colleagues at CBC and loads for people from my church family.   There are many people in NC that my life is better for knowing, and it will be a shame to leave them.  Fortunately, in this day of social media, it is possible to keep in touch much better than ever before.  It is amazing what you can learn about people’s lives through a twitter feed or through facebook.  So I’m glad for those technologies.  You people keep updating and I’ll keep reading.

Rhodes Pond

About a week after  I moved to North Carolina, I drove past a beautiful lake called Rhodes Pond.  I was told it is private but has really good fishing.  That was 6 years ago.  About a month back I heard that the state owned it now and that it is free to fish.  So, last Friday, since I already had an errand on that side of town, I decided to try it out.  Before going, I googled Rhodes Pond to see if I could learn anything useful to help out with fishing there.  But there is absolutely no new information.  The most recent info I could find at all, was about the dam and dated to 2007, completely unhelpful to a fisherman.  So I’m writing this post about my experience just so there will be something useful as a guide for others.

Time & Conditions: We fished there on a hot day in mid-May.  It was the hottest day of the year so far.  The morning began heavily overcast, threatening rain, but became only partly cloudy and about 93° before we left.  We arrived about 9:00 am and left at 1:00 pm.

Your guide to the lake

The Lake: I kept reading the Rhodes pond is a “black water” lake, but I don’t know what that means.  (Although the water is very dark, so maybe that’s all it means)  It is an impound of the Black River and it is 461 acres.  (Here are the coordinates for use in your GPS or with Google Earth35.2293, -78.6517)  It has an excellent ramp, as good as any lake I know of that is limited to non-gas motors.  The lake is divided into two sections by a long peninsula.  The part with the ramp is unfishable because of the weeds.  Maybe I just don’t know how to fish in weeds, but that entire half of the lake has weeds growing up to within a foot of the top.  Not one cast came back clean for me.  (Much like Smith Lake on Ft. Bragg)

On the other side of the lake the water is quite clear.  There are cypress trees scattered in the main lake, fields of lily pads and dollar pads around the edges, and a forest of cypress trees inside the pads.

The fishing: Uhhh…there’s probably fish in there…maybe.  For such a beautiful lake with limitless cover, Neither me nor my co-angler got as much as a bite.  I fished my 2 standby baits, a Rapala super shad-rap (because I mostly fish shallow-water lakes), and a spinner.  I even threw a 4” tube around some of the Cypress trees.  Jack fished red worms trying to catch a bluegill.  There was one other boat on the lake but I couldn’t say if they caught anything.  And there were 2 people fishing from the levee in the other side of the spillway.  One of them said he had 8 crappie.

My final verdict: I don’t know of a more beautiful lake anywhere.  But I’m also not smart enough to fish it.  Too much backwater, too many weeds, too many pads and too much cover.  I would have settled for a grinnel.  If anyone reads this that had luck, let me know in the comments how you caught em.

After writing an entire article about Rhodes Pond does that make me a Rhode's [pond] Scholar?

A Very Weird Day of Fishing

Last Friday I went fishing, just as I do most Fridays, at the largest lake on Fort Bragg, Mott lake.It was a very strange day so I thought I'd simply share a story of what made it weird.

For starters, the night before, the weatherman said it would be very windy, and he was very much right.  When we first got to the lake it was about 60° and the wind blew consistently the entire time.  I was freezing at first, no jacket and shorts on.  By late morning it had warmed up, but it was seriously cold at first.  It doesn't make any sense to fish in crazy high winds because, for one, it becomes impossible to keep the boat where you want it to be, so you either work yourself to death on the trolling motor or you have to anchor all the time, and that's just impractical.  We fish out of a 10 foot johnboat and at the levee end of the lake the water was actually whitecapping by early afternoon.  It made fishing in the main part of the lake nearly impossible.  The wind was directly out of the northeast. Last time I was home and went fishing with my dad he had this little rhyme.  This is not it exactly but it's close:

Wind from the West, fish bite the best. Wind from the East, fish bite the least. Wind from the North, do not go forth. Wind from the South blows bait in their mouth

So anyone want to guess how fishing was on this day?   Which brings me to the second odd thing about the day...Tiny fish

It is not unusual [for me] to go fishing and get totally shut-out.  But it is unusual to go fishing and catch baby versions of what you are fishing for.  I'm pretty certain it is a healthy lake, but all we caught were these tiny jacks and bass.  By tiny I mean 6 inches or less.  Seriously we caught 5-6 apiece but they were all tiny.

I said at the outset that we were fishing on Ft Bragg.  It is not unusual on Ft Bragg to hear the rumbling and booming of artillery in the distance.  But on this day it was a non-stop cacophony of booms and machine gun fire from the nearby ranges.  The nearest impact zone to the lake is at least 3 miles away, but there were 3 booms in particular that made me flinch.  They were so loud and abrupt that it seemed like we should duck.

Another first for me on this day was the presence of a drone aircraft.  I have never seen one of these flying before but there were 3-4 flights overhead during the short trip.  It was a strange looking aircraft and made an unmistakable sound.  (It looked like the one in this pic the best I could tell.)  I tried to take a video of it with my camera, but it was too hard to find in the window with the boat moving the way it was.  So you'll just have to take my word for it, it was a strange-looking loud contraption.

Edit-  Here's a vid where you can catch a glimpse of it.  You can certainly hear how loud it is and also hear the wind -Edit


There were other strange things that day, there was a man there with an RC boat, which one time broke down and he had to swim after it, we also fished out 2 tennis balls.  I just thought I'd share my adventures with the readers of my blog

An Observation

I have lived in North Carolina for 5.5 years and all along I have heard jar flies.  But whenever I talk about them nobody knows what I am talking about. Shells from jar flies

So today I was mowing the yard and I saw the shell of one on a fencepost.  I decided since I have this blog to just ask my readers. I picked up this whole batch without even looking hard to find it.  There are the shells from dozens of them in my back yard.

Do you have jar flies where you come from?  do you call them something else?  Technically they are called cicadas, but the only ones I ever hear called cicadas are the 13 year variety.  If you had ever seen [or heard] the 13 year variety of cicadas you'd remember it.

By the way, it's really funny to take one (the full grown kind with wings) that fell out of a tree and put it on somebody's back.  When they touch it, it'll make that buzzing sound they make, and the person will make a screaming sound.  Really it's quite hilarious.

What's this - a new blog post?

So I'm back from the basement and it's time to get back to normal life.  Which, it just so happens, includes writing blog posts.  I'm going to start off with a little travelogue. (Just a few pictures from my past week.)  Then tomorrow, your regularly scheduled best web junk, and next week it's back to normal blogging. I had an 8 day vacation .  I went back home to visit my family.

Which included my new nephew that I had never seen before.  he had a bit of a rough time coming into the world and was not allowed to see his momma for the first few days.  But he is clearly doing very well now.  This is not a fake picture, this is Jake Johnson my nephew. he really looks like a cabbage patch doll.  Also I'm sporting the half-face tan and looking oddly bald.  (I'm puffing out my cheeks to look like him.)

I also went to the eye doctor as I always do during my summer visit home.

Here you can see me all google-eyed.  Freshly dilated with virtually no blue part left.

Then I went to Mexico to visit my good friends Brent & Amanda Highfil.  Here's a pic of their two oldest children Luke & Noah.  We played Rock Band on the Wii Friday night with Keaton & Ali Shewcraft.  It was really fun.

I also got to go fishing twice.  once on Barkley with my dad.  We caught 6 bass fishing a Carolina rig on main lake flats.  (pretty descriptive huh)  and once at a family get-together.  We were at this lovely private lake.

I caught about 6 bass and a few of these very hungry catfish.  The other guy is my uncle.

I had a good time, glad to be back in Fayetteville and I have plenty to do for the next few months.

Guerrilla Fishing

You know you are really fishing when you come home all scratched up. I fish most of the time in a private lake between two neighborhoods. It is the middle in a string of three lakes. And it is the only one of the three I have fished.  The one above it is very small, and is located behind an apartment complex. And the one below it is huge and located on about 3 apartment complexes, 2 neighborhoods and one of the busiest roads in town.

At the eastern end of the lake is a fork. As you can see in this picture, Both lakes 7 roadit looks like a peninsula that reaches out into the shallow end of the lake. The guy I fish with, Jack, always calls it an island, and says that he has been all the way around it before, but I never quite believed him. We usually fish as far as we can go into the shallower of the forks, and it is one of our most productive parts of the lake. The other fork is much deeper, partly.  It is much deeper in a channel about as wide as the boat. The rest of that fork is about a foot deep.  That channel is the main channel feeding the lake. For some reason, Friday I said, “Why don’t we go under the bridge and see if we can get to the spillway of the next lake.” (That would be the upstream lake. The one on the left in the picture.) We didn’t know if we could make it, but it seemed worth a try, so we headed out. Immediately I learned a lesson. It is, in fact, an island. Island on Left, road on rightHere you can see the water on the back side.

So we proceeded under the bridge, we didn’t know which side to go up, and I was afraid of it having a concrete bottom, but we chose the right and headed out. Through Bridge with beaver dam blocking one side I was surprised that there were no bats under there, also that it was so easy to get through. There was one limb in the path, but we could put up the trolling motor and paddle past with no trouble. When we came out the other side I could see we chose the right side, because the other had a beaver dam blocking the entrance.

Also after we came through the bridge we were navigating a stream only about as wide as the boat. We moved along with the paddle and by pulling on low hanging branches. It forked several times, but we always took the path that seemed deepest. We were just getting the hang of it, when we were blocked, unable to make it to the spillway in the boat. We came to a place where we could see the spillway probably 50 yards in the distance, but we were blocked by a beaver dam. Stupid beavers. end of the road

We thought since we’ve come this far, we should get out and see if we can walk to the spillway. It was strange, I sort of felt like a 12 year old out “exploring” in the woods. Also I learned a lesson, though it is a lot lighter it is much harder to walk through the woods with a fishing pole than a gun. It’s longer and gets tangled on every stupid branch. So we tried working our way up the stream then had to turn back. We tried to go around the thicket but were swamped in by all the forks in the creek we didn’t take the first time.

It turns out, we went all that way for nothing. Then we had to figure out something that hadn’t occurred to us before. How do we turn the boat around? After taking the trolling motor off, and putting Jack in the boat, (to float up the front) I was able to stay on the bank and swing it around. Then I managed to get back in without falling in the water, and we paddled back. Back under the bridge, Back through the bridgeand into familiar home water. We caught nothing, but it was an interesting little adventure. So I thought I’d share it. Home water

Despite that detour, I had a good day fishing. I caught 2 bass and 2 jacks (pike) and I had a third bass hooked. In fact I had 2 fish on in my first 10 casts of the morning. (a topwater chugger with a 3 foot trailer) But I had to fight about 25 backlashes trying to throw that rig.

This post was kind of a rambling mess.  Thanks for reading.


domestic gooseToday I went fishing. Big shock, I know. The lake I fish most often is in the middle of two neighborhoods. It has back yards and docks around the entire perimeter except the levee. It is a wonderful lake. Very few people ever fish it. It is pretty, though not particularly quiet.  And even though it is in the middle of a large city you can see beautiful glimpses of creation there.

There are quite a lot of geese that live on the lake. There are a lot of domestic geese (the white ones) which I don’t like. They are very loud and messy. There are also quite a lot of Canadian geese, which seemingly live there around the year. Many of the Canadian geese were sitting on nests today.

At one end of the lake I heard an odd sound. It repeated several times, and I told Jack, “It sounds like somebody is shooting at us with a BB gun.” About that time, a Canadian goose flew out of the yard where we heard the shooting, and Jack said, “Yeah, or shooting at the geese.” That goose flew across the lake and Canadian Geesehonked what I thought was a sad sounding honk. It was weak and whiny. The shooting didn’t stop, and since geese mate for life, I thought it was honking towards its mate. The other goose was hiding under a tree at the corner of a dock. As we turned in the boat, we saw the goose, floating, dead.

I have no problem with goose hunting. I have no problems with any kind of hunting. I have been hunting many times. I have shot rabbits, squirrels, birds and frogs. I built a website for a hunting lodge. But I have a problem with killing just to kill something. A few years back, I shot a woodpecker for no real reason, and I felt guilty for three days. It bothers me terribly to think that that goose is now turtle food, for no reason. (We tried to give the goose to some other fishermen hoping they would eat it, so it wouldn't die in vain.) Earlier in the day, we saw a wounded goose that we thought was tied or caught in a chain around a tree. I got out of the boat intending to help it out. It turns out he just had a bad leg, and couldn’t get up. I wonder if that goose was a victim of the BB gun as well. BB guns are much better suited for goose wounding than goose hunting. Most goose hunters use a 3 ½” magnum 12 gauge.

I just felt like getting that story off my chest.