Tenkara Fly Fishing along the Albemarle Sound

tenkara fly fishing albemarle soundA gentleman fishing one of the local creeks last fall quickly caught my attention. I was returning from an afternoon of paddling and fishing on Queen Anne Creek. When I returned to the dock, the angler was enjoying one of many catches using a traditional fly rod. Colin introduced himself and then laughed as he joked that he had come out to test some of his hand tied flies. The combination of the angler’s joy, art and skill intrigued me. A few weeks later, I tried my own luck with fly fishing albeit a centuries old technique called Tenkara.

This simple form of fly fishing originated from Japan over two hundred years ago and is still one of the most popular Japanese fresh water angling today. Simple is fine with me especially when it comes to gear and equipment — think rod, line and fly – no reel! Here’s a quick Tenkara lesson for fishing fresh water streams on the fly along the Albemarle Sound.

Tenkara beginnings

Traditional Japanese rods are made from solid bamboo. Modern tenkara rods are constructed from ultra light, high-tech carbon fiber. Rods vary in length from 8.5 feet to 13 feet and anglers can easily cast lines from 12’–30′ or longer. One of the great advantages of the tenkara rods is that they are telescopic and conveniently break down into the rod’s butt section. The rod “telescopes” out of the largest section of the rod and quickly sets up in seconds. My Patagonia rod’s length is 10’6” but packs into its 20.5” base section. I can easily carry my rod and fishing kit with me while cycling or walking to local creeks.

Tenkara 101

Tenkara rods have a tag of line called a lilian that adjoins the tip of the rod. A level line (fly line) of various lengths (twenty-foot, twelve-foot, eight-foot) is slipped over and hitched to the lilian utilizing a turle knot. This allows quick transition to longer/shorter lines in the field. Finally, a 4’–6’ tippet is tied to the fly line and the fly. Lately, I’ve been averaging about 20-24 feet of total casting line.

Once I arrive at the stream, I simply unwind my desired length of line, gently pull out the tip section, seat with the adjoining section until I’ve properly set the entire rod. I chose the 10’6” model for it’s springy action and all-around length for fishing coastal creeks with dry flies, soft hackles and streamers.

Fly Fishing on Queen Anne Creek

Different strokes

Most folks who experience the rhythm of Tenkara use words like “intuitive, FUN and instinctive” when describing the feel of casting and setting the hook. I prefer to move the rod quickly back to a vertical point then release the rod forward to approximately 10 o’clock. This allows your line to move forward and present the fly toward your target. I place my index finger on top of the handle for better control. Instead of moving my wrist to create a twitching motion on the fly, I gently squeeze my smallest two fingers on the cork handle. The flexible tip gently reacts to the squeeze and transfers a subtle motion to the fly. The majority of my strikes emerge while I’m retrieving the line to make another cast.

Tenkara fishing Albemarle SoundCompared to conventional fly fishing, the tip of the rod is held relatively high after the cast. This keeps a tighter line making it easier to set the hook. When I land a fish, I casually raise the rod up higher and calmly reach for the line. Fishing with longer line requires one to tilt the rod back, keeping your arm low and close to the body when recovering the line. With larger catches, use the line versus the rod to lift the fish out of the water. After securing the line, I often lay the rod down on the ground or dock and use both hands to reel the line in. Again, this technique seems fairly natural after a couple of successful landings. Since November, I’ve been routinely catching bluegill, black perch and yellow perch in the shallow, grassy waters of Queen Anne Creek and Pembroke Creek.

While some traditionalists or fisher elitists may scoff at the Tenkara fly fishing method, I’ve found it very exciting and effective for anglers of all ages and abilities. When you combine elegance, art and recreation, it’s all good! Some guides are finding it to be a great introduction and teaching tool to fly fishing. Regardless of your preference, share the love of fishing and fish on!

 

 

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Bennett’s Millpond

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Bennett’s Millpond is one of those places where you can feel a bit of history right up under your feet. In my case, I stumbled upon a piece of its history as I explored the spillway along the earthen dam. One of the gristmill’s original millstones embedded in the leaves caught my foot as I walked along the banks of Rocky Hock Creek. For nearly a hundred years, Bennett’s Millpond was an essential regional industrial resource. It operated as a water-driven corn mill and served as a gathering place for community activities.

millstone at Bennett's Millpond

Original millstone along Rocky Hock Creek

On this crisp February day, the only activity I noticed was a lonely heron feeding along the shallows across the pond. The site has become one of my routine stopovers on a 30-mile cycling route in Chowan County. Earlier in my ride along rural Paradise Road, I saw hundreds of Tundra Swans feeding in fallow fields. I also witnessed a Bald Eagle devouring a deer carcass in a roadside ditch. It was so enthralled with its meal that it appeared unruffled as I cruised within a few feet of the massive bird of prey.

cycling to Bennett's Millpond

Cycling in Edenton and Chowan County has been a great way for me to learn more about the area. Thinking back about the winter avian resident, I reflected on my own migration to the region. My wife and I moved here last spring from the mountains of Western NC. We’re now discovering ourselves immersed into the land, culture and natural history of the Albemarle Sound. Most of our explorations have been self-discovery tours on foot, bike or from the cockpit of a kayak.

The Albemarle Sound Basin encompasses nearly 3,900 square miles of wetlands and large areas of open water in northeastern North Carolina. So when you’re cycling the flat, rural roads of the region, you often observe small streams, open bays and expansive views of the sound.

Bennett’s Millpond Extensions

The ride to Bennett’s Millpond is no exception. Roadsigns with names like Chamber’s Ferry, Emperor Landing and Gum Pond reveal the region’s connection to land and water. Local cyclists refer to this route as the “North of Sound” ride — a 38-mile circuit from downtown Edenton. Some riders include Dillards Mill Road (north of Rocky Hock Rd.) to add another 10 miles to their itinerary. Most of the routes includes low-volume roads, scenic farmland and flat coastal plain terrain.

NC DOT’s Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation publishes a handy map and route guide entitled Bike Albemarle. Unfortunately, the digital version is no longer available online. The map features 15 loop routes and four connector options. Some include state and local signed routes, extended state routes and sections of national routes including the developing trail system along the East Coast Greenway. Bike shops, campgrounds, visitor’s services and local landmarks such as Bennett’s Millpond are highlighted on the map.

After nearly four decades of adventure travel, backpacking and long distance touring, I’ve refined the ‘art’ of taking a break. Bennett’s Millpond is one of my recommended rest stops and local landmarks while cycling around the sound.

 

Trip Notes: Bennett’s Millpond facilities include a covered pavilion, boardwalk, primitive camping, hiking trail, paddling trail, fishing and the NC Birding Trail. The park is located approximately 6 miles north of Edenton off Hwy 32 at 2100 Rocky Hock Rd.

 

spillway along Bennett's Millpond

 

 

 

 

 

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Edenton Observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

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Dr. Alisa Robinson McLean, the Area Superintendent for Durham County Public Schools was the keynote speaker at the 2016 birthday celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. An enthusiast crowd of approximately 500 people attended the event held at Swain Auditorium in Edenton, NC. Nearly 100 of those attending were students. Several community leaders spoke passionately about MLK’s legacy, his impact on their own lives and how his dedication to service continues to inspire future generations. The celebration of MLK’s birthday featured a poem recited by a local fourth grade student, a prayer from Bishop Landon Mason, music by the Judah Arts Community Youth Ensemble and a closing civil rights hymn, We Shall Overcome.

The tribute was hosted by the Chowan County Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee. This year’s theme was galvanized in part by a paper King had written in 1947 while a student at Morehouse College. King wrote, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”

Martin Luther King’s Legacy Inspires Locals

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Dr. Alisa Robinson McLean, who grew up in Elizabeth City, NC offered an energizing speech influenced by her personal reflection of King’s legacy. She challenged all generations to ask what King cited as one of life’s most persistent and urgent questions, “What are you doing for others?”

Please don’t let that day be ‘a day off’ for you; but rather ‘a day on’ for service to your fellow man.

This call for action echoed across the country as other communities celebrated King’s contributions through a national day of service. And consistent with King’s teachings, Dr. McLean affirmed that the time is always right to do the right thing. These same sentiments that King presented at the height of the civil rights movement are still remarkably relevant fifty years later!

McLean summarized her speech articulating that King’s life and legacy was grounded on vigorous action – as much about what he did as what he said. May we honor Martin Luther King’s memory by being courageous, insightful, helpful, positive and intentional!

Local Knowledge: Martin Luther King, Jr. first visited Edenton on December 20, 1962. He spoke to approximately 500 people. He also delivered a speech at an All Citizens Freedom Rally at the local armory in Edenton, NC on May 8, 1966.

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Dog Friendly along the Albemarle Sound

dogfriendlyalongthealbemarlesound

Winter often ushers in a season of nor’ easterly winds, dreary days and sub-freezing temperatures. Here in Eastern NC, we also have lovely stretches of milder weather. And those of us who own dogs are certainly glad to have several pet-friendly options available to us when the forecasts are favorable. Here’s a winter sampling of all things dog friendly along the Albemarle Sound.

Parks, trails and wagging tails

There are endless opportunities for dog friendly outings along the Albemarle Sound and Outer Banks. From county parks and multi-use trails to National Seashores and waterfront boardwalks. Many towns and parks encourage a pet welcoming environment. Some accommodate pet owners with user-friendly pet waste stations, dog-friendly parks and courtesy fountains for canines.

I live in the very pet friendly town of Edenton, NC. I recently walked my dog Harper with my friend Doug and his dog Wanda. I was talking to him about how friendly our town was and he quickly smiled and added, “The dogs are nice too!” We both met several months ago while walking our dogs in Queen Anne Park. Several of the small parks, neighborhoods and open spaces along Edenton Bay and the Edenton Cotton Mill Village offer ideal dog walking opportunities with convenient waste stations, open space and beautiful views of the bay. Unfortunately, there are no off-leash parks in the region of the Albemarle Sound. If you’re looking at scouting out new parks and facilities, be sure to check their rules and regulations and obey all leash laws. Some parks have restricted seasons when dogs are not allowed so it’s best to do a little research before you and Fido head out to a new place.

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Dog lovers and explorers

Traveling around the sound, I’ve discovered several parks in the region that are dog friendly. Nags Head Woods Preserve offers several designated dog-friendly trails of various lengths including the Roanoke, Discovery, Town and ADA Trails. The town of Kitty Hawk operates the year-round Sandy Run Park, which adjoins the two-mile Paul Pruitt Multi-Use Path along The Woods Rd. Together, their trails and paths offer an extended winter outing for your family, friends and canine. My wife and I have a hyperactive chocolate lab so we recently took Harper out along the half-mile boardwalk at Sandy Run then ventured out on the paved multi-use path for an additional two miles. The paved trail is generally sheltered from coastal winds and there’s parking and restrooms available at Sandy Run Park.

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Canines on the coast

The beaches along the Outer Banks become less restrictive for pets during the off season so be sure to consider the seventy-plus miles of open beaches during your next mild winter outing. Most beach towns and public beaches still require leashes and in most cases, leashes which are not longer than 6 feet. The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau provides a comprehensive one-stop resource concerning dog-friendly beaches and town regulations for visitors to the OBX.

North Carolina State Parks provide pet-friendly facilities as well. Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head and Pettigrew State Park along the shorelines of Lake Phelps both allow leashed pets.

dog friendly along the albemarle sound

Finally, our own National Parks celebrate their 100th anniversary this year! The park service permits dogs year-round (must always be restricted to a 6’ leash and designated swim beaches excluded) so load up your dogs when you travel along Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Last month, I was pleasantly surprised to find a handy pet fountain during our last canine adventure to the Bodie Island Visitor Center and Lighthouse.

wavelinksdogfriendlymap

Fore more dog friendly info, visit our interactive map and use our category filter “dog-friendly” to browse more resources including lodging, pet supply stores and restaurants who love dogs. Have fun, be safe and enjoy all the dog-friendly retreats along the sound!

What’s in Your Doggie Bag? Be sure to pack treats, toys, water, bowl, waste bags and a towel. Always be courteous to others and pick up/dispose of waste. Make sure your pet is wearing a secure collar, I.D. and registration tag. You’ll be set for your next excursion.

 

 

 

 

 

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Queen Anne Creek – Jewel along the Albemarle

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Queen Anne Creek might be one of the shortest paddling trails among the Paths of Chowan but it may also be the sweetest. I’ve lived in the Piedmont of Georgia, the Southern Appalachians and now on the Albemarle Sound in eastern North Carolina. I’ve always adopted a hometown river, stream or creek to soothe the soul. Most recently, Queen Anne has quickly become one of my favorite local outings along the Albemarle!

The creek gently flows from the east of Edenton in Chowan County and empties into Edenton Bay. Meandering from the northern and western regions of the county, Pembroke Creek enters the west side of the bay. This land along the bay has experienced centuries of history, heritage and transformation originating from the native trading village of the Weapemeoc. European settlers established settlements along the Albemarle Sound including the 17th century Town on Queen Anne Creek. In 1722, the town was incorporated and the colony’s first capital was renamed Edenton in honor of the state’s first governor, Charles Eden.

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Let’s quickly paddle forward from the era of dugout canoes to the sleek modern world of rotomolded polyethylene and Kevlar.  Chowan County offers miles of paddling trails, convenient boating access and a network of camping platforms. Highlights along the four-mile Queen Anne Creek Trail include a historic waterfront, an expansive bay, colonial architecture, a historic plantation, mysterious wetlands and hours of solitude.

The trail originates from the floating dock a few hundred feet west of the 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse. There’s plenty of convenient parking along the Downtown Waterfront Park. Once on the water, paddlers are immediately greeted with views of the open bay and Edenton’s quaint town harbor as they hug the north shore and travel east. A wonderful collection of 18th and 19th century homes overlook the bay along Water St. Queen Anne Park and a handicap accessible small craft landing are located on the northern shore just before crossing under the Hayes Plantation’s iconic wooden bridge which spans over the mouth of Queen Anne Creek.

hayesplantationbridgequeenannecreek

Upstream, stands of cypress and tupelo trees dominate the forested banks. A few creek side homes can be observed before the landscape quickly transitions into an intimate natural waterway. Wildlife sightings along this 1.5-mile stretch include a variety of turtles, waterfowl, herons and birds of prey. Winter and spring sightings of Bald Eagles are frequently reported along the creek.

The trail continues upstream to the bridge and intersection of Hwy. 32, which is the turnaround on the 4-mile out-and-back trail. Late afternoon excursions often reward boaters with spectacular sunsets while approaching the bay. Please show respect and allow a wide berth to the local anglers fishing from the bridge and along Queen Anne Park.

sunsetalongqueenannecreek

The trail can be enjoyed year round by paddlers of all levels of experience. Full-day options include extended routes along the east side of the bay, west around John’s Island and Pembroke Creek. If the bay is choppy or exposed to the wind, an alternate launch is recommended at Queen Anne Park near the wooden bridge. For directions and more info about Queen Anne Creek and other paddling trails along the Albemarle Sound visit Paths of Chowan.

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Veterans Day Annual Ceremony in Edenton

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Our community joined people across the nation to give thanks to U.S. military service members on Veterans Day. A grateful local crowd attended the ceremony to pay tribute to American service members who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. A beautiful blue-sky morning provided the perfect backdrop for the annual memorial held at the Chowan County Veterans Memorial.

A special “thank you” goes out to all of our courageous U.S. veterans!

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Cycle NC Ride Returns to Edenton in 2016

2016 Cycle NC Coastal Ride Edenton, NC

 

Online registration for the exciting 3-day cycling event begins October 24, 2015. Here’s a press release on the event:

Cycle NC Coastal Ride
Edenton, NC
April 22-24, 2016

DURHAM, N.C. (September 10, 2015) – North Carolina Amateur Sports announced that the thirteenth annual Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride will return to Edenton, NC on April 22-24, 2016. Cycling routes of varying lengths from 5 miles to 100 miles will be offered to celebrate the start of the spring cycling season.

Edenton will host the Coastal Ride for the fifth time, allowing participants to camp along the waterfront in downtown or inside at the armory. Many other participants will fill the hotels, bed and breakfast inns and vacation homes for the weekend.

cycling events albemarle sound edenton

photo courtesy of Kip Shaw Photography

The fun-filled weekend will offer three days of cycling and feature some great Coastal Carolina food, music and festivities. The CNC Coastal Ride will also include many off-the-bike recreational activities in the Edenton area. Canoeing, kayaking, bird watching, historic tours, boat rides and beautiful sunsets will fill time away from the bike and provide the participants with many different ways to experience what Edenton has to offer.

The Coastal Ride has set a participation record every year since 2011. Participation has grown from just over 1,000 cyclists to over 1,400 in that time. Edenton was the host for the inaugural Coastal Ride, where 550 cyclists participated. Click here for more info.

 

 

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Common Bond in Edenton

 

Edenton BrickworksThe sun baking on the bricks grabbed my attention as my wife and I walked into town. “Edenton Brickworks” was stamped into a few of the bricks adorning the building that now housed a local law firm. It felt a little bit like an archeological ‘find’ embedded in a modern structure possibly laid many years later and most likely, long after the brick making company had fired its last brick.

I’ve only lived in this historic colonial town for a few months but I already know a thing or two about Edenton Brickworks. Maybe that’s because our cottage home and surrounding neighborhood is steeped in the brick maker’s heritage.

We live in the Historic Edenton Cotton Mill Village, which sprouted up in the early 20th century. The mill was built in 1900. J. A. Jackson of Hertford, NC was awarded the bid on the project to make one million bricks. Edenton Brickworks leased their brick making machine to Jackson during the construction of the expansive cotton mill. Some of the bricks were purchased in Hertford but the bulk of the bricks were made on site. After the building was completed, Haywood Cullen Privott, director of the cotton mill purchased 20,000 bricks left over from the project to construct his lovely Queen Anne Style home on 205 East King Street.

Haywood C. Privott House, 1900

Haywood C. Privott House, 1900

The W.O. Speight House, located on the edge of town, is another Queen Anne Victorian style brick home in Edenton. It was built and designed by the founder and owner of Edenton Brickworks. Oscar Will’s company made all the bricks for the home, cotton gin, and surrounding outbuildings. The home includes three floors, seven fireplaces and solid brick walls 18-inches thick. The plantation house and property was once the center of a large cotton and peanut farming operation.

W.O. Speight House, Edenton, NC - 1900

W.O. Speight House, 1900

17th Century Brick Architecture

Northeast NC was one of the earliest regions in the state to build homes constructed of brick. Early settlers from the northern colonies and particularly from Virginia first introduced brick-making techniques to the region along the Albemarle Sound.

As early as the mid-1600’s, wealthier residents began using brick in the construction of homes and buildings. By the next century, the coastal area was known for its brick and tile making. A fine example of 18th-century brick architecture still standing is the Newbold-White House in neighboring Perquimans County. It was constructed in 1730.

Edenton’s Walkable History!

My wife and I have been impressed with the area’s passion toward preservation, history and promoting the region’s heritage. We’ve found this enthusiasm to be quite contagious.

We enjoy taking walks through the historic town and isolating various architectural components so that we may learn more about the town’s fascinating world of old homes and buildings. Some days we focus on windows and doors. On other outings, clapboard or weatherboarding give us clues to a particular era. Domestic brick architecture can be an interesting feature as well. The manner or pattern it was laid often reveals the work of different bricklayers and various sequences of brick bonds used in the construction of a home or building.

Most of the techniques were imported from the Old World and include Common, English and Flemish bonds. The 1767 Chowan County Courthouse was raised in English Bond for the foundation and laid in Flemish Bond brick above the water table. Understanding these ‘bonding’ methods and physics of brick laying gives one a better perspective on the construction and detail of a particular structure. For example, a common bond technique may consist of one course of headers on top of six to eight courses of stretchers. The longest dimension of the brick would tie or “bond” into the wall creating more strength.

Flemish diagonal bond observed on 1767 Chowan Co. Courthouse

Flemish diagonal bond observed on 1767 Chowan Co. Courthouse

Sloping cornices of gables, segmental arches, decorative end gables and corbel lintels are other brick architectural details to look for in southern colonial architecture.

I’m always treated to new treasures and discoveries while strolling the historic streets of Edenton. It seems like a story unfolds around each corner whether it’s a visit to the Roanoke River Lighthouse, a guided tour of the Cupola House or a casual walk with the dog. To learn more about Edenton’s 300 years of history, come by for a visit and discover some architectural gems of your own!

 

Stretch the legs and take your family and dog for a lovely walk through Edenton’s Historic Cotton Mill Village. Visit the Edenton Cotton Mill Village Museum of History to learn more about its history and Preservation NC’s successful model to repurpose the mill and village homes.

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