Thursday, January 3, 2013


Out of the Mud ---- Douglas Lake
On to the Rocks ---- Cherokee Lake
I gotta admit - those two lakes have nothing in common.  At least Cherokee has water in it and its actually blue water.
Today was my first day back on Cherokee Lake.  No more mud hole.  It feels good.  The first thing I noticed when I got the boat launched is the enormity of Cherokee.  Its a big lake.  I kid around about Douglas and Cherokee a lot but they are what they are.  I guess all bodies of water can't be pristine and gorgeous.  Out of the two of them I am more taken with Cherokee.  Both lakes are perilous to run on in Winter due to the draw down of water.  However, Douglas Lake has a mud bottom and if the boat or motor skeg drags across something its usually mud and damage is avoided.  Cherokee on the other hand has a rock bottom.  When something drags on the bottom, there's a fair chance of having to deal with damage control.  As a matter of fact I touched the bottom this afternoon.
I saw the water getting more shallow on the sonar as I drove along.  I was almost dead center in the lake.  That's the kicker about these lakes.  There are subsurface mountains that simply appear anywhere.   I cut the speed to three miles per hour and cruised in two feet of water.  I got myself hemmed into an area of very shallow water and actually had to back up to get enough depth to turn the boat and exit the same way I entered.  Last year this would have upset me.  This season it was just business as usual and I didn't give it a second thought.  I marked this shallow place on my GPS screen and went about my way.  I guess I learned to take it in stride.
If one stays in the river channel of the lake there is no danger of striking subsurface objects but, fishermen don't stay in the river channel. 

Cherokee is wide and islands pepper the large expanse of water.  They are attractive and usually contain their own little bays or inlets.  These inlets will vary in water depth greatly.  Some have depths of thirty feet during draw-down and some can't even be approached due to the shallow depths.  This keeps life interesting.

The disappointing aspect of Cherokee is the lack of animal life.  At least I didn't see it in 2011.  Douglas, on the other hand, is teaming with wildlife, especially on the upper river section at Rankin.  That's shore bird heaven.  Rankin isn't that far and I will be making many, many visits up there throughout the Summer.  I haven't spent an entire season on Cherokee and maybe I'll discover some wildlife secrets I overlooked last time I was here.  We'll see.  I did run into a couple friends today.
Two immature bald eagles.  OK - that's the only shot I'll post.  I saw one adult also.  Its really nice to see eagles on Cherokee as it will provide me with something to keep my eye out for.
Above:  The Caney Creek boat ramp

Cherokee has more wild country than Douglas too.  I'd think there would be more eagles up here on Cherokee but, I haven't seen them.  Of course I've only been on one section of the lake.  I'd really like to make a run to the upper river, if its passable.  

At least Cherokee has a bit of diversity in its shorelines.  There's that word diversity again.  When rocks are present - they're big ones.   Other shorelines consist of pure mud or shale.  My favorite below the water line shores are made of shale.  Shale is easy walking if the shore is not too steep.  Also, dogs can walk on shale easily.  Boulders are a chore and mud, well, mud is impossible.

Probably the joyful aspect of the lake change is that I won't have to look at brown, muddy water every day.  The water in Douglas runs muddy brown more often than not.  Cherokee's water is deep blue.
Anyway, that is one of the stages the show will play on throughout this coming Summer.  Actually, there are two stages with duel performances.  We'll be on the Holston River via Beech Creek at least three times every week.  Now, that's some nice water that I can't wait to get to.  So, with the introduction of the stage performance complete - I'll end this entry.  The players will be the animals encountered on a daily basis.  They'll be introduced as they perform on their outdoor stages.  I have to get back.  Catch ya next time.