A few weeks ago I wrote a column for the newspaper’s e-Edition about the current trend of a “staycation.” Since then, I’ve been paying more attention to passing motorists in and around the Wilkesboros, and noticing the increased number of campers and of kayaks/canoes with fishing equipment strapped on vehicles.

Campgrounds have finally re-opened in our area. Camping is one way to practice social distancing safely, especially if you do all your own cooking and don’t use the bath house.

Bandits Roost, Fort Hamby and Warriors Creek campgrounds are open and the campgrounds at Doughton Park open Friday. A campground clean-up was held Saturday at Doughton Park, to prepare for this weekend’s opening. (On a side note, the Bluffs Restaurant opening is behind schedule, but should open sometime toward the end of August.)

On a recent Friday evening, my husband, Drew, and I took a ride to  Stone Mountain State Park. At the campground area, we noticed every site was full, in both the primitive sites and the ones with electricity and water. Stone Mountain has a wonderful area for camping. Sites are well-spaced, surrounded by trees. A small stream cuts through the sites with electricity.

Wildlife was abundant. We saw many deer, including fawns, and wild turkeys and their chicks. One doe who was grazing on the side of a small hill, seemed to pose for the camera. The deer at Stone Mountain are very accustomed to visitors.

Kayaking

Local businesses selling canoes, kayaks and inner tubes can’t keep them in stock. That’s evident from the influx of kayakers at W. Kerr Scott Lake and at the New River.

On a recent Saturday morning, the Boomer Park area had several kayakers. One couple we met had come from Watauga County to kayak around the lake and then head down where the Yadkin River enters.

Although we were just paddling around, we saw several people fishing from their kayaks, including one person who had three rods on the back of his.

Paddling into a quiet cove, we saw what we thought was a bald eagle. It was an amazing sight to see the bird swoop into the water for food and fly from tree to tree.  

After checking the lake’s website later in the day, I discovered bald eagles do indeed nest around W. Kerr Scott.

And, at the New River the weekend of July 4, the river looked like a traffic jam from the Highway 221 bridge in Ashe County.

Groups of people, tied together in inner tubes, were floating down the river. Many of the groups got out at the beach at the New River General Store, which has rentals and a ferrying service.

Fishing

A co-worker here at the Wilkes Journal-Patriot spent her vacation trout fishing recently. She and her husband traveled to Cranberry Creek in Ashe County to trout fish, but didn’t have much luck.

However, at Stone Mountain, she said they did have success, catching several rainbow trout at different pools that meander through the park.

My son, Andrew, has caught several trout on the New River this summer, fishing from a kayak. He learned his fishing techniques from ‘the master,” my father, the late John Hubbard. Andrew has the patience and skill to catch fish anywhere. Like my father, he is also good at teaching others to fish.

Andrew and I have enjoyed fishing for largemouth bass at a private pond this summer. We’ve mostly used lures, but some friends we fished with had success with night crawlers.

The pandemic has stopped us from doing some things, but we can still get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

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