By Allison Taylor
We’ve all heard of the “dog days of summer,” the time when we picture our canines lying around in the heat, panting and relaxing. But the phrase actually comes from the ancient Greeks and Romans referring to the star Sirius, also called the “Dog Star.” Sirius is located in the Canis Major constellation, which is known as the Greater Dog, and it is the brightest star that shines at night. Sirius rises and sets with the sun, and according to Farmers’ Almanac, it is in conjunction with the sun on July 23. Because it is so bright on that date, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the sun’s warmth. Based on that, the dog days of summer came to mean the 20 days before and after July 23.
Regardless of where the phrase originated, the stretch of time around July 23 definitely tends to be the hottest time of summer. And those heated days are a perfect excuse for a camping excursion on the banks of the Mills River. DB bar D Outfitters offers tent camping along the river on the property of North River Farms. It’s a pristine stretch of water to wade in, or a place to plant a chair and let the cool mountain river flow across your feet. An added bonus is the lack of light pollution from the North River Farms property, providing perfect conditions for viewing the Dog Star and all of the other spectacular constellations in the night sky.
While camping on the property of a working farm, there are also opportunities to see the vegetable harvest operations in full swing. Jason Davis, who owns North River Farms and co-owns DB bar D Outfitters, is just as excited to share the farm as he is to share the outdoor recreational activities that the outfitter offers. “Camping beside the river while taking in the scenery provides glimpses into the local wildlife and the opportunity to observe the operations of the farm,” says Davis. “During July, there are vine-ripe vegetables as far as you can see.”
If the heat of those long summer days has you longing for cooler fall weather, then why not start planning ahead for fall guided fishing trips? WNC offers a plethora of great fly fishing in the fall, combined with the breathtaking scenery that comes with colorful leaves. “Even though spring and summer are typically praised as prime fly fishing seasons due to their active hatches,” says DB bar D Outfitters manager and guide Kyle Vaughan, “there are still active hatches that occur mid-day in October and November: BWOs, October caddis, tricos, midges and spotted sedge caddis.”
“One of the reasons I believe fly fishing is so special in the fall is that the fish are thriving in the cooler temperatures and this makes them more active, as opposed to August and September where the trout are susceptible to mortality from warmer water temperatures due to warmer air temperatures and common drought,” says Vaughan. “In my mind, aside from fishing a yellow sally hatch on a brookie stream in the spring, fall fly fishing is the epitome of a fly fishing experience. An angler can fish to active trout with nymphs early in the day and then tie on a dry for the afternoon hatches, all while enjoying the fall weather and colorful foliage that many only enjoy through car windows on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in our surrounding forests.”