View Full Version : Out of school, into the stream

06-03-2008, 09:31 PM
Well, we waited patiently until the girls were out of school - finally, they were free of its talons, and we could travel back up to the mountains. The recent reports were very encouraging, and we pointed the car north. Unfortunately, because I developed my once-a-decade case of insomnia, I wasn't very well rested when we started off Friday night. I had to make a lot of stops along the way to catch a few winks, so it took us a lot longer than normal to make it up there. We had planned to fish Saturday morning, evening, and most of the day Sunday; we would leave late that afternoon, and I would get down the road a ways before checking in somewhere for the night, followed by a leisurely trip home Monday. Of course, that all changed - we decided, since we missed out on Saturday morning, to hang around Monday for the fish-out on Lynn Camp...more on that in a bit. In the meantime, we checked in, the girls got to swim a bit, we got some pizza, then headed out late that afternoon for Cosby. While there wasn't a blizzard of yellow sallies, there was a fairly steady presence of them, and the specs were feeding fairly well. I picked up about 15, and while most of them were pretty small, they were all very colorful - in fact, they seemed to be rather on the dark side for this time of year:


Most of them were caught on a Mr Rapidan, #18, although I think just about any light colored fly would work.

The next day, we headed for Cataloochee, and what would prove to be one of the most frustrating days on the water that I have ever experienced. We fished Palmer Creek, right near the trailhead; I've done fairly well there before, and I had heard from some departing fishermen that there were some others fishing higher up on the trail. I was able to generate strikes on a fairly consistent basis, but I missed the hookset in just about every conceivable way. I could have easily landed 20 fish in a few hours, but I missed all but one of them:


All three of my girls fished as well...the twins were able to get a few strikes, but nothing landed...my oldest was even more frustrated - no hits, and she wanted to change locations. I took the picture just to prove to her that trout were there.

We eventually headed over to Straight Fork for the evening. At first, it was pretty slow - I semi-landed a trout that flopped off at my feet...not sure if it was a brown or a bow. We headed up to the bridge crossing, where I continued to miss strikes. Finally, I got a solid hookset on this fellow:


He gave me quite a tussle, especially when he got into the current a bit - actually hit the reel briefly. While I've caught a brookie in the Smokies that was longer, I don't think I've caught one bigger than this one...a real solid fish, and again very dark and colorful.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at a spot that looked promising, and completed a daily slam on a day that was otherwise quite frustrating:


The next day, we drove back over the mountains to Lynn Camp...I decided to leave the camera in the trunk, but I did snap this nice picture at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just before its terminus:


We weren't the first to hit Lynn Camp, but there weren't too many people ahead of us. We haven't fished this stream that much, and we've had mixed results. I find it to be quite different from the other streams we frequent. Cosby is basically one plunge pool after another, particularly high up. Straight Fork and Palmer Creek are similarly sized, but they seem to have a gentler flow, with a lot of productive pocket water. Lynn Camp, at least where I've fished it, seems to have a lot of large, deep runs with a lot of water flowing through. The rainbows like to hang out right on the edge of the heavy water, and I find it difficult in places to get a good drift. We went higher than we had before, but I suspect that we really needed to go much further - we started fishing a little past where Marks Creek empties into Lynn Camp. The action started slowly, but gradually picked up as the day wore on. I did much better on my hooksets, and ended up with 10 - all between 4 - 7 inches. I picked up the last few on nymphs, which I particularly enjoyed because I probably don't fish them enough...it's good to build some confidence. My oldest struck out totally, which left her steaming...I tried to tell her it's a lot about "horses for courses"...Lynn Camp just isn't our stream, I guess.

I noticed a lot of people heading up the trail with spinning or spincasting gear...it's hard not to be snobbish - I try not to be, but when you run into situations like this, it's hard not to. A fellow stopped on his hike up the trail to ask how I was doing. I told him, and it was then I noticed his gear - a spinning rig that would be ideal for bass, or even light saltwater. I also noticed the cigarette dangling from his mouth as he complained about the uphill nature of the trail - he asked if it ever leveled off or "went the other way", i.e. downhill. I tried to explain to him that you wouldn't start "going the other way" until you reached the crest of the mountains, several miles away. I noticed he turned around and headed back for the parking lot not long after that.

The guys at the check-in station told me that, while a lot of people caught nothing, one fellow brought in 58 - impressive by any standards. I was happy with what I had...I wouldn't want to clean that many fish. I probably would have picked up a few more if I was alone, but that's not really the point anyway - I enjoy spending time with my kids, especially since time is at such a premium when they're in school. I was able to put my entire catch, stringer and all, into one gallon ziplock bag filled with ice and water - when I got home, I just chucked it into the freezer...I'll grill them up this weekend.

Brook Fan
06-03-2008, 09:42 PM
Sounds like a great trip for you and your family.
Nice Brookie out of Straight Fork
Congrat on the slam. Looks like we were both in the right spot at the right time. Or atleast I was I know it wan't because of my excellant skills.

If I would've saw that guy headed back to his car because it was to steep I would've had to stop fishing my side would have been huting so much from laughing.
What did he expect from a MOUNTAIN stream.

06-03-2008, 10:28 PM
Well, I remember someone posting some actual statements from tourists to park rangers...things along the lines of "can't you release more water in the streams so it's easier to float down them" or "park...what park?"

When I got started on fly fishing for trout, it was for brookies, so I naturally tend to fish areas that hold them. The same areas hold browns, but the rainbows like the faster water. I think I tend to miss them, and when I do try to put my fly in the heavier water, I have a hard time controlling the drift. It would probably be better to learn to fish for the bows first, then go after the other species - if you can get a good drift in fast water, you can do so in any water.

06-04-2008, 07:48 AM
Hey IJ,
That was exactly part of my problem last Thursday in the park. I fished Elkmont and then below Indian Head and I spent the majority of the day just trying to improve my drift, mending, and casting. Oh, I got some strikes, missed everything! That's how it goes but I had a great time doing it though.--Bran
PS---Nice fish, I'm envious!!!

06-04-2008, 11:01 AM
My problem is, since I cut my teeth on small streams and very short casts (and therefore very controllable drifts), when I encounter a situation like Lynn Camp, where there are long, deep runs with a lot of volume, it can be tough keeping enough line off the water to avoid drag. Oh, I can throw slack in the line, etc...but some of those runs are so long, that only works for so many feet. If I end up fishing it again before it is closed in September, I think I'll deliberately stick to nymphs - I can actually cover more water that way, and probably catch more as well. I can also eliminate a lot of water; I read a good article somewhere about that - a really good stream fisherman can actually make far fewer casts, because he simply ignores the marginal areas and concentrates on the parts where the larger fish hang out.

06-05-2008, 11:21 AM
I read a good article somewhere about that - a really good stream fisherman can actually make far fewer casts, because he simply ignores the marginal areas and concentrates on the parts where the larger fish hang out.

IJ, I would love to read that article. Let me know where I can get my hands on it. I have switched to a 8'6" 3wt (from my 7'6") and it has made a tremendous amount of difference (much more so than what I had expected). It is a bit more difficult to maneuver in tight quarters, but still has a distinct advantage in being able to keep line off the water and mending in general. Even still, with fast flowing water, there is only so much you can do. Take it in smaller bits at a time and like you said, avoid the unproductive water.

Glad you had what sounds like a very good trip. Let us know how the fish taste after freezing them.

Rog 1
06-05-2008, 11:32 AM
A lot of this will come with experience....when I first started mountain fishing all that I read and was told was to fish upstream since the fish are looking in the direction from where their food comes from....started casting directly upstream and found that this was hard to keep a tight line ..... after a lot of trial and error I have found that if I come in from below and to the side and use a little stealth and available cover a quartering cast works better for me...don't have to retrieve as much line....once I have fished the near side then I can wade in a little and make a cast to the far side....here is where a longer rod helps some time....just keep trying and sooner or later you will develope your own technique.....over the last couple of years I have watched my son develope his own way of fishing these streams and he has become pretty successful....which is for the best since he is a teenager, anything I tell him now is either wrong or he chooses not to listen to

06-05-2008, 01:21 PM

Here ya go - http://www.wildtroutstreams.com/Techniques/ReadingWater.pdf

Very good article.


The casting technique you describe is pretty much what I do 90% of the time - up and across....that way, you can use the heavy water at the head of a pool to mask your presence as you fish the "corner" on the other side. It works great on small streams, and it works fine on bigger streams that are mostly pockets and riffles, like Straight Fork. So far, the only exception I've found is Lynn Camp, and it's because of the volume of water and the length of the runs - in some cases, several yards. What I think I'll do, if I get the chance to fish it again before it closes, is to fish mostly with nymphs; I have two spools for my reel, and I switch from my furled leader/dry fly spool to my nymph leader/spool, which has indicators on it. It doesn't take very long to switch between the two.

You know you're dealing with some water volume when you hook a fish in one of those runs - they use the water resistance to full advantage, and it's tough to get them up to the surface...makes for a wonderful fight.

Rog 1
06-05-2008, 02:53 PM
ijsouth....I learned a lot of my fishing on Lynn Camp watching my grandfather fish that stream from the Cascades on up....this man would find a single spot above those pools and roll cast with his 9ft shakespeare wonderrod and cover the whole pool without moving....at the end of the day he would hardly be wet above his ankles while I had been tiptoeing just to keep my crotch dry....I have also fished nymphs and wet flies above and below the Cascades...this is where I actually learned how to fish like this...never used an indicator...at most would toss a beadhead at the end of my regular leader...no false casting....just toss the fly to the head of the pool and let it drift like a regular bug...watch your leader or the end of your line...if they stop more than likely you have a take....will also be surprised at how often you can feel the take....experience is the best teacher.

06-05-2008, 04:16 PM
IJ, Thats a great article. Thanks for sharing!

06-07-2008, 04:01 PM
Hey dad, this is Kate on your account. You made it seem like I didn't get anything because of lack of skill. You forget you lug around those eight-year-old twin chimps you call your daughters. Remember, "you know who" can be quite the little twit and you know it!!


06-07-2008, 07:48 PM
Hey dad, this is Kate on your account. You made it seem like I didn't get anything because of lack of skill. You forget you lug around those eight-year-old twin chimps you call your daughters. Remember, "you know who" can be quite the little twit and you know it!!

AH! The gloves are off!:biggrin:

06-07-2008, 08:21 PM
The gloves are always off in this house...looks like a hockey game ;)...what she fails to mention is that her YOUNGER sisters were able to draw some strikes - she moped and swore there were no trout there.