View Full Version : Back to Mountains before Back to School

08-19-2008, 10:15 PM
I hate "back to school"; I hated it as a child, and I hate it even more now that my kids have to go through it. I hate spending piles of $$$ on uniforms, supplies , and the like - it seems like all the schools require far more supplies than I remember getting as a kid...all I needed was some pens and pencils, some loose leaf paper, and a few notebooks. My kids have to get color-coordinated folders, colored pencils, dry markers, backpacks, lunch kits, and dozens of other items. What I loathe most of all is that it is the start of, for lack of a better word, "busy-ness"...there's school, soccer practice, other extracurricular events, homework, projects - and all the while, I have my job, too. Once school is going for a while, it isn't so bad, but I hate when everything starts up. Thankfully, my kids' school doesn't start until the 25th - the public schools around here started on the 8th, which is ridiculous, in my opinion...but that's another topic for another forum. I had some business to attend to, and I wasn't sure if we could squeeze in one more trip, but luckily everything fell into place, and we were able to head on out of town late Thursday afternoon.

We got off to a later start than I had hoped, and I had wanted to take back roads through Mississippi - I'm not a big fan of interstates, and particularly I-59 through the Pine Belt - extremely boring. As a result, we decided to stop in Meridian for the night. We ended up in a Motel 6 that had the most powerful air conditioner I've ever run across - you could have hung meat in there and done your best Rocky impression. We got out of there early the next morning, and made it to Townsend in good time. We stopped by the shop to pick up some more yellow flies - unfortunately, the Neversink Caddis flies were sold out...that was the hot fly in July. Byron said that Daniel had been doing well with the rubber-legged stimulators, so we picked up a few of those. Someone on the Parkway had motioned to me and told me that my brake lights were out, so after checking in to our hotel in Newport, I drove over to a parts store for a couple of bulbs - that did the trick. Then, it was over to Cosby for a few hours of fishing before it got dark. I headed for the area above the campground, and I picked up 4 brookies that, combined, might have made it to 8 inches. I decided to gear up to a bigger fly, and when I found a pretty deep pool, hung a dropper on the end. When I saw a trout rocket out from under a rock 5 feet to smash the dry, I cut the dropper off, and quickly picked up a few nice sized specs before darkness overtook the stream.

The next day was Saturday, and it was time to play tourist in Gatlinburg. We come up to the mountains so many times during the year, we really don't think of ourselves as the typical tourists, and now that I own land just outside the Park, I feel at least like a "semi-native". However, on the strip in Gatlinburg, we're just like all the other visitors. One of the twins had her ears pierced earlier this summer, so it was time for daughter #3 to get punched. We went to Claire's and got that done, then got some Mexican for lunch. The girls wanted to check some things out, so we hit a few of the attractions - my wallet felt nicely vaccumed after that. We escaped out of there and went to Greenbrier - we had done pretty well there last time. This time, the fish weren't cooperating as well, and we only picked up a few small rainbows. I did have a nice fish on for a few seconds, right in front of a large rock...but it shook off, a sign of things to come. The girls had had enough, and wanted to swim back at the hotel, so I dropped them off and headed back to Cosby for a little bit. I didn't have much time, and I had only picked up a small bow or two. I headed for an area about a quarter mile below the hiker's parking area. I put on a Mr Rapidan, and hit some of the better looking areas. It was almost too dark to see when I reached this one deep pool; I covered just about every likely area of it, with no hits. I decided on the proverbial "just one more cast", and the fly gently disappeared under the surface. When I set the hook, I knew I had a nice fish on, and it quickly tried to break me off at the tail end of the pool, wedging itself under a crevice. However, the tippet held, and I managed to get it on top of a rock...what I saw surprised me:


I couldn't believe I had managed to catch such a large trout on Cosby...I thought it might be a stocker, but I was a fair ways from the boundary, and I was pretty sure that the state wasn't stocking outside of the park at this time of year - plus, the fish was pretty dark and colorful, and didn't have any mangled fins, and had fought pretty well. He must have been the terror of that pool. Last time, I had caught a nice bow in brookie territory on Cosby, and released it before thinking about it. This time, I decided to keep it. I cleaned it with the trusty Swiss Army knife and headed out...after I was a few miles down the road, I realized I had left it by the stream. I carry a ruler in my gear bag in the car, and the rainbow measured exactly 11 inches - the best fish I have caught in the park.

On Sunday, we drove over to Maggie Valley for another one of our rituals - breakfast at Joey's. I had noticed this place some time back - there was always a line to get in every morning. I gave it a try, and soon realized why it is so popular - simply wonderful pancakes, and a great hash brown casarole. We drive out of our way every trip to go there, and it's worth it. After breakfast, we drove into Cataloochee. While we were getting geared up, some park volunteers drove up with a neat item that got the girls' attention:


We fished Palmer Creek, and had steady hits...notice I said "hits", and not "landed fish". Back in July, I had missed a lot of strikes...this time, I didn't miss too many, but I had a lot of fish shake off before I could bring them to hand. It was very frustrating, but I did manage a nice bow and a brookie; this was the second year in a row that I had picked up a spec fairly low on Palmer. I mentioned this to Byron when we were leaving yesterday, and he said that they have turned up as low as the steel bridge on the main stream. I have seen on some other threads that on Walker Camp and Road Prong, it seems that the rainbows have crowded out the brookies. Meanwhile, in Cataloochee and Straight Fork, it seems like they're moving downstream and coping with the bows. I would like to hear some thoughts/theories on this...it seems like every stream is different, and the specs do better on some than on others. I don't know if we'll ever know the reason.

We headed back to Maggie Valley for "linner" (lunch/dinner), then went to Straight Fork. We picked up a few brookies above the bridge, then we went back downstream to see if I could get a brown. I had some good hits, but again had trouble closing the deal. Straight Fork seemed to be pushing a bit of water, although it wasn't that high and certainly wasn't raging. It had definitely rained a little bit in that area.

Yesterday, we wrapped up the trip with another trip to Cosby - this time, in the early morning. We fished the same area where I caught the big bow, and I was truly lucky - my oldest found my knife, the blade still extended. We picked up several rainbows - none of them huge, but they were feisty. We didn't stay long - I wanted to get home at a halfway decent time, as I had to go to work today, and I had wanted to check out some other places, a little advanced scouting. I wanted to wet my line one more time, so we ended up at Elkmont, and we fished Jakes Creek for a very short stretch by the trailhead. I picked up an acrobatic brown and a bow, and just missed another one that had revealed its location by jumping clear out of the water to get to some insect. My oldest wasn't that interested in fishing anymore, so daughter #2 took her rod. For the most part, I help the twins cast and guide their drifts, but this time I let her cast on her own - she did pretty well, so next Spring she will be able to fish her own rod. My kids are growing up, which leaves me with a mixture of happiness and melancholy....I'm glad to see them develop and grow, but I realize that our time together on these trips won't last forever.

Here's daughter #2 stalking a pool on Jakes Creek:


Well, school is about to sink its fangs into the girls for another year. Hopefully, I'll be able to squeeze in what has become my traditional solo trip to the mountains for Thanksgiving, as the girls will be with their grandparents. After that, it will be a long wait until Spring....sigh.

08-19-2008, 11:34 PM
Great report! You have some pretty girls there! I wish I had started at their age. Of course, I would be totally worthless by now if I had! Nice fish too!

08-20-2008, 12:49 PM
IJ, as usual a great report! Have you been using the Mr Rapidan Parachute or the standard? I've had some good success this year with a Mr Rapidan Cripple that TroutDude turned me onto. I've been thinking about tying some Parachutes and some standard versions in 14 and 16. When you are up in November let me know (I think you have my email, let me know if you don't) and I'd be happy to share a few with you.

08-20-2008, 01:36 PM
Pete...I probably have your email, but just in case, shoot me one at ijsouth@yahoo.com. I was using the "standard" Mr Rapidan, but I'll use both it and the parachute version with about the same results. I would love to try the crippled version - I'll bet it's a great pattern in low water, when the fish are a bit skitterish...lower profile.

The curious thing is, I know the pattern was developed with the early spring hatches in mind, but I've caught trout on them just about year round. Last Thanksgiving, I fished in a cold rain/snow, and falling temperatures, but the water temp was around 45 - the brookies were still taking them on top. I like them if, for no other reason, I can see them easier in low light conditions; streams like Cosby have a lot of shade, and get dark in a hurry once the sun starts setting.

Oh, I almost forgot...we took the temperature of the streams quite often, and we never had a reading above 64 degrees...most of the time, it was around 61 or 62 - perfect temps, even if the water was on the low side.

fly fisherman DK
08-20-2008, 10:40 PM
Nice report!

fly fisherman DK

caught 108
08-21-2008, 09:35 PM
Glad You and your Girls had a good time,Nice pictures also.You said you thought that fish might have been a stocked fish.It had good color,could have been anywhere in the creek even in speckle country.Had probably been in the creek for awhile now,Im sure it was a Blast to catch on a fly rod.But those burnt off front fins are a dead give away,It was a stocker.Thats Still A Nice Fish especially for that creek Great Job and Congratulations. Sincerly Caught 108

08-21-2008, 09:47 PM
I was wondering about that one pectoral fin...other than that, it didn't seem to have any other damage to the fins, and it seemed to be very colorful, more than the picture shows - of course, it was pretty dark, and I didn't look at it again until after it had been in the ice chest for a while. I'll have to put an asterisk by this one...in my mind, only the wild fish count.