View Full Version : Three Days in the Smokies

02-26-2007, 01:19 AM
We tentatively planned a trip up to the Smokies, depending on the weather; the kids were out for the entire week for Mardi Gras, and I had the itch, too, particularly when the forecast for the week started to look better and better. I worked out of the house on Monday and Wednesday (Tuesday being the big day - we continued our tradition of catching Rex, King of Carnival on St Charles Avenue in uptown New Orleans). Fishing at the end of the week was shaping up to be the perfect topper, and when I saw the water temps spiking upwards to 46 on Wednesday, I thought we would really mop up....well....

The air temperature outside of my car looked good, all the way to points north of Chattanooga; however, as I got closer and closer to Townsend, it started to nosedive. By the time we got to the motel, it was in the low 40s - not a good sign for 8 in the evening. The next morning (Friday) found a nice coating of frost on the windows, and 29 degrees. We drove into the park, and headed up to Lynn Camp. After a bit of hiking, we started. We tried a variety of combinations - dry/droppers, nymphs alone, and dries alone - nothing. I checked the temp, and it showed that it was around 50, but I questioned that reading - I have a simple "strip" thermometer, and I wonder about its reliability...the water sure felt cold.

We gave up around 2 in the afternoon, and I took the kids to the wonders of Pigeon Forge, then dinner. On Saturday, we swung by the shop and chatted for a bit (and the twins hit me up for some t-shirts), then we headed for Greenbriar; I had read quite a bit about that area, but had never fished there. We drove all the way to the end of the road, at the Ramsey Prong trailhead, and we slid down the slope to the stream...I figured the wide-open boulder field there would be easier for us to fish than a tree-choked stream. We started to set things up when a guy and his girlfriend decided to play king of the mountain upstream of us - no doubt the guy's bright orange Vols hat gave the already sluggish trout lockjaw in the upstream area I planned to head towards. I thought about saying something, but decided against it - perhaps it is truly a wise policy to ban guns in the park ;). Anyway, with my original strategy scuttled, I had to try to work a few pools downstream by making a wide flanking move around them and working my way back up. Saw a bunch of stoneflies, and perhaps a few Quill Gordons bouncing off the surface of the water, but no rises. This time, my thermometer seemed accurate - 40 degrees.

After striking out at Greenbriar, I gathered up the girls and we headed to Cosby, another area I wanted to check out. We ended up parking in the camping area, just up from the picnic area, and headed down to the stream...it sure is a small, but pretty stream. I hit several plunge pools on a short trip up the stream - no luck on anything - I couldn't even spook a trout. However, it was worth it - I'll be sure to hit that stream again when I have more time.

We wrapped up the day with a quick pass by Elkmont. By this time, it had clouded up, and the wind was really howling, so I can't say that it was a fair assessment. We didn't stay long, but on the way out saw some deer and a couple of wild turkeys - that was nice.

Today, we checked out of the motel, swung by the shop again briefly, then headed for the Middle Prong. As we all discovered, the road was blocked just past the Institute, which in a way was good for us, as it forced me to fish the lower section - that much closer to the park exit. Not so much as a bump on the nymphs as I dredged the bottom.

All in all, it was a frustrating trip - so close to spring, yet so far. It is really close, you can tell. Within a week, everything will be in bloom down here in Louisiana, and y'all won't be too far behind. I will be up there sometime at the end of April at the least (I might be able to sneak in a quick weekend before then - we'll see). The trip was still fun, however, and I'm glad we got the chance to fish a variety of locations - every little bit of experience helps at this stage of my trout fishing "career".

Paula Begley
02-26-2007, 10:49 AM

It was really great to see you and the girls! Gosh, they are just little darlings! It is so cool that you are taking them fishing...and they seem to just LOVE it! :D

Thanks, again, for the really yummy King Cake! Everyone at the shop enjoyed eating it on Saturday! I even braved the hives (allergic to vanilla) to eat some! It was sooooo worth it! :D

We hope to see you all soon!


Byron Begley
02-26-2007, 11:07 AM

It was great to finally meet you and the girls. The fishing was slow but I know you all had a great time. Paula and I may get down your way this year to do some saltwater fly fishing. Thanks for everything and it's always nice to make new friends.


02-26-2007, 12:52 PM

I'm going to do a little research for you as far as fishing down here is concerned. One area I forgot about was the Chandeleur Islands - they are out in Breton Sound due east of St Bernard Parish and south of Biloxi. They were hammered by Katrina, of course - a lot of the islands disappeared, and others were cut to ribbons - however, over time, the currents build the sand back up. They used to have a floating houseboat anchored out there - you would hop on a seaplane in Belle Chasse and fly out to it. Hard-packed sand, clear water, even some mangroves - and awesome wade fishing. I've never made it out there - a bit too far for my boat, but I'll see if that houseboat is still in operation.

In the meantime, we want another crack at those trout...I think we'll be back in April - I want the girls to catch a wild trout.

02-26-2007, 02:00 PM
Sorry you didn't turn any fish, you weren't alone though, I was out Sunday and was handed my hat as well. It was a beautiful day though, I saw a mink or weasel and two very large otters. One of the otters came within 15 feet of me! The rain gauge showed 2.5" of rain had fallen over the weekend and the creek was way up. I bet the fishing is great today, regrettably I am chasing the almight dollar!
I have a 9 year old, trying to get him back into trout fishing now that he is big enough to actually get out there.

02-26-2007, 03:16 PM
Yep...it was frustrating, but what can you do? The fish don't live on our schedule - just one of those things. I find that getting skunked eventually gets evened out on subsequent trips; at least I know that the next time, the water temperature shouldn't be a factor.

Speaking of temps...I noticed today driving into work that a few of the trees - willows, etc - are starting to green up around here; they weren't like that a few days ago, before we left for the mountains. When I got to the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain where I work, I noticed some more greenery - which is to be expected - the lake keeps the south shore warmer at night.

By next week, everything will be in bloom - pollen city...and it's heading its way up there, too.