View Full Version : Reasons to Give Thanks

11-25-2007, 02:24 AM
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I have come full circle; last year at this time, I came up to the Smokies (alone - the kids were with their grandparents), and I caught my first Smokies trout. Since then, we've made 10 trips up to the mountains (mostly for just a few days at a time), and we learned something from every trip. Now, I found myself in a similar situation - the kids were with their grandparents in Pensacola, and I was in my car, heading Northeast. Last year, the weather was cold, but sunny; the forecast this time wasn't so promising. A strong cold front was heading east, and it forced me to make my first decision of the trip. Normally, I would wait to leave until 9PM or so to leave - no sense on getting up there too early, only to have to kill time waiting for the sun to come up. However, I wanted to get "ahead" of the front, before the bad weather reached I-59...I also figured my fishing window of opportunity would be pretty narrow, limited to the time before the front blew through. So, I rushed out of town a few hours early, and it paid off - I didn't run into bad weather until I reached Chattanooga. The interesting thing was the temperature - from home all the way to Knoxville, the temperature (per my dashboard thermometer) was pretty much the same. It didn't drop until I got into the park at Cosby. It was still fairly warm, mid 50s, and it had just stopped raining. I got rigged up and went off in pursuit of some brookies, which had eluded us on our trip in October. I started at the nature trail, and soon had this fine fellow to hand:


I apologize for the poor picture quality - I've gone through 2 cameras this year, and this was my cheapie backup camera...the colors were far more vibrant in person. I didn't get any others in that section of stream, so I headed further upstream. I ended up picking up a nice rainbow, and a few dinks. I was using a #16 Mr Rapidan, and while I was getting some action, I also noticed one fish eyeball it for what seemed like 10 seconds before refusing it. I switched to a #18 Para Adams, on 8x tippet. I reached a nice pool, and soon had two gorgeous brookies to hand (sorry, no pics on them). I ended up with about a dozen...a lot of them were dinks, but 4 of them were quality fish. In the meantime, the rain returned, and the temperature steadily dropped...I soon found myself soaked, and more than a little cold. I wanted to try a couple of other areas in the park, and I also had to start moving toward my hotel in Maggie Valley, so I headed back to the car. Before I left Cosby, I tried the area just before the stream leaves the park. I saw a really nice fish, at least 10", not more than 5 feet from me - it was oblivious to me. I drifted a nymph right to his nose - he took it, and I had about a pound of dead weight on my line...no fight at all. I got a hand on him, and only then the fish realized he was hooked, and took off - enough to snap the tippet. I tied on another nymph and fished the run ahead of me...I soon had a clone of the first fish on, with similar fighting characteristics. As I was bringing it in, another trout came up and tried to steal the nymph from the hooked fish. This one I semi-beached on a rock, and it flopped off and the hook came out. These fish had to be recent stockers from outside of the park, and I wish I could have gotten them - I have no qualms about keeping stocker fish for the frying pan. In frustration, I fired another cast upstream...I soon had a fish on, and this one actually hit the reel, peeling off line. I soon had a 7" wild rainbow to hand, a beautiful fish with a dark crimson stripe that I was happy to release.

I headed over to Cataloochee, and checked out the Little Cataloochee area...it is simply beautiful. I tried a few casts without any hits, but I was running out of daylight, and I was getting a bit nervous about the falling temperatures and the gravel and dirt roads. I headed to Maggie Valley and my hotel, where I had my Thanksgiving feast of cold fried chicken, then passed out. The next morning, I was up early. It was snowing - not heavy, but enough to accumulate on the cars. It was very pretty, and being from bayouland, the novelty never wears off. I headed to Joey's Pancake House - a fine restaurant that I heartily recommend - great food and even better service.

I wanted to fish Little Cataloochee, so I started on the road up the mountain. The snow continued, and I took it very easy as the road turned to dirt - as Byron said on the fishing report, I have a healthy respect for ice. I do have some experience driving on it, but not on switchback dirt roads. However, it seemed ok - no ice on the road - until I got to the park entrance, where I found this:



Very pretty, but at that elevation, the snow was accumulating on the hard-packed dirt. I got out, and it felt like a rough skating rink. I decided discretion was the better part of valor, and headed back down - that area of the park is so isolated, if I ran into trouble, I might still be there.

I headed back to Cosby, not really expecting much. On the way in, I took this picture of the Cosby Creek valley - my land is down there somewhere:


The tops of the mountains were in the clouds, and those clouds were bringing snow. It was snowing as I fished Cosby again, too...but not heavily. I went straight for the area above the campground, and I found this deep pool below this waterfall:


I fished a small nymph, and I saw a dark figure shoot out from under a ledge...good thing, because I felt nothing as it took the nymph. As I brought him up, I couldn't tell which species it was...all I could tell is that it looked almost black. It was a rainbow, and again the picture doesn't do it justice:


I picked up a few dinks, and tried the stream at the entrance again - the stockers were no where to be found. I then headed through the nightmare known as Gatlinburg, then up to the WP Little Pigeon. I tried a section fairly low down the mountain, and found it a bit high and pushing quite a bit of water - I had to pick around the edges. No takers there, and I headed for Elkmont. I tried Jakes Creek, and all I got was some casting practice. I headed for Townsend and LRO, to replace some of the nymphs I lost (BTW - Byron: I meant to drop off K's reel that she damaged in a fall back in August, but I was a zombie by then, and I realized after I left that I had forgotten to leave it with y'all...I'll ship it up there soon). I drove back (cautiously) over the mountains back to N.C.

Today, I didn't have much time, so I decided to go back to Cosby. This time, I didn't bother with my hippers, as I wanted to hike up the Low Gap trail a bit, to see what the stream looked like higher up. I found it to be a lovely collection of plunge pools. I eased down to one of them that I could reach from the bank without getting wet, and dropped a nymph in - to my surprise, I soon had a nice bow on. It was totally unexpected, since the water temp was now in the low 40s. The main thing is, I know where to head once Spring arrives.

I am very thankful that I was able to catch some fish, particularly given the weather conditions. More importantly, I was able to spend time at a place which has rapidly become my favorite spot on earth. This is probably it for us for a while; it will be hard to wait until Spring.

11-25-2007, 10:06 AM
Thanks for the post. Sounds like you had a great weekend, cold fried chicken and all. Look forward to having you back up here this Spring when you can fish without the snow. Your valley is beautiful - I'm envious of a place like that have a patch of land to call my own.

Till Spring.

11-25-2007, 10:41 AM

Great report ijsouth. I was at Cosby last weekend to help with the acid disposition sampling, the water temp was around 44-45 degrees that day. Did you happen to take the temp. during your visit? I am glad you were able to enjoy some quality fishing after your long drive to the Smokies.


11-25-2007, 12:28 PM

I sure did. Thursday, just before the front, it was about 52. Friday, it was down to 46, and Saturday it started at 40, then warmed up to about 44. I would imagine that, from here on out, it will have a tough time reaching 50 again until Spring.


A circumstance that I wouldn't wish on anybody presented me with some funds, and before it was all spent on the demands of everyday living, I got the idea of investing it in some land. Actually, I've always wanted some land "in the country" somewhere...I don't know when I'll be able to build on it - that's some time a ways down the road. It's just an acre, but it's plenty enough for a cabin or a trailer...it's less than a mile from the park boundary. In the meantime, we can pitch a tent on it, etc. The Cosby area doesn't have the development of some of the other areas, but there are some luxury condos being built not too far from my land - I hear the asking price for them is $700K...that's beyond my comprehension.

11-25-2007, 04:02 PM
Thank you for the post. Yes, there is so much to be thankful for that the list would be far too long to post here.

Like nvr2l8, I'm envious of your acre of heaven. Not in a bad way but more in a happy for you way.

I hope you're able to come back many times in the spring. My boy and I are starting to plan for next spring ourselves. Here in Northern Kentucky (14 miles south of Cincinnati), fishing is pretty much over until spring.


11-25-2007, 05:07 PM
We're pretty lucky down here - you can have some excellent fishing, particularly for redfish, if the conditions permit; of course, if the weather is nasty, it can be quite dangerous out in the marsh. I need to work on my boat a bit. It's totally different fishing from the mountain streams, but it's fun, and it beats cabin fever, waiting for March.

I do have a bit of a dilemma - I love the mountains, but I also love the marshes and bayous of Southeast Louisiana - it seems that I like extremes in terrain.

11-26-2007, 02:21 AM
First of all, I saw a number of redds on Cosby. While it appeared that the brookies had finished spawning, I made every effort to avoid wading through them. Basically, I tried to avoid the tailouts of pools and areas to the side, where the gravel looked "swept", for lack of a better term. Keep that in mind if you plan on fishing the next few weeks.

Secondly, I wonder if anyone can identify this nymph. After snagging one of the many leaves I hooked, I noticed a very large nymph on the underside. It was at least an inch long, with a wide, flattened body, brown in color. I've tried to find an example online, but no luck.