Last spring fishing report?
I've been watching with dread as water levels have fallen and Byron's "fishing speedometer" has gone from "excellent" towards "slow". I fish the NC side of the park, and the water levels have generally held up better there than the Little River daily fishing report would indicate. There has been a lot of storm activity over the past month on the NC side of Clingman's dome, and often I'd see the fishing report showing dismal water levels at Little River, only to find high stained water when I'd walk in and check my favorite NC stream.
I had high hopes last Thursday night when I watched thunder-showers hit Bryson City. I canceled work plans and resolved to make one last hike in to some waters above 3000 feet, at least 4 miles in on foot, for a final fishing send-off to spring. I set off before 8 am and hit my jumping in spot just after 10:30. Water levels were good when I saw the creek. The trail leaves the river at the place I decided to put in and doesn't show back up for about 2 miles. Once in the stream-bed, you are fully committed. I made one mistake as I set off upstream and left my lunch sitting on the boulder where I geared up. I wouldn't see it again for 6 hours. Small price to pay for a chance at prime fishing.
I tied on what has been my staple for spring fishing - small yellow stimulator trailed by an unweighted green weenie. In the first few pools, the green weenie immediately went to work.
There was no shortage of water for a nice float of the fly.
After the first few fish, the action slowed, and I made what turned out to be the day's best decision by tying on an #18 bead head prince under the dry. Next cast, hook-up! Followed by numerous others.
This guy looked mad at being pulled from the stream...
The beadhead kept producing....
At one point, I felt I was being watched......
About one pm, I stopped for a swig of water for lunch. After this fine meal, it was dry fly time. The stimulator got attacked time and again by fish ranging from 5 inches with occasional beauties in the 10-11" range. This dark rainbow took the dry in a deep pool that may never see the sun. The tippet to the dropper scratched his side as I lifted him from the water for a pic and the release. Sorry about messing up his coloration....
This was his fat cousin.
And an uncle on the mother's side....
Finally, I caught a small brown, but never saw hide or tail of a spec.
This deep pool gave up four small rainbows.
The action got better and better as it approached 4 pm, despite few real bugs coming off. When I saw the trail come back streamside, I reeled up and headed back for that turkey sandwich! Luckily I'd left it in the shade. Then, with a 2 hour hike out, I made a few final casts and headed for the barn. That night, I had a double helping of lasagna and said goodbye to spring conditions. Hopefully we'll get a few good afternoon showers soon.