Road Prong Report 7-29-07
Got the Chimney Tops Parking area first this morning (saw a bunch of fisherman round Metcalf Bottoms on the way up - hoe the did well) at 7:30am. Had not done enough research before starting my trip. I hiked in to the last bridge crossing of Road Prong on the Chimney Tops trail (where everyone says not to start!) and started fishing. Water temp was 59 degrees and the water level was awesome! Worked a few pools before starting to catch any fish. After about 15 minutes I finally caught my first brookie (and of course did not have a camera). Wound up catching about 20 before I started to get the feeling I was in the wrong spot.
I had climbed, crawled and dodged my way up the stream over numerous cascades (by myself-not too smart) for the better part of three hours, while fishing and it didn't look there was a trail anywhere near where I was. Kept climbing upstream and finally stopped fishing and quickened my pace. I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn't on Road Prong, at all, but some tributary and that going up was not going to get me anywhere near where I was supposed to be. The little bit I had read about the area was that there was a bridge crossing about .5 miles up the Road Prong Trail. I kept waiting to see it, but never did. Then I ran into the 15' impassable waterfall. There wasn't any good path over it, so I decided to try and bushwack out. Unfortunately, I had climbed in to close to the waterfall and the only route out, was straight up through a thicket of branches and tangles. In the process of pulling myself out through a rhodie bush, I broke off the upper part my flyrod (it was a cheapie, and I've wanted a new one, so now I NEED a new one!). Miraculously, as I looked up when I'm free of the tree, the trail was about 10' above me! As I hiked down I realized that was about the only spot to get out of the stream and back onto the trail, since the spot I first entered the stream.
Morals of the story:
- When you're 43, you aren't in the same shape as when you where 23
- When going into to a new area, do your homework
- Don't go alone!
All that aside, it was maybe my best fishing experience ever!
How is the fishing above the waterfalls? I definitely will go back, at some point...now I need some Advil...
Sounds like you were in the right spot. I have fished Road Prong all the way up to where it becomes a trickle. It is okay for another half a mile or so after the point where you got out of the stream. If you want top quality fishing, don't overlook West Prong below.
Sounds like a lot of the adventures I got myself into, fishing as a kid. The theory was, the thicker the briar patches and the harder it was to get to where you were going, the better the fishing; not sure if that's true or not, but that was the theory.
i think ya hit tomahawk falls........if ya can, work down road prong from the top....find the falls and fish down.....it's not toooo hard to work down and return to the top
Chimney Tops Picnic Area
I looked at the trail map a few minutes ago, and I think I ran into the 60' falls, not the 15' falls. It looks like there is a bridge about a few hundred yards above where I bailed out. Can you start fishing from above that falls (or at the next bridge) and go up?
I had actually wanted to fish from the Chimney Tops Picnic area, but it was closed at 7:30am. If the gate is closed can you park in the grass along the road and hike into the picnic area, or is the best fishing below the picnic area?
There is good fishing on the West Prong above, below and at the picnic area. I believe there is a pulloff just below the picnic area. There is some good water there, and bookies become more frequent above the picnic area. Note: If you go above the picnic area you will be entering The Gorge, there is some great water in this stretch, but once you enter The Gorge it is very difficult to crawl out of there until you reach the Chimney Tops trailhead. There is a large parking area on past the picnic area that provides access to the Gorge. I have used it quite a few times, it's a little steep and you'll need to be careful at the bottom, but it shortens the trip to the Chimneys trailhead and has some great water and the opportunity to catch brookies and rainbows. I used to fish the Gorge on every trip to the Smokies, but I haven't been down there for a few years. I need to do it again before I get too old, lol. It's best to fish the Gorge with a buddy since it's very remote once your in there and if you were to get hurt it may be a while before anyone could find you if you couldn't get out on your own. Needless to say, I have done it solo quite a few times, probably not the smartest thing, and I guess I was somewhat lucky.
Hope this helps,
Boy do I feel stupid
Let me start off by saying that preparation is the most important thing when it comes to going somewhere you've never been before. And if you go unprepared and are lucky enough to make it back in one piece, you will hopefully be smart enough to be prepared the next time.
In my initial post on this thread, on my first trip up to Road Prong, I was completely unprepared, didn't know where I was going, didn't have a map, didn't even have water or food. A little way up the stream, I started to get nervous that I was perhaps on the wrong stream, wasn't sure where the trail out was and had climbed up so many boulders, I wasn't sure I could even climb back down without falling. I had hiked in close to a waterfall and couldn't see the way out (up?). My nervousness worked itself into a paranoia and I tried climbing out of the stream in a spot that took almost 30 minutes instead of surveying all of my options.
Well after that experience, I read back over some folks responses in this thread and old posts (a very nice feature by the way, simply type the stream name in the search box -after clicking "search" from the menu above - and bingo, a lot of pretty specific information on most topics about fishing in the smokies). At this point I came to realize that I had completely overreacted, to the point that I even forget my age (44 not 43)! I decided to try it again. Unfortunately, I still didn't have anyone fishing with me, but I was at least very prepared (and a year older?).
I hiked down from the Road Prong Trailhead on Clingman's Dome Rd at about 8:30a with water, food, a water purifier, map and compass - I was determined to be prepared (overprepared?) - I even brought a raincoat (I know, wishful thinking...). It took me about an hour to get down to the Chimney Tops trail and then I proceeded to work my way up and down the trail for about 30 minutes trying to determine good take out points from the stream, so that once I was down there I could get out easily. I made a few mental pictures and even made a small three stone cairn on one of the easier take outs that's not obvious from the stream, in case I made it to the waterfall and couldn't get find a way out, I could then backtrack a bit and get out.
Once I started fishing I felt prepared. And it made all the difference in the world. I worked my way up the stream fairly easily and when I reached the waterfall, instead of trying to scale up the wall, I hiked back downstream about 30' and found a spot that took less than 5 minutes to get from the stream to the trail, compared to the 30 it took two weeks ago.
The water temp was good (62), but the water is getting low. I wouldn't recommend fishing it until we get some rain...
The hike back up to the car was tough. I think the Chimney Tops Trail may be the way to go, but that may be more a factor of having and easier hike out, at the end of fishing (down hill to the Chimney Tops TH). I think the bridge on Road Prong is equal distance from each trail head.
All-in-all, a much better trip and boy do I feel stupid for being so unprepared that last time I went. Oh, and I caught a few fish as well ;)
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