I had the afternoon free yesterday so I headed up to Sam's around 2. The air was warm, but the water was a good cool temperature for this time of year despite being pretty low.
I noticed that there are already a good number of ripe partridge berries out, seems kind of early to me.
I planned to hike up a good ways before fishing, but there were some all too inviting spots along the we way that I had to stop and fish. One was in between the 3rd and 4th crossing. I had decided that my dropper fly was too long and I was retying it when I spotted something in the pool next to me. At first I thought it was compass or something. It turns out it was TNFlyfisher's camera that he lost up here back in april. It was totally water-logged, and badly corroded... See thread in the backcountry for more info...
Anyway it was a good day to be out there, I fished almost up to Starkey before hiking back out.
Had a good number of fish, only photoed some, but here they are...
I should also mention that since I was mostly getting hits on the dry, I eventually cut the dropper off all together, which let me get a better drift and more fish.
Hiking back out, I spotted a large brookie (8-10") holding on a rock in the bottom of a big deep hole. I manged to scale down to the edge of it from the trail (the trail is about 5 feet above the hole and practically straight down) and there was barely enough room for a cast. I fumbled the first cast, it was about 1-2 feet behind him and a different brookie rocketed up from the deep and took the fly. I quickly brought him to hand, trying not to spook the rest of the hole and released him. He was right at about 7 inches. My fish was still on the rock. I made a second cast, which went slightly to the right of the fish by about 2 feet and again another 7 incher took the fly, which I again brought to hand quickly and released. The large brookie was still unfazed by this (how, I have no clue). So on the third cast, the fly lands about 2 feet infront of him and slowly drifts towards him. At just the right moment, he shot up from his spot and nailed the fly. I brought him to hand, and he was probabaly at around 9 inches (didn't take him to the tape) and this was the best fish of the day. While standing on the narrow bank and trying to get manage the thrashing fish and retreive my camera, he flopped right out of my hand and back into the water before I could get the picture. Oh well, it happens like that sometimes. But it was definitely the best way to end a day fishing in the Smokies.
I, on the otherhand, decided NOT to end the day that way. When I got back to the parking area, I decided to fish some of the upper middle prong. Nada. Couldn't figure out what the rainbows were up to. So I went lower and tried around the spruce flats junction and aside from a couple of little minnows, didn't have much luck. I saw some (very few, but some) trout feeding about the time I decided to leave (around 8 pm) but either I couldn't get the right fly or my tiredness from the hike was causing me to be lazy in my staying hidden, I couldn't get much more than a few slaps and one short tug of war out of them.
Anyway it was a good day to be out there. Really, any day is a good day to be out there.