Saturday I hit the park with great anticapation as others have mentioned so far. The temperatures climbing into the 60's and sun shining I hit Elkmont at high noon with hopes of high water temps, but really because I made a lesiurely start of my Saturday. I made a quick stop at LRO for part of the spring fly collection now on display, made note of the crowd and ran for Elkmont. The parking lot was filled with you name it we got it, from fisherman to license tags reading from everywhere, I contiued on with getting into my waders. There were even numerous international visitors on the trail, I can always tell them because for some reason they tend to pick up and carry sticks twice their body length. I am not sure if they are planning to pole vault out of trouble or signal to bears they come as a package with attached meat skewer.
The best description about Saturday is from Ian & Charity Rutters website that said and I paraphrase, "a good day for fishing not catching!". I saw a few short bursts of blue quills hatch but very short-lived and nothing rising to the occasion. I did get in about 6 1/2 hours of casting practice and plenty of fly changing from nymphs to drys to droppers and back again.
Here's a shot of an Elkmont hole I love, even in winter it's coverd in tangles and brush, fishing so so but great place to contempalte your navel.
If anyone has wondered how much rain we got this winter here is a shot in an area everyone knows. Please note for scale my 7' 9" 2wt on the right side of pictue. I wonder if they will blast it open, leave it alone, or make the world's largest jinga puzzle for the tourists!
Now it's about 4 PM and I head down the road to Metcalf where many times I start or end the day. If the end of day, I will hit some holes, light a cigar and verify why amber bock should be considered a food group on the governemnt's food pyramid!
I was below the bridge downstream halfway across the water about 5:30 and to tell the truth I was tired and scorched from fishing all day and yes for those pre-judging, I had not even had the required dosage of cigar and bock libation.
So now as I half-hearted casted I could see a rise in the deeper water below the riffles I am in. The closest way I can describe it is sometimes in the low water in the Clinch at the jail you can see buffalo carp rising in the low water making a racket. I am never sure if they are chasing something or making love, either way I don't like to be in the middle of it.
This was diffrent, the rise was moving like a freight train at high speed and the bulge in the water was getting bigger with every moment. As I stood there looking like Forest Gump, thiinking what the ......., the water started parting and I now saw it was not the 28 inch brown of my lifetime, but a high speed otter moving like a german submarine straight twoards me now 25 feet away and hammer down! As I heard my interior voice yell retreat in a very high pitch, he zigged right in the shallower water running right on top of the water and zagged left, I realized that no matter what a great catch I consider myself, it was a fish he was after not me, still not much consolation, because based on previous exposure to otters, I knew they have the single mindness of a bird dog at a time like that. I also knew the fish at that point did not care if escape was between my legs or in my waders and neither fish or otter would let me in the middle slow either one of them down.
Right as I started to make my retreat, the otter and prey dropped out of sight 10 -12 feet in front of me. I stood there waiting for the next explosion of sound, when the otter's head popped up with about an 8 inch trout sideways in it's mouth. As I stared in disbelief and awe if this had been a Diisney movie right than I am I sure he would have said thru a mouthful of trout, " and that's how it's done sucka!"
Now for added effect I have added below a picture of two otters underneath the tree, in one of my favorite holes about 1/2 mile up from last summer. Please note these bad boys in the Smokys aren't ferret size but big eough and probably tuff enough to eat a new Fiat 500 compact car. Saturday may not have been my day to catch but I can tell you I was humbled by the best fisherman on the water that day by far. I can promise you I learned two things, you ain't gonna outfish or outrun an otter in the water.
DISCLAIMER: THIS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE ONE IN THE STORY ABOVE.