As reported in another thread, I drove up to the top this past Sunday morning. Boy, did we find Brookies! No monsters. No record breakers. Just some really feisty native fish. And were they ever fun!!
Sunday morning, bright and early, my son and I drove up to the switchback just below Newfound Gap and worked our way back down the Walker Camp Prong. We found Brookies with our first stop! The water was absolutely crystal clear and I was finally able to experience some of those facets of fly-fishing that I've only read about. I could easily spot fish in the water - holding in their own feeding lanes. I could clearly make out their shadows on the bottom and their profiles in the water. I could - for once- watch a fish first appraise an offering, and then rise from it's bottom feeding lane position and take a dry off the surface! What a THRILL!
Pardon the enthusiasm, but these are things I've only read about for the past 22 years. I've been traipsing around various trails and streams in these mountains with little or no success since 1984. *Since I found this "new and improved website", LRO and this website have taught me more about fly fishing than any magazine or book I've come across, and I am extremely grateful.
Okay. So we drove up to Newfound Gap and backed down a bit. We stopped and put in below the switchback above the Alum Cave trailhead. We hit Brookies immediately!! No lunkers... just the usual 5 - 7" variety... but they were BROOKIES!!! And they were hitting just about anyting we threw at them and fighting like little dynamos. Little yellow stones, sulfurs, elk hair caddis, BWO parachutes, parachute adams -- you name it, we threw it and they hit it and we stopped counting... and that was before it started raining! Yes, Byron, it cut loose up top Sunday afternoon. BTW, I took the water temp for you up top and the first spot we put in (at about 5,000 ft) was a cool 62.6 degrees!
In the midst of all this Brookie euphoria, my son netted his biggest bow to date. We were working this one particular pool about 15 feet below a modest falls. Only about 4 foot deep, but crystal clear and holding a few "lunker" Brookies that we could see very easily. He threw a litle yellow stone just below the little falls and got a perfect drift coming out of the riffle. About halfway through the drift his fly got hammered. I had been trying to get out of the way of his roll cast (he's left-handed and I'm right-handed so it makes for some interesting situations) when I looked back and saw him trying to wrestle a good-sized bow back to where he could land it. Right in the middle of Brookie country, that rainbow, at just under 10", was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. I'm telling you that water was so clear I could watch that fish rip and go and fight him every step of the way. He finally got him in and took pictures so we could move on.
We continued to work our way back down towards the Alum Cave trailhead and hit Brookies all the way down. This is a medium-long stretcdh of water and there're plenty of spots where an interested party could put in and do as well as we did - so I'm not tryin to keep any great secret here or protect some stretch of water. When I said earlier that they were hitting everything, I meant it because they had everything available. We watched hatches of Yellow Stones, Blue Wing Olives, Sulfurs... you name it, it was hatching. The only thing they weren't interested in taking was a BWO in size 18 or 20, but they were hitting a BWO 18 parachute -- go figure!!
We drove down from the top into a full-blown thunderstorm. It rained heavily from about the Chimneys trailhead all the way to Elkmont. The rain let up sufficiently to warrant a stop at a stretch above Metcalf Bottoms. First thing I noticed was that the water temp was up signifigantly. I didn't take the temp but I knew immediately that it was a lot warmer at Metcalf Bottoms than it had been up top. I also noticed that the water was already murky. I'd been hoping that the rain had driven off the "swimmers" and the vinyl flotilla, but my hopes were not fulfilled - they were just in hiding and shortly came back out to ruin any hope we had of finidng a fighting brown. We were going for the cycle and hoping to hit a brown down below.
It didn't happen. But my son is still on such a high that we've already decided to give it another go this coming weekend. See you up there!!
"I've since learned to use the best knot rather than the one that uses the least line. I go through more tippet material but compensate by drinking cheaper whiskey. One must have priorities." ... Art Scheck