Hello all, made it back late last night from a late season brookie trip deep into the backcountry of the smokies. Before i get started with the fishing report, i feel compelled to give this public service announcement:
The hike to the campsite, while not terribly long, is a grueling one. It's a very manageable 1.9 miles to the top of the ridge and then about another mile down to the campsite, however there is about a 1500' elevation change from the parking area to the top of the ridge. The hike is straight uphill and is relentless, there are no flat areas to catch a break, no switchbacks, nothing but one giant pull uphill. My partner in crime said that it was worse than the famed deep creek hike down from 441! From here on out, i have named the 1.9 mile hike up to the top of hyatt ridge "the devil's staircase." Also, i can't see this river as being manageable with the water levels normal to high. The only way to navigate is through the streambed as there is absolutely no trail access and there were several areas where we couldn't get around even with the water this low.
Now that i've bored you, i'll fill you in on the fishing. After the tough hike we set up camp and made it out on the water about 12 on saturday. Justin started out with a royal wulff while i tried a smbsh. Justin immediately pulled ahead quickly as the brookies seemed to flock to his dry with reckless abandon, i however was having no such luck. I quickly realized that i needed a change so after a short run with an ehc, i tied on a royal stimulator with a tellico dropper and immediately started to hook into fish on every hole and run. The fish had some absolutely beautiful spawning colors on them! We continued to work our way upstream picking up fish left and right. All were brookies until i managed a tiny rainbow, which was a surprise actually. Only one more rainbow was to be caught this trip and that was a beautiful 13" fish that succumbed to the tellico. He made a couple nice leaps out of the water before coming to hand and caused alot of excitement because at first i thought it was a brook! Not that i'm complaining for catching a 13" rainbow, but i nearly jumped out of my waders when i first saw him thrashing around under water and i just knew i had a trophy brook trout! The rest of the day was filled with great fishing and with the right cast and presentation, fish were coming to hand at an alarming rate.
We called it a day about 4 30 and headed back to camp so that we would have plenty of time to cook supper and get all our chores done. After relaxing a bit and meeting our campmate, a hearty soul who had hiked 19 miles from mt. sterling in one day, we set out for bed rather early a little tired but anticipating the day ahead.
Daylight broke about 7 30 and we were awoken to some chilly temperatures, but a beautiful fall morning. A nice hot breakfast was just what the doctor ordered and we headed downstream and ended up fishing a tributary to raven's fork, enloe creek. Fishing had definitely taken a downward turn from the day before as we struggled quite a bit to start the day off. I had been getting several strikes off the blackbird but they were very quick and jerky like the fish were extremely small and weren't grabbing the whole hook. Justin finally managed to land a couple before we decided to head back and fish around camp. We fished here for a short while, maybe an hour, and managed to pick up a few fish but our time was up and we had to get going to give us plenty of time to hike out and make the long drive home. Boy, although the mile hike up to the top of the ridge was tough, it was much easier coming back down the devil's staircase!
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. The fishing did not disappoint and the weather was picture perfect, you couldn't ask for better fall conditions. We didn't manage to catch or even see one of those trophy brook trout that i have heard rumors about coming from that stream, but i can guarantee that, with the way the river is, there are definitely some in there. Can't wait for another backcountry excursion, which may come real soon. I must say, though, that after eating oatmeal and meal replacement bars the whole trip, the first stop i made was at bojangles and it never tasted better! I hope everyone else got a chance to get out, enjoy the pics.
The aforementioned, "devil's staircase", it doesn't look bad unless you're there.......
Justin and the first brookie of the day
The bridge going over the river and to the campsite
This was probably below average sized fish for the trip