Well, we just got back from another visit to the Smokies...our second home. The girls were out of school for a week, and I had this week slated for a trip for months. It was the first trip since November, so the withdrawal symptoms were acute. Of course, we were at the mercy of the weather, and the forecast for the day after Easter became progressively worse as we approached departure time. We started seeing flakes before we even reached Chattanooga; in parts of the valley, it was near whiteout conditions...but the curious thing was, the flakes were so dry, they hardly moistened my windshield. Also curious was the fact that the snow was in isolated bands, and by the time we got close to the park, there was no snow. We picked up a few flies, etc at LRO, and headed over to Cosby...the snow showed itself again there:
We fished for a few hours, until the girls got too cold to continue - snow is a real novelty for them, so they had to have a snowball fight, which of course got their hands nice and frozen. We actually had a few hits, on dries at that, but nothing to hand.
On the way to our hotel in Maggie Valley, we ran into a traffic jam on I-40...hardly moving. I got off at the Hartford exit, and zig-zagged my way towards Deep Creek. I took a look at the interstate at Waterville, but it still looked bad...so....I decided to take the Mt Sterling road through the park, to Cataloochee and eventually Maggie Valley. Things were fine for a while, but when I gained a certain elevation, the snow started sticking to the road, and I was sliding all over the place. Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to turn around. Before I did, though, I saw this small stream encased in white:
So, Monday was a wash. On Tuesday, we explored a little. We went over to Noland Creek and tried it for a few minutes; it was still pretty cold, and we didn't have any hits. We made our way over to Straight Fork; I was able to get a small fish to hit, and my helper released it for me:
In the rush to release it, I thought it was a 'bow - it was pretty brightly colored. It was only after I looked at the picture I took that I realized it was a brown. We gave up on Straight Fork shortly after that - nothing else cooperating. The girls wanted to go swimming (indoor pool), so I left them the room key and I headed back over to Cosby...I wanted to get even with the fish I had missed the day before. In a couple of hours, I was able to get 10 to hand, all on dries. The action wasn't fast and furious, but it was steady, and I was finally able to get a decent pic of a brookie:
Wednesday brought warmer temperatures. We headed over to the Little Cataloochee area. We tried the stream for about an hour, but as there is no trail alongside the stream, the girls weren't too interested in bushwacking. I had a rise or two from a small fish, but that was it. I would like to explore that area more in the future. We drove on a little, and fished Correll Branch, a small brookie stream. I was able to get 3 or 4, all pretty little fish. We left there and continued back to Cosby...this time I was able to help daughter #2 to cast, and she soon had her first wild trout:
Needless to say, I was very happy for her. We picked up multiple fish from a few pools, which was good to see....no monsters, but a few close to seven inches.
Today, we checked out of the motel and headed over the mountains to Lynn Camp. While I caught my first trout in the Smokies on the Middle Prong just below the junction a few years ago, I've never had much success on Lynn Camp - I guess my timing has been bad. It started out that way again today, but then things heated up, along with the water. After fishing in water temps consistently in the mid-40's, the temps topped 50 today, and the fish started to rise to the blue quills and quill gordons that appeared. Daughter #1 took 4 or 5, and I got about 10, including 2 that were big enough to keep (sorry, no pics). One was every bit of 10 inches. They're sitting in my fridge now - they will be grilled this weekend. These are the first fish I've kept in the Smokies - I figure that, since Lynn Camp will be cleared out of rainbows later this year anyway, I shouldn't have any qualms about keeping a few.
All in all, we had a great trip, despite the fickle weather. It should only get better from here on out.