Even though we were up for the better part of a week last month, we all knew that we would have to return sometime this Spring - one has to take advantage of the conditions. Well, the soccer season ended, and the girls had a week of standardized testing, so they didn't have much homework - so, we pointed the car north and started on our way. The plan was to leave home around 5pm, get to at least the far side of Birmingham, get a room and some sleep, then get up to the mountains the next morning, nice and refreshed. That is, that was the plan. The cold front that moved through the Southeast reached us right at 5, so I waited an hour to leave; no big deal, or so I thought. When we finally got going, we were ok with the weather until we got into Mississippi a bit - it was there that we caught up with the front. There was a lot of ponding on the roadbed, so I had to go a lot slower than normal. As a result, I decided to scrap the hotel plan, and snatch a bit of sleep at some rest stops. 14 hours later, we were in Townsend...so much for feeling refreshed.
I had an order at LRO waiting for me, so we swung by there and waited out the last of the rain. Since we were at that end of the park, and we had some success the last time we had fished it, we decided to go back to Lynn Camp. We met Troutman there, and we hiked up the trail together for a bit (BTW - nice to meet you in person Troutman, and that's one nice flyrod). He continued further up the trail, while we stopped to fish a section - that turned out to be a mistake on our part, for after a short while, we spotted another fisherman in the area. We hiked a good ways up to get out of his way, but he followed us, and seemed to be going back and forth, to areas we had already fished. I have no idea how long he was there, or exactly which sections he had fished, but it translated into very few strikes and no fish. After a few hours, we decided to leave and head over the mountains to Straight Fork. We went all the way to the bridge and fished above it. I had a few hits and managed to get one brookie to my feet before it got off, while daughter #1 caught one and lost one. We headed further down the stream, where I managed to get one 4inch brookie out of Hyatt Creek where it meets Straight Fork...that was my fish for the day. I threw everything I could think of at the fish in Straight Fork, but no takers. Just before sunset, there was a good hatch of mayflies, but the fish wouldn't rise, and I couldn't dredge them up with nymphs. So, we left, feeling more than a bit discouraged. At least the Blue Ridge Parkway was open, which helped us get to our room in Maggie Valley a lot quicker. Along the way, I saw the moon rising over the Plott Balsams, and had to take a picture:
The next day, after our ritual breakfast at Joey's, we headed to Cosby. We weren't really planning on fishing there this time, but after the skunking the day before, we wanted to catch some fish. We started where the Low Gap trail crosses the stream. I headed upstream with daughter #3, while daughters 1&2 started fishing. I hadn't gone very far when I heard #1 had caught something. I continued up, and after a slow start, got three bows and a brook to hand. Meanwhile, my oldest fishing below us got 7, all brookies. It seems that both species are sharing the water...a good sign. Here's one of them, with my assistant about to release it:
We hiked further up, and fished a section that I hadn't hit before. We all caught a lot more fish....I got an 8-inch brookie that was all head and tail - skinny cuss, but the longest brookie I've caught in that stream. I missed a couple of nice fish, but that's ok - we had a great time, and ended up with about 40 between us.
On a completely different note - ever wonder what happens to that water rushing down your favorite Smokies stream? Well, here's where it ends up:
This was sent to me by a friend of mine - it's a picture of the Mississippi River levee in Metairie, just upstream of New Orleans. The river is higher than its been in 10 years, and should be reaching a crest today. It's quite a sight - seeing a huge tanker ship passing OVER your head.