fished the big shoe on Thursday, April 10
I had intended to post a report then, but turned out to have a very busy weekend and never got around to it. Also I didn't have a lot to report. I arrived late and really had to fish fast. I caught a small rainbow on my first cast with a parachute adams and thought "all right this is going to be a great day". Turns out if you really enjoy catching shiners on a dry fly it was a good day. Don't get me wrong those shiners can be pretty and they apparently have a healthy appetite, I caught one that was less than 2" long on a size 14 PA. I know this happens a lot on Abrams, so I finally added a dropper. Somebody tell Hugh those shiners really like the smoky mountain blackbird soft hackle. I did catch some rainbows, but nothing over 8 inches. There were a lot of March Browns coming off, but I never saw one fish rise to one. The creek is full of shiners, maybe I should have tried a streamer.
As far as getting in and out goes, remember that you go above the creek one time and then back down to it before crossing Arbutus Ridge. I was running late and was in such a hurry and kept telling myself "cross first ridge and start fishin" that I actually jumped in the creek after this first little up and down and fished a little ways before realizing "I'm not in the horseshoe". Crossing Arbutus is very obvious after that. I noticed a tree that was down on the opposite side as the trail just before climbing Arbutus, I used that as a land mark to get out. There is a perfect exit poin just above this tree or you can keep fishing up to the next ledge which also provides a good exit point. As far as the shoe itself, I prefer to concentrate on the lower portions. Keep an eye out for Law Branch which enters on the right as you are making your way up the creek. It's not big but should be noticeable. I think this marks roughly 3/4 of the trip. If you have allowed 8 hours and you haven't seen Law Branch in 6 hours you need to pick up the pace. The creek had more water than I remembered and there is one section of the creek above Law Branch that takes a few minutes to wade through, the water was pretty pushy in this section and there are a lot of ledges running down the creek at an angle. The water was a perfect 58 degrees while I was there. I normally fish on Friday's but was worried about fishing behind someone so I took Thursday off to go. Only saw 2 other fisherman who were exiting the creek in front of me up near the trailhead as I was coming out. I don't believe they had been in the horseshoe, but I din't get to talk with them. Hope this helps.