In Search of the December Fish
Catching a fish in winter months (especially in the Smokies) is difficult enough; but when warm days come and go and you're facing the rest of the month with projected highs mostly in the 40s and it continues to rain, things can get downright tough.
Now, under normal circumstances, I would just wait it out and find a time when, at my leisure and with the cooperation of the weather, a decent day presented itself to get back out on the stream. But when you're trying to add to a 21 month streak on the OFPM threads, patience gives way to desperation.
So I went fishing on Friday, December 18 with rain pouring down turning to snow. It was still cool (upper 40s) and the water temp was right around 40 on the fishing report so I headed for Abrams Creek. You can always count on the water temp being up on the spring side and I found it at 48 right at the Abrams Falls trailhead. Not bad. Except that with all the rain, the creek was a murky brown and was running pretty full. Not to mention the fact that I had forgotten my waders. But the streak had me motivated to give it a shot regardless. Well, I saw no sign of any fish, just managed to wade around through the muck and the mud. Did see a ton of trees felled by beavers and two really nice bucks, one of which ended up staring at me from about 20 feet eye to eye.
When I finally gave up and decided to try something different, I started walking back out towards the trailhead. I was soaked to the bone (counting on my waders to have kept me dry). Every little gully became a little feeder creek. I was hurdling one of those when I lost my balance and broke my trusty 7'9" 4wt TFO Finesse. Well, I happened to have my 5wt back in my vehicle so I decided to head back out and stop at Laurel Creek on the way out. By that time, the snow was coming down pretty hard and I lost interest after a short time.
So I headed back out on Wednesday, December 23, and went to Metcalf Bottoms where I decided to drag a streamer around and see what I could pick up. Had a beast of a thing I had picked up in Knoxville called a Scupzilla (#8 size). Looked really good to me in the water but apparently not to the trout. After a while I gave up and went up to Middle Prong where I fished for a couple of hours. Got several slaps but no takers before I had to quit to get back home for a dinner appointment.
My wife told me Thursday morning to go somewhere and catch a fish or she wasn't going to be able to live with me any more so I borrowed a key from a friend to the Mountain Homes community in West Miller's Cove where Hesse Creek runs through on its way out of the Park towards Blackberry Farm. Yeah, I was down to trying to catch a BBF stocker just to have something to post. Within 15 minutes of getting there, I had my fish and was able to return home, desperation in check for another month - the world was back to spinning on greased grooves.
Hopefully, January and February will be a little more cooperative. However, at least I know now that there is a solution of last resort if bad comes to worse as it did in December.
Tight lines and Happy New Year to all.
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.