pmike....great background...while I am a natural born Floridian my Dad married a girl from Sevierville whose father never went anywhere without his fishing tackle. Since I was young enough to remember our family spent every summer in "the mountains". I remember the same Pigeon Forge that you do and the primary destination was Gatlinburg. My grandmother would actually put up stranded tourists when the one motel in Sevierville would fill up.
I ate plenty of trout before I even realized where they were coming from...usually when my grandfather would leave the picnics we were on and head upstream with his fly rod. I caught my first trout on a fly over in Greenbrier when I was 13...50 years ago this summer and as you the hook was set fast and deep.
I too got a late start and my 17 year old son has been fishing those cricks since he was five...finally got him to let go of the spinning rod and he has now claimed my favorite 2wt his own personal property. I introduced my best friend from college to this sport over 40 years ago and we now spend a week every fall in Elkmont camping and fishing....I would love to move a little closer to that area...I can remember leaving Jax after work on a Friday and driving all night to get to Elkmont at first light....would fish most of the day, spend the night with my grandparents....fish Tremont on the way home and pull in about midnight Sunday....that would probably kill me now....
Again, I enjoyed reading your posts and will keep an eye out for your exploits...Jim