I hit Tremont on Sunday just downstream from where the road ends. The water temperature was 47 degrees at 3:30 and there were bugs around, but not as many as I had hoped. I tied on a size 14 parachute adams and went upstream. The weather was beautiful, cool, slight breeze, but not enough to pull at my line. There were enough clouds, and enough dark clouds, that several times I thought the sky was about to open up. But every ominous-looking bank that crested the ridge, quickly blew across the sliver of sky above me and was followed by periods of sunshine that seemed that much the brighter.
After moving about 50 yards upstream and having carefully worked several "good" spots, I started to think fish on dry fly today might be a little premature. And then, at the end of a deep pool below a car-sized boulder, the parachute abruptly disappeared from sight into the fast moving, green tainted water. I set the hook, and almost pulled that agressive little three inch bugger out of the water. I pinched the line against my rod, lifted the little guy up to eye level and grabbed the fly. I squatted down in the moss and rock, holding the fish just above the surface and said, "Thanks little guy. You just kept me from getting skunked." With a quick flip of the fly, the little rainbow, that would have barely covered the breadth of my palm, fell into the water and was off in a silver flash. There was no way I was taking that adams off the end of the leader now.
The next run up I was high sticking over a large boulder and a 8.5 inch rainbow came clear out of the water to take the fly. Honestly, it suprised the **** out of me. I thought I had already caught the one fish in the stream feeling froggy enough to make the trip to the surface for a meal. Apprarently not. I took a quick measurement of the second fish and hit him over the head with a small rock. Some of you just flinched, so I'll include this disclaimer. I don't keep many fish, in fact this was only the second fish I have kept in the last three years. On my way out the door that afternoon, my 4 year-old daughter told me she wanted to try a trout and asked if I would catch her one for dinner. I told her that I would try. In some circles I feel I have to explain why I would keep a trout. On the other hand, I have friends, not flyfisherman of course, that can't understand why I wouldn't.
Anyway, several more little rainbows (probably the size of the first) hit my fly over the next hour. Most missed the fly, had it pulled from their mouths, or were otherwise long distance released. But I did see one that was different. Shortly after I killed the one legal fish, I saw a bigger one. I was concentrating harder on the water above these rocks where he was holding, but as the fly drifted downstream I thought, "Eh, it has a good drift, leave it on the water for a second." As the fly got between two rocks, the head, dorsal, back and tail of a foot-long trout broke the surface like a Pacific Life Insurance commercial. I don't know if he missed my fly, changed his mind at the last minute, or took something else, but he was gone, and nothing would bring him back. I worked that patch of water for awhile, and then decided that I had a good afternoon and it was time to leave.
The drive back down the valley reminded me of my childhood in the summertime Rockies. The Smokies are very different, of course, but there are enough similarities to bring back memories of sitting on the bench seat of an old Chevy pick-up between my father and uncle. The stream noises, the gravel crunching under the truck's tires, the crisp air smelling of pine, and the faint aroma of fish slime still on my hands.
So there is one less trout in the Middle Prong left for the rest of you, but there are plenty still there. And they are coming to the surface to eat parachute adams.