The Great Smoky Mountains Fishing Trip May 2007

While sitting around the campfire one night during the fishing trip I had to stop and ponder why, why did I pick this place to head off to and fish when there were dozens upon dozens of other places to choose from? As I sit here and try to begin explaining my trip down there and all that I experienced, I still wonder why there, what on earth ever processed me to pick that place to spend a week of fishing?

Towing a travel trailer for eleven hours from New Jersey was nothing, except for the extra gasoline to get down and back. But, I do like my creature comforts and there is nothing like dragging your home along behind you. Maybe it was to store all the fishing gear, consideration for over packed clothing allowance, food, beer, and spirits that accompany every fishing trip my long time good friend and I ever went on together.

When we start out on a fishing trip to a destination we have never been to that we only read about, someone told you about it, or sent you photos of their experience, we all start out with the greatest of expectations that the trip will be at least half of what you hoped it to be.

I have to report that in this case our trip to The Great Smoky Mountains far exceed anything we ever hoped for as far as scenery, the quality of the streams and fish within them. From the ladies where we had breakfast in Cosby, whom without my translator along I would never been feed, to individuals who provided dead-on great advise and locations to get us into fish.

Perhaps my real reason in dragging a travel trailer all the way down to The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, for I knew we needed a large enough space to store all the laughs, good times and memories for the trip home.

Just to sit here pondering just how lucky we were to have picked The Great Smoky Mountains as our fishing destination for spring 2007. But the truth is, having a longtime great friend as a fishing partner catching one more trout than you.

The Streams

It is plain and simple you can never fish all those streams in a way they deserve in a life time. The sheer beauty of the National Park is beyond description and viewing it first hand it changes everyday as you follow the winding mountains roads at each and ever turn opens a new and magical section to fish. It is a place that caters to all fly fishing skill levels and interests. The number of streams that provide ease of access alongside any roadway you can fish for days and never find the same conditions or stream make up. Small riffles open to long smooth elongated pools that at first glance you can spend an entire morning watching and fishing, or find a narrow mountain stream that challenges you at each and every plunge pool, but allows plenty of room for back casts, and not see another fisherman all the while.

We began fishing the West Prong Little Pigeon River along Newfound Gap Road just up past Chimney Tops. As we began to get a gear set up I heard a discouraging word from behind me, as I turned I saw my fishing buddy holding his new Orvis 4 weight that he purchased just for this trip in one more piece than what Orvis advertises it at. While putting on his reel, the reel seat separated from the rod. Defiantly manufacturers defect, but how did it ever pass final inspection is a mystery. While I had my 2 weight rigged and ready to go, I loaned him my 5 weight rod for the day at a considerable hefty rental fee that should cover my first class air fare to British Columbia next year for steelhead.

The stream was low and clear as gin as some people like to say, trout had to be worked for in this location and condition. First mistake was fishing down and cross, these trout command respect so you can’t just march up to a streamside and huck a fly in and expect them to bend your rod for you. But, there are exceptions in every case and a size #14 Orange and Partridge soft hackle fly managed to fool one rainbow. Only one other time did I have the urge to fish subsurface using a rubber leg yellow stimulator, this time a fat wild brown trout was tricked, while holding in one hand for a quick snap, rod tucked safely under the right arm and fumbling in my shirt pocket for the camera I lost the little fat booger (common condition of being camera shy).

The rest of the week was dry flies and dry flies only. It took us four hours to cover about one hundred yards of stream that morning. We had to pick up there pace, but for anyone seeing any of these streams you understand why it took so long, the many facets and again, I hate to repeat myself, but the sheer beauty of fishing these you feel rushing along is an injustice.

Middle Prong Little Pigeon River – also known to the locals as Greenbrier has one of the steepest descents of any stream in the Smoky Mountains, when I say steep, I mean vertical. Just let me put it this way, if you ever go there to fish it be prepared for some hard hiking and mountain climbing, the sight of those plunge pools will make it all the worth while.

We fished this location all day and “moved up stream only a short distance” To look at a hundred yards up river your eyes were set at a 50 degree elevation and at some parts of the stream that was only 60-75 yards up stream.

Because it is not far from Gatlinburg, just five miles of dusty gravel road off the paved highway, a hike up the mountain and trail blazing a path down, it is no wonder that hardly anyone fishes this section of the river. Too **** difficult to get to and to fish, but once there, you have it all to yourselves and a fishing experience of a life time awaits. Plunge pool after plunge pool after plunge pool by mid afternoon if you were not an experience plunge pool fishing expert, you will soon be. The wild brook, rainbow trout are fast little boogers! Short leaders and tippet, no fly line on the water and as soon as you’re large bushy fly hits the water…. Hold on and get ready to lift as quickly as you can.

Straight Fork is a small creek that you have to drive over the mountains into North Carolina, pass through the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and reenter the National Park on a narrow gravel road. Long way to go, passed many a nice stream, creek, and brook to get there, and let me say, it was well worth it all to fishing this stream.

We entered the park and within one half mile drive of looking at the creek we knew we were about to fish one special spot. We continued to drive for just over three miles along the creek and it got better by the yard. Not once did we see another fisherman, we had the stream for the first three miles to our selves, and you began to believe that the trout in it sees very little pressure at all. I turned around and headed back to a spot that we agreed upon to start fishing this stream. From then till dusk, neither of us was disappointed in the decision to fish this one stream off the beaten track.

As always, sitting here wishing I was still there fishing.

AK Skim

PS. I will be returning April 26, 2008