Nathan (NDuncan) and I have been planning a long backcountry trip up Forney for quite a while, however we were forced to change out plans at the last minute, so instead of shuttling a car, we decided to just hike down from Clingmans to Jonas Creek (70) for the first night, back up to 69 (Huggins creek) for the second night, and then out.
The top of Clingmans dome was cold and windy when we arrived Friday morning. While we got loaded up we looked over the landscape to see where we would be going.
We thought it was odd that we were the only ones there that morning, other than a crew that was there to work on the forney ridge trail. Then we saw why. They had closed the clingmans dome trail due to bear activity. A momma with cubs was around.
The hike down was not too difficult, but was steep, long, and really took a toll on our legs. We restrained ourselves from stopping and fishing all the wonderfully fishy looking water we passed, knowing we could fish it on the way out, and made good time to our first campsite at Jonas Creek. I quickly got camp setup, and tied on the fly that was to be the hero of the trip for me. My slightly modified neversink caddis. There were yellow sallies hatching all weekend long, and though this fly was a bit too big, the fish didnt mind.
On my first cast, in the tiny pool right by the campsite that I had walked past 100 times will setting up camp just minutes earlier, I hook into this guy, an 8 inch rainbow. This is gonna be a good trip.
Camp at Jonas Creek
I decided to just work my way up Jonas a little, and tied into another 7 inch rainbow and from then on it was just 7 inch browns all on the dry.
At some point during this day I was fishing a feeder of Forney which will remain unnamed. I was working my way up, catching more cookie cutter browns, all in that 6-7inch range. I came upon a pool that had to runs that intersected in a V, with a large undercut rock to one side. My second cast into the pool landed just to teh side of the V and in front of the rock. The dry went under quietly, I didnt suspect anything...I set the hook...and the rod was nearly jerked out of my hands!!!! I lifted up on the rod, felt an immense fish, saw a flash of white that reminded me of a 5lb largemouth bass, and SNAP... my tippet was gone. So was my mind for the rest of the day, as I couldnt concentrate as I replayed over and over what I could have done for those 2.5 seconds differently to have landed that fish...or at least played him longer. I finally accepted the fact that probably even the best may have not of won that fight on 6X tippet.
We finished off the day with some incredible Slovacek sausages Nathan brought back from Texas, a couple of fried rainbows, and a couple of cans of pale ale I packed in and cooled in the creek. First day-Awesome
I woke up at 6am with that big fish still on my mind. I got up, made a quick cup of coffee, and headed out that way. For some reason I figured I would cast in that little pool right beside the campsite again....first cast...SWISH....9 inch rainbow on the dry. I turned the watch around so you could see the time but it didnt take. 6:40 am I had two keepers before 7am that morning!
The big guy refused to come back to play, though I tried everything, the same dry he hit before, then dry and dropper, then a nymph rig...but no luck. It was ok though, I finally felt over the obsession.. I could move on now.
We packed up and hiked quickly up to campsite 69 on Huggins. We fished a little ways up Huggins when I caught a surprise! A small brookie on the dropper! My slam was complete!
Nathans knees were still bothering him, so he fished near the campsite for the rest of the day. I decided to go down to one of the fords, and work my way back up to the next ford. This was the best part of the trip. I fished for three and a half hours, and caught around 20 fish, lost just as many, and had so many missed strikes I couldnt keep up. Every hole and run gave up a fish, some multiples. And the fish fought here like nowhere else in the park Ive been. Nathan even said the same thing, they would often jump two feet in the air thrashing wildly, really putting on a show!
I learned a lot about fishing that day too. I started really picking up on where the fish were, in the pools, in front of the bigger rocks, the eddies at the head of the pool. I was even able to make a cast to the far side of a rock, wait a second, and set the hook on a fish even though I couldnt see the fly, I just kind of "knew" when a fish should be hitting the fly if he was there. When I got to the point that I was putting every cast in a good spot, and I could tell when a fish was going to hit in each different spot it felt really good.
I did make one big mistake, I was approaching a pool which had a log over the tail of it, so I stayed behind the log not wanting to spook the fish. Then I had one on, and he was a big one! He jumped out of the water, he was a good 10 or 11 inches! But I couldt get over the log fast enough to land him, and he jumped again and shook off. So now I try to think "if you get a fish on, how will you land him?" before I cast instead of just "where am I going to cast?".
I ended the trek up Forney with around 20 fish landed, and completed my limit, here was the biggest of the day at 9 inches.
to be continued......