My wife and I visited the Smokies from June 17 to 19. I have never experienced such a great and simultaneously frustrating trip. "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
After stopping at LRO for supplies, we made camp directly riverside in Elkmont at about noon. This trip was supposed to be more about quality time and hiking than my fishing, so we packed up and headed to hike the Chimney Tops. Upon arrival, I loaded my pack rod, wading boots and several bottles of water into my day pack. I'd guess the total weight was about 20-25 pounds. By the top of the climb, I was drenched in sweat and worn out. After snapping the requisite pictures, we hiked down with the intent of letting me fish a litte. I ran into a nice spin fisherman. At the first bridge down (third up), he fished above the bridge and I fished below. For the first time, I caught fish on a green weenie! Two brook trout in the pool below the bridge. Here's a picture of the bigger one:
What a gorgeous fish. So, I'm trying to snap this picture when the fish squirms. I lunge to get it, and my "go to" fly box, crammed with flies pops out of my shirt pocket and into the water. So long flies. Shortly thereafter, I broke off the green weenie and then the stimulator it was under. Thus, the end of a good day. Still, it was incredible to catch such a beautiful fish.
We returned to Elkmont, and I fished a little in front of our tent. No takers. But, swimmers had been in the area all day. The next morning, I woke up early and fished the same area. I brought 4 small rainbows to hand, but took no picutres.
The plan for Saturday was to show my wife the great view from Clingman's Dome and then fish for some more brook trout on the ride back down the mountain. While at Clingman's Dome, I took off my hat on which I had forgotten that I rested my sunglasses. They flew about 5 yards before shattering one of the lenses ... The worst of times. Still, we got to watch a really beautiful thunderstorm work it's way into the Smokies. So much for fishing on the way back down.
After an afternoon full of rain, things cleared a little, and we decided to hike up the Little River Trail. After about fifteen minutes, I saw a huge bear in the middle of the river. He climbed up a 75 degree bank like it was nothing, and I snapped this Sasquatch-like picture as it crossed the trail.
Incredibly cool!!! I haven't seen a lot of bears, but this was the biggest I've seen in the wild. Unfortunately, my wife wasn't as enthused as I was. We promptly turned around and headed for camp.
So, I'm getting a little twitchy with the lack of fishing. My wife, being the incredible spouse that she is, suggests that we drive up 441 and fish some before heading home on Sunday. I'm jazzed up and fall asleep with visions of more gorgeous brook trout dancing in my head.
We woke to the sound of rolling thunder. Dashing out of our sleeping bags, we broke camp as quickly as possible, hoping to avoid the rain. By the time we were done --- No thunder. Still, we figured we'd go into Gatlnburg and get some flapjacks before fishing. In the midst of a stack of buttermilk pancakes, the bottom fell out. Thus, ended any hope of fishing and we drove home.
So, in summary, I had an incredible time and saw two incredible sights: a gorgeous brook trout and a huge bear. But, it wound up being a much more expensive trip than I hoped (loss of sunglasses, flies and box) and I didn't get to fish nearly enough.
Still, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I truly counted my blessings on numerous occasions throughout the weekend.