Plans had been made for some time to hike into #47 with my cousin this past weekend and do some fishing. At the last second he got sick and couldn't make it but I enjoy solo trips and decided to just go anyway.
After swinging by LRO to chat with Byron and Daniel awhile and pick up some supplies, I headed over the mountain. After a quick stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center for my permit, I headed on up the Straight Fork road. The plan was to head over Hyatt Ridge trail to the Enloe Creek trail down to Raven Fork and #47. I got to the trailhead later than I wanted and had to hustle to get over the ridge and into camp before dark. Thankfully I made it in time and after setting up camp, I ate a quick supper and went to bed with visions of brook trout dancing in my head.
The next morning was perfect. The sun was out and the air was nice and cool. Throughout breakfast, I found myself eating faster and faster in anticipation of hitting the water. You don't hike over Hyatt Ridge to catch small stream rainbows...no, you go for the brook trout. Raven Fork and its tributaries are a great place to catch brookies although there are some rainbows in Raven Fork as well...
After breakfast, I washed my dishes and got some snacks to take with me. For the morning, I decided to hit one of the smaller tribs and it proved to be a great decision. For the next three hours, I caught brook trout after brook trout. By lunch, I had already caught enough fish for three days worth of fishing and only used two flies the whole time. The first Yellow Neversink was lost in a tree after 40-some brookies had chewed on it. The second fly lasted for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.
Throughout the morning I caught brook trout up to around 9 inches. The largest fish came from an undercut rock adjacent to a deep pocket. It ghosted out from under the rock and gently sipped the Neversink Caddis. After posing for a couple quick pictures, it swam back to its pool.
The brook trout from the tributary were beautifully colored, and obviously the spawn is fast approaching. Some of the males were even developing the closest things to a kype that these small brookies will ever get...
For the afternoon, I fished Raven Fork proper, slowly exploring my way upstream from the campsite. Here I caught a mix of healthy rainbows along with more brook trout. The brookies weren't colored as much yet compared to the ones I had caught earlier in the day. I finished my day well upstream from camp and regretfully turned back towards my tent and a hot supper, wishing instead to be continuing on upstream and explore to the farthest reaches of the headwaters.
The hike out the next morning was much better than the hike in, just under one mile uphill and then 2 downhill. I soon was cruising back down towards Cherokee where I made a quick stop for something other than backpacking food. Lunch was spent on the Oconaluftee. The water levels were low and a few hours of fishing in the afternoon convinced me that the browns and rainbows here are nowhere near as bold as the brookies from the high mountain streams.
I managed a few rainbows and browns from the 'Luftee before heading over the ridge. A 20 minute stop on Walker Camp Prong produced a couple small brookies and a surprising large rainbow for the water I was fishing.
Another stop, this time on Little River produced the largest fish of the weekend. A nice brown of around 16 inches apparently thought my Tellico nymph looked edible. After a quick picture I sent him back to hopefully grow a bit more.
The weekend was great, but I do wish that the larger streams had a little more flow in them right now. The fishing is still good to great, especially on the smaller high gradient streams where water levels aren't as much of an inconvenience...
One question for everyone: I'm not a wildflower expert but saw the following flowers and wondered if anyone could help me identify them...? Thanks!