I figured it was about time I registered. I've been "lurking" here since January. I read the stream report daily and check the message board every couple of days. Of course I've been patronizing LRO for quite some time now, and I think I've actually become a weekly regular at the store. I stumbled in this afternoon after another fruitless day of trying to catch fish and was promptly bolstered by the ever-cheerful staff!
My son and I had started out above Elkmont at about 7am and eventually moved down onto the East Prong where my son landed an 8" brown. That was it for the day. But it was worth it... every bit of it.
I moved to the Blount County area about 22 years ago. To give you an idea of how things and times change, when I moved here I was in advertising with Proffitt's (remember them?) and Herb Handly (Mr. Visit Townsend) was in store management with Sears I believe - or was it Miller's? At any rate, 22 years ago there was no LRO and the closest source for fly gear was the basement of the old Wynn's store on Gill St. in Alcoa.
I bought my first "fly rod" at Wynn's. Actually, it was 6-piece Eagle Claw convertible pack rod which I thought would be the ideal rod for the Smokies. Having never attempted fly fishing before, but anxious to learn, I packed my trusty Eagle Claw (and both fly and spinning reels) up Abrams Creek. Talk about walking off the end of the high dive with a blind fold on! Nevertheless, those first couple of years I flailed away throughout the Smokies every Saturday in warm weather. And failed miserably every Saturday.
My first real success from all this trial and error was actually in Citico, flinging a size 12 "hellgrammite" into a cut-bank and lucking into a 10 inch brown at the end of a pretty fast drift. Of course I had no idea what I was doing and therefore couldn't replicate my success. But it convinced me that there really was something to this "fly fishing" business. I've kept at it off and on over the past 22 years with little or no success (I gues I really am somewhat hard-headed).
And then... this past december I discovered this website. I can honestly say that I have learned more about fly fishing from this website in the last 6 months than I have from all the magazines and junk I've bought in the last 20 years. Anyone in the local area knows that The Creel has been around in Knoxville for quite a while, and I've bought a fair amount of gear there. In fact, I'm still fishing a 7'9'' *5wt Clearwater outfit that I bought there a few years ago and it serves my purposes in these tight mountain streams just fine! But since discovering this website and seeing just how valuable the information contained here is, I've been resupplying at LRO every week and building my confidence here at the LRO wabsite every day.
I guess my point is that you can buy "stuff" anywhere, but information is still king and the king reigns at LRO.
For example, today - as I said before, after another day of being virtually skunked - my son and I stopped in at LRO. He complained to the staff about our lack of success. I believe it was Annette who asked him, " Did you wear that orange t-shirt and hat?". When he answered in the affirmative, she told him, "Don't do that again". Sounds harsh, but you know what? He won't make that mistake again - even though I've been harping at him about this for months. (And before you write this off to rebellious youth, I have to point out that he's a 22 year old Blount County Deputy.) I've been trying to explain the need for subdued camouflage for months with no effect and yet this one comment will have lasting positive impact - and believe me he took it in the most positive way.
He and I both have learned to respect and appreciate the expertise offered at LRO. I feel lucky to live in the area and have daily access to the park and the support of the staff at LRO. For those of you not as fortunate as me... hang in there. The park's not going anywhere -- and neither, I suspect, is LRO -- except UP!
Happy to be here! Don't know that I'll be able to contribute all that much, but if I learn something, I'll share! My favroite stream is the Middle Prong from the horse park down to the blacktop. I've spent a lot of time trying to find fish on Thunderhead (kinda like banging your head into a brick wall over and over and over...) and I'm beginning to think I need to take Byron's advice and hike up Lynn's Camp prong instead. Okay, okay... I'll try it next weekend, Byron. I promise!
Thanks to all at LRO for all your help and support. I really feel that after 22 years, I might finally begin to catch some fish!!
"I've since learned to use the best knot rather than the one that uses the least line. I go through more tippet material but compensate by drinking cheaper whiskey. One must have priorities." ... Art Scheck