Sunday, The Wife and I fished Abrams for the first time in quite a few years (actually, my wife had never fished it). Fished the horseshoe. It was not nearly so slick as I remembered it, although all the ankle-breaking bedrock was still more than we wanted. I suspect that that is because there are no longer cows in Cades Cove (there used to be cows in the Cove, right?) We fished it kind of fast, as I was a bit worried to make sure we got out of there before dark (I failed once before and had a ranger question me back in the parking area).
Same as the other times I've visited, you could see plenty of large fish. And same as the other times I've visited, any fish I could see, I could not catch. I think that this is one stream where it would pay to have all the holes memorized. Saw at least 3 Rainbows that I know went over 18 inches. The water was low, of course, but all the fish I caught looked pretty vigorous. My 2 largest were both about 11". Caught about 20 more, about 5 of which were about 8 or 9 inches. Caught, tried to shake off, and almost caught about a zillion Warpaint Shiners. Caught a few hornyheads as well. Never saw a Brown. Caught most of the fish on a 14 Orange Palmer. Gosh, I'd love a chance to fish that stretch every day for a week. I think, eventually, with location memorization, 6x, and 14' tippets, maybe I could get one of those big ones.
Just after getting into the water, I noticed, and pointed out to my wife, a lot of bear prints. I told her that there were both a young bear and a larger one, probably its mother. Wife says sure, whatever. After traveling about 30 yards upstream, she yelled at me while I was casting. Back downstream where we had been standing were mother and cub. They really looked skinny to me, and I really felt bad for them. But I told my wife to keep her mace handy. I believe that those bears are really gonna start acting badly once cold weather hits. Later on that day, we saw several deer in the river, and another bear up ahead of us, who quickly exited the river.
Saw probably 100 piles of otter poop. Mostly, it was washed and bleached clean, from the sun and some long ago rain, or maybe bugs. I looked through a bit of it, and all I really saw was thousands of crayfish parts. No fish bones that I could recognize. I know otters do eat fish, but from all the fish I saw in the pools, and all the crayfish parts in their poop, it would seem unlikely to me that they drastically affect the trout populations. I wonder if anyone has done a study on otters effects on trout in southern streams...
Speaking of crayfish, I saw a ton of those as well. I just don't ever see nearly so many crayfish in any of the other Park rivers, especially ones this big. I know I saw at least several dozen over 3.5 inches. I saw lots of claws laying around (I assume the otters discard those), one of which was honestly 3 inches long all by itself. I can't imagine having one of those catch onto my toe!
The Wife managed to catch a few fish too.