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Old 07-23-2012, 10:45 AM
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Default Last week in Cherokee

Camped on Big Cove/ Raven's fork area last week and fished about every
day one place or another. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip but with the daily rains in Raven's Fork I couldn't figure it out over there. I tried dry/ dropper. double nymph rigs with indicators, single bug rigs, larger/ smaller, etc. I did catch a couple above the trophy section ( a Brookie and a Bow) but all in all slow going compared to my trip in June to the same waters.
I crossed the hill and fished WPLP one day and caught a few, but, again not the numbers I've caught in the past on the same stretch of water. I wanted to fish Road Prong but the trail folks had it closed all week so I fished above and below the trailhead and on up to Alum trail head also.
Question is, how do you guys handle the higher water and stained water to catch fish if that's all you have? I had planned my last trip to the Smokies for the year, I was there, and everywhere nearby seemed to be high and rushing. Just wondered.
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:04 PM
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Can you clarify what mean about stained water? Are we talking, where it isn't crystal clear but has a sort of brown or greenish tint and you can't really see the bottom but there is still some visibility? Or are we talking chocolate milk, can't see even a centimeter below the surface kind of stained? These two can make a world of difference. In chocolate milk, some people love it because the bigger fish come out and will take streamers, I have no experience with that. I will say you can have fantastic days in the summer when it is off color.

Reasons: The rain tends to wash terrestrials into the water, esp big ants and beetles. I will sometimes use an ant as a dropper behind a dry (maybe a yellow jacket, beetle or big bushy dry) on these days and have had some good ones.

Second: There is still enough visibility that the fish are feeding, but also enough color that they are active and less vary, and there is less chance they will see you from the banks.

Now when the water is like this, you aren't going to be sight fishing for trout usually. You may see some one hit the top, but usually you just have probe different water to see where they are hanging out.

When the water is higher and faster, I feel like they are more likely to be found behind larger boulders or hunkered down on the bottom of the stream under rocks. The flow is the greatest at the surface, and less at the bottom or something. Anyway, if they are down, then you basically have to get a nymph or streamer right by them because they probably wont come up for dry (but they still may).

I remember one day last year it was pouring in the afternoon while I was headed up to Townsend and I was going to fish middle prong. Well Middle prong itself was chocolate milk so I kept driving up to the end of the gravel road. I found that while the water coming down from Lynn Camp was think, muddy, and totally brown and frothy, the water coming from thunderhead was only slightly stained, but a little higher than normal. I had a good day of fishing on thunderhead that afternoon. This also shows how isolated our thunderstorms in the park can be this time of year and that while one prong of a watershed can get nailed, one really close by still be really fishable. Also the more I went up thunderhead, the clearer the water got, so sometimes you have to keep hiking up to find fishable water.

That evening by the time I returned to the car, the water near the parking area at the end of the gravel road was clearer, but still high and I managed a few rainbows there before I left too. So a stream that totally muddy at one time can be clear enough for good fishing a few hours later.

Can't speak for the tactics dealing with fishing the Tribal Waters, but as far as fishing in the park this time of year, those have been my observations.

If I were staying in Cherokee and the water on Raven Fork, Luftee were really stained and high and unfishable, I might either hike to the headwaters of Bradley Fork or Beech Flats Prong, or drive to Cataloochie or Bryson city to see if there is more fishable water there. Or maybe Walker Camp Prong above the Alum Cave Trailhead

Anyway, that's my input, for what it's worth
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:27 PM
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It was just a little off color, and mainly swifter than usual. It certainly wasn't muddy. I rode down to Bryson City and the Tuck down there was muddy, like chocolate milk. I did end up just going higher and fishing like you said over to Alum Cave and down to Chimenys Trailheads but I thought it was a little off there too although the water was in better condition. It may be all irrelevant but just wondered since I come from flatland rivers and only get a few shots a year at the mountains, you know, how to make the best of it when conditions aren't "perfect".
I guess it's all in the learning curve and I did catch a few so not a complete washout. Thanks.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:31 AM
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Smile Question

I know this doesn't really pertain directly to what you were asking, but did you have a harder time getting good drift with the additional water? It's much harder to match the water speed, and there are more competing currents to mess with you drift, and it's harder to keep a dry floating. Also it may have been the areas you were fishing. When the water is up, you will find them in different locations then when the water is down. Plus when you get a real good push of water it is usually accompanied by an acidic blast to the river that may stun fish for a few days, although I don't think that was an issue except for maybe the 22nd
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=03512000

Also what times were you fishing, and could you have been behind someone else? It's pretty busy up that way this time of year, and why I typically only fish the roadside stretches in the off season.
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duckypaddler View Post
I know this doesn't really pertain directly to what you were asking, but did you have a harder time getting good drift with the additional water? It's much harder to match the water speed, and there are more competing currents to mess with you drift, and it's harder to keep a dry floating.

This is a REALLY good point that I should have mentioned... In high water, I tend to make much shorter casts and keep as much of my line off the water as possible to ensure a decent drift. And in fast water, that's still a challenge. The plus side is that with a little less visibility, you can afford to be a little closer to the fish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by duckypaddler View Post
Plus when you get a real good push of water it is usually accompanied by an acidic blast to the river that may stun fish for a few days
Could that be an issue whenever you are fishing walker camp below alum cave when there is more water since that watershed is more acidic to begin with? Just a theory.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:48 PM
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Very good points, I did have a hard time getting the drift right on a dry or dry/ dropper. I finally gave up and started basically hi sticking a few areas over in NC. On the TN side I didn't have as much problem and could get a good drift but, for instance, one particular pool that I fished I have hit a good number of times and it's a sure thing to get a strike from a Brookie here. I was SO confident creeping down to that pool, and then nothing. Not even a look or a sign of a fish! This was around Alum cave entrance so, again, could be your theory had something to do with it. I mean, I know the fish are there, I know my patterns shoudl have drawn interest, and I seemed to get a good presentation and definately kept a low profile "sneaking" into the hole. Very frustrating but still I'm trying to learn something from it in asking for opinions. Maybe I'll have another trick or two next time.
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:54 PM
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Thanks for the report and thanks for all the input. I will be in that area for a week starting Aug 4 and I hope the rains let up a bit. I'm planning on floating the DH section of the Tuck and the section below Dillsboro for smallies. I am also looking forward to fishing Raven and the Luff. Sounds like that may all be out or real tough.

I think I've read everything I can find on the net about fishing those waters. I grew up fishing mountain trout but have spent most of my days fishing the salt. Alot to learn as a flyfisherman and a tyer so thanks for all the info.

John
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:47 AM
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John,
A friend chased Smallies last week on the Pigeon and he said they had 2 great days. One was fly fishing streamers the other baitcasters using plastics and spinnerbaits.
They then went to the Watauga to chase Stripers but he said they were off a little and it was slow.
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Old 07-26-2012, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bran View Post
Very good points, I did have a hard time getting the drift right on a dry or dry/ dropper. I finally gave up and started basically hi sticking a few areas over in NC. On the TN side I didn't have as much problem and could get a good drift but, for instance, one particular pool that I fished I have hit a good number of times and it's a sure thing to get a strike from a Brookie here. I was SO confident creeping down to that pool, and then nothing. Not even a look or a sign of a fish! This was around Alum cave entrance so, again, could be your theory had something to do with it. I mean, I know the fish are there, I know my patterns shoudl have drawn interest, and I seemed to get a good presentation and definately kept a low profile "sneaking" into the hole. Very frustrating but still I'm trying to learn something from it in asking for opinions. Maybe I'll have another trick or two next time.
Seems like you're doing most things right

Some times the fishing is just off. I fished yesterday, and except for the last 2 hours where I was completely isolated (no trail to hike out to) the fishing was really slow. Basicly you had the first cast to maybe hook a rainbow, and after that even getting the Brookies to bite took some real work

Compare that to Sunday where I missed 3/4 of the fish and still had plenty to hand. And conditions were nice yesterday. Go figure
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