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Old 07-23-2007, 11:28 PM
Gerry Romer's Avatar
Gerry Romer Gerry Romer is offline
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Default Trees and Tubers

Well, after our shallowater/saltwater fiasco of a week ago, it was really nice to get back into the park... sort of.

Decided to try Tremont early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, my body didn't get the memo about that "early" stuff until about 8 AM! So I didn't get to the stream until about 9:30 - not exactly early . I had been following Byron's daily fishing report while we were in Florida and so I was very encouraged by all the talk of rain. I probably expected too much because I was sorely disappointed in the drastically low water levels. Nevertheless, I spent about 3 hours up in the gravel (the road not the river) looking for fish. I caught more than my share of trees and rocks and eventually quit when it became not so much fun. On my way back down the gravel road I got stopped at a traffic jam . Most anyone familiar with the gravel road at Tremont knows where the Spruce Flats Falls are. Going up towards the top, the road makes a pretty hard right and straightens out for about 2/10 mile and the falls are on your left. The road at this point is barely 2 lane. Well, as I'm coming down, traffic starts slowing down well above Spruce Flats. I get up to the scene of the "accident", and what do my wondering eyes behold?? Not rubber-necking or photo-ops of the falls. No, the traffic hold up was due to the fact that a truck full of "Visitors" had decided to tailgate at the falls. There is no pull off there. There is no turn out there. There is no parking there - period. So where did these visitors tailgate?? In the middle of the road, of course! They had about a dozen camp chairs and a little grill going and were just kind hangin' out at the back of their truck havin' a good ole time... and cutting traffic down to just about one lane. If I hadn't already quit for the day, this would have put me down for the count! Oh, yeah... for all of my time, I had one 7" bow and 2 little chubs and about 45 trees!

Undaunted, I decided to try for that early thing again today. This time my body got the memo (didn't agree with it, but knew that it was the politically correct thing to do) and I was on the road to Metcalf Bottoms at 7:30 am. Having caught my limit of trees on Sunday, I opted for the wider waters of the East Prong below Metcalf Bottoms. I cut through Wears Cove and was appalled by the incredibly low water as I went over the bridge. I stopped in the middle of the bridge to look upstream and downstream and couldn't believe my eyes . I've waded above the bridge, in the rain, when the flow was chest high. To look down from the bridge and see well-defined channels and realize that one could literally walk up the middle of the stream and barely get their boots wet was shocking. How the fish are able to survive this I'll never know.

I proceeded through Metcalf and turned right, heading back towards Townsend. I parked in the little 4-car lot below Metcalf, geared up and headed for the water to see what I could do. I cautiously and stealthily worked my way up towards Metcalf without a great deal of luck... unless you count war paint shiners - they were killing my dries. The chubs were taking the hellgrammite dropper.

About 11 am, as I was methodically working my way closer to Metcalf, the tuber hatch came on. Slow at first - just 2 wayward Michiganders who took the wrong channel and got hung up. Seriously, I'm casting into a narrow, overhung channel and I hear what I think is some new species of waterfowl honking, when I look up to see a female of the tuber hatch rounding the bend at the head of the channel followed closely by a male of the same hatch. Clearly the mating season is here. The female of the hatch gets to within about 10 feet of me and hollers back over her shoulder, "There's a guy tryin' to fish down here!! .... sorry!" Having read Hugh Hartsell's report on tubers and fly fishing in NC, I'm thinkin' maybe this is a good thing .

So I pick up my fly and head upstream to the bend the tubers just came through. Sure enough, I start flipping my dry/dropper rig into the channel the tubers had just come through and immediately start hooking up!! A couple bows and a couple browns out of the same channel. So there, tubers!

I figured there just might be something to Mr. Hartsell's theorizing and decided to fish right through the tuber hatch! As I approached the bottom of Metcalf Bottoms the tuber hatch was really taking off. Tubers of all ages, sizes and genders were all over the surface! Of course with the water as low as it is, there isn't a lot of surface so they were on the rocks, in the trees, on the banks and in the grove cooking up all kinds of good-smellin' stuff. I steeled my nerves against the siren call of burgers and brats and fished on. I continued on up the left hand side of the stream, casting into the right hand channels, when I encountered a young female tuber with what appeared to be two of her offspring attempting to enter the water from the right hand side of the stream. While they were debating and arguing, I cast into the channel they were playing in and pulled out a nice little 8" bow - right in front of them. For some reason they didn't think there were fish in that water. I then cast into a little bit of fast water directly in front of me and had a massive "hit" on my SMBBSH dropper. He broke off about 10 feet right in front of me, turned and headed right at me. This was a real pig! He came right at me, saw me, spooked and turned away from me heading into a deeper channel. He had to go at least 18"

That ended up being my last hookup of the day. I fished on up through Metcalf to the top of Metcalf and called it a day. The hike back to the car down Little River Road was exactly a half mile and took bout 15 minutes. The water I fished seemed like a mile and a half and took about 4 hours. The most productive fly of the day was the SMBBSH dropper. At one point, when it was very overcast, I tied on a size 16 BWO tied "Madame X-style" by Walter Babb (BTW, Daniel, you need to get on Walter 'cause I wiped out the Walter box), and it got absolutely slammed! It probably would have done really well, but it got gone with the first hit so I'll never know for sure.

I took some neat pictures but it's late and I've been at this too long already. I'll see if I can't get them edited in tomorrow.

Bottom line? Fish through the tubers... you just never know

Gerry Romer
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:36 AM
pineman19 pineman19 is offline
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Great report Gerry, I don't know if I could fish in the middle of a tuber hatch or not, but I'm glad you had great success. I guess it makes sense that the fish would get used to tubers, maybe it breaks loose the insects and puts the baifish on the move where the bigger trout can feed on them. I may have to try it one day, but I do like my solitude when I am fishing in the Smokies.

Neal
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:51 AM
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jeffnles1 jeffnles1 is offline
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Sometimes there is also a nice bikini hatch among the tuber hatches. One has to keep a sharp eye out for such things.

Nice fising report. I have wondered if streams where there is a lot of human activity if the fish become somewhat accustomed to us and if that may give a slight edge to the fishermen?

Jeff
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Old 07-24-2007, 05:49 PM
TomW TomW is offline
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Default trees and tubers

Gerry the picnickers are the reason my wife won't let me get a permit to carry hand guns. She knows that if I did have a permit, and I came across a similar situation well.... I would just have to thin the herd!!!!

As for the trees I found a gaget that is hook shaped with the inner side of the hook sharpened like a knife. It then is put into your tip top and hooks over the offending twig/small branch. You then remove the rod and jerk on the attached cord to cut the branch and you recover your fly. Just be sure a bald hornet nest isnt nearby .

Good luck later

Tom
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