finally made it to Cataloochee
I usually spend several days camping in Cataloochee the last week of September. I din't go this year because it was so hot that week and after reading the progress reports on the elk at the National Park web site, I started missing it. I've been trying to find someone to go for the last 3 Mondays. So, I talked our church's youth pastor into this week. He doesn't fish but said he would enjoy the exploring. So off we went, Monday (10/15). We got a late start and after driving through the valley headed down to the last bridge at Asbury Crossing, just so that I could look at the gauge, I had checked it on-line that morning 17cfs or 2.01ft. It was certainly much lower than I have ever fished it. But temperatures were not a problem at noon it was 50 degrees. I wanted to explore as much as fish and just look for new places. There was one vehicle in the parking area, we started up the creek my buddy wasn't dressed for wading and we immediately realized we weren't going far because of the sheer rock wall on our side of the creek, and even though the water was low, you weren't crossing without getting wet. Oh well this trip was more about exploring and enjoying the day. Saw the other fisherman walking back down the stream, so I decided not to go up any further. Fished right there around the bridge for a few minutes landed one rainbow about 6" and lost another. We drove back up to the next bridge and walked down to the group camping sites fished a couple of spots as we walked back up, didn't catch any spooked quiet a few. I started watching more closely and noticed that the fish were spooking real quick, which was expected in the low water. Headed up and walked down to the church. Youth pastor went inside and read Bible some, while I managed another rainbow and several missed hook-ups. We drove up to the school house, I commented that the run below the bridge on Palmer Creek was as close as it came to a sure thing, He walked to the school I went below the bridge and quickly caught a 7-8" brown followed by a small rainbow. We then drove on up and stopped in one of the fields to see if any elk would come out I stepped across the road and into Rough Fork and was rewarded with an 8-9" rainbow. That was it for the fishing, really didn't fish to much and managed 5 fish never changed flies, threw a small Yellow Stimulater despite the fact that I never saw a fish rise. We headed up Rough Fork to the end of the road, there was a ranger up there keeping the elk (a cow and a calf) away from the people or the people away from the elk. A nice bull prepared himself a place to lay down in the field above them, he bugled a couple of times and there was a response from the woods. We hiked up the trail a little ways, to an historic house site, walked back hoping to see a few more elk. The same ones were still there and a few more with a nice bull and several turkeys down lower. Before leaving we saw 6 pretty good bulls and about 12 cows. That is the fewest number of elk that I have seen this time of year. We left before it got too late about 6:00, would have probably seen more elk had we later a while longer. Glad I went, maybe that will hold me for a while, but I'm sure I'll go back, hopefully for a caming trip and some additional exploring.