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Old 10-23-2007, 10:05 PM
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Default Oktoberfest

We had fished the park in all sorts of conditions this year - from the dead of Winter, through Spring, and of course Summer. There was only one item missing from our piscatorial "resume" - experiencing the park in the Fall. So, we headed up this past weekend, to see the park as we had never seen it before. The colors were fantastic, and, at least for Saturday and Sunday, the weather couldn't be any better.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for the condition of the streams. After swinging by LRO, we headed over to Cosby; I wanted to show the girls our property that I bought back in August, and then I had planned on fishing Cosby Creek in the park. I really wanted a nice brookie in pre-spawn colors. As soon as we drove into the Cosby entrance, I knew things weren't right. The stream was extremely low at the bottom - fishable, but barely so. I knew the stream would be in worse shape further up in brookie country. We parked and took a quick look; that's all it took to move on to plan "B". We headed all the way to the other side of the park to what has become our favorite stream - Straight Fork. This stream has managed to not only hold its own during this horrible drought, but it seems to be flourishing. The water levels were just about like they have been all summer, perhaps on the low side, but still with a nice flow to it....it must be the Uber stream of the Smokies. By the time we got there, we only had a few hours of daylight left. I managed to pick up 3 rainbows; I was a bit surprised...on that stream, I usually catch more browns or brookies instead. I think that is a product of my being introduced to brook trout fishing first - I tend to look for their habitat in a stream, and the browns seem to like the same sorts of locations. Anyway, I was optimistic that we would do well the next day.

I had to go all the way to Franklin, N.C. to get a hotel room - every hotel was booked, even the seedy old ones in Cherokee. I was able to stay awake for half of the LSU game; apparently, I missed quite a second half.

On Sunday, we started at Collins Creek; I had never fished there, and I wanted to check it out. It seems like a pleasant little stream, much like Cosby. I managed a 2-inch rainbow there, and we moved on to Bradley Fork. We didn't go very far up it. I managed a few hits and misses (a theme that would repeat itself), and my youngest daughter had a good strike that we just missed. We then wasted an hour going into Cherokee for lunch - the traffic was beyond horrible. We wrapped up the day on the upper end of Straight Fork. I missed several nice hits - probably brookies...my timing was way off now; once I start missing the hook set, it becomes a disease. Before we lost the last of the daylight, we went back down lower on the stream, and I managed to catch a few very tiny browns...a very frustrating day.

On Monday, we awoke to rain and wind. We drove back into the park and back over to the Tennessee side. My oldest wanted to fish the Road Prong, so we parked at the trailhead and headed in. We had several hits, particularly here at this large pool:



We managed to get this one trout to hit a few times apiece, but no successful hookset. Just to rub it in, this fish continued to rise and feed, even after striking our flies and our missing the hookset. We left to head down further on the WPLPR, after I managed another tiny rainbow trout. Again, a bunch of missed strikes. I even had one nice trout follow my fly, eyeball it, then it turned tail and swam away - a blatant refusal. Eventually, we had to leave - extremely frustrating.

Despite the fact that we didn't catch as many as I had hoped, it was worth it to see the park clothed in blazing yellows and reds. Chances are, we won't be back up until Spring; I don't know if we can wait that long.
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:26 PM
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nvr2L8 nvr2L8 is offline
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Default Road Prong

IJ,

I was planning on hitting Road Prong tomorrow. How far in did you go before starting to fish? Have worked the WPLR quite a bit but have not ventured into RP yet.
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:44 PM
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ijsouth ijsouth is offline
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Not very far...the third bridge out from the trailhead...with the rains, it will probably fish better, although it will make it a bit harder to get around. I would like to explore it a bit more, fish it a bit higher up next summer.
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:53 AM
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Default Thanks

We'll give it a shot today. Should be some pretty decent water up there today.
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:43 PM
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Default Road Prong Wednesday

IJ,

I fished the pool from the picture with your daughter today and the water was running through there so fast, you couldn't find a good place to lay down a fly. Caught one tiny one out of that pool and one other on Road Prong but gave up after a bit; the river was too full to safely wade and the brush was too thick to walk the banks. Caught more Rhodo-beasts than fish. The good news is that the rain finally hit and there was plenty of it.
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Old 10-24-2007, 08:57 PM
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ijsouth ijsouth is offline
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Wow...it's been a while since a stream has been almost unfishable due to HIGH water. I told my oldest out on the stream Monday that this was one place I wouldn't want to be after a heavy rain - you can tell the water can really rage down that streambed. That pool looks to be pretty deep, and it can only get that way by having a lot of water scour it out.

I'm going to get that fish next summer, if he's still there.
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