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Thread: Trip of a Lifetime (Well...At least 42 years)

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Kodak, TN

    Default Trip of a Lifetime (Well...At least 42 years)


    I'm telling this story as I want dedicated fishermen to know the quality fishery we have in the gem of the Smoky Mountains. I tire of often hearing, "there's just little trout up there". Well, with dedication and luck, the amazing fishery of the GSMNP can be enjoyed but we must remain good stewards in protecting it for future generations. The fish are there, and they're not easy, but with proper approach and technique they can be had. My hats off to Matt Kulp and the predecessors before him, Steve Moore for one, and the many volunteers of TU in protecting what we have.

    As some of you know, I've been fishing in the Smokies for 42 years. I was fortunate to get an early start. However, it took me 17 years to catch my first "trophy" trout, which I consider 18" long or better. During that time, I sometimes felt like the late great Dale Earnhardt who took 20 years to win the Daytona 500, where everyone kept asking "When are you going to catch the big one". Since my first "big one", I've caught numerous large browns up to 25". Last year, was my best when I caught 5 over 20" spread out over 13 trips. The year before I'd caught 3 over 20". Last year, my goals became to mentor someone to catch a big brown and secondarily for me to catch 2 trophy trout in a day. Needless to say, I'd passed up several good opportunities the past few years to help others get their trophy without success. BTW, I ALWAYS practice Catch & Release for large trout. I have WAY too much respect for their living the years necessary to grow to trophy size, what they've endured during those years, and they sure produce a lot of eggs for the next generation! Consider it one old warrior's respect for another.

    Saturday (6/15/19) was the BEST trip I've ever had in my 42 years casting the waters of the Smoky Mountains for wild trout. My protege and I had a slow start, catching a few in first few hours. About 11:00, I was fishing a side pocket in some rapids when I missed a strike. I saw a small rainbow and figured I'd missed it, then I saw a large brown move in the pocket. Hmmm?? So, I quickly cast again and I hooked the brown on a greenie weenie. After a fierce struggle in the rapids keeping it away from a submerged log, I landed the 19 inch "hump-backed" male with a nice kype. Trophy #1.

    About 30 mins later, I waded up to a long pool with a shallow, slick tail out. I figure any large trout in a tail out away from the safety of the deep water is "shopping" either for food or sex. Since it's not spawning season, that leaves one reason. I ALWAYS stop below a long pool to look. In surveying the pool, I saw a couple smaller 8-10" trout. Seeing nothing else, I look at a submerged rock that created a slightly deeper pocket to the side with faster water flow. I make a blind cast (keeping my eyes open) at the head of the little run. As my nymphs (Guinea & greenie weenie) drift back to me, I lift them out to make another cast when I spot a large brown chasing it for nearly 15 feet! Unfortunately, my flies were out and the trout never got to hit them! Figuring it had seen me as it was swimming toward me. I freeze and watch as it settles within 20 feet of me. I turned around to subtly get the attention of my fishing buddy, who was on his 6th fly-fishing trip ever. He was too far downstream to see me. When I looked back the large trout had disappeared. I made a cast above where I had last seen it. BANG!! It hit...I missed it Opportunity lost, but out of reflex I quickly cast back, BANG!! This time, I set the hook. I'd NEVER seen a wild brown strike twice after feeling the hook the first time, much less an old wise brown. After a fight during which it headed downstream into the shallow rapids, I landed the 21" brown. Trophy #2 on the Guinea Fly.

    During the next hour, the feeding frenzy continued as we kept catching trout on the Guinea on what seemed like every other cast. At one deep pool, I caught 6 in 8 casts. I was tying on a new greenie weenie to replace one I'd broke off on a tree, when I heard my partner (Shawn) whistle from somewhere upstream around a bend. Still a newbie, he periodically whistles to show me a small trout he'd proudly caught. This whistle sounded different. I quickly made my way upstream around the bend where he came into view and I could see that his rod was bent double. He expertly played a large brown to my net. Remember this only his 6th trip... HE'S RUINED!! It was a nice 18" brown.

    Now, having met my goals of helping a friend catch his first and my catching 2 in a day, what else is there?

    We walked upon another long pool. About 1/2 way up the pool was a ledge about 4 feet deep where at least 2 large browns were finning as they fed. It required a long cast, well beyond Shawn's capabilities, for now. Needing to cast beyond and to the side to give the nymphs time to get down to the bottom where the trout were, luck was on my side. After making the cast and getting the slack out of my line, my tiny yellow roll-on indicator was visible as the nymphs sank and I saw a sudden pull on the indicator. I lifted my rod tip and the brown jumped at least 2 feet of water. After about 5 mins of fighting the large brown down into the lower end of the long pool, Shawn videoing the last 4 mins, I landed the 21" brown on the Guinea Fly. #3 for me and #4 on the Day!

    I kept saying "What a Day" as I've never seen anything close to what happened in my 4 decades in the Smokies with a combination of beautiful skies, clear 58 degree water with perfect flow and not just fish, but large fish in a feeding frenzy! It seemed as long as we practice stealth and got the Guinea in front of them, they were there for the hooking!

    For those of you who saw me do the fly-tying demo on February 2nd, you saw me tie the Guinea Fly, which I tie on a #8 hook. I've now caught five 21" browns on the fly in the past 3 years in the months of April-June. It's one of the oldest patterns, easy to tie, and probably the 2nd pattern I learned to tie. I also caught many on the greenie weenie Saturday. I estimate about 70 trout came to hand Saturday, with 80% on the Guinea and 20% on the greenie-weenie.

    Hope you enjoyed reading this 1/10 as much as I enjoyed living it.

    Jim Parks
    Last edited by Grampus; 06-19-2019 at 02:30 PM.

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