Monday, June 30, 2008

Second Poll: Backcountry Fishing

The next poll brings up a topic that my uncle and I had the other day. We were discussing the joys of backcountry fishing and wondering why more people don't do it. While we tossed around several thoughts, one topic came up that piqued my interest: Are some people hesitant to fish in the backcountry due to lack of backcountry knowledge, skills, etc.?

I know that the walk and effort put into fishing some of the more remote areas is a big reason for some, but we seem to think that some fisherman don't partake because backcountry fishing involves a lot of work and a little uncertainty. I don't know if this encompasses any people reading this as I would label most die hard fisherman, but I think this thought has some weight when talking about the more recreational fisherman or the angler visiting from out of town for the first time.

Drop a vote and take time to leave a comment and let me know if you think this argument is plausible or not.

Mountains Receive Beneficial Rainfall Over the Weekend

As many of you probably know, the mountains received a much needed dose of rain over the weekend. Most places in the Smokies received at least an inch over the two days which will definitely help the stream levels for the upcoming holiday weekend. The northern mountains of TN and NC got a little more rain with some places receiving close to two inches. The water is in much better shape but we are still in need of more rainfall. Before this most recent rain, most streams in the smokies were lower than they were at this time last year. Here are some interesting numbers detailing the rainfall deficit from January 1, 2007:

Knoxville 51.8" 68.0" Normal
Cherokee 44.1" 60.6" Normal
Fontana 60.3" 82.2" Normal
Boone 42.8" 61.9" Normal

As you can see, we are in desperate need of a week long rain event. Rainfall totals for the year are much better than they were last year (although still behind), but the combination of the horribly dry year last year with another dry year back-to-back are leaving streams in bad shape. It looks as though it will take several years for the streams to catch back up and reach a normal level.

With water levels low and no immediate relief in sight, remember that stealth will most likely become the sword you live and die by. During times like this, concealing your presence from the fish will determine whether or not you have a successful day on the water.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Exciting News!

Want to let everyone know about a new venture that I am getting in. With the encouragement from Mr. James Marsh of, I will be writing stream descriptions of headwater streams of the Smoky Mountains for his website. Descriptions of some of the more remote streams are hard to find, if not impossible, so it is our goal to provide a source of information for those who wish to venture out deep into the backcountry of the Smokies. The stream descriptions should cover everything that a backpacking fisherman needs to know before making the trip. I would like for everyone to take a look at the first article and let me know what you think. If there is anything you feel is missing that you would like to know, please let me know as I want to provide an angler with a clear picture of what they can expect upon visiting a certain stream for the first time.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. James Marsh and his wife Angie for allowing me this great opportunity and for all of the advice that has been given to me. If you haven't been to their site yet, I highly encourage you to do so as it encompasses anything an angler could want to know about fishing the Great Smoky Mountains and other places as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Smokies Day 2: Little River Above Elkmont

Saturday was calling for thunderstorms so we decided not to hike to far back in case it got bad. We arrived at the trailhead at Elkmont at about 8:00 and hiked in for about 35 minutes, around the first bridge. We caught up with some older gentleman on the way up and enjoyed a nice conversation with them for awhile. They said they had been fishing the park for over 30 years, back when you could drive up past Elkmont. They also shared with us that they would be nymphing with no indicator and splitshot. After hearing all of this information I was sure that a good day was in store for them. After getting to the water, the first thing that was noticed was once again how low and clear the water was. While this section of the river housed many deep pools, you could tell that the stream level was nowhere near the norm.

We got in the water and I rigged up with what I had used the day before: a stimulator with a SMBSH dropper. With the way the fish attacked the SMBSH the day earlier I figured that would be deadly on this stretch of water, but for some reason the fish didn't seem interested in the dropper. Instead, they seemed to always key in on the dry so I finally just clipped the dropper off. Fishing was consistently average much like the day before. While I didn't get a strike out of every good looking pool or lie, I was managing a strike every little bit or so.

This was a nice stretch of the river to fish not only because of it's raw beauty, but because it really gives an angler the chance to use stealth to outsmart the fish, especially during a time of low water such as now. Giant boulders and plunge pools offer an excellent spot to hide behind while fishing the hole above you which is often at or near eye level. There is something about this tactic that gives an enormous sense of accomplishment when a trout is landed.

At the end of the day, I managed about 11 rainbows all off the stimulator. I did manage a nice sized 12" fish full of energy who put quite a fight up against my 4wt. Helios. Shawn, unfortunately, had a tough day and only managed a few strikes. Although most rainbows were in the 6"-8" range, you could tell the river definitely holds some nice sized rainbows and the opportunity to catch a large brown as well.

On the hike out, we met up with another couple anglers who pointed out this guy hanging on some tree limbs about 5' high. Although harmless, definitely will make me look up every now and then while hiking through the woods.

After returning back to the trailhead we met up with the same two fisherman that we walked in with, as well as another angler that was talking to them. We learned that all three had no luck at all. The two fisherman that we ran into on the hike out also reported no success. I figured that the low water was probably the culprit of the lack of fish. All in all it was a great trip and I found what is probably my new favorite piece of water. It offers everything I love about small stream fishing, the plunge pools and boulder hopping, just a little bigger with a decent chance at a good fish. I was pretty happy with the number of fish caught during such challenging conditions, but I can't wait to get back when there is more water to contend with.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Smokies Day 1: SMBSH Continues Assault on Trout, Number of Victims Rise

On Friday, my uncle and I headed our way up Thunderhead Prong to give that a shot. I have never been up there before, though trips on nearby Lynn Camp Prong had given me hope that this sister stream could provide the same results. After following the manway for a short while, we got in at the second water crossing. The water was extremely low and the word of the day was, say it with me, stealth! Stealth and presentation were definitely the most important factors of the day in catching fish.

I started out with a stimulator and managed a couple fish when I kept low and out of sight. Conditions like this make a fisherman hone their skills and really think about how the fish behave and see under water. The fish weren't consistently hitting the fly, but I managed to get a strike every few holes as long as I stayed invisible to the fish.

Things got interesting when my uncle, Shawn, almost stepped on this fellow when we were rock hopping around a fallen tree.

I must confess that he held his composure pretty well and I was impressed, he stayed pretty calm and gave plenty of space. Shawn, on the other hand, ran away screaming (had to take a jab!).

The fishing never really heated up the way that I had hoped, though. The river was absolutely gorgeous even though it was low and I can't help but wonder what the effects of last year's drought plus the low water this year had on this stream.

On our way back we decided to hit up the lower portion of Lynn Camp for a little bit. I decided that I would tie on a SMBSH dropper since there are some deep pools and runs in that section. Immediately I began getting strikes and landing fish on the dropper. At one pool I caught 3 fish, all on the dropper. It seemed that I had hit on something as the fish were taking the blackbird in a consistent, although not furious, manner. In a short 45 minutes on Lynn Camp I brought 7 fish to hand and was very pleased with the way my fishing went as I really tried to stay out of sight and stealthy (like a ninja). On the way out we saw this fella up the bank at the parking area. Never saw one before and this was a treat to see and they are magnificent creatures.

It will probably be tomorrow before I get into the next day's fishing: Little River above Elkmont.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Up Next: Townsend, TN

What's that? Only started this thing yesterday and I'm already skipping out for a few days? Yeah I know, you would think I would have a little more dedication starting out but fishing takes precedence. I will be heading out early in the morning for Townsend, TN with my girlfriend (did I mention beautiful and sweet), my uncle, his wife, and their two kids. First stop will of course be to LRO for some supplies and friendly talk. There will be plenty of time spent in the water, however, as the plan is to fish tomorrow evening, all day Saturday, and then Sunday on my fishing...........errrr hiking trip with my girlfriend.

As of the moment, low water conditions have left me undecided as to where to go fishing. I think we have settled on fishing Thunderhead Prong around Sams Creek on Friday, but Saturday is up in the air. I had originally thought about hiking up the West Prong to fish but word is that the water will be pretty skinny since it's been so long since significant rainfall. Right now, I have two choices in mind: Road Prong and Fish Camp/Goshen Prong. If we went to Road Prong then I would want to go way up past the picnic area and go about 3 miles in to get some brookies. Haven't been to either one so don't really know what to choose right now.

Whatever happens, I'm sure it will be a good time and I'll make sure and fill you in. Let's just hope that we don't end up with another "corn nugget incident" like we had last year on our trip to Straight Fork! Until then, hope everyone gets out this weekend and look for an update early next week.

A dedicated fisherman or a man still feeling the effects of eating corn nuggets the night before? I'll let you decide...........

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

First Poll: Smokies

First poll is now up and we should learn some interesting tidbits from y'all on this one. First and foremost, we will probably learn that no one comes to this blog. Secondly, if anyone actually visits, we will see which side people prefer to fish. There is no doubt in my mind that the TN side gets substantially more visitors with Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, but the NC side has lots of good water. Remember, comments are encouraged so let me know what you think.

So here it is: Are you a Blue Devil (sorry, I hate the Tar Heels) or a Volunteer when it comes to fishing?

Joining the crowd

Well if you are here, then you have no doubt stumbled across one of the most random and useless blogs out there. That's OK though, hopefully some of you will get a little something out of this and maybe enjoy reading it as well.

The idea came about through my love of fly fishing and the thought of one day having a hand in a book about it. I've always thought it would be neat to write a book about fishing the Smokies or in western North Carolina so maybe this will give me a little bit of experience in writing.

This is actually my second attempt at a blog but the first one never got off the ground. Hopefully this one will pick up a little steam and I can keep it going for awhile. I will try and post several times a week and, hopefully, every other day.

Now for a little bit of history in my fly fishing. I have been fly fishing for almost 12 years now, although I can only claim the last several as being serious about it. My uncle taught me how to fish at our local delayed harvest water at Stone Mtn. State Park. We never fished much wild water until about the last several years. Once we started this, a new world opened up to us and we have been hitting it hard ever since. I can't tell you the last time i caught a nice fish that really put a bend in the rod, but the allure of backcountry fishing for small native trout has kept us climbing higher in the hills. Maps have been poured over, dirt roads have been traversed, and many "Deliverance" flashbacks have occurred while we are trying to find that next great spot that no one knows about. I mainly fish in NC but enjoy going to TN to fish as well when time and gas prices allow, especially in the Smokies and surrounding areas.

Hopefully that gives you a little useful background about me. I know this won't be the most intelligent or thought provoking fly fishing blog out there, but hopefully it will be fun for everyone. I also highly encourage leaving comments. Whether it's putting your $.02 in on a poll or telling me how stupid something is that I wrote, I want to hear it and I will try and respond to every comment. Thanks for looking!