Friday, May 29, 2015

The Great Smoky Mountians

After a couple hours in White Oak Canyon in the Shenandoahs, I headed toward the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Cosby Campground.  I arrived at the campground with just enough time to set up camp and making some dinner before dark.  Plans had been made to meet David Knapp of The Trout Zone the following morning and fish together for the day.

After a quiet night at the campground, David and I met and discussed a plan for the day.  David had wanted to explore some water he had not fished yet and that was fine by me.  He drove us to the trail head and we had some great conversation getting to know each other.  One of the really fun things about this trip was meeting people who also share a love for fishing small streams.

We hiked along the trail passing a settler's cabin built around 1889.  After a what seemed like a quick hike, the trail headed along a ridge of Pine, White Oak and Rhododendron where we could hear the rush of water. We looked for a deer trail that we could drop down through the forest.  As we crossed the forest, David thought he spotted some wild boar sign and he explained how they were originally introduced into the Smokies.


An settlers cabin

David recommended that I bring my 8'6'" 4wt.  I usually fish a much shorter rod on small streams in New England and I was wondering if the longer rod was going to be cumbersome in the tight under growth.  When we we arrived at the stream, I could see why he recommended the longer stick. Onstream the forest was relatively open and the longer rod was an advantage in reaching all the water in the larger plunge pools without spooking the fish.  It was also clear that  wet wading was going to be the only effective way of navigating this tumbling mountain stream as the surrounding forest was thick with Rhododendron and nearly impassible.  I swapped my usual hiking boots for some Korker boxcars with felt soles that I had in my pack and I was back in business.  The stream was a stunning example of a high gradient Smoky Mountain stream with huge moss covered boulders full of plunges and large pools.  We had no trouble finding gorgeous brook trout from mid pool to the tail out but these fish were lighting quick to take and release the fly.  I had countless number of brief hookups and a fair number of fish brought to hand.  All the fish were caught on the same nondescript bead head green caddis pupa that had worked so well in the Shenandoahs.

A beautiful Smoky Mountain brook trout, photo courtesy of David Knapp
Notice the size of the old tree on the left, about 4ft in diameter

Fishing under the Rhododedron

Me fishing a nice little riffle; Photo courtesy of David Knapp

A typical Smokey Plunge/Pool; photo courtesy of David Knapp

David keeping a low profile

David with another Smokey "speck"

I could have fished that stream all day but David wanted to give me a taste of some larger water in the area so we hiked out of the ravine and back onto the trail and back to the car.  David drove to another location across a small gravel road that followed the twisting and curving contour of the mountains.  It was an amazing ride and I am only sorry that I didn't take any pictures of this mountain road.  Driving this road you need to be alert because one misstep would send you and your vehicle down the steep mountain in a hurry.  I can only imagine trying to traverse that road in bad weather!

Some larger water

A feisty wild rainbow
 The second river we fished had lots of inviting pocket water.  I fished an Ausable Bomber just for fun with the green caddis pupa trailed off the back.  I had one anxious rainbow attack the bomber but the rest of the rainbows were only interested in the caddis pupa.  David managed to fool a mix of wild browns and rainbows.

Photo courtesy of David Knapp

Photo courtesy of David Knapp 

We finished the day fishing some water close to the campground that held some very feisty wild rainbows as well.  After a long day, David and I said our goodbyes and I headed back to camp to make some dinner.

The water around camp

One strong little rainbow to end the day

After diner I introduced myself to another camper who had a TU sticker on the back of his car.  We had some great conversation around his campfire (thanks for the invitation, Matt!).  He also was in the park to fish.  I gave him a few "northern" flies and one of my small stream braided leaders since his were too long for the rod he was using.  The next morning we fished the water around camp for a couple hours before I had to say goodbye and head on to Memphis to meet the rest of the family for graduation.

The last rainbow of a wonderful trip

This was an amazing trip and was better than I could have imagined.  I don't know if I will have this opportunity again to camp and fish in southern Appalachia but I was very thankful for the opportunity to explore more of God's wonderfully diverse creation and meet some great people.  I am especially thankful for safe driving from CT to Memphis by myself.  I did see a fair number of wrecks along the way and an intense truck fire, I sure pray there were no serious injuries.

16 comments:

  1. love it Mark, what a beautiful area to explore. I need to head down that way at some point. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. LQN if you ever get the chance, Go for it!

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  2. Wow Mark - what an awesome trip you have had! Awesome photos and adventure. Very cool!
    Will

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    1. Will - it was an amazing trip and I now have a greater appreciation for the beauty of southern Appalachia

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  3. Beautiful fish, and scenery!!! Looks like you had a great road trip!!

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    1. Thanks Pete. It was a very memorable trip for sure

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  4. Wow! Nice stuff here. David is a very good fisherman.

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    1. RML - thanks, he sure is and fun to fish with as well!

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  5. Mark, it was great meeting you and sharing the water with you for a day. I hope you are able to come back and visit again sometime. Give me a holler and we'll get out and fish again!

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  6. David -It was great day together and if you are ever up our way I would enjoy showing you some New England streams!

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  7. Sounds like a trip of a lifetime, and it certainly produced some stunning brook trout! I will have to remember to bring one of those green caddis pupa if I ever make it down there because that thing was killing it!

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    1. RI brook - it pays to double your changes in deep plunge pool water, to fish a dry dropper rig and at caddis pups was the ticket!

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  8. Mark, Thanks for sharing your beautiful mountain adventure. It looks like the Smokies and the wild trout are an awesome combo at this time of year.

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    1. Walt - thanks. The next time you are down in Virginia, consider dropping down to the Smokies, I think you will enjoy them especially in spring or fall

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  9. Mark
    Sorry I missed this post, I have just read David's version and found your version just as interesting. Glad you guys got to meet up and fish together. What an experience!!! Enjoyed the post

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