Monday, April 19, 2010

Fishing Report - Smoky Mountains April 14-18

My son and I went to the Smoky Mountains to get a few days of fishing in over his school spring break.  The first part of the week, we were with our church youth group (a chalet full of teen agers and adults who were having as much fun as the teen agers).  The last half of the week (Thursday through Sunday) we went fishing.

Read the full report after the break:

Before getting into the fishing, a little about the park and what's going on.  Cade's Cove loop road is closed until April 24 and the Clingman's Dome road is closed until sometime this spring.  The Park Service is having the roads re-paved.  The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also closed until sometime later this spring.  This is putting some pressure on other areas that are normally less traveled (like the Elkmont trail, Greenbriar / Porters Creek Trail, and up the Middle Prong by Tremont).  Like all the other times I've been in this park and other National Parks, park the car, walk 300 feet off the road and you'll be alone.  One day, we fished Walker Camp Prong right alongside the road.  We fished that stream for about 3 hours and saw one couple cooling their feet in the water.  3 hours and saw 2 people and they were at the point we were getting out to head back to the car.

So, how was the fishing?  Wait, one other thing, watch out for photographers.  I almost nailed one on a blind curve between Townsend and Elkmont.  The woman was taking photos of some wild Columbine alongside the road and took a step backward (right into the road) for better focus.  Had I been going 5 mph faster, or came by 2 seconds sooner, her day of photography (and our day of fishing) would have been over.  Her day would have been having bones reset in a hospital, and mine would have been spent filling out accident reports.  Be careful out there, most of these tourists get so involved in whatever it is they are doing, they forget there are other people in the park.

My son also made an interesting observation (that only a 15 year old boy could).  Dad, why is it all the women with butts as wide as the tailgate on a Ford pickup truck think they have to wear really short shorts?

New Chota Abram's Creek Boots
While in Townsend, we stopped in to visit with Little River Outfitters to say hi to the gang and pick up some new wading boots for Dan.  Being the sly dog I am, I noticed right off that his feet and mine are about the same size.  His boots will fit my feet quite well next year when he out grows them.  So, instead of getting a cheap pair of boots to last until his feet outgrow them (about 2 months at the current growth rate), I bought a really nice pair of Chota Abram's Creek boots.  Wow, They are comfortable, seem to be well made and the price isn't too bad.  I can't wait for Dan to grow out of these boots.

OK, now for the fishing:
The fishing in the Smoky Mountains last week was hot.  The water levels are perfect, the water temp was perfect, the fish were eager to be caught.

I'll start with my son's grand slam (brown, rainbow, brook trout in 24 hour period) as well as both of our first brookies.

Brown - this was a really pretty fat and fat fish.  It was his largest fish in the park to date.

Next the Rainbows.  He caught a bunch of these but this is one of his nicer catches:
Now, for his first brook trout.  My guess is about 7-8" based on the width of my hand and the amount of overhang on either side.  I didn't want to keep this fish out of the water very long so I didn't measure it.  In fact, I measure few of my fish.  I judge the photos by known objects like the net or my hand or my rod in the images.
Here's the fisherman who caught these beauties.   For the record, yes, the little brat outfished me.  We ended up with the same number of fish at the end of the week (not counting the ones I caught when he wasn't with me) but his were bigger and heavier.  Have you ever driven 300 miles with a teen ager who is eager to remind you his catch poundage is greater?

Can you say "Hat Hair?"
OK, I'll be fair, here's a better shot of him walking up the trail alongside Thunderhead Prong:

This is the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River about a mile above Sugar lands.  If you haven't been there, this is a beautiful stream.  Lots of traffic and tourists but a very pretty stretch of water.
The next few are some of the various fish we caught.

We were using Adams dry flies (and some Quill Gordon, but the Adams were more productive) with a nymph dropper.  The droppers we used were Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear, Tellicos, and George's Nymphs.  It didn't seem to matter much what nymph was dropped off the dry fly as long as it was a size 12 or a size 14.  The fish were hitting anything in that size range.  For the dry fly, same thing, size 12 and size 14 and it didn't matter as long as it was dark gray (Adams) with some brown.

We did see a few March Browns coming off the water but there was not a big hatch going on.  We did see some nymph casings on the rocks and a few little black stone flies from time to time.

Dry fly action was slow but steady.  Most of our strikes and fish came from the droppers.

Nice little rainbow:

Another nice little rainbow:
My biggest rainbow to date in the park:
A really pretty color on this little guy:
My first Brookie:

My second Brookie:
Daniel eating his "Victory" breakfast after catching larger fish than the old man:

The "Second Place is First Looser" Breakfast:

The master "in his own mind" at work :-)

All-in-all, it was another perfect trip with my favorite fishing partner.  The fish were exceptionally stupid this year, they were as fat as I've ever seen them in the park and the wildflowers and weather were beautiful.

I'll leave you all with a few wildflower pictures too:

Dutchman's Breeches:

Trout Lilly (hey, as a fisherman I have to like this one):

Foam Flower
Star Chicory:
Yellow Violet:

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures and stories.


  1. Looks like you had about as good a trip as one could imagine. Thanks for sharing, buddy!

  2. Your story and pictures are great! The wildflowers are not as pretty here this week but the fishing is still good.

    Barbara from LRO message board

  3. Carl and Barbara, thanks. We had a great time. Daniel is by far my best fishing partner (even though he tends to out fish me).