If you like the mountains as we do then one of the best places to see some scenic beauty is in the Great Smokey Mountains. Cathey and I usually make at least one trip a year to the Smokies. On this trip we meet our daughters family there for a few days of relaxing. One day was spent at Dollywood with the grandchildren in Pigeon Forge. We seldom spend anytime in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg because both places have become so commercialize.
The main attraction for fly fishermen is the spring fed Little Pigeon River flowing through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I have to fish it before I retire my fly rod. My son-in-law fished the river some years ago when they were visiting Gatlinburg with his family and landed numerous rainbow. Most all the trout in the river are stocked rainbow and brook trout. Very few wild trout are landed near the towns.
B. T. and I wanted Bryson and Cash to see the mountains up close so we spent the better part of another day exploring. Their sister Laelyn went shopping with Mom and Meme.
We were above the clouds atop Clingman Dome the highest point in Tennessee. The ranger told us we were 6,775 ft. up. The hike up the steep trail nearly a mile was a workout. There were benches along the way for breaks. Many individuals made the hike up to the summit to stand on the big concrete circular platform for an awesome view.
A little rock climbing on the way up------how I wish I had this stump in my front yard.
The spruce trees were still draped with clouds as we made our way under the tree canopy. The ground was a soft sponge of decayed spruce foliage that had build up over time; very comfortable to walk on. I don't know the name of the mushrooms that dotted the forest floor. I do know they were not Portobello.
A lot of blow down in places simply because of the thick growth of the spruce trees. Cash soon realized he needed that jacket. Down below the temp was in the 70's a top the dome it was in the 40's.
The shirt says it all!!
Nothing like spending time with the grandchildren!!!
We finally get a break from the tremendous heat we have experiencing here in Alabama. Today's high was 87 which is quite a contrast from the 100's we have been experiencing. As I left the house this morning for the Sipsey a cool breeze was blowing with no humidity. One of my fishing buddies was going to met me at the pump station near access five. With fly rods already rigged we headed for access six. As we enter the gorge we were met with some really cool windy weather, which made me glad I was wearing my long sleeve shirt. To our surprise there was no fishing, so we had the place to ourselves, which is unusual. There was no surface activity at all so nymphs fishing deep was the choice to begin the morning.
This crystal clear tight seam produced the first trout of the morning. I was fishing one ofAlan's Soft Hackles drifting it through this seam when it was inhaled. I was standing above the seam and letting the hackle drift through the fast water. I really like to fish this pattern because there are very few ways to screw up the presentation. Just cast out and let it do the work.
I'm glad I was fishing my 4 wt. because I don't think I would have landed this trout fighting it through the fast water. Thanks to Charles for netting him and getting the pic. A big thank you to Alan for tying up some killer patterns that is working for me on the Sipsey.
The trout was released to fight another day. I lost two other trout that was this size simply because of hook set and fast water. The hackle proved to be the fly of the morning, after a really slow start. No trout for the first hour and half, then this beauty made my day!!!
Tiny Poppers has always been a part of my fishing arsenal. I use them more in late summer and fall as opposed to the Spring months fishing Smith Lake. Smith is tough to fish after July 4th. when the draw down begins and continues into late September and early October. The lake has dropped 10 ft. by late October and will remain low throughout the winter months. Fishing the familiar places such as the nooks I fish in the Spring is out because the fish have moved to deeper water along the rock walls. During this time of the year is when the size 12 tiny popper will get more hits than a larger popper I fish in the Spring. I compare fishing this size popper to fishing a dry fly on the Sipsey for trout. The hits can be far apart at times, but when it does occur it is usually a quality gill. Silk smooth surface water is ideal to fish the tiny popper and a delicate presentation helps produce the hit, which is light and not aggressive. The gills will suck the tiny popper in with very little surface movement. I like using my 2/3 wt. fly rods making short cast to deliver these little popper with a light presentation.
The tiny size 12 K & E Stopper Pan-fish popper which comes in a three pack is one of my favorites. White, black, chartreuse and yellow are the color choices. I use all four colors and no one color is my favorite. On some days one color produces better than another color. I guess it just goes to show how finicky these gills are this time of year.
My other favorite is this size 12 bluegill bug by Orvis. There are days when this popper will produce when the K and E poppers are getting less hits. I like to use the Orvis Bug popper when the fish are splashing at the K & E poppers, without getting hooked. The bug floats half under the water surface and the other half barely above surface film. The face of this popper is concave which when moved slightly will get the attention of a finicky gill or bass. All you will see most of the time when the popper is sitting still is a slight swirl subsurface meaning set the hook!!
Today's trip on Ryan Creek fishing Smith Lake rewarded me with a few spotted bass, some female/male gills and one beautiful sunfish or sun perch. All were caught using the K & E size 12 popper in chartreuse and white and the Orvis bug. A lot of fun using my 2/3 weight 7 1/2 ft. Redington.
This past Tuesday I spent a few hours fishing the Sipsey. I was fishing numerous flies trying different presentations in some of the familiar spots I frequent here. As I've said before the Sipsey gets tremendous fishing pressure being the only cold water tailrace in the state. So in order to land trout here one needs to be persistent, have patiences and willing to work for the trout you catch.
The results of persistence, patience and willing to work enabled me to land this 20 inch rainbow, the largest I've ever caught on the Sipsey. A tremendous work load for my 10 ft. 3 wt.
High sticking or Euro Nymphing made it possible to work these pocket holes standing down stream and letting my nymph do its magic! Overcast skies helped conceal my presence as I worked these areas. Sometimes one trout can make a trip and today it proved true for me!!
The target fly last Tuesday on the Sipsey was Alan's Soft Hackle. I fished three different flies for the morning. The one that scored was the size 12 hackle, slowly retrieving it across fast water pockets. The hits were aggressive!!
Tellico Hatchery out of North Carolina stocked the tailrace a couple of weeks ago. This trout had been caught before as evidence of the red lip; nice fight on the 3 wt.
The heat factor before I left the tailrace was reaching the high 90's. The cold tailrace water felt good splashed on my face to help with the heat and humidity. Summer in Alabama is not my favorite time of the year! A solid take tight lining the hackle got this trout's attention.
Jason and I spent the day this past Wednesday fishing the Little Riverin the Great Smoky Mountains. The beauty of this place at times out weights the fishing if you can imagine that. We met David Knapp of the Trout Zone at Little Rivers Outfitters at 9 AM. After rigging our fly rods and suiting up at the fly shop we were off on the adventure. I had fished with David before on the Caney so I knew we were in for an awesome trip.
I knew we were going to be fishing fast water which is the reason both of us had our wading staffs with us. We move higher in the mountains to avoid landing stock trout. The fast water is where the native trout are found in the warmer months of the year in the Smokies. I can't say enough about the beauty of this river, with all the lush greenery and the high canyon walls.
Jason using his IM10 ft. nymphing fly rod to reach a small narrow seam in one of many we would fish for the morning. David had suggested using longer fly rods to nymph areas in the river that couldn't be fished effectively using a shorter fly rod.
Beautiful rainbow landed in a narrow seam at the end of some fast pocket water where Jason was fishing. I'm glad Jason and I had some experience fishing fast water while fishing the Sipsey. Fishing for wild trout verses stocked trout takes you to another level.
The Rhododendrons were in full bloom all along the river banks.
We were on the move all the morning hitting all the fast water seams and pocket water we could find. David told us that the fast water is where the trout had access to the most oxygen this time of year.
The sun had hit this area so I decided to fish it on my knees. These trout are extremely spooky so concealment is a must under bright conditions. I have landed stock trout on the Sipsey close by but not here.
Beautiful wild rainbow landed using my 9 ft. Hardy Streamflex. This fly rod with its light weight at less than 3 oz. was perfect for the nymphing areas I was fishing. Jason and I will put this trip in our memory bank as one we both will remember. I'm go glad Jason has a job where he can come home at least 6 times a year to fish with me.