Thursday, March 22, 2012

Smoky Mountain Fishing Trip

           I just returned from several days fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with my co-worker F.J. Crane and his brother Sean. While it was my first time fishing in the park, F.J. was fairly experienced, having fished there several times. We focused on the high mountain streams. These streams have tons of small, 100% native, Brook trout. The streams are tight and full of rocks. For those of us not heading to Mongolia or the Amazon anytime soon, I believe the Smoky’s are tougher on gear than any other stream I have fished lately. Our waders, reels, and wading boots sure took a beating.

            We were able to catch the majority of our fish on large dry flies such as Stimulators, Royal Wulff’s, and Caddis. Any fly with large wings or a parachute was welcome in the swirling currents and fast chutes. We caught mostly Brookies but we also tried a small stream at lower elevation where we caught several small rainbows. The Rainbows had some of the most poignant color I have seen on trout in a long time.
 Despite this stream being only minutes from Gatlinburg, it was the absolute toughest stream we had ever had to navigate. We faced treacherous boulders, repeated large waterfalls, scary deep holes and steep stream banks thick with Rhododendron bushes. The plus side was that we were 110% alone. We got the feeling this stream was not visited often.
In water like this, quality wading boots are extremely important. We used a variety of boots on this trip. The common denominator was that we all had studs in our boots. F.J. and his brother wore the Chota “STL Plus”, I used Simms “Guide” boots with their “Alumibite” studs and we also spent some time in Patagonia’s new Aluminum Bar boots. We put a beginner wader in the Bar boots and he stayed upright and dry during his day of fishing. He said he felt safe and comfortable all day while wearing the new boots even though he had many reservations prior to using the boots. Personally, I think the use of aluminum in the form of studs or bars is a huge step in wading safety.

            While we had many priceless and memorable moments during the trip (including me taking an unplanned swim one day), F.J. and I would both agree that the highlight of the trip was Sean’s progress. He arrived as an amateur fly fisherman and by the last day was throwing mends, making perfect drifts and completely enjoying the experience.
            On our final day the three of us managed to catch nearly 30 fish total. We called it “a day” as a thunderstorm chased us off the water and down the mountain.

Luke Sedacca

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