Monday, May 15, 2017
A Beautiful Day in the Smokies
Sunday, I had a free pass and nothing but time on my hands, so after my second cup of coffee, I packed up the car and headed out for a much needed day afield. I hadn't been to the Smokies in a while and figured it was long overdue. I chose a stream on the south side of the Park that's an easy drive from Blue Ridge, and though crowded in the lower portions, would allow some privacy within just a short walk. Upon arrival, I quickly suited up and grabbed three rods stuffing them, some water and macadamia nuts into my trusty Vedavoo pack. Locking the car door, I said goodbye to a jam-packed parking lot. There is a really nice riffle right out of the parking lot that has varying depth on on side of the current tongue, and a harsh seam/circulatory pool on the other. To my surprise, I rarely see people fishing this run. I assume that they assume the water is no good due to the proximity of people, but I have caught some nice fish there. I also use it as a way to calibrate the day, and warm up the senses in preparation. After picking off four fish, and missing a dandy of a hit in the pool, I collapsed the big Oni (the Nissin Oni Honryu 450, just right for the largish stream) and took a walk. The rest of the day was sensational. Even though it was midday with bright sun and blue bird skies, I still managed thirteen fish by the end of the session. Rather than repeating the same thing over and over again, my fishing becomes ever more dynamic, changing techniques constantly, rather than flies. By the end of the day, my kebari was totally ragged. I knew my time was coming to an end, and began to suffer from the "one-more" syndrome, seeking the right fish that somehow quells the imaginative longing for the perfect ending. There was a long, deep current tongue on the far bank. At it's head, it dropped off of a shoal into a pool with broken water on the surface. A tree and large boulder formed the shore, and a deep dark pool with a hard seam edged up against the bank. I hooked a good fish in the broken-water pool, but he threw the hook in his mad-dash. I doggedly continued working both sides of the flow, employing as many presentations as I could conjure up. Finally, I made a pile cast into the top of the strong current seam, allowing the fly to perform a "mystery move" (old squirt boating jargon), quickly dropping into the lower levels of the water column and pulling the line tight. I repeated this presentation a third time, and midway down the pool the line paused ever so briefly. I set the hook and felt the weight of a good fish. By the angry, doleful head-shakes, I could only guess that it was a decent brownie. Seeing that this tactic wouldn't work to shake the hook, he unwillingly left the pool and took to the current. The fish put a nice, deep bend in the big Oni, but couldn't overcome the uncompromising backbone of the rod. And just like that it was all over, fish in the net, photographed and released. A wave of satisfaction washed over me, knowing there was nothing left to do but walk back to the car, drive into town, and grab a few frosty treats for the road.