I was invited to a weekend at Norris Lake this past weekend. Norris was a lot of fun but I also took the opportunity to visit some other folks that I don’t get to see too often and see some new scenery along the way. Overall, I think I probably put about another 800 miles on my truck.
First stop was Billy Gerwins’ farm to deliver a pair of Danner Bull Run Boots he ordered from the store. I got to take a quick run around the farm while Billy was exercising dogs. He has recently planted his dove fields and despite the weather they look great. There were birds all over the fresh planted land. Everywhere I went I spooked sets of 5-10 birds as they fed.
After a bit of time at Norris lake I headed further south to visit my grouse hunting friend, Will. Will and his family graciously welcomed me into their charming lake house on Tellico lake outside Maryville, TN. We spent the next two days fishing from his boat in some of the large reservoirs created by the TVA between the 1930’s-1970’s. Both days we fished near the dams so there was plenty of current which made the experience a bit more like river fishing.
The lake we fished the first day was filled with Rainbow and Brown trout. Despite our best efforts we only came away with a handful of fish. This lake was super pretty though. Huge, steep mountains plunged into the lake. Huge slabs of rock littered the bottom and further downstream gigantic logs lay submerged 10-30 feet underwater. It all really makes you think about what it must have looked like pre-TVA. A trout stream empties into the lake and the road to get to this lake is an experience in itself. It is known as “Tail of the Dragon” due to the 318 curves within 11 miles of road as it crosses over the top of a mountain. It is a destination road for motorcyclists and sports car drivers from all over the country. We were just rolling through in a GMC 2500 pulling a fiberglass fishing boat Will bought for $750.00.
We fished until almost dark and tried everything. I insisted on trying to fish with a fly rod. I had many fish chasing streamers and even got a few nips but did not hook up until I put together a deep nymphing rig. If I had been a bit more committed or with other fly fishermen this might have been the way to go. But my companions caught fish trolling crank baits. We were pleased to see the sun roll out of the clouds but it must have shut the fish down because the action stopped shortly after that. We tried spinners, flies, worms, and Powerbait but no luck came. It still was a great experience with good people.
The second day we slept in a bit and had a wonderful breakfast of grilled Rainbow trout, scrambled eggs, toast, and Goetta I brought down from Cincy. A few hours later we were back on the water on a different lake that was more of a warm water fishery. We began trolling crank baits as we worked our way towards the area we wanted to concentrate on. We had some light showers but we were all dressed for the occasion.
About 10 minutes into trolling I felt a good thump on the spinning rod I was holding. We laughed about this rod all weekend because one of Will’s friends picked it up at a pawn shop and despite the $9.99 price tag that remained on the casting eye, Ricky had negotiated the price of the rod and reel down to $5.00. The majority of the fish we caught were caught on that rod. As I began to reel, I wasn’t really sure what I had, it sure wasn’t a Smallmouth or a Striper as it felt a bit like I was reeling a wet beach towel. I figured it must be either a Largemouth or a Walleye. Luckily, it was a 22 inch Walleye. I guess they don’t get many that size as Will was pretty excited. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. We caught a few bass trolling and I finally pulled one off the bank with a fly. The structure and water looked perfect for Smallmouth but we just couldn’t buy fish.
All in all, it was a wonderful weekend with lots of good people, good food, and new experiences. Last night I invited Ted and his wife, Quinn over for a fresh fish dinner with the trout and Walleye from the trip. We stuffed the trout with a mixture of spices and cream cheese. We grilled all the fish and they came out perfect. It was one of the better fish dinners I’ve had in a while.