It had been many years since I have fished the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountain range and I was excited to get back. Plans were made to rent a cabin in a central location that would give us access to a variety of water. I started to research streams that were new to me and learn more about the water I have fished in past years. The exciting fact I was uncovering is that the time we selected to hit the mountains was during the big caddis and stonefly hatch. What angler wouldn’t want to be throwing dries the entire trip? I went through my fly boxes and decided that I had pretty much all the flies I needed, but they needed some organization.
I know every fly angler has probably changed what storage system they prefer over the course of their career and I am no exception. I am tired of putting dry flies in foam and have decided I am done with bent hackle. I have an old Wheatley aluminum box with individual compartments and the flies that are stored in these are in perfect shaped. The only problem I have found with this box is the size of the compartments. I brought my gear bag with about ten fly boxes. Luckily one of the boxes was my Meiho smallmouth box with adjustable compartments. I decided to put all of my smallmouth flies in a ziplock and start to organize my trout dry flies (yes, I will have to get another Meiho for my smallie flies when I get back to the shop).
With my gear in good shape it was time to hit the stream. On the rocks I could see some yellow stonefly adults, but not many.
I thought I would start with a Yellow Sally and worked the pocket water in the fast moving mountain water. I have always enjoyed working pocket water and while doing so remind myself that I am no longer twenty and take my time wading. I stay very low and crawl over rocks using one arm to brace myself. I figure that if my shirt sleeve is not soaked, I am not wading this water properly.
My Simms G3 felt boots worked great and gave me lots of ankle support.
I was having lots of fun, but not catching any fish. No looks. No strikes. No action. I switch to another dry and no luck. I knew that this was not going to happen and that it was time for a change of strategy. Out came my streamer box. First fly in the water was a bead head brown wooly bugger. Second cast…FISH ON!!
I told my fishing buddy what was working for me and he switched over to the same fly and it was game on. The rest of the day we caught all our fish on the same fly. No need to change the fly, it was working. I brought a stack of rods and reels, but stayed with the same rod, reel and fly the whole trip. I fished an old Sage XP 4-weight with a Lamson LP reel from ages ago. This reel has had the *@^%#* kicked out of it and it keeps chugging along. Like any trip to mountain streams, your gear takes abuse and this time was no exception. My reel got slammed into a rock so hard once I thought for sure something would happen, but the bar stock aluminum did its job and proved again why it is worth the extra cost.
Lots of fast stripping streamers through small pockets of calm in the midst of raging water. If there was any calm water on the far side of the stream next to some fast moving water, I was targeting the distant water with some difficult casts and drifts and usually getting rewarded for the effort. I rebuilt my leader to give me more control of the fly: 12 lb RIO Big Nasty to 3X.
We did get a chance to fish some water that had a little more casting room and it was pure luxury.
If you have questions about fishing the Smoky Mountains, stop in the shop and let’s chew the fat. – Mark