Saturday, June 8, 2013

In the Smokies, Day One

Even before I returned from the Smokies, perhaps before I left, work intruded on leisure. For the past three weeks I have been consumed by that which earns a salary and not by that which restores the soul. I'm feeling thin. This weekend will be a slow weekend with family. It should be just the thing.

Rewind three weeks...

Like most fishing adventures, it seems like I spend more time planning and preparing than I do adventuring. Last summer I tied dozens of flies for a trip to Yellowstone. In the past thirty days I tied a couple dozen flies special for this trip as well as countless others to fill gaps where flies should have been. This for two days of fishing in the Smokies. Sometimes I get carried away.

A box full of hope.
The first leg of the trip took me to Charlotte overnight. The next morning Mike was driving west from Raleigh and I joined him en route to Townsend. We spent the morning driving west on 40 which, while not the most scenic route through the Smokies, seemed the most direct. We shoulda gone the other way.

I was hoping for the sign proclaiming the
Mind Reading Pig but it changed too fast.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee is something to be seen though not visited. Mike referred to is as the "Hillbilly Vegas". It is quite the spectacle. Between the Talking Dog Show, the Hatfield and McCoy venue, the Titanic (yes, the ship, in Tennessee), the Mind Reading Pig, and countless other entertainment options, one could make a lifetime of night's out in the Forge. Fortunately, we had plans for elsewhere.

The descent into Townsend brought us back to where we were supposed to be. It's a town whose purpose is solely as access to the playground of the Smokies. There are a plethora of establishments from which to rent tubes for floating the Little River, modest lodgings in great abundance and one of the finest fly shops I've ever visited, Little River Outfitters.

Our mid-afternoon arrival could easily have swerved into a few beers and a siesta but the mountains to the east tempted us and after a visit to the fly shop for supplies and some local intel we were heading into the park to fish the Middle Fork of the Little River.

While not a promising catch, one has to start somewhere.....
The Middle Fork is the perfect sized river to wade fish. It's an easy cast to the far bank and it has all the structure you'd ever want from pockets to pools. And it has trout; browns and, mostly, rainbows of the 5'-7" variety. It was a joy to be wading wet again and the new Simms boots kept me sure footed.

A fishless pool up on the Middle Fork. I took a good fall on the ledge upstream.
Slippery as shit. Those Simms boot failed me (I exaggerate); still have a tender spot on my forearm.

The evening ended with barbecue and conference calls (work seems to find me no matter where I roam) and with the promise of some new rivers in the morning.

This was my second time to the Smokies. I am enamored with the place. While culturally it is foreign to the place where I was raised, is is very easy to approach. The water is cool, the people are warm and the folds of the lands allow you to nestle in and get comfortable.


  1. Looks like the perfect spot to restore your soul.


    1. It is. After the trip to get there that stream was magic.

  2. That pool wasn't fishless. It was fishermanless. The picture proves it.

    Had a great time, though.

    1. It was. We've gotta get your trout game more practice.

  3. I've got a secret infatuation with that area. I would love to fish that country and drink some PBR. We're not allowed to drink that in Colorado...Coors and all.

  4. Z, If you ever get a chance check out Little Snowbird Creek in NC. One amazing river. Has everything from brookies to big browns & rainbows and also a winter run of "Smoky Mountain Steelhead" coming out Lake Santeetlah. I've ordered stuff from Little River Outfitters, great shop. They also have an online forum on their website, great way to learn about the area. A trout fisherman's paradise down there. A.T.

    1. Check that, it it should read Big Snowbird not Little Snowbird. Two different streams.