THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2005
The group first came together at 0800 at the
Nantahala Outdoor Center. The event started
with a quick breakfast while introductions
were made. Those attending were: Ben Webb
(Alabama), Jordan Webb (Colorado), Gary Belcher
and Chris Shockey, (both from West Virginia),
and Chuck Walthall and Dave Cassens (both from
Florida). After breakfast, we headed to the
Delayed Harvest section of the Nantahala River.
The group divided up sections of the river and
started fishing. When we got back together at
noon, the total was 28 trout caught and released,
with Smokies Grand Slams (one each brookie, brown
and rainbow) going to Jordan, Gary, Chris and Dave.
The fish were caught on a number of different flies
ranging from #12 Stimulators to #12 Black Woolly
Buggers, with some #14 & #16 parachute Adams thrown
around for good measure.
We all headed back to the Outdoor Center for
lunch and good conversation. One of the best
aspects of the get-together was the opportunity
to meet and talk with such a great bunch of guys,
with the most varied backgrounds possible!
Everyone had a story to tell and they were
all interesting and believable.
Back to the Nan after lunch, and by this time
the sun was shining and the temperature had
climbed to the mid-eighties. Everyone was
looking for some shade to fish, which, given
the steepness of the Nantahala Gorge, was not
too difficult to find. Gary and Chris tried
the upper Nan in the wild trout section, but
there wasn't much happening there, so they
returned to the Delayed Harvest section after
Many more fish were caught, with Chuck
latching onto a couple using only dry flies,
and Ben connecting with a 16" brown that just
had to have his Bugger! Jordan showed up at
the truck for a beer (it was hot) and we noticed
a nice fish starting to rise only 30 feet from
us - too much for Jordan, who unlimbered his
Granger cane rod and just had to have it. When
I left 30 minutes later, he was still hard
After heading back to camp/motel to get cleaned
up we met again at Pasqualino's Restaurant for
the Chianti hatch. More good conversation
interspersed with good food and libation
capped off a great first day.
FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2005
We reconvened at 0700 for breakfast at Tooties
Restaurant and after wolfing down some eggs,
grits, and toast headed in caravan for the
Fontana Village Marina. We got there in time
to dress in waders and boots and gather our
rods and stuff before the first boat left
the dock, which it did with us aboard at 0830,
across Fontana Lake to Hazel Creek in the
Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Hazel Creek is one of the more famous streams in
the area, and everyone was looking forward
to fishing it. When the boat dropped us off,
keen-eyed Gary noticed some huge bluegills
swimming near shore and vowed to come back
early and drop a popper in front of them.
We went up the trail past the Horseshoe, and
after a little more than an hour of walking
to get past the low gradient area of the
stream were EVERYONE fishes, hit the water.
The stream at that point was about 25 feet across
and began to take on the character of a mountain
stream with plunge pools, fast riffles and big
rocks creating pockets for the fish to hold out.
We again spread out and although the fishing
was great, the catching left something to be
desired! Most of the fish were hitting short,
and most of us had more misses than hits. Dave
did a Jordan on one rising fish: eleven different
flies and three hours spent with no catch! A
lot of the slow fishing can be attributed to
the conditions, which were temps again in the
eighties and the sun out in full force. Most
everyone caught a few small browns, with a
rainbow or two also brought to hand.
Time was running short for the pickup at 3:30,
and we were told to NOT be late unless we wanted
to spend the night, so we headed back to the
landing in time to get the boat. Gary and Chris
took a short-cut across the bend at the Horseshoe
and encountered a sleeping timber rattler, but
nevertheless got to the landing early enough to
catch some of the biggest bluegills of their
The boat was on time and delivered us
back to the marina on schedule, but it was
still early in the day, so the group headed
home with intentions to meet in Cherokee to
try to catch the evening light cahill hatch
on the Straight Fork of the Oconoluftee River.
We meet about six and headed up the fork
to the back entrance to the GSMNP and
commenced fishing. A few were caught on
stimulators and Lt. Cahills, but the hatch
was late in coming, in fact did not start
until Gary and Chris had called it quits
after catching a few small fish. Dave got
a nice 13" wild rainbow on a #14 Lt. Cahill
parachute, and Jordan and Ben got a couple
of wild browns, but that was about the extent
of the catching.
Another great day!
SATURDAY, MAY 14, 2005
Dave and Chuck met Gary and Chris at the
campground at 0700 and the four headed over
Stecoah Gap to Robbinsville, thence up Snowbird
Road to the trailhead at Big Snowbird Creek.
The group headed up the trail at 0900 and
after only a couple of breaks, arrived six
miles, and two hours, later above Big Falls
on Big Snowbird Creek. We crossed the creek
and went up the trail toward Middle Falls
where we made our day's basecamp.
Chris and Gary took off toward Upper Falls while Chuck
and Dave stayed in the vicinity of Middle
Falls. The fishing for native brook trout
(specks) was great; Chris was able to use
his 2wt bamboo to add another native brook
trout to his list (he is attempting to catch
a native brookie in every state where the
brookie was the native before white men stated
stocking fish). In all, over 35 native brookies
where caught and released unharmed, most 6-8"
but a few 12-13", and except for a stray
thunderstorm getting everyone wet a time or
two, everyone caught fish and a good time was
had by all. The hike back down the mountain
started at 1715 and ended at 1900 in the parking
lot at the trailhead (Junction). (NOTE: Ben and
Jordan had some errands to run in Tennessee,
so didn't make the hike. When they returned
to the area they fished up the Bradley Fork
in the GSMNP above the Smokemont campground.
They reported a nice afternoon of fishing
but only a few small browns brought to hand).
After getting back downhill, it was decided
to meet at Gary and Chris' campsite to roast
hot dogs for supper. Ben and Jordan were
collected and we all met at the campsite
where there was already a nice fire going,
right alongside Panther Creek. We downed
some refreshments and cooked some dogs
covered with Gary's special sauce, ate
some spud salad and had a good time around
the campfire telling tales and pledging to
meet again, either next year at the Fish-In,
or maybe in Colorado, or maybe West Virginia,
or maybe even the Keys next April for bonefish!
Another great day!
SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2005
When we woke up on Sunday, it had been
raining for hours, and the forecast called
for an 80% chance of rain all day, so the
whole group decided to call the Fish-In
concluded for 2005 and everyone started
for home. ~ Dave Cassens