June 6th, 2005

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Smokies Fish-In

May 12 - 15, 2005
By Dave Cassens (flyin the salt)

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 a while.

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 it!

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 lives!

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

Archive of Readers Casts

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice