Fly Fishing The Smokies With Owl Jones - Bradley Fork
Being a negligent blogger has its perks. The main one is a little extra free time on your hands, which I took advantage of by hopping on a plane and heading South...to go chase trout with Owl Jones & his friend Milliam.
However with those perks, waking up at 3:30 AM to make sure you catch an early flight sucks...fortunately, the flight was pretty uneventful and I found myself in Atlanta pretty quickly.
Plane on the ground, and bag claimed from the carousel, I was picked up at the airport by Milliam...a mystery man I didn't know much about other than random references here and there in some Owl Jones' posts. We met Owl at a carpool lot on the way to the Smokies, where we'd eventually make camp at Smokemont, what was once upon a time was a logging operation, and evidently now haunted...
|Smoke 'em if you've got em|
After a bit of a drive (cruising past Goats On The Roof and a quick stop at Chick-fil-A) we finally arrived at camp. Thanks to the extremely lax out-of-season camping policies & Milliam's mad MacGyver skills, we got set up in no time...I mean the dude was tying all kinds of crazy knots in rope to tie on more rope to hang tarps on it...a quite impressive feat for a camping invalid such as myself to witness. I unrolled a mean sleeping bag though, so I did my part.
|Where do I plug in the TV?|
By the time we were settled in it was a little after 5 PM, luckily, the Bradley Fork was no further than a stone's throw from the campground.
On the water, the scenery was beautiful (oh yeah baby), but the fishing was less than spectacular. At least it just wasn't me and my lack of fishing skills preventing fish from being caught. I think we fished for almost 4 hours and between the three of us managed one fish (Owl). I was fortunate to feel a few swipes at my nymph, but no hook ups, so not even a fight on the end of the line. I didn't mind much though, it was a lot of fun being on some new water simply taking in the surroundings.
|Yours truly not dapping|
While Owl & Milliam used standard fly fishing gear, I used my 11' Iwana tenkara rod. With this, I feel I must come clean and be honest, I wish that damn tenkara rod was about 2 or 3 feet shorter as I found myself caught up in the low hanging canopy and streamside shrubs quite a bit, even while casting sidearm to avoid them and all that good stuff.
I dig tenkara and everything, but that may not have been the proper tool for the first day's fishing. Maybe it would have been better on day two when I was a little more accustomed to my surroundings. I'm no Ian Rutter. (The comment section is below to bash this statement of possible tenkara shortcoming all you fellow tenkaraists; so have at it...)
Now dark, we headed back to the camp. On the way back Milliam held off 3 separate bear attacks with nothing more than a plastic spork as Owl and I cowered in the bushes. Okay...so maybe that didn't happen...it was really only actually one ambush by a disoriented, and rabid Liger.
|An actual liger|
Back at camp we sat down to a feast of deer meat, Texas toast, mashed potatoes, potato chips, Mountain Dew, and of course, chocolate covered donuts. (Note to self: don't put Owl in charge of bringing paper plates). Bellies full we settled down by the fire, talked & joked until about 1:30 AM (Owl doing most of the talking), and enjoying the wonderfully creepy church music coming from the 40 person-strong
cult religious group congregating at the campsite across the way. Diagram below.
After being awake for 22 straight hours, it was time for some sleep. With a lot of time spent travelling by both by air and truck, the fishing opportunity was relatively short on this day. Tomorrow would bring another early start and more fishing...and possibly even some fish...well, ummm...