Showing posts with label Great Smoky Mountains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great Smoky Mountains. Show all posts

October 8, 2022

Closing Out Summer in the Smokies

It was going to be a rain-soaked Labor Day weekend in the Smokies, but the fish are wet anyway, right? So I made the long trek up to Cherokee, North Carolina for the annual getaway, but decided to stay in a motel rather than camp this time.


The first day of fishing was pretty soggy in the morning. I headed up to a small headwaters tributary where I encountered just enough fish to make the raindrops a secondary concern. I was fortunate enough to get into browns, rainbows, and one brook trout. Unfortunately the brook trout was a bit camera shy and didn't have the patience for me to get my phone out for a picture.

I also took this opportunity to fish two new-to-me tenkara rods, the river peak Pop Star and the river peak KIWAMI 33. Both rods had their pros and cons and created unique fishing experiences in their own way.

Following the afternoon on stream, and after a quick stop back at the motel for a shower and some dry clothes, I headed off to the rodeo for some evening entertainment. This was the second year in a row I went to the Labor Day weekend rodeo in Cherokee and it was very entertaining.


Despite another wet start, day two actually ended up being a pretty nice day with the clouds giving way for most of the late morning and early afternoon. Knowing this forecast, I started my outing a little bit late as well, and decided to fish a very well known waterway inside the Park.

A fair amount of fish were caught, although nothing of impressive size. Nonetheless, I had a great time wandering around the stream, hopping over rocks, and navigating downed trees. With the previous day's rod testing over, my trusty Nissin Royal Stage 320 was put into action on these trout. Man, I love that rod.

Before leaving, I stopped by Mingus Mill, a park landmark I had never visited. It was a cool, old water driven grist mill. Really interesting to see how it worked on the inside.

I was also fortunate that the resident elk were out in one of the nearby fields, with a bull keeping tabs on his harem.

As the clouds cover got heavier and it was apparent the rain was on its way, I said goodbye to the elk and headed back to town. Hungry, I decided to grab a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant across the street from my motel. If possible, I always like to have a nice sit-down meal on the last night of these getaways, and this was no exception. The food was definitely tasty.

Belly full, it was time to call it a night before the long drive home the next morning. 

While I don't like being away from my family and friends, I do really enjoy these end of summer "solo" trips to the Smokies. Despite the fog and rain, this one was a clear success on many fronts, and it's soothing to know that I have a little escape to look forward to each year. Cherokee, see you again in '23!

May 28, 2022

Deep Creekin' with Spurky

It's been a few years since I've seen my old Pennsylvania fishing buddy Spurky. We had been loosely planning a reunion for a little while, and we were finally able to coordinate schedules and meet up a few weekends ago at Deep Creek Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I had spend a few days at Deep Creek a few weeks before, as it hosted TenkaraCamp, a get together of tenkara anglers for a long weekend of fishing, clinics, and good times. It was helpful to set the stage for the trip with Spurky, as I was able to get the lay of the land (& streams), scout a good campsite, and feel positive that we'd have a good time.

It was really good to see Spurky again. (And not just because he was wearing a T! Party t-shirt). We were both a bit older and grayer, but the man still has a passion for fishing, so I was happy to play somewhat of host and guide and find some waters that fit his style of spinner and spoon fishing.


Not arriving at camp until after 4PM, it didn't leave a ton of time for fishing. So after pitching my tent, Spurky & I headed down the trail to go fish a few spots that I recalled looked promising. We didn't hike in too far, but we each found some pretty water and some really nice fish, including a solid brown I pulled from a riffle with the Tenkara USA Sato.


Friday was supposed to bring a little weather, but we lucked out and it was relatively sunny and gorgeous the whole day. We hopped in the car and drove over to Cherokee to fish on this morning. I wanted to take Spurky to a stream that I enjoy visiting, as it has a good mix of broken up pocket water for me to fish with my tenkara rod, while also being easily accessible off the trail and several deep, slow pools for him.

We spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon exploring the waterway, with us both having some luck with the resident rainbows. I found myself having a great time as they were eager to hit up top, so switching over futsu kebari as well as more familiar dry fly patterns seemed to do the trick.

Toward the end of the day we returned to Deep Creek and fished a bit more locally. Feeling the itch, I shelved the Oni Type III tenkara rod I was using earlier in the day and switched to my Orvis Superfine 3-weight fly rod just to get a few casts in. I caught a few small rainbows while Spurky ended up catching a really nice brown beside one of the bridges with spinners.

Before we turned in for the night, I did a little waterfall chasing (there are 3 somewhat close to the trailhead in camp), and I wanted to check each of them out.


Saturday, our last day to fish, was perhaps a bit bittersweet. Spurky was feeling quite a bit under the weather and not totally up for much of anything, much less fishing. So after checking in on him, he told me to go out alone. I visited another favorite stream not that far away and found the fishing to be good. Unfortunately, the weather turned around lunchtime, chasing me off the water.

Returning to camp and finding not only much nicer weather, but Spurky in better spirits, I followed him down to Deep Creek and just watched him for a little bit and snapped some photos. A bit of decompression for myself after a busy past few days.


Sunday was departure day, and the end of our weekend of fishing. We both had long drives ahead of us, so the camps were packed up and vehicles headed in separate directions before you knew it. It was certainly nice to see Spurky again. I hope despite that last day hiccup, he'll look back on the trip fondly. I mean what else can you ask for? We found good fishing, stellar conversation, and beautiful scenery. The Great Smoky Mountains certainly do not disappoint!


I also wrote a bit more about our trip from a slightly different perspective over at Tenkara Angler. That article was far less about the fishing, and more about just slowing one's pace to take in all that a fishing trip has to offer. 

Read "Taking it Slow" at Tenkara Angler

November 4, 2021

An Overdue Labor Day Weekend Post

Labor Day weekend was almost two months ago... so consider this an extremely delayed fishing report. Oh, with a little cowboy hi-jinks mixed in for good measure.

The past two years I've headed to the North Carolina Smokies for Labor Day weekend. Last year was to escape COVID, this year was just to regain some sanity through solitude. The Smokies are convenient, a nice little reset to end the summer, and oddly, most people also visiting the area seem to do everything EXCEPT fish inside the Park. Oh well, more water for me.

The campgrounds however were packed, and because of that I chose to stay in a little motel in Bryson City. Checking in Friday evening, it was my first time visiting and found it a nice little mountain town. Definitely touristy, but in a good way.

Saturday was quite busy, with fishing during the day, and a rodeo at night. Huh? Yeah, that wasn't a typo. Driving about a half hour from my room over to Cherokee, NC, I returned to a familiar stream within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While thoroughly enjoying the cool of the mountain air, I did encounter some mixed results. 

This was an hybrid outing, using a tenkara rod in the morning, and a fly rod and reel in the afternoon. Fish were caught during both sessions, although the catching was a little harder than usual since the water was up and flowing faster than ideal due to some recent rains.

Size 14-18 beadhead nymphs seemed to work best on both rods, and it was nice to see some wild rainbows up close once more. It was only the second time I had used my Orvis Superfine Carbon 3-weight; I'm finding that rod is a joy in hand. 

After bouncing back to the hotel for a quick shower, the Seven Clans Rodeo in Cherokee was next on the agenda. I had never been to a rodeo before, so when I happened to see the advertisements along the road that runs between Bryson City & Cherokee, I knew my evening plans were set.

I'm not going to lie, it was pretty damn fun and a cheap 3ish hours of entertainment. I'd definitely go to a rodeo again any day. Roping, barrel racing, bull riding... what's not to like? Well, maybe not the rodeo clown, but that's part of his shtick.

Sunday meant going back to the Park, but I'll admit to a little miscalculation. I thought I'd try a particular "new-to-me" stream across the state line in Tennessee I had read about, but when I got there, it was crazy busy. I guess I found all those anglers that weren't in North Carolina... they're in Tennessee! 

I tried fishing for a little bit, but after encountering angler after angler as I proceeded upstream, I finally gave up. This wasn't the solitude I was seeking, although I will admit that the scenery was quite nice.

So, back to North Carolina & uncrowded water (and elk).

After parking in a roadside pull-off and following a short hike in, I found myself back on a favorite stream and decided to make it a tenkara afternoon. This happens to be one of the more vertical streams I fish and it requires a bunch of boulder hopping and even a little bit of shower climbing. The technical water makes it ideal for a fixed line tenkara rod. 

Thankfully, the rainbows (and a random bonus brown) were quite interested in my Road Kone kebari, making the extra effort to reach them more than worth it.

Sunday evening was rather uneventful, no rodeo, rather some surprisingly good Mexican food and a stop at a supermarket to pick up some Cheerwine for the road. We used to have it in the Publix (supermarket) in Florida, but it strangely never returned post-COVID.

Speaking of the road, Monday morning led to the long drive home. This effectively ended the holiday weekend in the Smokies for me. A trip that was memorable for both the comfort of familiar waters and excitement of new experiences. Can't wait until next Labor Day weekend.