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!