Rain. Temps in the 30s and low 40s. Camping. Not normally a recipe for good camping, some friends and I decided to battle the elements as we were all free this past weekend. We wanted to do a long hike in preparation for a trip to the Grand Canyon in another couple of weeks. Amazingly, despite the bleak forecast, the weather actually turned out very well. Friday night featured just some very light drizzle that quit once we set up camp. Saturday turned out to be partly cloudy which meant we had some great views once we got to the higher elevations.
For the most part the camera stayed in its case. The light was a little weak, and I knew that the pictures I stored in my mind were much better than anything my camera could accomplish. Our hike took us up the Anthony Creek Trail out of Cades Cove to the Bote Mountain Trail. Ascending up to the AT, we then took a right turn and headed west for three miles. In the process we took in views from Spence Field and Russell Field. Our route back down was the Russell Field Trail which connected to the Anthony Creek trail. Several hours and close to 15 miles later, we were back in camp, all a little sore, but everyone agreed that the hike was well worth it.
Sunday I planned to do a little fishing. The morning dawned overcast and stayed that way up until we headed out of the Cove. I was excited because the low light conditions increased the odds that some large browns would be out feeding. Sadly, as we drove back down Laurel Creek Road towards Little River, the clouds thinned and soon broke completely. The day turned out beautiful but not so good for fishing. I still managed some small rainbows and even got a 14 inch brown to come attempt to eat. Unfortunately I set the hook too early and missed out on pictures of the nice fish.
Hopefully I will be out fishing again soon, most likely on the Caney Fork this next weekend. This is the time of year to be fishing streamers as much as possible on the tailwaters and I'll probably try to do that some...with a little luck, the big guys might come out and play...
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/21/2016
Current fishing conditions in the mountains have been tough although rain overnight has bumped up the levels on Park streams, especially on the Tennessee side. Be careful as lots of leaves are going to be coming down now with brisk northwest winds behind the cold front. That can make fishing challenging. If you do fish, I would suggest fishing dry/dropper with a #14 Orange Stimulator or Orange Elk Hair Caddis up top and a bead head Green Weenie, Isonychia Nymph, or Blue-winged Olive Nymph (#18-#20 bead head Pheasant Tail will suffice here) underneath. Focus on stealth and accurate casts.
If you are flexible in where you fish, I recommend heading for your favorite tailwater to trout fish. Most tailwaters are offering good flows for wade fishermen right now and the fish are hungry. The Hiwassee River has been recently stocked for the delayed harvest and the Caney Fork continues to fish very well on our guide trips. The Watauga, South Holston, and Clinch Rivers should be great as well.
If musky are on your mind like they are for me, then be patient and hope for more rain. The musky streams and rivers are very low right now and we need some water before safely navigating those streams in the larger boats that are preferred.
A NOTE ON SPAWNING TROUT
This is the time of year that brown and brook trout as well as some strains of rainbow trout spawn. On rivers like the Caney Fork, many anglers choose to target these spawning trout. This is unfortunate, especially this year. There are plenty of pre- and post-spawn trout to target if you want to catch big fish. With low water the norm, the Caney Fork actually has a chance at producing some natural recruitment this year barring any unforeseen high water. The same thing applies in the Smokies. Spawning brown and brook trout are extra vulnerable because of the low water and should be allowed to do their thing in peace. The future of these fisheries depends upon conscientious anglers doing the right thing. If you must fish to spawning trout, please use very heavy tippets and quickly land and release all fish caught. If you want to learn how to be successful this time of year without chasing active spawners, please consider booking a guided trip, and I would be glad to teach you how to hunt these large fish.