At this point, I can’t remember how many times we’ve driven south to the craggy Tennessee, North Carolina border. We’ve traveled down in the spring seeking early season camping and dry fly action before things get going in Pennsylvania. We’ve extended the season by going down in the fall to fish among spectacular autumnal mosaic mountains long after our leaves have fallen in the north.
Each time we make the trek, things are the same but different; consistently unpredictable. I guess that’s what keeps us going back? Our most recent trip was a totally new experience. After years of my dad and I, or my wife and I talking up the country’s most visited National Park, we recruited a whole troop of family to get together in Southern Appalachia. The goal of this trip, instead of the usual fishing excursion, was to celebrate my sister’s birthday. But let’s be serious: of course we went fishing.
The fish in Great Smoky Mountain National Park are all wild, but only brook trout are native. The trout don’t often reach too grand of stature, but I don’t remember catching too many that didn’t boast exceptional colors. The fishing here is tough. With the gin clear water, fish rarely even raise a fin at a dragging fly. Technical, physically grueling fishing with the rewards being stubby trout? Aren’t there easier options? Sure, but easy is boring.
This trip only allowed for a couple short outings but this fishing did not disappoint. It was slower than normal, thanks to a cold front that seems to be typical everywhere this spring (if you can call it spring). Also, typical was my dad’s propensity to save up all his fishing karma and use it to catch THE fish, every time.
Another thing you can count on, is us talking about when we can make the next trip back to the Smokies before we’ve even left and which streams we’d really like to get back to.