Being able to fish the streams inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one thing, but being able to fish them with a legend in the fishing community is another.
James Marsh was kind enouh to show me around the park and help me better understand how the fish act during certain periods of the year. Leave it to me to pick one of the busiest weekends to take a trip to the Smokies. Anyways, the water is lower then normal for almost all of the streams, which makes the fish very skittish. The best way to be successful in low water is to be a ninja and sneak up on them. Having been here before I knew you had to work upstream to trick these fish, but I was lucky the last time I made a trip to the Smokies. The water was high, and the fish were hungry and not as weary as they are during low water.
James explained to me the inverse cone and how fish see the surface of the water as well as their surroundings. He told me that if you want to catch fish you have to move slow and stay low, as well as wear colors that blend in with your environment. SO, this means no contrasting colors. Natural earth tones and greys are the way to go. I learned this quickly and ditched the white and blue hat I had worn the previous day.
Even with the fishing being tough, I have managed to do well. Everyone comes here in search of something different. Many people want to just catch wild trout and they don’t care how. For others like myself, I like the challenge of catching trout on a dry fly. Sure I could catch plenty of fish running a nymph down low, but how much fun would that be when you can get them to smack the crap out of a dry fly, even when there aren’t a ton of bugs coming off the water.
If you’re coming down here looking for huge fish, you’re coming to the wrong place. The average size brook trout is only 5″ and the rainbows and browns can get upwards of 12”, but most come in around 8-10″. Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t huge fish lurking in some of the deeper holes. James tells me there are some monster browns (16+ inches) in these waters, they are just very hard to come by and mostly come out during the evening and early morning. You can however get them when they’re getting ready to spawn and come out of their deep dark holes in search of a partner.
I have just two days left up here in the park, and no matter how long you have, I don’t think you could ever spend enough time in such a beautiful place. The scenery is on par with the fishing, and makes it that much more enjoyable. For the most part we hardly ever see another fisherman. If you’re willing to do some hiking, I am almost certain you wouldn’t see another fisherman, let alone another person all day if you stayed in the stream pounding away at the plunge pools and riffles.