Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Overnight Backcountry Trip

I have been wanting to do a backcountry trip for a year or, so sometime back around January a buddy and I exchanged emails about doing a backcountry trip. Well, work and weather got in the way, and that trip seemed to fizzle away. Thankfully, things seemed to start looking better and we made plans for this weekend. As the date drew closer, the trip shrunk from a two night trip to just Friday night. However, we wanted to make the most of the day, so we planned to set out from the trailhead around 10AM. This would allow us to fish all afternoon and evening. Surprisingly, the online booking tool showed that Thursday was completely booked up, but Friday only had five occupants including us. So, it was with some anxiety that we began the day on Friday not knowing whether the camp had been inhabited by a party crowd that would leave it trashed, a group of boyscouts, or worse fly fishermen...

A quick stop at Little River Outfitters to get some last minute supplies and Daniel told me about a group that had just stopped in and had some success fishing the day before. Although, I also talked with others who had poor luck and I didn't know what to expect. Additionally, the weather forecast had changed significantly, and the chance of storms had increased.

When we arrived at the trailhead, we saw a large group of guys leaving. We stopped to chat for a while and learned that they were the group from the camp and only one of them in the group had fished the day before with some success. Things were starting to look up.

The mandatory hike in photo:

Hanging out around camp, planning our fishing day.

It wasn't long before we got into the water. I can honestly say there was more fishable water in this area than I have ever seen before. Buzz working the first run as soon as we stepped into the water.

While I was putting my camera away I hear, "this is what we are here for". He had already hooked up and landed a rainbow, not 30 seconds into our fishing day. This got me excited. So I moved on up to the next little stretch, and hooked into this guy on my second cast.

I pulled this little guy from this tiny little side run that probably 90% of the fishermen would pass right over to reach the bigger water.

Five minutes later, I had this guy to hand.

Buzz and I continued to play leap frog up the river hitting every other hole and landing many fish in the process. Almost exactly one hour after landing my rainbow I completed my slam with this guy.

Amazingly, it took one hour and ten minutes to achieve my slam and all within a couple hundred yards of each other. It wasn't long afterward that we began to hear the rumble of thunder, and so we hoofed it back to camp just in case. Thankfully it passed north of us and we ate some dinner and got back on the water. About 7:00 the yellow sallies started coming off heavily, and there was a very large light cahill spinner fall. We fished until we couldn't see where we were walking and called it a day.

Around 1AM it began to rain, and continued to do so until we reached our vehicles at 11AM. As I was driving back to Knoxville, the sun popped out briefly only to quickly be overcome by rain clouds for the rest of the afternoon. All my gear is currently setup in the garage trying to dry out, but it was all worth it.

Buzz caught a lot more fish than I did, and completed a slam himself shortly after I did. Unfortunately, it was quite evident that my lack of fishing last year really hurt my presentation efficiency. However, I would consider this a tremendously successful outing regardless of how poor my presentation was. This was also my first real overnight backcountry trip, and I think I am hooked. Can't wait to do it again!  I got to try out some new camping gear, that I hope to do a video review on and post in the near future.


Bill Trussell said...

What a great report on a place my wife and I have visited numerous times, but never fished. I love the Smokey Mt. What length and wt. fly rods were you guys using? Were most all the trout taken on a dry or nymph? Was you using an indicator or just dead drifting? My son and I are thinking of making a trip later this year. Thanks again for sharing a great outing

Travis said...

Thanks! I was using a 7'-3" 2-wt, and fished dries exclusively. I was high sticking the dries, and probably never had more than 15' of line out my rod tip. Usually just dead drifting, but a couple times I would put a little action into the dry to entice a trout to strike. Key is to practice stealth and stay low at all times. Long casts won't work in the Smokies as the water is small and there are too many micro currents. We talked with quite a few people from out of town who were not familiar with Smokies fishing, and most had been frustrated. If you have never fished the park I would highly recommend hiring a guide for your first day, it will pay off greatly. Good luck, and hope you can make it this way.

Travis said...

I am actually in the process of uploading a video I took of my fishing buddy on this trip demonstrating typical Smokies technique. Give it a watch and see what you think.

Adam Wilson said...

Thanks for sharing!
Glad to see you all were able to get out and enjoy the park and get into some good fishing.

By the way - I'm one of those 90% who would have passed that little side pool. Guess that's why I'm such a park fishing newbie.

Well done!


Dwayne said...

Very nice...I don't think I've had a slam in the Smokies...maybe once.

19" Clinch River Brown