Specks, Bows and Browns- 3 Days in the Backcountry

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A certain Ronnie Milsap song could describe this trip pretty well but we fared much better than the weatherman had predicted. I along with several fellers who have never been to this valley loaded up my backcountry cart and left out early on Saturday morning. My wish was to make the five and a half mile walk in and get camp set before the bottom fell out. Well, we had camp set up and I was filling water bottles at a nearby spring when I heard the first rumbles of thunder and I felt fortunate. After a brief shower of rain I told the guys to grab their poles and we headed up a small tributary of the main creek. One of the fellers which I knew as he is the older brother of my longtime hunting and fishing buddy is a relatively experienced fly fisherman. He brought along a friend of his who is nice a feller as I've ever met but was very new to fly fishing and the Smokies Backcountry can be baptism by fire. He did bring along a very nice 4 wt Winston rod that was the envy of camp. We did pretty well that first afternoon landing all three species within a mile of camp and bringing many colorful Browns and Rainbows to hand. As often happens in these mountains, a late afternoon storm ran us out of the creek but as a bonus we saw a good buck cross the trail in front of us on the way back to camp. After getting a fire going with wood that I had strategically placed under my cart to keep dry and warming up my beef stew it was time to crawl up in my tent and get rested for the long day ahead.

The next day we rose early and ate a quick breakfast and headed up the main arm of the creek. One of the guys had a late night mishap and fell out of his hammock so he was catching some well deserved ribbing from us on the walk up. A half mile or so up I pointed to a particular hole and told one of the guys to go catch the first fish of the day. In short order he landed a fiesty 8" Rainbow and we continued upstream. We began leap frogging and at times fishing together as they had many questions about the most effective way to fish these mountain creeks. They were doing well and catching fish with relative regularity when myself and the feller I knew prior walked up a ways and started catchin' fish like Uncle Mark Cathey going up the the left fork of Deep Creek. Well, time got away from us and we realized that we haven't seen the other feller in quite a while so we began easing back downstream looking. I eventually came upon him sitting along the trail and thought it was odd that he was downstream of where we left him. As I got closer to his location, the envy of camp, the 4 wt Winston was noticeably absent. As calmly as a feller could after losing a $1000 fly rod explained that he had fallen off a big rock and dropped his rod in the current and after a long search had given up. Honestly if the ol' boy was distraught or shaken over losing a rod that cost more than all mine combined he could have fooled me. Even after many offers to share a rod and alternate holes he was most content just enjoying the remainder of his trip in God's Country. I'm truly blessed to get to make another trip here where my ancestors called home and whose bones lay in primitive cemeteries all along this watershed and to have made a few new friends in the process.

If you're ever in the headwaters of a stream in one of the most remote regions in the Eastern United States and find a Winston fly rod I can probably arrange a hefty reward 😉.

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NCHillbilly

Administrator
Staff member
Looks like a fine trip, brother. I wish I could have made it. We'll get there sooner or later. :cheers:
 

NCHillbilly

Administrator
Staff member
Lot of work for Striper bait. ::ke::bounce:

What a beautiful site. Good pics. Lots of fun, I'm sure.
If we have to explain it, you'll never understand it. Just don't look if you have to throw shade, dude. Go to the shark fishing thread. It gets old. I like catching stripers myself, but I wouldn't trade one 7" speck in its native habitat for every fake landlocked striper in the southeastern US. :)
 
A certain Ronnie Milsap song could describe this trip pretty well but we fared much better than the weatherman had predicted. I along with several fellers who have never been to this valley loaded up my backcountry cart and left out early on Saturday morning. My wish was to make the five and a half mile walk in and get camp set before the bottom fell out. Well, we had camp set up and I was filling water bottles at a nearby spring when I heard the first rumbles of thunder and I felt fortunate. After a brief shower of rain I told the guys to grab their poles and we headed up a small tributary of the main creek. One of the fellers which I knew as he is the older brother of my longtime hunting and fishing buddy is a relatively experienced fly fisherman. He brought along a friend of his who is nice a feller as I've ever met but was very new to fly fishing and the Smokies Backcountry can be baptism by fire. He did bring along a very nice 4 wt Winston rod that was the envy of camp. We did pretty well that first afternoon landing all three species within a mile of camp and bringing many colorful Browns and Rainbows to hand. As often happens in these mountains, a late afternoon storm ran us out of the creek but as a bonus we saw a good buck cross the trail in front of us on the way back to camp. After getting a fire going with wood that I had strategically placed under my cart to keep dry and warming up my beef stew it was time to crawl up in my tent and get rested for the long day ahead.

The next day we rose early and ate a quick breakfast and headed up the main arm of the creek. One of the guys had a late night mishap and fell out of his hammock so he was catching some well deserved ribbing from us on the walk up. A half mile or so up I pointed to a particular hole and told one of the guys to go catch the first fish of the day. In short order he landed a fiesty 8" Rainbow and we continued upstream. We began leap frogging and at times fishing together as they had many questions about the most effective way to fish these mountain creeks. They were doing well and catching fish with relative regularity when myself and the feller I knew prior walked up a ways and started catchin' fish like Uncle Mark Cathey going up the the left fork of Deep Creek. Well, time got away from us and we realized that we haven't seen the other feller in quite a while so we began easing back downstream looking. I eventually came upon him sitting along the trail and thought it was odd that he was downstream of where we left him. As I got closer to his location, the envy of camp, the 4 wt Winston was noticeably absent. As calmly as a feller could after losing a $1000 fly rod explained that he had fallen off a big rock and dropped his rod in the current and after a long search had given up. Honestly if the ol' boy was distraught or shaken over losing a rod that cost more than all mine combined he could have fooled me. Even after many offers to share a rod and alternate holes he was most content just enjoying the remainder of his trip in God's Country. I'm truly blessed to get to make another trip here where my ancestors called home and whose bones lay in primitive cemeteries all along this watershed and to have made a few new friends in the process.

If you're ever in the headwaters of a stream in one of the most remote regions in the Eastern United States and find a Winston fly rod I can probably arrange a hefty reward 😉.

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You write well.
Great story about your successful trip. Made me feel like I was a kid again with my first fly rod and casting wets and nymphs on the Oconaluftee River up in N.C.
It was pretty native country back then in 1952
I enjoyed your writing and vicariously identifying with your trip.
(y)
 
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