Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Life on Pause in Townsend Tennessee

Sometimes it’s just a good idea to put life on pause. I took the family to Townsend last weekend to spend some family time and, well, I “needed” to fish the Smokies, because I haven’t fished up there since January. We arrived in Townsend in the afternoon and I slipped off to Little River Outfitters to pick up a few things. I met David Knapp, who I have talked with via email several times. We had a good discussion concerning fishing in the Smoky Mountains National Park and fishing the tailwaters around Middle Tennessee.

I took a few minutes and talked with Byron as well. We talked about fishing and the business of fly fishing. Everyday I try to read Byron’s reports on the Little River Outfitters web-site. Byron has very good info on water flows and knows what is working in and around the Smokies, but I like to get his take on World events as well.

After an hour or so in the shop I headed back to the pool for a quick swim before retiring to the cabin to check in with Pat M. who really helped me get started fly fishing while I lived in Knoxville. Pat and I set the time to meet in the morning and the plan of attack for the next day of fishing. And, one more thing, Pat is an extremely early riser.

I rolled out of bed at 3:30 a.m. CST. Yep, I am old enough now to get out of bed at the same time I used to go too bed. Things change…..anyway, I made the traditional PBJ sandwich for lunch, but promptly decided it would be a better breakfast, so, I ate it for breakfast and made another one for lunch.

A Smoky Mountain Stream

I met Pat at the usual rendezvous point and we went in search of a cup of coffee. On the road with coffee in hand and rain drops on the windshield we headed over to the Little Pigeon.. Pat is, well an exciting driver, but the ride is always more exciting when we are in a hurry to be the first ones on the river and I am holding a steaming hot cup of coffee. We made it without too many burns.

The Saturday Forcast

We decided to wet wade and little did we know how much the word ‘wet’ would really play into the days events. I was first in the water an on the second cast was rewarded with a healthy Smoky Mountain wild rainbow. Then the clouds opened up and the rains came. Not just the regular rain like we had seen that morning, but a rain storm. We headed to the truck and decided drive another couple thousand feet up the mountain to try and escape the rising water, which now had the consistency of a Chocolate Yoo-Hoo.

We made it up to one my favorite streams before the rain made it up to the stream. I convinced Pat we needed to fish and floated the idea that we may have driven out of the rain, which could be on the other side of the watershed and “may not” effect this stream. Pat wanted to fish as bad as I did, so we hiked a few hundred feet up the mountain and got into the stream.

We had shots at a few fish before the rain caught up with us again. This time we were on a much smaller stream and as we entered a narrow canyon the rain picked up. The water began to get that familiar deep brown color and the bottom disappeared. Then the water started rising and we made the decision to climb out before we were caught in the canyon. Out, was straight up the side of the mountain to the trail that we left a few hundred feet earlier when we entered the stream. Rhododendron is a plant common to the higher elevations of the Smokys. Also, Rhododendron can be “cumbersome” when trying to hike up the side of a mountain, hundreds of feet from the nearest trail. We did make it to the trail and back to the truck with only a few minor bumps and bruises.


We drove back down and across the side of the mountain to Elkmont to see firsthand what that water there looked like. When we got to Elkmont the river was more of the same brown and high mixture. So, we did some exploring of Elkmont. We found that after the logging companies began to leave the Smokies, the trains that once hauled the trees out to the saw mills began to shuttle vacationers to Elkmont. Those visitors stayed in the various cottages as well as the Wonderland Hotel. The Wonderland was built in the early 1900’s and stayed in operation for approximately 80 years. The Wonderland has been torn down, but the remains of some of the cabins are still standing today. It was nice to see some of the cabins are being restored to keep that piece of Americana alive in the Smokies.

We left Elkmont and rode the rest of the way down the mountain to Tremont. The water in the Middle Prong was slightly high and slightly stained. We fished the Middle Prong for a while before the river began the staining process as the clouds dumped water into the watershed. When we couldn’t see the bottom any longer and called it a day. We went back to the cabin, where we did the cooking chores for our families. We had a quiet afternoon and caught up with old friends. Then after everyone said goodbye we headed to the pool for a quick swim before retiring to the cabin to get ready for the next day in the Smokies.

1 comment:

  1. That is a great picture of the Wonderland Hotel. What type of camera do you shoot with? By the way, it was great to meet you. Thanks for stopping by LRO and introducing yourself...