I’ve been on the hosting side of a lot of broken trips, but rarely on the visiting side. My family and I are on vacation on the south end of the Smoky Mountains, one of my favorite places on earth. The rivers are normally clear. The nymph fishing is usually awesome. Normally, usually. This week has been 99% a wash-out. The Tuck is Mississippi River brown. The Nantahala is teaming with very happy whitewhater kayakers. I’ve fished the above rivers in the last few days, plus the Davidson, Deep Creek, Noland Creek, and I’ve not seen another fly fisher…because there really isn’t any fishing. I’ve worked hard for the trout I’ve caught. Everything is soaked. My shins are bruised from unseen boulders. And I’m wondering if a person can suffer hearing loss from standing in all these roaring rapids. But rain in the spring seems a good substitute for snow, at least in a novel sort of way. I’ve heard spring peepers, and I watched a small trout eat BWOs so innocently I didn’t run back to the truck for the dry fly box.
But it’s not, and rarely is, a broken trip. I chased some clear — if raging — water yesterday and had some nice pocket water fishing. The problem isn’t that the trout aren’t feeding, it’s just that the rivers are so high the plunge pools are simply a glaze of white water and I cannot, not with every split shot in my box, get to the bottom of them. The soft water, then, is spinning upstream in whirlpools almost as fast as the rest of the water is headed downstream. What I figured out yesterday: it was better to simply walk past hundreds of yards of water looking for that single twenty foot fishable pocket than to try to solve each riddle.
Aaron in ewok mode
Back on the homefront, the fishing has been considerably better I’m told. Max and his dad did what they do best, which is attack the winter river with enthusiasm and streamers. They scored the trout at the top of the report, and this dandy as well.
This weekend looks fantastic and I’m eager to get back in time to sneak in a little Michigan fishing before the next cold front comes in. The warmer weather won’t be warm enough to melt too much snow, but it will warm the water. In late February, this counts as one of our first early spring heat waves, at a time when the water column is beginning to fill up with bugs, and the trout are, just barely, starting to eat to grow, instead of eat to survive. Couple that with the run of downstream rainbows that will move upstream with this warm-up, and there’s a real mixed bag of opportunities, especially for the wading angler. The boat angler faces unknown or impossible boat launches in many of the popular floats below Townline, and a few cold nights have made the big water iffy when it comes to ice. You don’t want to get stranded when you run into a frozen river. Verlac and I once floated into an ice shelf with just enough room for the boat. It was a warm day. An hour earlier…who knows?
We still have rooms open for this weekend, as well as spots in John Sheets’ tying class on Saturday night. This class is awesome — I’ve watched John amaze a lot of tying minds, including mine, and I hope more people jump in. Couple that with a great weather forecast, and this will be an excellent weekend to head north: ski, fish, and tie. But please note:
We will not be hosting a Free Fly Tying Saturday this weekend.