Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18 Fishing and Exploring

With another beautiful today on tap here in the mountains, today I drove back to the Cherokee area and into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via the Big Cove entrance to the Round Bottom area.  The creek that runs down the gravel road and by the Cherokee Tribal fish hatchery is called Straight Fork, and provides relatively easy access for fly fishing.

During this time of year, Round Bottom Road is closed from the Balsam Mountain Campground off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Heintooga, but during the summer and fall this road is open one-way "down the mountain" off the Balsam range into Big Cove.  The road is currently open from the lower end to the steel bridge over Straight Fork, at the Beech Gap Trailhead.

Not having mastered the art of nymph or streamer "wet fly" fishing, I tried a few trusty dry flies from the fly box, including a "yellow humpy," an Adams parachute, and an orange-body elk hair caddis.  Unfortunately, the trout are still fairly dormant this time of year, and are reluctant to come to the surface to take a dry fly.  In another few weeks, however, it will be time to match the hatch and entice the trout to the top as the water warms up.

I drove as far as the closed gate just past the steel bridge, stopping at several places along the way to scout the creek and get my waders wet.  One stop was at the Hyatt Ridge Trailhead, near the Round Bottom horse camp.  At another stop upstream from there, I found what appeared to be a small beaver lodge.

The warm sunshine and the promise of spring in the air overcame my futile efforts as an angler on this day, but I'll be back!

Here's a picture looking upstream on Straight Fork from the steel bridge.

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