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Smith River TU Grayson Highlands trip

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Smith River TU Grayson Highlands trip

Post  al k on Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:25 pm

Smith River TU in addition to focusing on cold water fisheries conservation also to provides fishing opportunities for members and guests. This past weekend we went to Grayson Highlands (Mt Rogers area) for our 2nd annual gathering at Grindstone Campground where we enjoyed good company, gourmet food and outstanding fishing along various streams in the local area. I took a lot of photos and will share some here. Other participants did the same and posted their photos and version of events on  BRFFF  which can be accessed with this link. http://www.brfff.com/forum/index.php/topic,12320.new.html#new  Probably best to read the tread from the bottom up to get the full flavor of what when on.

First order of the day was claiming our camp site at Grindstone.  We all arrived at different times and some went directly to their favorite stream before setting up. I personally had so much SRTU gear in my vehicle that I had to unload before even thinking about trying to find my fly rod.

We headed to Creek Junction where one section of the White Top Laurel has good access and found several in our group had already been there for several hours giving the fish the "sore mouth". No matter - I've been with the DGIF crews when they shock sample a stream and have learned there are ten times as many fish in a hole than you can entice to bite. Getting there at 3 pm just means we will have to try for the other nine that were not hungry when the early arrivals fished for them.

Obligatory photo just in case I meet a black bear on the way down the well worn walking / bike trail that runs along this section of the WTL.

Eric, my fishing partner on this outing also thought a "we were here"  photo was a good idea.  We than proceeded down the trail. I walked about 30 minutes before sliding down the bank to the water. Eric walked about 15 more minutes before doing the same. Our  plan was to fish back up to the parking lot or 6 pm whichever came first.

The water was low with a hint of color from a downpour the night before. Because it narrows down where it passes between huge boulders it still had a pretty good flow and some of those narrow spots made for tricky wading.

I fished for a long time before catching my first fish than caught four in a row and lost a couple more out of the same narrow run. This one was fooled by a zebra midge.

Most fell prey to a #14 Elk Hair Caddis.  I only saw one jumping for something on top on it's own but by sliding your fly over likely looking spots they readily slammed it and the fight was on. This is fairly small stream fishing so short side arm casts and roll casts were the order of the day.

What the heck do you think this fish had in mind when it attacked that big bug?  If this had not been an "artificial lure only" section of the stream I might have left him on for bait.

Most fish caught were stream spawned rainbows, however I did catch a couple nice browns.

About 5 o'clock it started to thunder and the sky opened up. I scrambled up the bank and took shelter under a giant overhanging rock where I was soon joined by 10-12 drenched bicycle riders. All those metal bikes got me thinking about a giant lightening rod so as soon as the rain let up a bit I started walking up the trail. Eric had that wet dog  look when we joined up at the parking lot.

Back at the campground the festivities were in full swing despite the damp weather.

Pork loin, Mac & Cheese, veggies, etc.

We ate well.

It's not a camping trip if you don't have a good fire. Our designated fire keeper kept an ample supple of firewood dry.

The following morning we woke to fog but no rain. After a hearty breakfast which would probably not meet the approval of our family doctors we then headed out for more fishing. Some went back to WTL and others struck out to explore lesser known streams. Eric and I drove to Buller Hatchery to try the stream which runs along the far wood line which has a reputation for large fish.

This may be the South Holston but it is not the wide stream of Bristol TN fame. Definitely roll casting is in order. I spent more time pulling my flies out of the brushes and tying on new rigs than actually fishing. The water was low and clear.

The hatchery grounds have a lot of blue bird and duck boxes. We also noticed most of the active hatchery ponds are covered with netting which indicates they have a heron  and cormorant problem.

Got to throw this mystery tree  in for our plant expert Dougfish

Several fat rainbows were caught - this one liked the zebra midge.

We saw several large fish but they saw us first or just laid on the bottom as we tried various things in our fly box. I even tried my old standby the Allieworm but was only able to dredge up this small rainbow. With no exaggeration  this one would have been an easy meal for a few of those we saw hugging the bottom.

There was another late afternoon cloud burst which put us back to the campground early . A couple of the guys brought their fly tying kits and were busy whipping up "secret" recipes for the following day.

Saturday nights designated chefs were busy preparing a feast fit for kings and hungry fishermen.

The evening proceeded with lots of tales, most of which started out with "I swear this is the honest truth............."   Some even ended with the story teller doing a little pantomime and taking a bow.

Sunday morning the sun broke out. After another sinfully delicious breakfast it was time to break camp and head our separate ways. Some stayed for last minute fishing and others packed it in and headed for home. I had borrowed Shane's tent, which like everyone's gear, was soaking wet.  I thought about sneaking it onto his back porch while still wet but I might need to borrow it again so brought it home to dry out.
There ya have it. We had a heck of a time. Good food, great camaraderie, good fishing and lots of memories. Can't wait to do it again next year.
Our next scheduled SRTU event will be a river clean up on Saturday, July 19th. Bring your waders and gloves. We'll clean from Town Creek up to the Philpott Dam. Gateway may combine with us and clean another section as well. Lunch will be on us at the COE picnic area near the dam. Bring your fly rod because we may go fishing afterwards. Details to follow.

al k
Avid Angler

Join date : 2010-10-26
Location : Fayetteville NC

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