Fishing Report,    Travel,    Underground's Best

Afternoon [cough] in the [hack hack] Smokies

By Tom Chandler 5/5/2006

Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say that I've been a bad, bad boy and brought my cold back upon me. Yesterday was pretty harsh on my apparently aging respiratory system, transforming me from a strong, virile fishing machine into a pathetic little cough monster, and on the drive home it became clear I was running a fever.

Things were unhappy enough that I even considered a visit to a healthcare professional (if you know me, you know that's almost never), but figuring he'd probably just tell me to stop fishing for a couple days (never ask for advice you don't want to take), I passed on that little adventure.

Ian, Charity and Willow
Daddy, you're getting micro-drag...

Despite the constant coughing, it was fun to hit the Little River below Elkmont with Ian, Charity, Willow (their daughter) and Rich Margiotta.

Willow is less than a year old, but she handled the whole experience like a pro. Curious and largely quiet, she seemed pretty contented to ride along with Ian and Charity while they fished. Clearly, there's a lot to be said for raising your kid right.

As for the fishing, the Little River is Ian's Charity's home water, and he's one of those "casual predators" who can catch fish without it ever looking like he's trying. It's not until you try to repeat his performance on the next claustrophibic casting space (or notice he's catching 5x as many fish as you are) does his genuis become apparent.

The Little River is more overgrown and less chaotic than the Upper Sac, which offers a steeper gradient, tougher wading, and (presumably) more confusing environment for fish. Here, stealth is key, and while it's important on the Upper Sac, wading skills probably matter a lot more.

The differences are illuminating (and I've watched Ian Charity enough to learn a few new things to try back on the Upper Sac). While I was able to pound up a couple grabs (landing two) in the early evening, it wasn't until almost dark that the "Little River Smorgasboard" of bugs came off and the fish started working.

Ian and Charity had taken the little one home by that point, and I was pretty much occupied full time with basic breathing functions, so I sat and watched while Rich worked a pool of irritatingly selective fish. It's warm enough and spring is far enough along that a little bank sitting while it gets darker is a wildly enjoyable event.

It was also fun to run into another hollow-built bamboo rod freak by the name of Doug. He's got some very nice rods, and was interested enough in my 8'3" 4wt Raine rod that he took it for a little test drive on the river. Plus, I got to meet what might be Tennessee's counterpart to Wally the Wonderdog - Jack the Tennessee Fish Dog. He's a sweetie with the ability to point out fish, which makes him Underground Material.

Jack the Fish Dog

Today I planned to hike back to some Brookie water, but instead I'm going to move my base of operations from Rich's house to a small motel right on the edge of the park, and then lay around in the hopes my battered body can heal a little bit. With any luck, I'll get my brookies tomorrow.

This could be my last post for a while (I'm losing my Internet access), so good luck to everyone and at the very east, I'll write a summary post when I get back on Wednesday morning. Hopefully, I'll feel better than I do now and the writing will be a little zippier as a result. See you somewhere, TC.


Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.


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