Sunday, September 14, 2014

Somewhere in Greenbriar

The transmission in my truck gave up on me last week. This really sucks, I had it rebuilt two years ago with a 6 month/6000 mile warranty that I have far exceeded. I'm too broke to have it fixed right now so its been walking and luckily finding a ride for me lately. Friday, Stu texted me and wanted to know where we were fishing at tomorrow. I told him I had no plans to fish, but instead to walk to the grocery store with my backpack so I could eat this week. Not what I had in mind when I bought my Kelty internal frame... He insisted on picking me up and going to the mountains. I informed him this meant taking me to the store on the way home and he agreed.

Originally I picked a tributary in the Greenbriar section of the smokies we have yet to set eyes on. We ended up not going there due to lack of time and instead fished a section that is easily accessed.

It was drizzling very lightly when we arrived. We parked near a bridge above the confluence of the two major feeders. Neither of us had fished this stretch of stream before though I had studied maps and was aware of the layout. After rigging up with my favorite dry fly for this time of year, the foam beetle, and a pheasant tail dropper we each started out on a different section of stream. I went below the bridge and Stu above.

It didn't take long before I had  a few very enthusiastic strikes on my beetle. And, I missed them all. I caught up with Stu fairly quick and then crossed the stream so we each had untouched water in front of us and didn't have to leapfrog. Nothing seemed interested in my dropper so I changed out to a green weenie and  soon had a tiny 2" rainbow to hand. A few casts later I landed another small rainbow. The trout seemed small for the size of the stream we were on.

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I got my green weenie stuck in a tree while casting to a deep run beneath an overhanging tree. I decided to try a pink weenie instead and cast it into the same run. The fish laying in that run had ignored my green weenie but it like my pink weenie. This turned out to be the average size I caught for the day

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Everything was wet. Rock hopping was required and was more treacherous than usual.

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You can see Stu fishing in the above picture. He got ahead of me because I took a little detour to check out the rock wall following the river bank. It is the longest rock wall I have laid eyes on so far in the smokies.

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The road for the most part follows the stream but not too closely in some places. I knew we would have to bushwhack our way back to the road, but how far depended on where we quit. We decided to call it a day when a family of otters came frolicking their way down from upstream, spooking every fish possible along the way. I had to figure out how to cross the stream without getting too soaked. I solved this problem by stepping on a slick rock in the middle of a hole and falling in the water. It no longer mattered how wet I was since now my pack of Pall Mall lights were soaked. To my surprise the bushwhack was really short, only a couple hundred feet. So lucky and unlucky at the same time. I managed to dry out a couple cigarettes for the ride home but the rest were, shall we say, a wash...

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I am curious about the rock wall and who the pre-park resident may have been. If you know anything about the residents of this section of the park let me know in the comments and I will be glad to share with you exactly where in the Big Greenbriar we were.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

little creek, big rocks

I had to return to this stream. I gave it a try back in march while the water was still cold enough to need waders and I got skunked on this little rivulet. That doesn't happen very often and it left a bad taste in my mouth that's been festering for too long.

Yesterday I met up with my usual fishin buddy and brother in law, Stu, and we headed on up to the trail head where we were to meet up with "The angler formerly known as C4PZLOK" (sorry dude, I had to) If you are a Tennesseeanglers member you may have heard of him, or his more recent screen name, Fox. Fox is a regular contributor on the forum, seasoned angler, though fairly new to fly fishing and a pretty laid back dude. Introductions were made, jokes were cracked, rods got strung and then we started our way up the trail.

I'm pretty laid back as well until you get me on the trail. Stu always makes me walk in front so I don't keep poking the back of his head with my fly rod as I stare off into the forest like a kid from Southern Cal who never had so many trees. Though, I suspect its got as much to do with the spider webs strung across the trail.

We saw signs of bear and boar along the way, mostly in the lower part of the trail. Scat and paw prints on the trail were common. We found a mud hole as well.  Before long we arrived at the stream and started casting. It was a little slow at first, a take here and there but not much action. Fox fished a hole that looks like it has been marked.

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I took off my pink weenie dropper and just fished a beetle and things picked up a bit.

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An interesting flower I thought my daughter would like to see. Only one pic was worth a darn, I really need to get a little tripod.

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I've never seen a caterpillar like this before. The Kidd described it as "Epic" and I can't disagree.

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I also had just seen a big fuzzy chartreuse caterpillar dangling from a limb that I couldn't get a decent picture of. Seeing these caterpillars and little else in the way of bugs on the stream made me dig into the fly box for a green weenie when I saw another fly in there that made sense. I made one last year just messing around, and decided to make two more just in case it worked. They have just sat in my fly box for two years getting passed over for proven patterns.

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After I dropped a glass caterpillar off of my beetle my catch rate went way up. Stu and Fox found the same success with green weenies and san juan worms.

We passed three rock cairns where I only recall there being one last time. Or there is only one in my picture from the last trip. I'm not sure but I think this might mark a manway over the ridge that drops into another stream.

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The fish were greedy for chartreuse as we leapfrogged our way up the stream. I quit counting after 20 brook trout came to hand. Not a monster brookie day but respectable. We finished our day when we came to a place where the water cascaded over a rock formation that looked like swiss cheese. Stu fished the left side and I took the right. Two more brookies came to hand.

It is as good of a landmark as any to start from next time...

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

the foam beetle

As mild as the summer has been lately, make no mistake, the dog days are here. In the mountains, aside from the occasional stoneflies, there aren't any major hatches right now. While dry flies like the neversink caddis, poor man's stimulator, parachute and wulff adams, among others will still catch trout, the best bet is terrestrials. My favorite of these is a big black foam beetle. They will float any heavy stonefly nymph you can come up with, and your truck too. Maybe not your truck, but they do float well.

I have tinkered with a few different materials and styles the last few years and have finally settled on one that outdoes the rest. I started out tying the original peacock herl bodied foam beetle but that was too wimpy. A few trout teeth and it was done. Then somebody introduced me pearl chenille and rubber legs. I liked the durability but I also had fewer strikes. It just wasn't natural looking with the little plastic rectangles sticking out everywhere. Earlier this year I decided to try tying a couple with a dubbing underbody. I dug through my supplies and came across some Ice dubbing I hadn't been using. Bingo! The stuff is a bit difficult to use being synthetic but its durable, has a nice buggy look and not too much flash.

Teimco 2312 size 10-i prefer size 12 but i'm out
Black thread 70 denier
Peacock loco foam
Chocolate brown ice dubbing
Medium round black rubber legs
White para post

To start, cut the foam into a strip 1/4" to 3/8" wide and cut the corners of one end into a taper. Cut the legs into 1 1/2 inch lengths.

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Wrap down the hook and tie the last 1/16" of the taper above the bend. Wrap it loose at first, tightening as you go to prevent cutting into the foam

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Next comes the hard part. The plastic dubbing doesn't stick to the thread as well as finer dubbing materials, and sometimes comes loose while wrapping. I don't have dubbing wax so the way I found to beat it is to use a little at a time, wrapping up and down the hook in a few layers. Be sure to leave a gap behind the hook eye to tie down the foam.

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Fold the foam over and pull it snug. Wrap to hold it down the same as earlier, loose at first and gradually tightening as you wrap. Don't trim the remaining foam yet. Next tie in the rubber legs. One at a time i fold them in half around the thread, pinch the tips between my fingers, pull them tight and place them with a wrap of thread.


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Cut off a strand of para post, fold it in half and tie it on top of the beetle. I make a few wraps around it to make a true parachute post. Lift the loose foam and whip finish on the eye of the hook. Trim the foam, legs, dubbing and parachute post to your liking. I often use a drop of superglue to help hold things in place.


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I like the peacock foam but it is expensive as far as foam sheets go. It also blends with the water so it makes the para post a must, but any closed cell 2mm foam will do. Hope you enjoy!