Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Smokies and Doe River, TN, April 2009

Here is my first post, and while I will try to keep future entries as up-to-date as possible, and mostly focused around Oak Creek, AZ and other parts of the state, I thought I would recall my fly fishing experiences from the past handful of months. My wife and I traveled a lot from April into August, before settling in Flagstaff, AZ. Along the way, I was able to fish in a number of states, see some beautiful country, and catch and release more trout than I probably deserved. So without further ado, here are some fly fishing highlights from the spring and summer of this year, starting in this post with April, in Tennessee...

Here is a photo of my wonderful wife, Regan, when we camped at Elkmont, along the Little River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She grew up near the Smokies, and I have had the good fortune of going with her to see family, and also explore some of the streams in this beautiful area. I didn't fish here much on this visit, although I still managed to catch a few wild Browns and Rainbows, and some precious native Brookies in higher elevation streams (no good photos of these unfortunately). Wildflowers were bursting from the forest floor on this spring visit, and we hiked to some lovely waterfalls, such as Ramsey Cascades, pictured below.

The best fishing on this visit occurred up in NE Tennessee, along the Doe River, a new destination for me, and a freestone stream noted for healthy populations of wild Browns, along with wild and stocked Rainbows, and even some native Brook trout in the headwaters. I ended up exploring upper and lower stretches of the Doe, in some of the more rugged country in the state, and caught a number of fine fish, with some larger Browns in particular.

Here is a chunky 15" Brown that grabbed a #10 BH Girdle Bug.

And this 17" Brown grabbed a #10 Crawbugger (one of my inventions, a brown Wooly Bugger with rubber legs and weighted hourglass eyes), fished like a wounded baitfish (or crawdad...).

The Doe River flows through some scenic country, with pocketwater stretches sometimes concealing surprisingly nice fish.

And other reaches can be wild and remote, as shown in the sheer canyon walls thrusting above the water below.

Dogwoods provided some spectacular white blooms along the river banks.

I came across a hellbender, a salamander capable of reaching lengths of 2 feet and more, while wandering streamside--this one was about 15 or 16" long.

I also managed to hook another Brown while nymphing through a deep run, that charged up and downstream, and swam right between 2 partially submerged boulders, and up into the next pool--somehow my tippet held, and I was eventually able to land the brute, a 22" male that I measured against my rod.

One more look at the fish before I returned him to the golden green currents, to grow and perhaps be caught another day--big wild trout are too valuable to keep (in my opinion), except in photographs and memories.

And a final glimpse of the Doe, a wonderful river I hope to revisit in the near future.


  1. Thanks for these great shots.

  2. Did the browns come out of the gorge?

    1. Hi Will, and yes, some of the browns pictured were caught in the gorge...

  3. How do you even get into the gorge?

    1. Hi Austin, contact Doe River Gorge Ministries--they run a summer camp near the mouth of the gorge, and in general, they are very accommodating in giving permission to use their parking lot, and hike upstream to explore the gorge. You can hike along the river, or access stretches further upstream by hiking a set of railroad tracks. Tight lines!