Enlightened but dimly

Enlightened but dimly

Gary Meyer | Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Well, after spending the last two long weekends rubbing shoulders with the great-unwashed horde of avid anglers and fly casters I guess I should not be surprised that I picked up one of the circulating viruses. For my sins of ignoring them, the fish gods made my penance a week of suffering through a nasty head cold.

Of course, this trough in my personal health cycle coincided perfectly with a long weekend of spectacularly unusual beautiful weather. At least I did not have the dilemma of having to choose between the large tarpon bite that was off the chain or canoeing out for what was likely the finest backcountry snook fishing of the year. Instead, heavily medicated, I sat home and researched and planned for my spring camping trip for yet another stab at trout fishing up around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I find planning these trips both entertaining and exasperating. There is so much information available these days that I think it may actually be harder to plan now than it used to be. So many sources contradict, and there is so much hype and marketing, that it becomes an exercise in frustration.


Part of the problem is the popularity of the GSMNP. It draws over ten million visitors each year, and I am not a fan of crowds, especially when I am fishing. On my first trip up there I was dumbfounded when I realized that on some of the streams famous for fishing I had to deal with a continuous downstream onslaught of rafters and kayakers. For me, that is not fishing. So, the last trip I scratched those rivers and looked into the Park. Surely a few miles from the road should thin the crowds? Wrong again. It seems backpacking is apparently more popular than tubing, and on some trails, there are revolving horse trips scheduled throughout the daylight hours too!  Well, at least I am learning what to look out for.


The problem is I know I am a slow learner when it comes to fishing. I need time, likely days, to simply sit and watch and think while in the actual environment. And while I feel I have accrued some good tips from seminars, literature, and discussions I know I personally need to somehow observe it first-hand and on the spot. I have watched so many good anglers come down to South Florida armed with all the right equipment and encyclopedic volumes of information only to realize it is quite a bit unlike than what they expect. What is ever how you imagine or expect? My trips north cannot be any different.


So, what I am trying to find is a place to camp that is both adjacent to the streams but also somewhat isolated from the crowds. Definitely not on waters frequented by whitewater rafters, nor on trails famous amongst hikers, and no tons of horse poop either please. I have no problem with the idea of logging a few miles into the wilderness with my gear on my back, but good sense suggests that should include a partner for safety reasons. And that is where the next obstacle presents itself: willing fishing partners are pretty easy to find, those willing (or able) to backpack and camp are scarce. So, it looks like maybe a car-camp trip will have to do.


I’ve never been able to sit still, even when sick, so this weekend there were frequent forays into the back casting field. Mac Brown’s excellent book, “Casting Angles”, has a section called “Enlightenment Casting”, where he explains multiple presentations casts that he says are necessary for trout fishing success. I outlined them on the back of business cards, then randomly shuffled through them while out in the field. With a 6wt DT and my usual practice leader all is well, but I think a 3wt and a trout leader twice as long will definitely add to the challenge!


In a few months, I should at least be able to cast. The rest of this trout-fishing puzzle will be far from completion, however.


Not that I expect it ever will.