While it’s cold and snowy right now in the Smokies, it was much warmer during our fall Hazel Creek fish camp. We experienced rain on Sunday morning before our departure, but other than that the weather was absolutely perfect; warm during the day and cool at night.
While some fish were caught on nymphs, I think the bulk of the fish we caught over the weekend were hooked on dry flies. There was a pretty good assortment, but Parachute Adams, Blue Wing Olives, and Stimulators used in conjunction with dropper nymphs accounted for the most of the action. Both rainbows and browns were caught, but as usual, rainbows were the primary catch.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment of the weekend came while Charity was guiding Lynn Roloff of Greensboro, NC who also accompanied us on our western trip to Yellowstone and the Henry’s Fork. Charity spotted a large brown trout feeding just under the surface. It’s dorsal fine would gently emerge as it fed and sometimes its nose would up as it took something off the surface.
After a number of fly changes and close inspections on dry flies, Charity added some tippet to a dry fly along with a small beadhead nymph. The large brown slowly moved and inhaled the dry fly, a #18 Hi-Vis Parachute Blue Wing Olive. The fish sped up the pool then turned and sped by them to the tail of the run. There was a tremendous leap followed by a billowing splash. The brown then bolted for some wood, wrapped up, and broke the 5X tippet.
There is always some degree of smoke and mirrors in a moment like that, but Charity feels positive that 18″ is a conservative figure and the fish could have easily exceed that. There weren’t any photos or video from the scene, but I’m sure neither Lynn nor Charity will ever forget it.
Anyone who has come along on this trip or followed our reports knows that the fishing is just a part of the experience. Our friend and colleague Steve Claxton and his wife Becky keep us in good eats all weekend. Here’s a look at a plate of smoked ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, pork and beans, and cole slaw. An incredible meal anywhere, but extra special when eaten by a campfire while Hazel Creek rushes by only a few yards away.