We spent the last four days on Hazel Creek on the North Carolina side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At this point we can’t even remember how many of these camps we’ve hosted, but we typically do at least two every year. By now we’ve probably done close to two months worth of these fun camping and fly fishing trips.
It was a mixed bag of weather. Thursday and Friday were simply phenomenal. Beautiful sunshine, cool without being cold, and eager trout. By Friday night the weather had turned and rain set in on us. We all managed to fish into the afternoon, but as the rain became heavier and the creek began to rise we all retreated to camp to find a warm, dry place.
As it turned out Charity had the hot guiding hand. On Friday she guided Seth and Sally Judd. Sally hooked up with a lake run rainbow trout on a #12 Haystack. Up to this point in her fishing experience she’s only hooked typical sized stream trout so a hefty rainbow that was at least 18″ long pretty well cleaned her clock as it made a mad dash through boulder strewn pocket water.
The following day Charity fished Chuck and Tony Baldino. As the rain got heavier and the stream became stained Charity asked Tony if he had ever fished with a streamer. He hadn’t so Charity gave him a quick primer on the tactics as she tied on a #4 Girdle Bug. This big rubber leg fly can be fished as a nymph or streamer and she told him to cast it across a long pool and give it regular two foot long strips.
On Tony’s first ever cast with a streamer a massive lake run rainbow sprinted out of dark water and inhaled the fly. It startled everyone and the football shaped fish made a cartwheeling leap that landed on the leader and broke it. Again, a disappointment not to land such a large fish but a major accomplishment to hook one in a wild trout stream in the Smokies.
This ended up being the absolute wettest trip we’ve ever hosted. We’ve only had one completely rain free weekend for a Hazel Creek camp, but we’ve never had more than a few hours of it. On this trip we had close to 36 hours of steady rain with a few periods of sprinkles to break it up. The ground was completely saturated and the creek rose beyond fishable by late on Saturday. Fortunately we had plenty of dry space and a warm fire going. Even better, there was no shortage of great fellowship!