Tuesday, November 27, 2012

great smoky mountains national park

I realize that it has been just over two weeks since my last post, and while I find serious discomfort in letting my blog go dormant for any length of time over a week, I was on a much needed vacation. And this wasn't a fishing trip but more of a chance to get the family out and explore a landscape that is quite foreign to us flat-landers. For those who visit this blog just for fishing reports, sorry to disappoint, the next few posts are purely about hiking the Smoky Mountain National Park.

This post is dedicated to just some of the sites we found while traveling 441 that runs through the heart of the park connecting Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Cherokee, North Carolina. From the very first mountain sunrise, I knew we were in for something special.

sunrise over the smoky mountains
On the Tennessee side, 441 hwy follows along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. In its upper elevations, it’s everything you could expect from a high gradient mountain stream.

west prong of the little pigeon river
As the river approaches Gatlinburg and beyond it flattens and widens dramatically. On our journey up the mountain, the Little Pigeon provided some excellent scenery.

a lower gradient section of the river
Driving through the park, there are so many countless pull-offs and hiking trails to explore. While this post won’t have enough room to go over every place we set foot, the view from Newfound Gap was one of my favorites.

newfound gap
And to give you just a small taste of the wildlife here, I will leave you with these few shots. Coming down from the mountains on the North Carolina side we had the pleasure to come up on a herd of grazing elk. While they weren't so much bothered by our presence we were able to capture a dozen or so excellent photos before the rangers felt it was best we moved on.

a herd of grazing elk in the national park

the largest bull in the bunch
Stay tuned for some of my favorite shots from Cades Cove and the Pisgah National Forest.
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

trout country usa

Iowa's driftless
Fly fishing for bass and even Great Lakes steelhead browns and salmon are some of my favorite things to do where I live. Though, when one receives minimal doses of small stream trout fishing, injected straight into the vein, it leaves you always waiting for that next fix. There is something delicate and soothing about small stream trout. Trout on the fly should never be about sizes and numbers, for me it is more the cleansing of a dirty soul. From the peace received from the beauty of nature, the colors of the fish, and even the delicateness of the casts, I have found no better. All else pales in comparison and feels often crude, even if for only a second.

Real fisherman are opportunistic feeders. They make due with what's available and exploit it for their own selfish gains. My area that I call home sits just far enough away from any real trout water to make it viable for day trips. Usually requiring an overnighter it turns into more of a destination type fishing game. But, when given the chance to get out an explore my brain and my heart always pulls me back to trout country.

Iowa rainbow trout
Last winter we found ourselves faced with the warmest winter I can remember. Locally, we were lucky if we had even three weeks of safe ice and depending on who you asked, some said we never got even one. While Wisconsin has a closed winter season on trout, Iowa does not. That was inspiration enough to make the five hour trip to Decorah Iowa. Some would argue that Iowa's fisheries for trout come up short compared to what lies just over the boarder into Wisconsin. I never have cared to feed into any of that. On that unseasonably warm winter day I sat upon the highest hill looking down on those glassy, trout filled pools. No matter Iowa or Wisconsin, everything in my life seemed to just makes sense at that moment. Contained in this post are just a few snapshots of that day, special to me like nobody can understand.

Winter trout stream beauty
This weekend, my family vacation to the Smoky Mountains has been booked and we leave next weekend. My hope is that we all find peace in the beauty of nature and come back to reality better because of it. Our cabins in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Hendersonville, North Carolina both have wireless so I will be sharing a few posts with everyone next week while on the road in Trout Country USA.

Bring on the winter trout!
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Monday, November 5, 2012

nothing special

Like a moth to flame, I’m once again drawn back to the river. Flows are on the way back down and the crowds are starting to finally dwindle but just a bit. Fished a new section of water on the Milwaukee and have nothing exciting to report. A few salmon still running around and zero trout so far. Looking back at last year, I didn't get on the trout until November was in the double digit days anyways. More to come…

a nice new run on the milwaukee
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