Great Smoky Mountains: Sept 2020 (Part 2)

We rose to good news Tuesday morning. Though Sally had stalled, she appeared to be trending west again and, with any luck, it looked as if my parents might avoid a direct hit. Hopes renewed, we planned our day. My parents, ready for a break from fishing, would risk the horde of tourists to take in the view from Clingman’s Dome while my wife and I headed to nearby Greenbrier for a few more hours of fishing.

With the Porters Creek trail head closed due to wash out, we instead swung left at the the terminus of Greenbrier Rd onto Ramsey Prong Rd paralleling the small stream of the same name. New water to both of us, it would be a morning of exploration and casting practice with the hopes of landing a fish or two. Half a dozen stops at roadside pull offs later, the morning proved to be just that without a single strike to show for our efforts.

She may not have caught anything, but look at the loop! Not bad for <2 months of practice!

Doubling back to the main road around noon, we found a stretch of the main river devoid of sunbathing tourists and decided to make one last stop. Leaving my rod in the truck, I reverted to my role as guide and began to direct my wife’s efforts toward a deep run at the head of a massive glassy pool.

While no hatch was obvious, I decided to have her begin prospecting with the same Yellow Sally pattern that had produced for me the day prior. Sure enough, a trout rose on the first drift missing the fly by a millisecond as my wife lifted her line off the water to cast again. Repeating the drift, a series of refusals and near misses followed until finally she drove the hook home on a beautiful 10″ rainbow.

Excitement got the best of her, however. And as I scrambled for the net (which, in my infinite wisdom, had been left lying some 10 ft away), she raised her rod tip to swing her prize onto the bank. In doing so, she momentarily became entangled in a low hanging branch and, as anyone who fishes knows all to well, a moment is often all it takes. Her line no longer taut, the rainbow flipped once and returned itself to the river.

Distraught at the unintended quick release, she continued her efforts and was quickly rewarded a small consolation in the form of a stunning Warpaint Shiner that exploded on her fly the following drift.

The bite slowing, I swapped her dry for an olive Slumpbuster and suggested she make a few casts into the deep pool below the run. One large silver flash behind the fly on an early cast caused a momentary spike in adrenaline, but no strikes followed, and we decided to call it a day.

Back at the cabin, we checked in on the progress of Sally. She was now a Category 1 storm and tracking northeast. Closer to Pensacola than my parents would have liked, it still appeared Mobile, AL (some 40 miles to the west) would take the brunt of the storm.

Waking to the sound of pacing at 5AM the following morning, it was quickly apparent that was not the case…

Making my way to the cabin’s main floor, I found my mother in the living room, smart phone in hand. Sally had grown to a Category 2 overnight and was now making landfall. Worse still, Sally had continued to track east. Their home on Perdido Key currently sat within the eye of the storm.

Sally’s landfall along the AL/FL border

Knowing there was little any of us could do for the time being, we planned our day. On the docket was a visit to the trails above Tremont with the hope that a few wild trout might distract from the larger situation. My wife content to concentrate on photography with my mother, I packed two rods with the intent of allowing my father to do most of the actual fishing.

Though I missed a few fish early, I once again largely stuck to the guide role, hoping a wild brookie or two might be just the distraction my father needed.

Somewhere above Tremont

The bites never came though and, with the exception of some excellent photographs captured by my wife and mother, the day amounted to little more than an enjoyable hike.

Photo Credit: @MaedbhRyanPhotography

We found ourselves headed back to the cabin by early afternoon and, following a call from their neighbor with a storm report, my parents decided it was time for them to begin the 10 hour drive back towards Pensacola.

Saying our goodbyes, my wife and I retired to the cabin and called it a day.

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