The Green

The Green

Intense green seemed to ooze from every expression of Nature. Grass growing in the creek, trees gracefully arching over moving water, trees with newly unfurled buds—all of these elements joined together to create a glowing green realm that quite honestly seemed otherworldly, as if I had wandered into the faery realm.

It was a rainy day that started with heavy, gray clouds. Being prepared with the right gear made the rain a non-issue. Fish tend to like the rain. Or perhaps fly fishers like the rain because the trout aren’t quite as able to discern hand-made flies from naturally occurring insects hatching. It wasn’t a disappointing day wading, casting a line, and generally enjoying what I think of as a typical Smoky Mountains perfect day—cool, rainy, foggy, and beautiful.

Generally, I fish alone and enjoy it immensely; however, I fished with guide David Knapp, owner of Trout Zone Anglers, and was able to explore and wade places I wouldn’t generally go by myself. We went off the trail and made our way upstream using the creek and rhododendron thickets and moss-covered banks to navigate. The only other indication that others used the area was fresh elk droppings. The road wasn’t far away, but it felt as if we were immersed in a magical ecosystem of cold water, rocks, moss, trees…and trout. Lots of trout.

In past writing, I’ve said it’s not about the trout. But it is about the trout—and everything else, too. I occasionally fish another river, outside of the national park, and it’s pretty and there are many stocked trout, but it’s not magical like these remote areas that require extra effort to traverse, extra miles driven down bumpy gravel roads, and a capacity to enjoy beauty that stretches one’s ability to take it all in.

I won’t go into detail about what I learned about fly fishing, which was a lot. I’ll simply state what a pleasure it was to fish with someone who enjoys the whole experience of fly fishing, not just counting trout that are landed. Wading, stalking, casting, listening to birds, noting insects, watching trout rise to flies—these elements and more absorbed, appreciated and celebrated. 

April 29th of last year, I started fly fishing. Almost a year to the day, I was able to feel the confidence I’ve gained and skills that have improved as I’ve enjoyed over 65 fly fishing experiences, most of them in the national park and most of them solo. I’ve come to appreciate the intricate innerworkings of these cold, mountain creek ecosystems and am so grateful they have received me into their beauty.

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