Local Author Corner – Tails of the Smokies

By Jim Parks

Driving towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you decide to take a backroad leading you into the fictional town of Laurel Cove, population 278. You notice a sign outside a church showing Sunday’s sermon, “The Prodigal Son”, which everyone in town knows is a reference to Dr. Jay McMahan returning home to assume the practice of retiring Doc Hembree. Jay’s best friend from birth, Dillon Webb, sees it as an opportunity to resume their friendship and love of fly-fishing. This they will do amongst the unique characters and humorous activities that can only transpire in a small town on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.


As brown trout rarely break the surface like their cousin the rainbow, Dillon has not been afforded a good look at the size of his quarry. He knows and expects the trout to be a brown based on the flash of yellow he’s previously seen. Experience has taught him that when it cannot be seen, to judge the relative size of the trout by the force by which it shakes its head as it attempts to eject the fly embedded in its hooked jaw, while working its way toward somewhere near the bottom of the pool. With the thick overhanging trees shading the deeper part of the pool, the bright sunlight does not penetrate deeply enough to allow Dillon a view of the fish at the end of the line, but the power of the movement tells him it is something big. Very big.

Jim Parks, a native of Newport, Tennessee, has spent forty-three years fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which he considers his home waters. During that time, he has taken self-guided trips to Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, Virginia, Vermont, Wyoming, and Mexico. He also enjoys occasional fly-fishing trips to tailwaters in Tennessee and North Carolina. Jim graduated with an MBA from the University of Tennessee in 1992. He has written articles for Fly Fish America and various fly-fishing newsletters and has worked as a volunteer for the National Park Service. Jim has given fly-tying demonstrations, taught fly-fishing courses, and given talks to civic organizations where he shared his experiences. Those who know Jim know his skill in catching numbers of and releasing trophy trout in the Smokies. He enjoys remembering those who taught him by being a mentor in sharing his knowledge with the next generation of fly-fishing enthusiasts. Jim currently resides in Kodak, Tennessee, with Trena, his wife and best friend of thirty-three years.