Smokies Grand Slam!

By John L. Torchick

Where is a good place to fish in the national park? The Trout Unlimited chapter president pointed to another member who answered without hesitation, “Tremont!” This is the Middle Prong of Little River. Favorable weather and a day off combined for a trip to the park. Driving through Townsend, I turned right at the “Y” onto the Laurel Creek Road and then a left onto the road marking the direction to the Tremont Institute.

My first impression of the Middle Prong was like a dream. I didn’t want to wake up. Pools, riffles, waterfalls, were all ideal trout water. Couldn’t wait to get started! A size 14 elk hair caddis proved to be a good fly in other places, so why not here? A 6 ft., 2 wt. rod, a 6 ft. leader and a length of 3 lb. tippet fit the bill. Casting alongside a rock, I had a good strike but lost it after a few seconds. Short and accurate casts were necessary. My first fish was a rainbow trout of ten inches. Not big, but good for starters.

Outguessing trout is a challenge: “If I was a trout, where would I be today?” Casting at the next pool didn’t produce anything. Moving upstream produced a strike by another rainbow. Much of the Middle Prong is accessible by car. My plan was to drive a bit, fish then drive some more.

Reading the water from the car was possible by eliminating some places and casting to other likely spots. The stream had some steep gradients forming small pools I call step pools, looking like stairsteps. Further up, a large rock island split the river with the fast current scouring out a pool at the confluence of the two branches. The pool looked inviting even though it was very shallow. Make a cast? Never know what will happen. Well, it happened. My first brook trout from the park! It was not big compared to the rainbow and brown trout but overshadowed them by its brilliant colors.

The Middle Prong proved to be an outstanding place, combining good fishing and breathtaking scenery. The final tally was five rainbow trout, four brown trout and two brook trout. A Grand Slam! These are the three main game fish found in the park and it was an honor to catch all three in one day. Retirement fuels the desire to try again. So much water, so little time! Take the challenge for yourself and have fun while doing it!

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