A Fly Fisherman’s Wife Learns the Ropes

Gatlinburg Fly Fishing

Gatlinburg Fly Fishing

I’ve been enchanted with fly-fishing ever since I saw the movie, A River Runs Through It, as a teenager. It wasn’t Brad Pitt’s devilish good looks; it was the surrounding nature, the serenity of the water, the rhythm and peace he seemed to feel as he cast his fly rod.

I had no way of knowing then that I would marry an avid fly-fisherman. In fact the first night I met him almost nine years ago now, he was off to the Smoky Mountains to fly fish.

Needless to say, he has been fly fishing since I have known him. While working in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a veteran fly fisherman mentored him on different casting methods, and he got to fish some of the most remote mountain streams on the east coast.

He has asked me to join him countless times, but I have been reluctant. It’s his passion, and I felt intimidated. I feared I couldn’t keep up, my fly line would constantly tangle in the trees, and I might grow bored doing the same task all day.

Last fall during a stay at Elk Springs Resort located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, I relented, “Ok, I am ready to try-to see what this is all about, to see what keeps you from me for hours on end.”

We drove into the heart of old growth forest at Greenbrier, a smoky mist rising from the forest floor and up from the mountain streams. We put on special fly-fishing boots with felt bottoms, and stepped into the rushing mountain stream of Porters Creek. Surrounded by thick mossy rocks, fall foliage, and pristine mountain water, I had stepped into another world, away from all the worries and demands of that reality outside.

My husband cast his rod, a fluid rhythm back and forth and dropped his dry fly in clear mountain pools, or above small waterfalls, and near giant rocks that cast shadows on the pulsing mountain stream. “That’s where the trout like to hide, under rocks,” he grinned.

He showed me how to creep up stream, sneaking up on new fishing holes, “You don’t want to spook the fish. They can see your shadow, its instinct they know it’s a predator, and they will hide,” he explained.

Brad handed the rod to me, “Your turn.”

“Ok,” I gulped trying to balance myself in the middle of the stream. Holding onto the rod, I cast into a clear pool in front of me. I was shaky at first casting back over my head, trying not to hook a tree or my husband. No luck at the first hole, so Brad and I forged up stream. I understand then, the hunt, the suspense, the push to try just one more fishing hole, to see if big beauty might be waiting to strike on your line.

Brad caught a small trout, not big enough to keep, “Awesome, I did it. Now, I don’t have to say I was skunked-which means you don’t catch a fish at all on a stream. Then we forged upstream casting into new fishing holes, move up and over rocks, and water. As the forest light grew dim, the hours having flown by, we agreed on one more hole.

“Your turn, again,” Brad handed me the fly rod. I cast over my head and into the wide water hole. Suddenly a strike, the fly was pulling my fly under, my heart skipped a beat.

Brad shouted, “It’s a big one.” I cast again, another strike, and big splash, I pulled up, nothing-disappointed. I wanted to catch the fish badly, but I had yet to learn how to move the rod fast enough and in the right direction to hook one.

“This ones yours, I don’t think I can get him.” I handed the rod to Brad, he cast quickly, and before I could blink my eyes there was a large rainbow trout flopping at my feet, its bright scales glittering in an array of colors.

My heart leapt with joy, I started clapping. “We did it!”

“He’s definitely a keeper, big enough to eat!” Brad quickly gutted our rainbow trout, put him in our water bag, and we slipped out of the stream to hike back to our car.

We went back our cabin and grilled our rainbow trout that night. Though, I didn’t catch that rainbow trout on my own, I like to think it was a team effort. It was also a joy to be a part of my husband’s world, his passion, his devotion, and I am already looking forward to our next fly-fishing trip soon.