Joan is from Ohio and Pennsylvania and now will be living in East TN. She is a good trout fisherman, but has never tried fly fishing for smallmouth and wanted to learn, so that’s exactly what we did. It was also her birthday present to herself. Now this time of year the smallmouth act a lot like trout sitting in slow riffles and sipping poppers out of the bubble lines, so Joan was used to that aspect of it. It took some getting used to throwing the heavier gear, but it paid off when she stuck her first fish. Unfortunately the fish jumped and we lost it, but not a minute later she caught this guy.
The water is a little low in the park and in the Little River so using the popper aggressively won’t do very well. Instead, make it plop on the water and just give it subtle twitches every once and a while. Also don’t let a smallmouth fool you, just when you think you need to make another cast just wait and let the fly drift through the entire run. If one does come to it and sits underneath, give it a twitch. This is what has been working the best for us.
I had to get a shot of Joan fishing in the riffles to show how beautiful the Smokies are. We messed with one about 16 or 17 inches for about 5 minutes, but he would just stare at it and bump it. Which brings me to say that a good fisherman always know when to move on. Be safe while fishing and bring lots of water and maybe a snack and watch out for snakes. If you see Joan on the stream stop and say hi, she is a pretty cool lady.