April 22, 2019

Smoky Mountain Fishing Trip

I had a long break during my exam period this semester and decided to take advantage of it by making a quick trip down to the Carolinas, my favourite part of the US. The trip planned out to be 5 days long: two days of travelling and three days of fishing. I spent the first fishing day in South Carolina for a variety of warmwater targets, then the next two days in the Smoky Mountains with fellow lifelister Tim Aldridge searching for some Suckers and micros.

The South Carolina portion of the trip was rather unsuccessful in terms of lifers due to high water, but I still got to explore some cool new areas. Namely, the Congaree National Park, which has an awesome 2 mile boardwalk through a scenic wetland area. Sights include an old moonshine still, a 100 year old Beech tree, and a variety of spiders and other creepy critters.

All that being said, I did manage two lifers that day as well as some other cool-looking fish I had previously caught. The two new ones were both micros, the sexually dimorphic Lined Topminnow and the difficult-to-ID Greenfin Shiner. Both are pictured below along with some pretty Sunfish and a spawning Bluehead Chub I caught that same day.

Greenfin Shiner

Female Lined Topminnow
Male Lined Topminnow
Redbreast Sunfish
Dollar Sunfish
Bluehead Chub
Things got more exciting over the next two days up in the Smokies. The main targets for the first day were a whole bunch of Redhorse species I had never had an opportunity to catch before. The action started off pretty quick with a whole bunch of Golden Redhorse coming to the net. Unfortunately, that seemed to be every Redhorse we caught until much later in the day when I broke the "curse" and sight-fished a Black Redhorse up shallow in some current! Not that catching any Redhorse in such a beautiful area could be much of a curse :p

Golden Redhorse
Black Redhorse

Many other species were also caught that day, one of the coolest actually wasn't even a fish! I had left a line close to shore as I checked my second rod and turned back to see it getting a bite. I lifted it up and saw a huge Hellbender; North America's largest Salamander. It was definitely a treat to just be able to see one of them given their endangered status.

Of course, other fish species were caught as well. Other lifers that day included the River Chub, Northern Hogsucker, Warpaint Shiner, and Tennessee Shiner. I also caught a few Rock Bass, which may eventually be split into the "Cherokee" Bass in this area.

River Chub
Northern Hogsucker
Warpaint Shiner
Tennessee Shiner
"Cherokee" Bass
That pretty much sums it up for the first day in the mountains. Day 2 was focused more on micros but was less successful because the creeks were just a little bit too high. Visibility was perfect but the current made snorkel fishing difficult, the best method to target our desired species. It was actually my first time attempting snokel fishing and it definitely attracted a lot of looks from the locals, especially when an entire high school gym class walked by... I remember hearing "What the hell? There's a man in the creek!" in the typical southern accent.

Despite the lack of new species, it was still a lot of fun to try a new technique and see the colourful fish behaving naturally in their habitat. And I still managed to get another two new ones: the Central Stoneroller and the Whitetail Shiner.

Central Stoneroller
Whitetail Shiner
Those ten lifers made up the total for the trip, nothing incredible but definitely nothing to be ashamed of. I can't wait until next time I get to go back and explore that area some more. It has so much potential!