Area fly and spin fishermen are blessed with ample opportunities to ply our trade here in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. We can throw a line on the big tailwater rivers like the Watauga below Wilbur Dam, or head to a natural trout stream. We can fish Whitetop Laurel Creek up near Damascus, or hike in the rhododendrons and fish Rocky Fork over in Unicoi County. My favorites are the smaller mountain streams like Horse Creek in the Bald Mountains, plus a few more I’ll just have to keep secret.
No matter the fishing venue, when preparing for a day of fishing work your way down a list, from fish to fishing equipment to footwear.
After determining the type of fish you will seek decide the lures/flies that will be needed and assemble them. Collect the hardware you may need, clippers, hemostats, etc. Determine the rod to use, and go over it along with the reel to make sure everything is in working order: you have enough line, leader, etc. Don’t forget your fishing license.
Break the rod/reel down and decide how you will be carrying them into the backcountry, whether it is in your hand or a rod case or what. Check the weather and determine what clothing will be needed for the trip. If keeping fish, have a cooler ready and waiting at the vehicle so when you return to it the fish will keep.
Finally, conclude what you’ll want/need while on the hike to the fishing destination. These could be necessities such as food and water or also a wildflower identification book or your lucky bandanna from Yellowstone. Assemble your gear, including your fishing footwear.
Once at the trailhead double check to make sure you have everything needed, then hit the trail. When hiking to a fishing spot I carry my fishing shoes to the angling location using a daypack, then change at the point of fishing. Make sure to have a plastic bag of some sort in which to carry the fishing shoes from your destination back to the trailhead, since they will be wet.
Upon arriving at the destination, I will hide my hiking shoes in the woods along with my pack. Wading is tough enough without toting a bunch of extra stuff! I have never had anybody get my stuff while I was gone fishing. For extra safety leave the trail and cross to the far side of the waterway you are fishing and stash your gear.
People who would find your stuff over there would have to cross the waterway to do so. The only people likely to do that will be other anglers, who wouldn’t mess with your stuff anyway. Most importantly, make sure to enjoy yourself on the water. Our precious spare time is limited and we must make the most of our fishing experiences!
After returning, consider making notes on the weather, stream conditions, water levels and your catch. This way you can gather information to determine fishing trends on your favorite streams. This information will help you become a better angler the next time.
You could put all these notes on the smart phone you brought to take a picture of the big one that might not have gotten away. If so, just make sure it is secured in a waterproof bag.