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Cohutta Wilderness w/ The Snag Whisperer

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  • Cohutta Wilderness w/ The Snag Whisperer

    I left home at 3:30 am yesterday. 4hr drive. Snag made it to the trail about 35-40 mins before me and made his way down to the water to start checking things out, and left a handy marker on the trail to show me where he went down to the water.
    I was planning on staying the night, so had a full pack, he was just in for the day.
    We hiked further, and I found a spot to set up my tarp and stash most of my gear. We set on to go further downstream. The plan was to hike to a certain point and fish our way back up, but as we were going we noticed that we just weren't seeing any trout. We'd seen some, and Snag caught one or two, higher up.
    After hiking 5 miles one way, we turn back. No trout that we have seen for like 3 miles. I checked the water temp at it was 64. Snag pointed out the burned canopy from last year's fire, and we both agreed it was prob a contributing factor with less shade on the water.
    Once we got back up to where we known we saw some, it was game on. We both landed a million chubs. I hooked into several decent little rainbows pretty quick, but was doing awful on the landings, with 3 or 4 getting off right at my feet. This was my first time using a small (16 or 18?) dry, and also my first time catching anything on an EHC. I had a few moments where it all just came together with perfect delivery and a nice take. Actually caught one that we had seen rising, which is rare out there.

    Well he helped me line up some protein to supplement my dinner/late lunch, and he had to hit the trail. We parted ways and I got to work setting up camp (I had moved it earlier on our way back up, so that I could camp closer to easy fishing access).
    I built a small fire, and while it was getting going, I cleaned two rainbows. One, the last I had caught, had a big bulge on its belly that turned out to be a large crawfish (relative to fish size).
    Heads up- Victorinox makes the most badass trout knife, and it's popular with UL backpackers... it's their simple little paring knife. The serrated one is amazing for trout, makes short work of cutting them open, serrations make it easier to cut out gills or through bones if needed. CRAZY sharp!

    I cooked the two trout- first letting them hang over the fire from a stick while it was burning real good, then moving them to a small backpacking grill grate when it burnt down to coals. The grill is from amazon and it was perfect. I moved it and the trout around with my titanium fork as needed.
    Trout and ramen (sun noodles fresh tantanmen ramen from local asian market) hit the ****ing spot. Drank up a bunch of delicious creek water purified with my steripen, then set up my tarp and bivy. There was still plenty of light, so I figured I'd see if I could catch a few more. I was wearing my flipflops because I'd taken my boots (Five Ten water tennies) off to dry. Slipped on some moss and busted my shin pretty good, got a little road rash on my fore arm too. Dang.
    I went and orgainzed all my gear, cleaned my dishes, and put up my bear bag stash. Sun was starting to go down, so it was time to settle in. Crawled into the bivy and tried to get comfortable. I had a pad and sleeping bag in there with me, so there was plenty of padding underneath. Temps were in the 60's, but holy jeez it felt soupy out. I was getting plenty of airflow under the tarp and into the bivy. Even outside it I was miserable. Leg was hurting from the earlier fall (i took some naproxyn) and I knew I would be hurting bad in the morning. F it, I'm packing out tonight. NOW. RIGHT NOW.

    Advantages of tarp/bivy setup.... Shelter and sleep system was really all I had to pack at this point, and this only took me a few minutes.
    Headlamp on, pack on and adjusted, hit the trail. It was just after sundown and there was a little residual sunlight but not much. I knew I had about 1.75 miles and it's all uphill, so after a long day it would not be fun- but the mentality was "better now than after a long night with prob not great sleep".
    I was right on both accounts. The hike out was brutal, far worse than I remembered, but I've never done it with a full pack. The last 800 feet was straight murder. If I didn't have my hiking poles I honestly would prob still be on the trail haha.

    Got out, loaded up my car, and hit the road. Got home, passed the F out. Woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a train...

    OK pics now. All are taken with my phone, I've gotten rid of my "real" camera because my phone is simply that good. Shameless plug- I've got a Google Pixel. When it came out last year it was the best phone camera on the market, now it's like #4(?). I'll be listing it this week to help pay for the Google Pixel 2 that comes in on weds or thurs.
    I also have a set of Moment Lenses (wide and tele) that mount onto the phone's case, and they are freaking awesome.

    PANO_20171014_081447 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    IMG_20171014_082044 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    There's a trail here.
    IMG_20171014_085412 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    The Snag admiring some blowdown action.
    IMG_20171014_123312 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    look at them cased caddis!
    IMG_20171014_123627 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    Snag with his specialty, CHUB.
    IMG_20171014_142144 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    IMG_20171014_150236 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    my catch of the day.
    IMG_20171014_152950 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    look at that crawfish!
    IMG_20171014_163039 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    using the Moment Tele lens. This does not look like a phone picture!
    IMG_20171014_164557 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    grill in use... it was perfect!
    IMG_20171014_164837 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    You can see my tarp and bivy
    IMG_20171014_170618 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    MMMMMMMMM delicious
    IMG_20171014_171539 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    more than one fish came out of here
    IMG_20171014_183216 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    I prob saw a thousand salamanders on the hike out. Most were Southern Slimy Salamanders (black with white speckles- touch them and find out where the name comes from) and these guys which I don't know.
    IMG_20171014_194716 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    This little dude was laying face down in a puddle and breathing slowly. Not sure if he crashed into a tree or something.
    IMG_20171014_195516 by Chris Lynch, on Flickr

    Snag getting a chub with my new Nissin Royal Stage Tenkara, a full flex 3.2m that is just amazing for small water and small fish.

    look at the rod flex!
    Resident Tenkara Nerd

  • #2

    I really enjoyed that report!


    • #3
      Good report, hopefully the shin is feeling better tonight. Hopefully I get a chance to get into the cohutta later this fall.

      Warning: all posts should be assumed to contain sarcasm and misinformation unless stated otherwise. The opinions shared are not necessarily those of the poster.


      • #4
        It's a shame there's not more fish there. I've never been, but it seems to be a beautiful place, and it looks like good wild trout water....but it's not, based on lots of reports I've read and heard directly from others. Great pix and report, though. Glad you caught some. Thanks for the gear tips.
        "A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined..." George Washington


        • #5
          Cool report! Long but kept me reading. Great pictures too!
          Hi my name is Charles and I'm a fishaholic.

          Some days I'm the hook and some days I'm the fish.

          Instagram @charles_the_toothsmith


          • #6
            Neat report
            Sorry about your injury
            Wish there were fish there

            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


            • #7
              I was hoping for a picture of the busted shin, you know - to make us have sympathy (we have all been there). Great report, fall is a great time to be out and about up high

              Support the Mission Statement - buy the TU License Plate!


              • #8
                Print Quality

                The shot with the two trout strung on a stick over the open fire deserves to be printed and framed. A little cropping and you might even consider having some gelcleis made.


                • #9
                  Great photos. Looks like Conasauga? Is the wide-angle look from the lens attachments? Also, loved the cased caddis photo.


                  • #10
                    Snag and I were talking a lot about the lack of fish. It has declined a LOT since the first time I went in June of last year. I am sure last summer was brutal on it, then the fire on top didn't help.

                    I think unless you want some average rainbows and nice (burned) scenery, with a hike out that turns your legs to jello, it's prob better to go other places haha.

                    Yeah, the wide-angle look is from the moment wide lens. It's equiv of an 18mm on film.

                    I took a photo of my shin but it's not so impressive. One small ding that bled a little but feels like a bone bruise. Legs and shoulders are pretty tight today.

                    Between the high effort involved to get in/out, and the limited payoff, I'm sad to say it was prob my last trip to Cohutta. I'll be moving from AL in a little over a year, and I doubt it'll recover that much in 13 months to warrant me doing another trip there when I could go other, more family-friendly, places in my limited time to do this kind of stuff. If I was closer I might hit it up again, but 4hrs... I'll stick to sure bets.
                    Resident Tenkara Nerd


                    • #11
                      This was a STRONG trip report - thank you for sharing. Love the pics of the trout over the fire.

                      I too last fished the Conasauga before the fire, and had (for me) modest success there. The fish were very sensitive, but they were there and struck good presentations when I managed to approach without sticking my foot in the proverbial mop bucket. Haven't been back since, but a friend who has fished this place for years insists the Cohutta is probably three years away from 'normal' after the drought and the fire. He says the Jacks might be an even longer wait.

                      Have you ever done the snorkel hole at the other end of the wilderness?

                      I spent last week in GSMNP, fishing the Cataloochee area. If the Cohutta was four hours for you, Cataloochee is probably six - but I highly recommend Caldwell / Rough Fork / Palmer creeks as a troutpacking option if you enjoy the Conasauga.

                      Hope you're moving somewhere with good trout water!


                      • #12
                        I have not yet finished cataloochee, and yes it would be every bit of six hours.
                        I've mostly hit the Bryson City and Cherokee parts of the park. I love them even though I have not honestly done that well fishing in that area. I do not know where I will be going next but it's probably going to be South Korea hopefully followed by Japan, thanks for the kind words
                        Resident Tenkara Nerd


                        • #13
                          You got me jealous all the way from the West Coast iso! Thanks for such a well documented adventure (even if it took some bruises to accomplish it). I know it's been on your list for a while to head back up to N.GA. Authentic ramen and some grilled trout has me salivating on my keyboard already

                          Also, thanks your service to the country! If you head to SK and Japan I appreciate it even more, things seem like they are heating up even more now (whether on Twitter or ICBM's) but there would be the chance of catching some cherry trout!


                          • #14
                            Awesome pictures and great report. Wish I could have joined! Sounds like the Cohutta is out to get you -aren't you 2/2 for injuries in that area?


                            • #15
                              Wonderful report! The cased caddis was my favorite, and I like how you throw a nice little gear review in. Victornox make some sweet knifes and don't get enough credit. Simple and efficient. Not really loving their Swiss armies lately though. My dad left me a bunch of butchering and fillet Victornox. Everyday use for 20+ years breaking down quarters, and they still slice through carcai like butter. The handles on these knifes are still like right outta the box, which I would've thought would have deteriorated by now.

                              I was tempted to make fun of the tenkara, then I looked up that rod and somehow it turned into a tenkara YouTube marathon watching stealthy Japanese dudes creep up on fish. Was pretty interesting watching the tactics. Now I kindoff want one. Figure if I start fishing Tenkara, it'll give me the right to make fun of it without offending anyone. "I have a tenkara so I can say that." Can't wait!
                              We are the music-makers,
                              And we are the dreamers of dreams,
                              Wandering by lone sea-breakers
                              And sitting by desolate streams;
                              World losers and world forsakers,
                              On whom the pale moon gleams.