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Coming August 26th – SCOF 52 Ascofalypse Now

Nolichucky Gorge: No Googans Allowed - FALL 2015

The Nolichucky River Gorge is the elephant in the room sitting on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. Most of us drive past it on our way to more hospitable trout waters to the north or south, but all of us crane our necks trying to get a peek into the narrow slot winding its way down from Poplar. The Gorge has always been a playground to the whitewater crowd, but to the fly fisherman in the area, the Gorge and its smallmouth have always seemed a little too big, remote, and involved for a regular gig on the Appalachian fly fishing circuit.

Having to rely on one’s self in a fishing situation has become rare in our neck of the woods, and we have become lesser outdoorsmen for
it. This Gorge is no place for novice oarsmen — it flips knowledgeable boats every year. From the put-in to the take-out, you’re responsible for your own safety. A point made abundantly clear when you realize the only way in or out of the Gorge is the active railroad track on river left that runs the entire course of your journey. So if somebody gets injured, don’t expect an ambulance to pull up riverside. While this remoteness doesn’t make a gorge trip easy or safe, it does make it a lot sweeter than car-hopping holes on the local delayed harvest. Not to say you’re going to be by yourself (the exception to that rule is low water) in the Gorge, but at least the people you’re going to share it with worked just as hard as you to get there.JTVCYWRyb3RhdGUlMjBncm91cCUzRCUyMjElMjIlNUQ=With 25 rapids up to class IV on the run when you’re fishing, you’re holding on. And when you’re rowing, you damn well better be rowing. In between rapids, 3000 feet of Appalachian mountain rock will be towering over you making you feel small for the first time in a long time. These walls also seem to make the smallmouth feel much wilder than their urban cousins living down the mountain. Every
flash of bronze from behind a car-sized boulder is deliberate and aggressive. Lazy, pastoral eats don’t exist in the Gorge. The fish couldn’t survive in such a lackadaisical manner in a free-stoner that fluctuates up to 1000 cfs in a couple of hours when the rain really comes down.Extending your gorge trip to overnight is highly preferred. More fishing time, more campfire, more whiskey, leads to more howling at
trains as they careen through the Gorge in the middle of the night only feet from your hammock. Don’t be shocked by your neighbors camping across the river. If they’re willing to walk the tracks a couple of miles in, you should be willing to take the all-night revelry and
the best impression of Ozzy Osborne’s maniacal “Crazy Train” laugh you’ve ever heard.I’ve never been on two trips in the Gorge that were the same. The flows, the fishing, the people are always different. The only constant I find is that when I finally row out, a sense of disappointment sets in knowing that it will be far too long before I get back.We would like to give big SCOF ups to the boys at Asheville Fly Fishing Company, for running logistics on this Gorge run. The cushiest of the cush fellas.