The Solar Eclipse on August 21st, 2017 will forever be one of the most amazing days living and just being in the Smoky Mountains of my life.
I headed out to Forney Creek by way of Fontana Lake at the 288 boat ramp just below Bryson City. Not much activity to report out of the ordinary before the actual eclipse got started. Typical hot August day with nary a cloud in the sky, spooky fish and very little activity. That all changed dramatically once the moon started making its way in front of the sun.
I carried a pair of the cheap solar viewing glasses with me and started watching the clock and then verifying the time with what I saw. You could have set an alarm with it. Once the Eclipse started, the action turned on like flipping a light switch. It was very similar to that late evening action you get just before dark, except only better. Caddis flies started getting very active for a brief time and birds got really quiet. Crickets started coming out by the hundreds, and you could see them on the banks moving around. Tons of crickets, more than I have seen at one time. The sound of them all was loud enough to hear above the rushing waters of Forney Creek. I had already anticipated the crickets in my pre-trip planing and had a Cricket dry fly tied on a dry/dropper setup. Glad I did some reading into an Eclipse before the trip. This pattern and setup absolutely wrecked house for me once the eclipse got started. I caught fish after fish on the sides of runs and in eddies of slower water. I suppose the crickets were out in so much force that plenty of them were falling into the water and the trout were going crazy for them.
I only fished a very short distance up Forney Creek as my family was with me, and our plans were to be at the forks of the river where the Tuckasegee River and Little Tennessee Rivers meet for the total darkness portion. So once the moon got to a 1/4 crescent we blasted down the lake to witness a possible once in a lifetime event together. As we we headed down Lake Fontana there were breaking bass all over the lake. Even more breaking fish than I would normally see on any given evening of fishing down there, and this was in the middle of the day! Definitely not typical of any Fontana bass fishing I’ve ever saw.
Watching the Eclipse was very surreal. It had to be the coolest natural occurrence I’ve ever seen. Living in the Smoky Mountains you get to see Mother Nature at her finest, but this by far surpassed any experience I’ve ever had. The fishing, for a brief time, was some of the best I have had in the park.
Once the sun poked back out we headed back up to Forney Creek. I tied the boat off in a hurry, and dashed back up stream to start fishing where I had left off. I was very anxious to see if the action was still that good. On my run back up the trail, I noticed the crickets had stopped chirping and the birds were singing again. I kept thinking over and over in my head that it was gone, gone with the passing moon, and maybe something I may never get to experience again. I’m sad to say that the magical fishing from just a short time earlier had disappeared with the Eclipse. Hopefully I’m still around and physically able to fish when the next Eclipse passes over the Smoky Mountains, as I cant wait to do this again!