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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, after Way Too Long....I finally got back on the water. I drove up Monday for a shortened Fishing Trip and spent (5) days in the Mountains Trout Fishing. The first day was Windy and Cold (24 degrees).....so, I headed for Wolf....hoping the small lake would provide some shelter from the wind. I was totally out of sync....forgot to put the plug in the boat.....and the water at Wolf was so low, the ramp and pier were out of the water. I wedged my boat in anyway and went Fishing for the first time in (11) long months. I dropped in the exact same rigs I finished up with last Christmas.....and paid the price 20 minutes later when a nice 18-ish rainbow slammed my Rapala. i played him to the boat....where he lunged and broke me off.....taking both my Rapala and Dodger into the depths! I retied and caught two smaller fish....and then another nice fish set off the rod. I reeled him in and Again.....he broke off at the boat taking my second Rapala! I retied and caught another fish......and then it happened a Third Time! A nice fish broke off AGAIN....in sight of the boat ....taking a Third Rapala! Finally.....after several tests.....I realized my 8 lb fluorocarbon had deteriorated to something closer to 3-4 lb test. I finished with (4) Trout....and a lesson in how Unprepared I was for the trip.
Wednesday, I met up with Coach and we decided to go to Fontana and take his boat. We Casually trolled from Eagle Creek to the Dam and spent the time getting to know about one another and talking fishing. Despite 4-5 hours and (5) lines in the water with Rapalas, Spoons and a Crawler.....we never got a strike! It was still a Good Day!
Thursday....the nicest day of weather....I headed for Bear.....hoping for a repeat of last Christmas. I caught (9) Trout from 15-18 inches.....mostly on Rapalas. I caught them everywhere....from up the lake......to the dam. There was nothing too special. The Trout were right where I expected them to be....Not as hungry as last year.....but, certainly plenty of action. I kept (6) trout.
Friday.....after speaking with Coach again, we decided to fish Calderwood together.....this time taking both of our boats. I had not been to Calderwood in 5 or 6 years ....and it would be my first time trolling it. I started out with (2) Rapalas....and because it was new water for me as far as trolling.....I added a 3rd rod with a Wiggle Hootchie. Coach headed for the Dam.....and I was headed there too.....but, I kept marking fish....and I liked the way the water looked. I decided to start trolling a ways past slickrock....and had trolled for about 20 minutes when one of my Rapalas went off.....and the clicker was screaming! I set the hook....and and 6 or 7 minutes later.....i had a Beautiful 21 inch Rainbow for my first fish. I tried to handle him as little as possible and released him after a quick picture. Immediately (10 minutes) after that..... a Fish Story happened....which I'll discuss later. I finished my day on Calderwood at 4 pm with another (6) rainbows.....all 15-17 inches....all on Rapalas. I never made it past the halfway point of the lake. It was an awesome day to get back on that gorgeous water just the same.
Saturday....i was unsure.....but, decided to head back to Calderwood for my final day. I started out with a Trout on the Hootchie....in the same area from the day before. After a couple of hours of no action.....i decided to run to the dam. I put out the (2) Rapalas again.....and threw out the Hootchie for good measure. The hootchie went off after about 5 minutes. After that, I made large lazy circles near the dam.....and caught (3) more trout....all 15-16 inch fish....all on the Hootchie. I decided to head back again to the area where I had the best luck around 1:30. I trolled the Rapalas and the Hootchie....and caught (3) more Trout and a Perch....all on the Hootchie. Everything i caught Saturday was on the Hootchie.....I never had a single strike on the Rapalas??? I finished with (8) Trout and a Perch for my last day.

Wolf was 53 degrees, Fontana was 61 degrees, Bear was 54 degrees and Calderwood was 58 Degrees

Quality was excellent....i never caught a Trout under 15 inches. Moving to larger baits has helped. The Hot Steel Rapala 9 and a Custom Hootchie did All of the damage. The Trout were mostly Healthy and Fat. I caught (28) Trout over (5) days......including One 21 inch Beauty ....and a heckuva Fish Story! I'll post about the Fish Story soon.....because I think it's important in some ways,,,,but, it's just a Fish Story. Weather was definitely a factor.

It was a Pleasure to fish with Coach and his Wife. It was a Great Trip....and I look forward to being better prepared at Christmas......Cheers!....D

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So.....the Fish Story, First.....I am a card carrying member of the "No Pics.....Didn't Happen" club. I also always enjoy the words over my local Bass Pro entrance....."Welcome Hunters, Fishermen and other Liars" and get a chuckle out of it every time I see it.

Having said that......i was trolling on Calderwood. I had just caught the nice 21 inch Rainbow and was feeling good. I really like all the huge boulders and fallen trees in Calderwood. I was playing a game of "chicken" with the laydowns on the shore.....trying to keep my Rapalas close.....without hanging them up in the trees. About 10 minutes after I caught the Bow.....one of my Rapalas just stopped....and the line began clicking out steadily.....so I turned the boat around and took the motor out of gear, I didn't jerk it, because I was hoping to get it back. I reeled in the other two lines to keep them out of the prop and started to tighten up the hung-up line to try and determine exactly where I was hung up in the trees. As i reeled up the lead core line....i was hoping to just pull it in the opposite direction and get my rig back. As I tightened up to the tree......I was surprised the tree was in a very different place.....and moving. My line slowly swam up past the boat....and I realized i had a live fish on the other end. I figured it was probably a large Catfish or maybe a better Rainbow Trout. As I started working with him....I tightened up and realized it was pretty big. After a good 7-10 minutes I got it near enough to see it....about 10 ft down under the boat. it was a Trout!....a Big One! The fish had not panicked....and I was able to guide it slowly around the boat a couple of times. I estimated it to be 25-28 inches (I had just caught a 21 inch fish). I knew I had very little chance of landing it....I was clearly outmatched and not prepared for a fish this big. After a couple of passes, i saw the yellowish silver color and the spots and knew it was a big Brown Trout! I decided to ease my net into the water as I kept "swimming" the fish around my boat. I swam her past the net a couple of times.....and on the third pass.....I moved the net in front of her head....and tried to ease her head first into my net. As soon as I moved the net a little bit towards her.....she BOLTED towards the fallen trees. I couldn't stop her. i felt her thrashing for about 8-10 seconds.....and then it went dead. I eventually got my rig out of the trees.....minus my FOURTH Rapala of the trip.

It's just a Fish Story.....but, I'll always have that memory....And.....I'm excited to know those Big Browns live in Calderwood! It was really a Nice Day and Memorable Adventure for my first day back on Calderwood. I think it's a pretty Special Place....and I'll be Back! Cheers and Good Luck to Everyone Else!
 

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Nice report! Sounds like you had a really good trip! I wish I could get just a little dialed in closer to this! I started thinking you had line issues after the second loss on Wolf. I hate losing those Rapalas, they aren't cheap! Good fish story too. I guess we all have stories of the one that got away. Those are the ones I sometimes think of over the course of years during quiet times like while lying in bed at night, or long drives, or in deer stands, always second guessing myself if there was something I could have/should have done differently. Regardless, you'll relive that fond memory from now on.
And I believe you, even IF you don't have pictures to prove it...I guess...maybe...(wink)
I believe I remember reading in one of these threads Trout girl has told us there are some monster Browns in there.
I thought of doing a last of the year one-day trip up to Cheoah this weekend but decided to wait on a deer instead. It paid off. I got a mature 8 pointer after passing up a mature 6 on T'giving and a smaller 6 two days later. I do have pictures :cool:

One last thing. It's an absurdity( maybe even breaks some cosmic law) for a fisherman to go 11 months without fishing. Life's short man!
Thanks again for the good read!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Calderwood had 4-5 campers at it.....due to the holiday weekend no doubt. Other than Coach and his Wife.....I saw almost no one else fishing. On my last day....Saturday....as I approached the ramp around 4:30....another small boat pulled in behind me. He had a young 6 point buck he had shot in his boat. I thought that was interesting.

As far as Fishing.....unfortunately/fortunately....it was a Very Busy year. I considered not coming for Thanksgiving.....but, the other folks in my orbit Insisted I GO! I was pretty "burnt".

The Large Brown Trout....and the healthy population of Rainbows really struck me. I remember a couple of years ago when the pic below was posted of a 20 lb plus Brown Trout out of Calderwood. The pic was taken close by at Outland Gas and Groceries. Daydreams....D

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great report D,

Glad we played a small part in it.
We stay at Fontana Village and basically fish Calderwood--11 miles away and Cheoah 1.5 miles away. This is year 3. The wife and I always have at least some success on both each fall. This year it was a pleasure to meet and fish with "D". He really is a good fisherman. He kicked our Butts.

We (I drive the boat, Michele reels in the catch) caught about 16 trout in 6 days and brought 14 home-all 14"-17" and only hooked one stud on a shad rap and the hooks pulled. We had most luck on 4'' dodgers and nightcrawlers(10) and a couple on spoons and plugs. Only one hit my pinkish hootchie. All were caught in the15-30' depths over 50-100' FOW.

I came up on "D" right after he lost that big Trout and he was as excited as a little kid.

I just booked Fontana Village for next Thanksgiving week. Can't wait for the Thanksgiving Buffet again.

Off to Cherokee in Dec and lake Jocassee in March

Have a great Holiday season

Coach
 

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Glad we played a small part in it.
We stay at Fontana Village and basically fish Calderwood--11 miles away and Cheoah 1.5 miles away. This is year 3.
Coach
The last overnight trip I stayed in Robbinsville at that little mom & pop motel. After loading up I drove all the way down to the head of Calderwood and then back up to Cheoah, up, down, around those curvy steep roads...with the tailgate down on my Tundra pickup. Tackle bags, cooler, PFD's and assorted other gear just inside the tailgate. Didn't realize it obviously, until I got to the ramp. Amazingly, everything stayed in, didn't lose a thing!
With a couple of exceptions which was years ago I haven't stayed at Fontana Village but for sure it would be convenient to any of the lakes there. The little motel in Robbinsville is dated but clean and friendly, and reasonably priced. Hope to get back some weekend in January.
 

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Fellow fisherfolks

Anyone who fishes Cheoah (2 min away) and Calderwood (19 min away) should consider a stay at Fontana Village Resort. Remember--it's old but has charm(needs tlc) and clean.
TVA took control and is making improvements each year. It is very safe to leave boat and equipment. The cabins have full kitchens. They even allow dogs. It is very reasonable and the 2 restaurants on grounds are reasonable and very good. There is a gas station with a store at the entrance and they even sell non-ethanol fuel. There is a big store, a laundry, a post office and an ice cream parlor.

WE LOVE THE PLACE!!! Already grabbed a reservation for Thanksgiving week next year. Maybe in the summer as well

Lots of options----Bear, wolf, cedar cliff a lil over an hour away, Santeelah about 40 min, Nantahala, about 50 min and Fontana right there as well as the 2 lakes below
On a windy day, we go mess around in Cherokee -only 50 min away---No trout the day we went but we saw a few ELK.

obviously we are sold

Happy Holidays

Coach
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As far as Fontana Village goes....I have to say I was impressed with it when I met up with Coach. The TVA is apparently looking for a New Operator.....as it was closed and surrendered due to the lack of business after the Covid shutdowns. It is still maintained well....and you can't beat the location for Fontana, Cheoah and Calderwood. I am considering it myself for my trip in a few weeks for at least a part of my trip.

I want to spend some time next on Cheoah. I think it is very unpressured water....and may hold some Large Trout. 15-17 inches was the norm for 80% of what I caught last week.
Cheers!...D

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I stayed at Fontana Village maybe 16-18 years ago in one of the cabins with a couple kayaking friends. I believe it was the weekend we paddled Calderwood and through the old tunnel. It was pretty run down but we didn't care. Previously we stayed at the campground behind the dam. Then my wife and I took our daughter up when she was maybe two and stayed in the hotel. That would have been almost 14 years ago and I don't really remember much about the hotel.
Is it reasonably priced? And D, where do you usually stay? Not exactly a large selection of accommodations up that way...and I'm cheap!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Like you said...."Not exactly a large selection of accommodations up that way". The selection is even smaller when you're towing a boat. One of the first things I look at is the Parking. There is a Cabin I borrow occasionally.....but, otherwise, the Microtel at Bryson City is reasonable. If I book far enough ahead, I can usually get a good rate. I have also developed a relationship with them. They closed up last year.....but, have reopened. Nothing fancy.....but, clean and centrally located between the Gems and Fontana/Santeetlah. Great Smoky Mountain Bait and Tackle is nearby.....and various Ethanol Free Gas Stations and Grocery Stores are also in the area. I don't do much other than Fish, Eat and Sleep while I'm up there. I like to get AWAY from crowds and let myself enjoy the area. I have learned that accepting a little cold weather is a pretty good trade off......and the fish don't seem to mind. Cheers!....D
 

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I believe Cheoah and Calderwood are underfished. I stayed at Fontana Village in the summer for 10 days just before covid and had No more than 1 other boat on either lake. Other than 1 time on Calderwood- ( in march one year, we caught over 50 trout-all 12'' on top all over the lake--had to be fresh stockers) the fish always average 15-16 ''.

Fontana is an older resort but it is so convenient to the lakes we like to fish. I know the resort so I know what cabins make for easy boat parking as well. Ethanol free gas at pit stop gas station at FV also. Getting Bait is an issue though. You gotta plan. From Florida I stop at Hammonds outside of Atlanta or drive to Bryson city. If I do bring Live bait, I generally keep the shiners in my Boat's 20 gal livewell and grab a five gal bucket at the boat launch for water changes at the cabin. I keep my 5 gal buckets in milk crates to avoid tipping over. I buy 6 dozen night crawlers in Florida 2 weeks out, get them in Fat n Sassy bedding in 2 flip over worm boxes and keep in my patio fridge til go time. This eliminates the black dirt mess in my boat.

Coach
 

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Okay now, I hadn’t thought of transferring crawlers to worm bedding. Good idea! I’m a bit OC (without the D) about my boat and hate spilling that worm dirt. Once through C’Mas I’m tracking down a container and bedding. I think they have it locally at Dunham’s.
 

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I am done with black dirt. You have to give them two weeks in the Fat & Sassy bedding to get it out of their system. I add worm food and I even change the bedding the day before too. I use the frabil styrofoam flip-over two-sided boxes. 3-3 1/2 dozen do fine in each. I put the Frabil box in an old Coleman 8 qt lunch cooler with an ice pack-it fits perfect. On the trip I rotate boxes. Eliminating the black dirt and replacing it with clean bedding has made my life better.

I have my crawlers from Thanksgiving and will use them over the 12/27-1/1 trip to cherokee and release any left after. I will do a new group for the March outing to Jocassee and a new group for our summer trip

Coach
 
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