By Randy Cutler
With the feel of a tick, tick, tick, and my line moving behind a large rock I knew I had a bronze backed river monster at the other end.
I set the hook hard and didn’t feel anything at first. Then with the sound of my drag screaming and pole bent in half I felt what at the other end I thought was a very large fish.
Coming to the surface it porpoised barely leaping out of the water as the fight was on. All along waiting for my light 8lb test line to snap. It took what felt like eternity but actually lasted probably 15 minutes before landing this large citation smallmouth bass in my net in the swift Nolichucky currents.
The Nolichucky River was named by the eastern tribe of the Cherokee Indians as the River of Dangerous Waters. Due to the rock outcrops and ledges that produces undertows and currents in the upper section in the Cherokee National Forest.
While swift currents and granite bluffs may produce a challenge to most boaters, the potential for trophy smallmouth bass has increased due to the water quality and awareness of conservation and preservation issues. This habitat is ideal for a large population and large size of these trophies.
Anglers have the possibility to fish from the bank, but most of the river is bordered by private property or National Forest.
This is a river of few places to launch or land a larger boat. Flat bottom jon boats will not work either because of the speed and depth of the water in most runs. Kayaks and rafts are the ideal and only way to float and fish the entire river system. Easy to handle in faster and shallow areas with the ability to control safely while fishing and floating.
Some areas allow you to beach the boats and fish an area with more coverage and finesse.
One of the fastest growing markets in the watercraft industry has been sit-on-top kayaks set up and built around the angler. With plenty of room and storage for gear and rods and only has a draft in the water of only a couple inches.
Personal pontoons and other larger rafts draft low as well but offer a higher platform to fish from and these boats have more ability to slide through the white water areas with ease while casting.
With the heat of summer upon us now it is a time of the fish staying cool in highly oxygenated water. In either in fast shallow runs, shaded rock drops, or between granite ledges near swift currents.
Plenty of bait fish, crayfish and other prey in abundance all sharing the same areas. Although late spring prior to the spawn is the best bet for citation size catches, the heat of summer pulls them together in the upper mentioned locations making a list of patterns for you to throw your favorite lures or live baits.
The fall, the best season for smallmouth action, can be had anywhere in the river. You can use any lure as long as it’s a silver and black Tiny Torpedo made by Heddon.
With short bursts of the propeller tipped fish killer or long faster retrieves through current runs you will catch a high amount of rod bending small jaws as the leaves turn the magnificent colors of autumn.
Grab your favorite rod and reel and a hand full of baits and go try the Upper Nolichucky, Pigeon, or French Broad Rivers or use these same ideas on your favorite rivers or streams. The dangerous waters are full of surprises and the possibly your fish of a lifetime.
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My TN Outdoors
By Randy Cutler