As I sit here and write this, the outside thermometer reads -4 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not one to turn my nose up at
soaking bait, while sitting on top of hard water, and staring through a 10” hole. But, I can’t help but think of warmer days,
while wet wadding through the high mountain, freestone streams of the Smokies.
The Smokies are smoking. Literally. As wild fires ravage the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge areas, I reminisce of days spent
along the many streams within and outside of the park with my good friend, and mentor, James Marsh.
I would often drive five hours one way to fish the Smokies. Sometimes going when I only had a day to fish. It was always worth
it, even if the fishing wasn’t on fire. There is something special about those wild brook trout that inhabit the high elevation
streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. Their brilliant spots, orange bellies, and of course their white tipped fins. They’re
even more brilliant when they get closer to the spawn. Now, I’m only able to tangle with their larger cousin, the dolly varden.
Since moving to The Last Frontier, some would say I have been spoiled. 100 fish days are not uncommon when the egg
hatch is on, and you have to try to not catch fish. But, there are still days when the fishing is tough. Mostly when there are
significant water changes.
I remember a time fishing one of the streams in the Smokies when it was raining high on top of the mountain. James and I
were sitting there watching the water turn to chocolate milk before our eyes, and rise much faster than we wanted it to.
Before it completely blew out, I managed to entice the same brown trout to chase my swung leech twice. Needless to say, I
I don’t often get many clients that want to strictly fly fish or swing bugs, due to the fact that people are looking to fill their
coolers with brilliant orange tasty salmon meat. Most of my days guiding are spent pulling lures or soaking roe under a
bobber, in hopes of enticing anadromous fish that have other things on their mind, besides eating. As fishing goes, some
days are better than others.
Have I become spoiled here in Alaska? Some people think so, but that’s mostly because of all the awesome scenery pictures
I share on the inter webs. I do like to brag every now and then to friends back home, but that’s mostly because they’re
catching lake run stocked rainbows and I’m catching actual wild, anadromous steelhead. Just kidding guys.
I’m all over the place when it comes to which method of fishing I prefer. Some days I will swing with my bamboo spey rods,
others you can see me chucking a bobber and bead with my centerpin. There are days I still fish a single hand plastic rod,
but I truly enjoy swinging flies while holding a grass rod built by true artists and craftsman.
Swinging a fly all day long will humble even the most spoiled fisherman. Even if they do manage to have a day where the bite
Christopher Tobias, and his beautiful wife Hillery, own Roe Hard Guide Service based out of Wasilla, Alaska. Roe Hard Guide
Service operates on the Susitna River drainage targeting wild Alaska salmon and large wild rainbow trout. Get out from
behind that screen and see what Alaska has to offer.
Scribblings from a bait chucking purist.
by Christopher Tobias
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
December, 2016 Issue
Christopher Tobias holds a USCG
Masters License, Alaska Guide License
and is co-owner of Roe Hard Guide
Service, based out of Wasilla, Alaska.
Roe Hard Guide Service operates on the
Susitna River drainages and Kenai
Chris on the oars