By Dan Foley
My dad and I decided to take a boat camping trip this July (2008) on Fontana Lake, which forms the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We launched the 16′ Jon boat around noon. Then we sped off to our destination: Forney Creek.
The lake was as smooth as a mirror, but it was still a half hour boat ride to enter the inlet of the lake called Forney Creek. Another ten minutes and we got to the actual creek itself. When we arrived we saw many people chatting and fishing. “Oh no!” we thought, “The campsite will be packed!” Then we decided to scout out the campsite anyway. There was a tree close to the bank that we tied the boat to, and we set off. (Without our packs.) To our surprise it was a large, shady campsite with a half dozen fire rings and millions of places to pitch tents, and not one person in sight! We returned with our packs and quickly set up camp.
It was midafternoon by this time and there weren’t many fish out. Never mind that, we each took a couple of casts at a few promising-looking spots upstream. We got a couple of rises and decided to try one more spot before going back. It had been cloudy all day, and I thought I saw lightning just after casting. We hurried back to camp, but it did not rain. We sat around reading our books and snacking on some trail mix for about half an hour, then decided to go downstream before cooking dinner. I lost a lure in a tree, but we still got a few rises. At a picnic table next to our tent we cooked our Mary Jane’s Farm Organic black beans and rice and served it on warm tortillas. Then we had some freeze-dried ice cream. My dad built a fire and we sat around it and talked for a while before going to bed.
In the morning, my dad got up before I did, had some tea, made a fire, and fished some. I got up and we had some oatmeal. We fished upstream some more and I caught a nine-inch rainbow trout. My dad said that if it were evening we would have had trout on a stick as an appetizer. We let it go and headed back to camp. We took down the tent, packed up, and headed to the boat.
As we launched the boat, I was standing next to it in a few inches of water. Right next to my feet there was a water moccasin resting in the shade of the boat. As soon as I saw that I jumped into the boat. We fished in the inlet for about ten minutes. Little one-inch rockbass kept following my dad’s fly, while I aimed for a big fish on the other side of the boat. Neither of us caught a fish, but we rode home happy, because we had spent the night in the great outdoors.
By Dan Foley