I received a courtesy copy of The Fly Fisherman’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by H. Lea Lawrence and was asked to review the book. I was little hesitant to do so. After all I am an engineer by trade, not an english major, and asking a fly fishing junkie to review a book about fly fishing in one of our nation’s crown jewels is like feeding steak to a lion and asking him if it was any good.
Good Steak, Good Book
My fears melted away as I dug into The Fly Fisherman’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as it quickly became evident that H. Lea Lawrence, a lifelong outdoorsman and freelance writer who grew up in the shadows of the Smoky Mountains, had crafted an authoritative guide.
Informing, Entertaining and Engaging
In a nutshell, the three things I look for in a good book are that it informs, entertains and engages the reader and Lawrence delivers on all three. Rather than just jumping into the details of the 700+ miles of beautiful trout streams that grace the Smokies, Lawrence takes the time to review the storied history of our nation’s most visited national park and the lives of it’s many inhabitants, which for me really puts fishing in the park in perspective.
Native Brook Trout: An American Icon In Peril
Central to one of the key themes of the book, Lawrence chronicles the existence of South Appalachian Brook Trout in the Smoky Mountains. Having endured the near destruction of virgin forest by logging companies in the 1920’s and later acid rain from airborne pollution, the National Park Service ultimately stepped in and closed to fishing nearly forty streams and their tributaries inside the Park in an effort to preserve and restore the native brook trout population.
Restricted Waters Map
Lawrence demonstrates his extensive knowledge of trout streams in the Smokies in preparing a very detailed ‘Restricted Waters’ map identifying all the streams closed inside the park at the time the book was published in 1998. I am please to say that 12 years later almost all these streams have just recently been opened to fishing after having been closed for more 30 years! If you think about it, what seems like a dated map is now quite valuable. Can you imagine how gullible those brookies are that have not seem a fly in 30 years?
Rigging, Flies and Trout Stream Details
I won’t drone on too much longer here, but sufficed it so say I enjoyed The Fly Fisherman’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to the above, included is the prerequisite information on rigging, flies and an excellent review of the best trout streams in the Little River Drainage, Little Pigeon River System, Pigeon River Drainage, Oconaluftee River System, Little Tennessee River Drainage and Cades Cove area.
Thanks for a great book Lea!