Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 02/25/2018

Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Shad Time

If you are interested in streamer fishing for big trout, the time is now. Find out more in the February update from Trout Zone Anglers.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

A Warm Winter Reprieve

Cold. That has been the theme for this winter. For one stretch back in early January, streams were mostly too frozen over to fish, with the exception of tailwaters of course. At one point it was bad enough that a day above freezing was a warm day. Not that I mind cold days, but they do tend to put a damper on fishing activities. On top of that, I was busy the last half of January with two weeks of classes towards my outdoor education masters. The second of two weeks at the intensive was spent staying at a gorgeous lodge on the Watauga. Sadly, fishing was not the goal, so I mostly had to stare longingly from a distance. The intensive ended on Friday just before noon, and I didn't need to be home until evening.

With a couple of hours to spare, I hit the drive thru at Taco Bell for a couple of burritos and then headed up the Watauga to look for a good place to fish. Meandering up the river, I made it all the way up to Wilbur Lake. With no itinerary other than enjoying a few hours off, I wanted to see the scenery while I was there. As I headed back down the river, a plan started to crystalize in my mind. My car just naturally took me to one of my favorite access points on the river for wading and soon I was gearing up.

The day was warmer than any we had experienced for a while. I debated whether to wear my jacket or not. Realizing I would be too warm if I wore it, I just wore the long sleeve shirt and that was all I needed. The sun was toasty on my back and bright in my face every time I turned to fish towards it. Accordingly, I tried to fish with the sun at my back as much as possible.

A nymph rig seemed appropriate, although I saw just enough Blue-winged Olives and the occasional rise to convince me that fish could also have been caught on a dry fly. I also carried a streamer rod. Over the course of my two hours on the water, I caught all my fish on the nymphs, but moved some really good fish on the streamers. Unfortunately none of the streamer chasers connected with the hook, but next time I'll know where to look.

In the two hours I fished, I quickly lost track of how many I had caught. That isn't as impressive as it sounds, however. First, I normally lose track somewhere between fish number three and fish number five or six. Second, it appears that TWRA had done a thorough stocking job recently and dumped a bunch of fingerlings in the river. I didn't mind though. It was good to catch a few trout and there were just enough nicer fish mixed in to keep things interesting.

The day was close to winding down when I noticed that I had missed a call from a long-time client. I paused from my fishing long enough to call Tim back and he inquired how my day was going. He fishes the Watauga a lot and knew I was planning on fishing it a little. When I told him where I was fishing at, he gave some pretty specific directions. Wade to this spot, throw towards this log, let it drift down as far as you can, and repeat. Figuring I had nothing better to do and with time slipping away, I waded carefully into the described spot and started fishing.

As I fished through the spot, a strange thing happened. I was standing in the middle of the river when a drift boat bore down on me from above. Looking behind and realizing there was plenty of room for them to go around, I stayed put. The strange part was that they never even attempted to avoid my section of the river. With even depth all the way across, they opted to float past about 10 feet in front of me and right through the water I was fishing. Apparently some of the upper east Tennessee guides aren't as polite as the ones from Knoxville and points westward. Oh well, the day was too beautiful to let something like that ruin things for me so I shrugged a little and kept fishing.

With only minutes to spare, I noticed a large fish rise to inspect my indicator before hunkering down again. Big mistake on the part of the fish. I cast repeated to the spot until the fish realized how delicious my Pheasant Tail nymph looked and ate. The fight was a bit nerve wracking. Some fast rapids just downstream were exactly the sort of place you don't want to fight a hefty trout. With some solid pressure from my 9' six weight Orvis Recon, the fish turned and finally slid into the net. The big male rainbow had a perfect kype jaw. If this fish lasts another year or two in the river he will be a genuine monster.


That trout was the perfect consolation after having some less than polite people float through my spot. I had already pushed my self-imposed quitting time. With one last glance at the place I had caught the big trout, I turned and made my way out towards the car with another satisfying outing under my belt.


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

2017 Year in Review

Every year has its special moments, and 2017 will always be one of my favorite years. There were some great moments both fishing and guiding, and of course I found an amazing girl who actually goes fishing with me. That last one is what makes this past year so special to me, but some other moments stood out as well.

A quality brown trout started 2017 off on the right note. I had traveled to the Smokies for the famous "Bigsur's New Year's Day Karma Tradition" to see friends and hopefully wet a line. After saying hello to everyone, I snuck off to the stream and was lucky to be first through a good hole right near the picnic area. Sure enough, a nice brown trout slammed the streamer I was working against the far bank and my year was off to a great start!

Fishing stayed hot through the winter months and into early spring. We never had any extremely cold weather so the fishing in the Smokies stayed feasible right on through the winter. The highlight for me of this winter season was catching another beautiful brown on a favorite sculpin pattern while streamer fishing.


This fish was not a monster by Smokies standards, but the colors were great. And did I mention it slammed a streamer?

The spring hatch season started in a big way and just got better from there. The Blue Quills came off starting around February 20 or thereabouts. Fish rose every day. The problem was finding the hatch and the rising trout. On any given day, I rarely found more than 2-3 pools that were worth fishing. The hatch progressed upriver in an orderly fashion. If you found the bugs, then you also found the fish.

Two early season highlights stand out for me. The first was the slightly overcast day in late February that I fished with my buddy Pat Tully. We found great numbers of Blue Quills in several pools as well as an occasional Quill Gordon or Blue-winged Olive. The sight casting possibilities were endless. Because of the overcast, the hatch lasted much longer than it normally does on sunny days. We fished dry flies for hours. When the hatch petered out, we prospected with streamers and found another fish or two. I can't think of a better day on the water.

Photo Courtesy of Pat Tully ©2017





The second early season highlight was an early March guide trip that produced a large Smoky Mountain brown trout on a dry fly. Spencer had booked a day to polish some of his mountain techniques. We worked hard on nymphing throughout the day, but wanted to get in some dry fly fishing. I had a pretty good idea on where there might be some bugs. When we arrived at the pool, we found a few risers but not as many as I had hoped. The bright day probably had fewer fish rising than if it had been cloudy. Thankfully, we got lucky with one big brown at the head of the pool that liked his Parachute Adams.


After the early season hatches, things went into high gear and I was too busy to fish much. However, each exception to that produced some memorable highlights. One of my favorites was when I fished with David Perry and Susan Thrasher. We had a day to remember as time spent with friends is always hard to beat. The highlight was when I doubled up with Susan on a nice rainbow and brown trout. David Perry graciously snapped a picture for us to remember the day by! Guides guiding guides was certainly one of the highlights of 2017!

Photo Courtesy of David Perry ©2017

Early season guiding on the Caney was mostly limited to high water streamer and shad floats. These trips consistently produced some huge trout as should happen again this year. The one low water float of the early spring produced the largest guide trip fish of the year. The story surrounding this big trout was particularly amazing as an old curse was defeated. Check out the link above for more on that.


One of my absolute favorite trips of 2017 was in June. I actually had a few favorites in June and July, but the trip to Roan Mountain State Park to see the rhododendron and azalea was certainly one of the best. The rhododendron was as amazing as advertised, but the real highlight of this trip was the moment I realized what a special catch I had made. Leah and I had been dating for close to a couple of months at this point, but we had yet to go fishing. Leah was a good sport and agreed to fish a little on this trip up to northeast Tennessee.

We hit the Doe River in Roan Mountain State Park and found a few fish before the afternoon thunderstorms drove us off the water. Right before the rain started in earnest, Leah took big fish honors by starting off her fly fishing career with a big brown trout considering the small stream we were fishing. I couldn't have been happier. I'm still not sure if she knows how big of a deal it was to catch this fish on her first ever fly fishing trip, but I'm pretty sure she has some idea based on how excited I was.



The heat of summer often produces some of the best fishing of the year if you know where to go. This past year was no different. Guide trips produced some big trout on the Caney Fork and gorgeous brook trout in the Great Smoky Mountains. Smallmouth fishing had hit a consistent stride and night time trout trips on the tailwaters were heating up.


My favorite fishing in June, July, and August is usually the beetle fishing in the Smokies and on the Caney Fork River. This year was no different. My most memorable Smokies fishing of the summer involved an afternoon off after a morning 1/2 day guide trip. After dropping off my clients, I headed back to the Park to get in a couple of hours of fishing. In that time, I caught three trout. Two of them were sight fished with the beetle while the third also ate the beetle as I blind fished it in likely places.


The pinnacle of the whole year in terms of my own fishing and catching happened in late July. My buddy and fly tier extraordinaire Brandon Bailes and I had discussed a nighttime mousing trip on the Caney Fork. We finally got our schedules together and set off for an evening of fun and hopefully large trout.

We launched with some daylight left and spent our time alternating between nymphs/midges, streamers, and some dry flies when we found late evening sippers in slack water. We were almost halfway through the float when it got dark enough to begin the main event. Heavy rods, stout leaders, and meaty rodent imitations were tied on and we kept floating into the growing darkness.

Throughout the next couple of hours, we had two big blowups but failed to connect. Each heart stopping moment served as motivation to keep slinging the meat. Finally, we were approaching the takeout ramp and it looked like the mousing portion of the evening would be just enough to wet our appetites and not much more.

I was throwing to the shallow side of the boat and had made up my mind that this was the last cast when it finally happened. Something slurped quietly out there in the dark and my line came tight. I just kept stripping into things came tight. Momentarily I thought maybe I had snagged a log. When the log started swimming upstream I knew that I was in trouble. This was one strong fish! Thankfully, everything went smoothly and Brandon made a great net job on this big fish. My new personal best Caney Fork brown trout and on a mouse no less. Much thanks to Brandon for both the picture and the winning mouse fly! Let's make sure we do it again this year and get your monster brown in the boat Brandon...

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Bailes ©2017

There were lots more guide trip highlights throughout the second half of 2017. However, my fishing began to slow down somewhat. The exception to this also produced the last two highlights of the year for me. The first was in late August. I had been discussing a smallmouth bass excursion for a while with Daniel Drake of Little River Outfitters and Mark Brown of Chota. We finally nailed down a day that would work for all of us.

The day came and went much to fast, but I was left with some great memories of time spent on the water with friends. The interesting part of this fishing trip is that we didn't get any monster smallmouth. Most of the time, these Cumberland Plateau streams are good for at least one big smallie per day, but it was not meant to be on this particularly trip. Nevertheless, we found plenty of willing fish and had a great day of exploring with friends.


The last highlight of the year for me happened on a day of fishing with friends. I began the year with a nice brown trout in the Smokies, and I ended the year with a nice brown trout in the Smokies. Talk about the perfect way to begin and end the year!

Photo Courtesy of Leah Shulley ©2017

Now, while not fishing related, the best and most exciting highlight of the year happened on November 25, 2017. On that day, I asked my best friend to marry me and she said yes!!! Leah Shulley is an amazing young lady who loves the outdoors almost as much as I do. She is beautiful, smart, kind, thoughtful, loves adventure, and most importantly loves God. I'm super excited about sharing life with her!








Friday, December 29, 2017

End of Season Brown Trout

Winter fishing for brown trout is one of my favorite ways to spend time on the water. Not that I'll turn down fishing at other times, but having a stream to yourself is well worth the numb hands and frosted ears and nose that usually accompanies fly fishing this time of year. Not long ago, I managed to get out for a day on the water with my then girlfriend Leah (now fiancee!!! so more on that in another post!) and a couple of our friends.

The day was cool with clouds, but not as cold as what we are experiencing now. The fish of the Smokies were still just active enough that we had a chance. In fact, Leah started the day off in a hurry, catching a nice rainbow and a beautiful brown in short order. I was a little slower getting going, and thought I had messed up my day when I missed a really nice brown trout on a streamer several casts in a row. This was one hungry fish! Unfortunately, I could not connect, and so we went looking for other fish.



About this time, our friends Jayson and Hailey showed up. We all went into this day knowing that the fishing would be good but the catching might be slow to nonexistent. Instead, we were just glad to get out and enjoy some time in nature with friends. Imagine my surprise when we found a really nice fish sitting out at our next stop. Actually, to be more accurate, I saw the fish and spent the next few minutes trying to decide whether it was worth a cast or not.

Most of the time with large brown trout, it is a waste of time if they are just sitting down and not moving. That's not to say one won't bite under those circumstances, but they tend to be a little finicky to begin with. A fish that's not moving is not a feeding fish. This fish was moving side to side just enough that I figured there was a chance. After asking everyone else if they would mind, I ran and grabbed a rod and slipped down to the water.

Moving slowly into position, I had the advantage of a large boulder to sneak up behind. This allowed me to get within casting range without spooking the fish. After a handful of casts, the nice fish sat down, and I realized that, despite my careful presentation, somehow I had spooked the fish. Suddenly, I saw a shadow and realized that another fish was moving nearby. I was shocked to realize there was more than one big trout in this spot, but quickly made the cast. My leader ticked ever so slightly, and I set the hook hard.

The big brown trout came to the surface and rolled. Meanwhile, my buddy Jayson slid down the steep bank from where everyone had been watching and quickly grabbed my net to help. Amazingly, the 10' 3 weight TFO BVK rod I was fishing handled the fish in short order. The rod had a soft enough tip that I could really put a lot of pressure on the big trout without risking breaking my tippet. Yet, there was enough backbone deep towards the handle that it could turn the fish. Soon Jayson swooped in, and I was looking at one of the larger fish I've caught in the Smokies this year.

I'm not sure who was more surprised about me actually hooking and landing the fish. It isn't often that everything comes together just right when sight fishing one of these big brown trout. I was thankful to have pulled it off when I had friends around to help with pictures. Leah grabbed my good camera and started shooting away. I think she has natural talent with the camera because they turned out great!


Over the next 3-4 months, there will be more opportunities to sight fish to large brown trout. The cold water of winter is a lot clearer than the warm waters of summer. Cold water doesn't hold suspended solids as well, so even after a big rain it will clear quickly this time of year. Spend plenty of time walking the banks and looking for big trout. I find it helps to leave the rod in the car until a fish is located, otherwise you'll find yourself fishing just because. Once you find one, keep going back until you catch it out feeding. With enough time and effort, these big wild brown trout of the Smokies are catchable.

I'll be out there again through the cold months, but not as much as usual. I have a lot going on to keep me busy between work, school, and an upcoming wedding. Stay tuned for more on all of those! In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and letting me share with you.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Under Cover of Darkness: Hunting Big Nocturnal Brown Trout

For years, I have dabbled occasionally in fishing at night. Many of my largest fish have been caught at night, although that is a bit misleading since a lot of those were stripers. Long nights spent stripping streamers also resulted in a big brown trout here and there. One thing eluded me though: catching a big brown trout on a mouse pattern.

For the last couple of years, I have been inspired by my buddy Bryan Allison. Recently, his monster 30" brown trout on a night time mouse trip got me thinking about mousing again. Fast forward to a few weeks back when my friend Brandon Bailes checked in about the possibility of fishing the Caney Fork River. We have been trying to get our schedules together for a while, but this was the first time it looked like we could finally make it happen.

Yesterday, I started the day off early with a morning guide trip on the Caney Fork. After a quick lunch break midday, I headed back to the river to meet Brandon and get ready for our evening float. Imagine my surprise when he handed me a handful of his own creations. For anyone that doesn't know Brandon, he is an extremely talented fly tier who sometimes does orders for people who need some good custom tied flies. If you are interested in getting flies from him, then contact me, and I'll put you in touch with him.

Mouse Pattern from Brandon Bailes
"The Winning Mouse Pattern" Photo Courtesy of Brandon Bailes

I couldn't bring myself to fish such beautiful flies, but I did grab a mouse pattern from the bunch and added it to my box...just in case. After dumping the boat and running the shuttle, we started floating around 4:00 PM. Brandon started off on streamers and stuck with those faithfully until near dusk. I wanted to see how the nymph fishing was for future guide trips, so I drowned some flies under an indicator.

Early in the float, Brandon started having some really nice flashes on the streamer. We were both stoked for the evening and what it had to offer. Soon, my indicator dove, and I had a nice fish on. A battle scarred rainbow hit the bottom of the net moments later, and I got a quick picture. Just downstream, Brandon nailed a couple of beautiful brown trout on his streamer.

"First Fish" Photo Courtesy of Brandon Bailes

Caney Fork River brown trout caught on an ant
"On the Ant" ©2017 David Knapp Photography

We continued into the gathering darkness. By the time we were halfway through the float, we stopped for a brief dry fly session. Brandon nailed some nice browns on a flying ant of his. The fish were sipping in gentle currents as they are prone to do in the last light of day. The hits indicated that the fish were not altogether unfamiliar with terrestrials which is good news for the fly angler.

Light was failing fast now and before we continued through the second half of our float, we took the time to exchange sinking lines and streamers for floating lines and mouse patterns. Yes, you read that correctly...big nasty rodent imitations. Did I mention that Brandon ties some amazing flies? I dug out the fly that he had just gifted me with and tied it on to some stout 12 lb. fluorocarbon tippet. If a fish happened to hit, the last thing I wanted to do was worry if my line would hold.

Caney Fork River evening in the ClackaCraft Drift Boat
"Evening Reflections" ©2017 David Knapp Photography

The anchor was pulled back up and the boat continued into the mysterious darkness of night. We had no idea if trout would come out to play or not, but there is only one way to find out. This float is not for anyone unfamiliar with the river. Even on low water you could get yourself into some problems if you don't know where you are going. Thankfully, having rowed this river countless times, I could nearly do it with my eyes closed. All of those daylight floats really pay off when you fish at night. Sometimes you are thankful just to see a silhouette of trees against the stars for navigation. Other times, the river is wide and lazy and there are few opportunities for danger. Some sections are just too tight for safe casting and those we rowed quickly through.

Along the way, we discussed everything either of us had read on large predatory brown trout. Feeding habits and patterns were recalled and we began trying to really target specific water types where we expected these fish might happen to be at. At the end of one long pool, Brandon had an explosive strike but the fish refused to hit again. The same thing happened another 200 yards downstream, except this time the fish hit a second time and was briefly hooked. Then there was a lot of futile casting. Those two hits had us excited, but the next couple of hours just demonstrated how important it is to put in your time on these big fish.

We were drifting into a flat area that I always like to fish on low or high water. The fish just always seem to be there. I directed Brandon towards the left side of the boat where I expected the fish to be, and I aimlessly slung some casts to the right just in case. About the time I was thinking about pulling my fly out of the water for the final time and just working the oars it happened. Despite being in a section that I thought was wide open, my fly suddenly seemed very heavy. As I kept stripping, the heavy feeling began to throb, and I realized I was feeling the head shakes of a big fish as the "log" I thought I had hooked came alive.

The fish was clearly large, but how large we wouldn't know for several minutes. For a few seconds I questioned whether I had somehow nailed a smaller striper, but quickly discarded that for the lack of a scorching run. Even so, I briefly saw my backing before quickly getting the line back on the reel. The 7 weight rod was doubled under the weight of the monster. Brandon grabbed the net and a headlamp as I kept working the rod and the fish. It surfaced briefly just on the edge of the feeble glow from our light, and I knew it was only another moment before my big brown trout was in the net.

Finally, Brandon slipped the big boat net under the fish. I was glad for the large version of the Fishpond Nomad Boat Net. Anything smaller for a net and I would have been a nervous wreck. As it was, I was shaking and not from the cool night air. This fish was a monster with a big kype jaw. In other words, I had just landed my dream big brown trout on the Caney Fork River. For the second summer in a row, I found a new personal best fish on this special river.

Caney Fork River Monster Brown Trout on a Mouse Fly
"Rodent Eater" Photo Courtesy of Brandon Bailes

The next few moments were a scramble to keep the big fish in the water, set up some lighting, dig out the camera, and get ready for a couple of quick pictures. That accomplished, I then held the fish facing upstream in the gentle current. I probably spent longer than necessary holding on to this fish. I didn't want to let it go until I was absolutely certain that it was healthy and ready to swim another day. Fish like this are a treat to be enjoyed by other anglers again and again. Let them go so they can grow!

The Caney Fork River is amazing in its ability to produce big trout. The river can support a surprising number of very large fish given the opportunity. Good catch and release practices go a long ways towards insuring the opportunity for others to enjoy this fishery. If you enjoy catching big fish like the one above, release your catch. If I was ever going to put a fish on the wall, this one was probably the fish. It was perfect in every way, from the big kype jaw, to the rich coloration, and of course it was a big fish. Instead, I prefer to see them swim away to be caught another day.

Thanks to Brandon Bailes for coming to fish with me and kindly taking these great pictures. Also thanks for the winning mouse pattern! Check out his work if you need some effective, big fish catching flies!




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beetle Fishing

With the hottest days of summer also comes some of the best terrestrial fishing of the year. Ants, bees, hornets, grasshoppers, inch worms, and beetles are abundant and often end up in the water. Never mind how they get there, the important thing is that these bugs fall in the water and the fish eat them. Of all the options, ants probably provide the most consistent fishing while hoppers and beetles provide the most exciting fishing. Let me explain.

Ants fall into the water throughout the warmer months. In fact, fish can be caught on ants in the Smokies almost year round and certainly from April through October. This includes some of the larger brown trout a few select Park streams are known for. Subsurface offerings are usually the most consistent both in the mountains and on area tailwaters, although you will occasionally catch some really nice fish on top as well.

Hoppers and beetles, on the other hand, provide visually exciting sight fishing to wary trout, often in shallow water. Fish will usually eat a beetle given the opportunity. Hoppers are not far behind, but knowing your local water is important here. For whatever reason, there just isn't much hopper fishing in the Smokies. Not that you can't find a few fish willing to crush one, but that is definitely the exception rather than the rule. Beetles seem to be rather widespread however. I had this reinforced just a couple of weeks ago.

After a half day day morning guide trip, I decided to hit the water for a couple of hours to see how the fishing was on Little River. My goal was to either fish streamers or terrestrials with a strong preference for the terrestrials. Streamers are better in the winter, or at least that is when I prefer to fish them. Beetle fishing is best during the heat of summer once the Japanese beetles make their annual appearance. I made my way up to the river after a stop at Little River Outfitters and was soon looking down at a nice pool.

Sure enough, a quality brown trout was resting in a favorite lie in the back of the pool. This is a prime spot because it is accessible and easily approached without spooking the fish. I rigged up with my favorite black beetle pattern and dropped into the stream well downstream of the fish. Working slowly up the bank, I snuck into position behind a boulder just downstream of the trout.

Pulling enough line off the reel, I made a quick false cast and dropped the fly into the water just to the right of the fish and....nothing. Another cast looked perfect but the fish didn't even seem to know the fly was there. The third cast, well, the third time is a charm. The cast was about two feet upstream of the fish, and it rose confidently and ate without any hesitation. The hook set was clean, and while there were some tense moments during the fight, I soon had the fish in my net and ready for a quick picture.

Brown Trout Caught on a beetle in the Great Smoky Mountains on Little River

My day was made at this point. Sight fishing is my favorite thing to do in fly fishing so I was content. Thankfully, I didn't stop at that point.

My next stop was a pool that had several quality brown trout in it, at least it did as of a few months ago. I already knew where the fish should be but couldn't spot anything from my vantage point. Regardless, I wanted to throw a few casts so I scrambled down another bank and worked my way across the riffles downstream to get into position. Moving up, the first cast was right where it needed to be. Sure enough, a nice brown was waiting for me. This fight was less stressful than the last, but it was still satisfying to slide the net under another healthy fish.

While the day had been made twice already, I decided to try one more spot. Working up a rough section of water, the fish I had gone looking for didn't seem to be home. Not far upstream, I was ready to call it a day. There was a good rock wall where I could climb out, and I started up. Just as I hit the top, I glanced upstream and notice a shadow near the bank. Sure enough, another nice brown trout was sitting out just waiting for me.

A few casts later, I had my third quality brown trout in the net. Not bad for an hour or two of fishing with minimal expectations. I decided to call it a day before I pushed my luck too far. The stream had been more than generous, and I was satisfied.

 Last beetle caught brown trout on Little River for the day in the Smokies

The key to summertime beetle fishing is presenting the fly to the correct water. This seems obvious, and yet two of the three fish I caught were in water that most anglers would have overlooked. These mid-summer terrestrial eating fish are usually in shallow or shaded water (or both), often in "dead" water that most people don't even expect to see a fish in. Success is much higher if more time is spent looking than casting. Yet, for those who are patient, this pinnacle of fly fishing sport is a lot to offer. Rainbow and brook trout will also eat beetles well this time of year.

One word of caution is needed here. Water temperatures in the lower elevation brown trout streams are often getting higher during the day than an ethical angler should fish in. Please carry a thermometer and curtail your fishing activities if the water temperature is 68 degrees fahrenheit or above. My personal cutoff is 66 degrees and above. If you do find warm water, simply look higher in elevation for your fishing experience. Good fishing can still be had through the hottest part of the summer for those willing to explore.

If you are interested in learning more about beetle fishing in the mountains or on the tailwaters, I offer guided wade and float fishing opportunities across middle and east Tennessee. Please visit my guide site for more information on guided fly fishing trips. 

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