Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 8/13/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. Caney Fork floats are happening either early or late, and in the Smokies we are fishing the high elevations to beat the heat.

Terrestrials are now a strong producer no matter where you fish. Beetle fishing has been good this summer. There are still fish ready to slam a beetle or hopper. In the mountains I prefer a beetle or ant while on the tailwaters I lean towards a hopper or beetle although ants work well there also. Hike in fishing on the brook trout streams is still good right now although flows are low enough that you need to focus on stealth.

On the Caney Fork, the great sight fishing opportunities of summer are in full gear. Daily midge fishing to big trout is a possibility. Night times can produce some exciting fishing on streamers or even mouse patterns. Just be careful out there when its dark. The river is unforgiving even in the daylight.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been good to great. Fish are looking up as usual for this time of year. When they don't want to hit flies on top, crawdad or baitfish patterns will work.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Friday, December 29, 2006

Firsts, the South Holston

The Trout Zone has officially invaded another river. After returning to the same places time after time for years, I have been spending some quality time exploring new water. The Clinch happened recently and today it was time to knock off the South Holston. This premier trout stream is known for its prolific insect activity which feeds the often trophy sized fish. So with visions of giant Browns cluttering my thoughts, I made the 3 hour drive to the northeast tip of Tennessee. I arrived at about the same time that TVA shut off the generator at the dam and the river dropped quickly to a fishable level. A very nice rainbow soon graced my fly with its presence. This turned out to be the best fish of the day. Even though I had high hopes of a good brown, it was not to be on this day. I did spook some fish that were large enough to make me a bit nervous when I afterward had to enter the water. Despite my new fears, I soon got over them enough to continue fishing and even caught some more fish. The fish were taking extremely small bugs. Here at the Trout Zone we are usually very lazy and hence did not have appropriately small bugs. Not to fear though, before another trip to this river occurs, I will put in some serious time at the vise and prepare a supply of tiny midges. Of course, all devoted readers are welcome to make donations as well. Inspite of the lack of proper flies, I caught plenty of fish and had a really nice day that was exceptionally mild for the end of December. Here's to dreaming of another day on the SoHo...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter Finally Arrives

Seasonally normal temperatures have finally made at least a brief visit to the great state of Tennessee. With a dark sky that produced precipitation alternating between a fine drizzle and snow flakes, I gave thought to the large fish that sometimes come out to feed under such conditions. Of course, this called for a trip to the Caney Fork for the afternoon so after a large breakfast, I was soon rolling west down I-40. Upon arriving riverside, I saw that feeding fish were periodically working a short stretch upstream aways. I rigged up with hands that were numb before I even started tying on a fly and wondered about my intelligence. The fish were still feeding though so I was soon knee deep in the Caney. After missing several fish I finally had a small rainbow on. However, I struggled to get any more action and finally decided a change of scenery was in order. After a short run farther upstream, I started fishing a much more familiar section and soon had another fish on. This turned out to be another standard stocker rainbow (at right). I continued up to where a I had missed a very large rainbow just days before. Working thoroughly, I finally found the fish or its nearest cousin only to actually lose my fly to it this time. Of course, this is completely unacceptable and I want you all to be assured that I will be back soon to find this fish and settle our differences once and for all. I'll also make sure and document said fish with a photograph. After breaking off, I seriously considered calling it a day but decided to fish a bit further downstream. I caught one or two more fish and finally called it a day. Right before I left, a guy from TWRA stopped to check my license. This definitely made my day! It was the first time I've ever been checked on this river so I'm glad to see some enforcement taking place. Anyway, I have a trip to the South Holston in the works so I may be gone for a few days. Check back soon though for pictures and stories from a stream that is new to me!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!

This past year has been a great one for fishing. Between Colorado Gold Medal streams and some of the finest waters Tennessee has to offer, I've been fortunate to put in more than my fair share of time on the stream. As we rapidly approach the new year, it is time to start thinking about goals for next year's fishing, places to go, fish to catch, techniques to master, new friends to meet, the list goes on and on. Hopefully the new year will bring in some exciting changes here at the Trout Zone as well, most important of which will be more posts and topics of interest to our readers. Please feel free to contact us at the Trout Zone by email (see profile) for any comments or suggestions or to share your own great stories. We are always looking for stories that will be of interest to the fly fishing public. I have a couple of trips coming in the near future as well so be sure and check back for reports from East Tennessee...

I hope that everyone has a great Christmas and a happy New Years. Be sure and take some time to get out on the water to experience some great fishing!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good Fish

I woke up late this morning expecting to just be lazy and tie a few flies. However, when I got online I saw that the water temp in Little River was starting off at a balmy 45 degrees. Despite my late start, I figured that today would be as good a day as any and headed towards the park. I wanted to focus on trying to get a really good fish today so after stopping at Little River Outfitters for a few things, I headed up LR and started hitting some of the big holes. I started catching fish right away but nothing over 10 or 11 inches. After hitting several different holes, I returned to one in particular that I usually do well at.

A large black stonefly nymph came out of my fly box and I started chucking it in at the head of the pool. On just the third or fourth cast, I had one of those great strikes where the line just stops and when you set the hook, something heavy is shaking its head. I was really hoping that it was a decent brown but out of the depths came a flash of rainbow. Now I was excited since I haven't got as many nice rainbows this year as in years past. Finally, I had the fish, all 15 inches of rainbow, up for a quick picture (which didn't turn out too good) and slid it back into the pool I had taken it from. Here's the best of the 3 pictures I got of the good rainbow.


The fishing today was very good, easily the best I've seen in a couple of months. Fish were feeding heavily just about everywhere I stopped. I even saw a good brown out cruising in one hole. There were good numbers of midges hatching. A Tellico, Zebra Midge, and of course the stonefly nymph all did well today. Most of the fish I saw were feeding subsurface but there were a couple of rises over the course of the afternoon.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another Day Fishing

The Caney Fork had a nice generation schedule on Monday so I went down for the afternoon. Fishing two days in a row is great but your casting arm can get kinda tired, what a rough life... Anyway, I got down to the river and drove around a little while looking over some different spots on the upper river. I finally figured out where I wanted to fish and got down to the water. I was hoping the fish would be feeding heavily but there was only sporadic activity on the surface. Probably the bright sun wasn't helping in that department. Anyway, I tied on my usual dry with a midge dropper and started exploring. The fish were not as easy to find as they are sometimes but I finally got into a few. As the afternoon wore on, the fish became a little more active and I started moving up river towards the area with the best activity. I spotted a very large fish rising upstream and slowly worked into position. By the time I was in the right spot, the fish was not longer rising so I had to guess where I thought he might be. The second cast was apparently right on the money as my dry sucked under and the battle was on. Unfortunately, the fish had somewhere else to be apparently and took off downriver like a freight train. Scared that my 6x would pop at any moment, I felt the sudden surge of the fish towards the surface. Mouth gaping, I stared in awe as my tiny midge popped out of the jaw of a very heavy rainbow and then stood grumbling to myself. Finally I realized that nothing would bring that fish back and I started moving upriver again. Because of the aforementioned sore arm, I worked a bit on casting with my left hand, probably something I should spend a considerable amount of time practicing. A few more average 12 inch footballs were gracious enough to put in an appearance but nothing could top the fish I had momentarily connected with. Late in the day I went up to just below the dam and caught a couple more before heading home. It was an amazing day to be on the water in December with the temperature in the mid to upper 60's so really I can't complain too much although I really wish I could have landed that fish. At least I know where it lives and I'll be back soon and with a net next time.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New Water


The beautiful weather we've been having called for some fishing so it was off to a river that I've never fished before. The Clinch is one of the most popular East Tennessee tailwaters and rightly so. Every year, very large fish are caught on this river. Today however, I was just glad to be on the water with the fish biting. I used a dry/dropper setup all day with a parachute Adams dry and various midge droppers. I struggled to find fish of any size for a lot of the day but finally found some nicer fish that were around 12 inches. Not the monsters that I've heard about but they were fat and put on some great aerial displays. It was a good first day on a new river with around 20 fish to hand. As a side note, the late afternoon midge hatches were absolutely huge. The air was swarming with all kinds of small bugs and the fish were greedily feeding on the surface. With the weather supposed to be nice again tomorrow, I'll probably be fishing again somewhere so stay tuned for more.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Finally, A Fishing Report

It is finals week for me and I wasn't expecting to fish until the end of this week at the earliest. However, Byron Begley, owner of Little River Outfitters (http://www.littleriveroutfitters.com/) was asking everyone on the LRO Bulletin Board for more pictures for their picture board, so what better excuse to skip studying and go fishing. I saw that the generators would be turned off on the Hiwassee and decided to run up for a couple of hours. When I arrived, there were plenty of people already fishing but I found some nice water and rigged up. There were lots of midges hatching with the occasional bwo and a few caddis. I saw fairly steady activity on the surface so I tied on a parachute adams with a midge dropper and soon had a heavy fish roll on the dry. Alas, my hookset was poor and I was left wondering about what might have been. A few minutes later, in the same place, I had something heavy take the midge but failed to hookup again. Finally, a smaller rainbow took the dropper and things progressed rather nicely after that. I fished for a couple of hours and probably caught around 15 fish, a few of which took the dry and the rest ate the midge. All in all it was a nice day on the river. I just wish I would have seen some larger fish instead of a bunch of recent stockers. I didn't get any great fish but here is one of the 'bows, an average Hiwassee fish...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Regaining Confidence

After a fairly slow day in the mountains on Friday, I was looking to catch a bunch of fish. I noticed that the generators would finally be off on the Caney Fork and decided to head down Sunday morning. Being a bit lazy, I didn’t get to the river until around 9:30. There were plenty of fish working and some midges hatching so I tied on my trusty zebra midge and started to catch fish right away. I never had to try another fly the whole time. There were some good sized browns working that I watched for awhile but they never ate what I was throwing. My catch consisted of about 50/50 ‘bows and browns which was nice since I normally catch more ‘bows. The best fish of the day was a nice brown right around 16 inches. Anyway, enough talking and on to some more pictures…

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cold Water

One of the crucial elements of a good trout stream is cold water and lots of it. Unfortunately, you can have too much of a good thing. I was fortunate enough to fish in the Smokies today for the first time in awhile. The weather was perfect but the water was frigid. The water temperature was in the low 40's which is borderline for making the fish lethargic. It didn't take too long to decide that I would be drowning nymphs today and accordingly I started trying various flies, a George Nymph, PTs, a Copper John, a GRHE, and finally went back to the old standby, a Tellico. Almost immediately I had a hit and finally landed a whopper, four inches long. Over the next few hours, I landed 5 more fish of which the two largest were around 9 inches. Considering the conditions, it was not all that bad. The water was still up higher than I like and all the fish were hunkered down deep. There were decent numbers of midges, small caddis and BWOs hatching in the afternoon but I only saw one fish rise the whole day. Best of all, it was a beautiful day out so I really can't ask for more! The weather is supposed to stay beautiful for the next several days and I might sneak away one day next week so check back for updates soon...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dreams of Summer

As a college student, I am fairly busy from late August until early May. I still fish an inordinately large amount of time but not as much as I would like. When summer rolls around, I normally have to find work to make money for another year of school. However, I can usually squeeze in a trip or two to somewhere out of the ordinary. A couple of summer ago I was fortunate enough to spend time in Yellowstone and the Black Hills. This past summer I landed a job in Colorado that let me fish Blue Ribbon trout streams every weekend. With visions of giant trout rising lazily to inhale any fly I offer, the trip planning commences once again. As anyone that has been there can testify, Yellowstone is beckoning me to its world famous waters. If at all possible I have to return to the Black Hills as well. This will be the third time if I make it. Colorado was great and I would love to explore a little more thoroughly, particularly in the San Juan Mountains. I have some tips on a high country lake that produces lots of 20 inch plus rainbows and willingly at that. The only downside is the 17 mile hike it will take. I have never fished in Montana so that is another place on the list to visit sometime. Even Arizona holds a special place in my heart and I could spend weeks there. I could go on and on about waters I have fished or heard amazing things about but that isn't getting me any closer to the elusive trout that live in them. The cold days I spend on the water in the coming months will be warmed by my dreams of summer. During the days I can't fish, it is time to start tying flies and making concrete plans for the now annual pilgrimage west in my quest for that perfect day on the water.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

SE Tennessee Small Streamin'



I could not stay in any longer. The temps were reaching well into the 60’s and even 70’s the last several days and I knew the fishing would probably be on fire. A small wild stream came to mind that had been a goal to fish for awhile. I did not know what to expect from this stream but had a good idea what it might be like.
The fall colors were excellent but the drive still seemed a little long. After driving for what seemed like an eternity, I finally came upon the creek. It was a small tumbling mountain stream with plenty of nice small pools. After finding a good place to park, I walked back downstream and began fishing. A small parachute Adams seemed like a good way to start and I soon had the first monster on, all two inches of fighting rainbow.
I had several more hits from very small fish so I decided to go subsurface. When in doubt, I find myself tying on a Tellico more and more and that is exactly what I chose. I immediately had a 6 inch rainbow on and things were looking a bit better. I worked through a couple very nice holes and caught a few more.
My best fish came after seeing the fish follow the fly before fading back into his hole. I stealthily worked my way much closer to the deep pocket I saw the fish go back into and lobbed the bead head back in and let it sink straight down. The line twitched and I set the hook, energizing this nice little rainbow to make several jumps before being brought to hand.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Nice Day

The sky was heavy with dark clouds that flew from horizon to horizon. A gentle rain had been falling all morning and I was hoping that some good browns would be on the move. The river was low and clear and things were looking up. I decided to head up higher to water that was all wild fish and see what happened.
A Tellico tributary was my goal and I flew along, over and around the ridges. As I approached the bridge where I would first see the river, I noticed that the water looked awfully swift. Sure enough, the stream was high and off color. After a brief stop to make sure it wasn’t worth my time, I decided to head towards the upper Tellico and maybe some more tribs. High water seemed to be the theme of the day until I saw a stream entering the main river that looked semi normal. It was up and stained but not chocolate milk. “The fish should be feeding….” I thought to myself.
I was soon in the water with a fish on and things were looking up. However, I couldn’t keep any more on long enough to get a good look at them. Finally, the thought came to me to do some exploring so I headed to higher elevations in search of a brookie. The normally small trickles that originate high on the mountains were a lot higher but not too dirty. I had a few hits before I landed my first monster brookie! A solid 2 inches!!!
Happy that I caught one, I almost quit for the day but decided to try a couple more holes. I found a nice spot where a tiny feeder creek entered. My nymph was lobbed up into the small pool and the line came alive. “That’s a nice rainbow for this little stream” I mused. When I saw the fish, I had a pleasant surprise. It was another brookie and this one was a fat 8 1/2 inches. The day suddenly seemed brighter as I slipped out the hook and watched the fish fade back into the pool…

Sunday, October 22, 2006

New Convert


The Smokies are beautiful this time of year. The leaves are changing and it seems like everyone within a days drive of the park is here to look at the colors. The fishin' ain't bad either! Since it was fall break, a camping trip seemed in order with a healthy dose of fishing planned as well. My cousin wanted to come up for the weekend and I finally convinced him to try out fly fishing also. He was a natural from the start due in part to lots of previous spin fishing experience. After a quick demonstration to show him the method we would be using, he started fishing. Within 5 minutes, he had his first fish on!
He caught a few more fish and is now thoroughly hooked. Being his first time trying to catch trout on the fly rod, he did exceptionally well. Many people find the Smokies fish to be a bit challenging at first but he was fishing like a pro in no time. Of course, I had to catch a few fish myself as well but none were particularly noteworthy this trip. I'll have to go again in a couple of weeks to try and catch some more large browns so stay tuned for more!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Memories of Summer


As always, this summer was very memorable for me. I was fortunate enough to land a job in Colorado in the Gunnison vicinity close to hundreds of miles of trout streams and numerous still waters. Every fly fisherman dreams of taking trips to the locations described in the glossy pages of fly fishing magazines and I was going to work within a couple of hours of several such famous streams.

Of course I had to fish the Gunnison and its famous tributary, the Taylor River. Other lesser known streams would also provide some spectacular moments in the wilds of Colorado. I could tell story after story of various fish caught and almost caught. There was a 20+ inch rainbow I fought on the Taylor for several minutes before the tiny midge popped out. Wild brown and brook trout taken from pristine trickles high in the Rockies and then returned to the ribbon of liquid silver they called home. Then there was the 20 inch brown that sipped a CDC BWO emerger pattern when I did not have a camera with me.

Three excursions in particular stand out as high points to my summer fishing. One was the large brown. The next was a day trip into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I finally convinced some friends that they would enjoy the killer hike 2000 feet straight down into the Black Canyon in the National Park. We arrived streamside and I rigged up while they searched for a good place to swim. I had a couple of bumps on a softhackle and finally landed a small brown but I know it should be a lot better. I finally tied on a Copper John and that turned out to be the ticket. I lost count of how many fish I landed, all browns (above-left) except for one beautiful rainbow (left). The fish were all very strong and full of fight.

My final weekend provided the last great memory. Native Cutts!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Back to the Caney

I was fortunate enough to get out and fish again this last weekend. The Caney Fork had been on my mind for awhile so I drove down Sunday for a few hours of fishing. When I arrived, the water was still falling from the morning generation so I started in the large hole directly below the dam. Things were fairly slow even though I saw some fish working from time to time. I finally moved on downstream and was into fish quickly. The zebra midge came through again, but I never could really get in the zone with one color combination. I would catch a couple and then things would slow down. As soon as I tied another color on, I would usually be into fish again for a few minutes. This continued for most of the afternoon. All in all it was a slower day with probably 10-15 fish to hand. The weather couldn't have been better though so I'm glad I went.

A highlight of the day was seeing some huge browns up in the shallows. There isn't any natural reproduction in the Caney but apparently the fish are still trying to go through the motions. They were exceptionally spooky and I couldn't get any of them to eat my flies. Maybe I'll just have to go back soon...

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Smokies Rock!

I returned last afternoon from an epic weekend of fishing in the Smokies. I skipped my last class on Friday afternoon to make it up to Elkmont with plenty of time for some evening fishing. I set up camp and drove back down Little River and started fishing a hole that has always been kind to me. I caught caught a couple rainbows that were decent. I then cast to the other side of the main current, threw a quick mend to set up my drift and the rod almost got jerked out of my hands. I soon had a gorgeous 13 inch brown to hand that I quickly admired and then slipped back into the waters that he called home. "That was the high point of my weekend" I thought, which was too bad since I had only just arrived. I fished on upstream and finished with around 15 trout caught for an hour and a half of fishing. I started suspecting that since I did not have a camera, the whole weekend would be amazing as far numbers and maybe even size. Little did I know what the next day would bring!

Saturday I woke up and decided to try some new water. I drove over to Greenbriar and parked at the Ramsey Cascades Trailhead. I started fishing upstream from the bridge at the trailhead and fished between a mile and a mile and a half of water. It seemed I could do no wrong. I caught 40+ fish, mostly on a beadhead Tellico nymph but several also came on dry flies. I caught probably half rainbows and brookies with lots of nice sized fish mixed in. I had several rainbows in the 9-11 inch range and a couple of 8-9 inch brookies. I finally decided I was done battling the stream, which was probably the most difficult to traverse that I have ever personally fished. There were tons of huge boulders blocking upstream progress and several times I almost thought I would have to go back all the way downstream to the bridge to get out.

After returning to my car, I headed back over to Little River. Maybe, just maybe I would catch another nice brown. I started fishing a Tellico deep through I large hole when my line just stopped. I quickly set the hook on what I was hoping wasn't a snag. Sure enough, I felt a good-sized head shaking and soon had a 16 inch brown just long enough to slip out the fly. Shaking with excitement, I moved lower down in the pool and caught a small rainbow before moving back up to the head of the pool. I tried the same spot and had the same result, except this time when I set the hook, I didn't feel anything moving. "Oh no, here we go" I thought. I jerked again hoping to set the fly free when something started moving. "There is no way" I mused, but the fish seemed very real as it started surging toward an overhanging ledge underwater. I stressed the 4x tippet as much as I dared and eventually worked up another good brown, this one going 18 inches!!! I originally thought it was 17 inches as I measured it against my rod. I used to have marks on my rod so I could quickly measure a fish but they have worn off. After measuring my rod again, I realized that I caught my first 18 inch brown this weekend!!!

I think the solution to catching big fish must really be to go without a camera. It worked great for me this weekend, and I think it might be foolproof. I will have to test my theory by always taking a camera from now on and seeing if I ever catch good fish again. I will be back soon to fish the fall hatches. This is my favorite time of year and I will be on my home waters as much as my classes allow me to!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fall



Fall may be my favorite time of the year to fish, perhaps in part because I catch so many fish then, or maybe because the weather is cooler. Regardless of the exact reason, fall is a special time of year when I roam the streams in search of trophy fish.

Sometime, hopefully soon, I will find that one large fish in the Smokies that is willing to eat my fly. Having often spotted but never hooked the large browns that prowl Little River, I have never experienced the rush of adrenaline from hooking one of those monsters. This summer I hooked my second legitimate 20 inch plus brown, but not on my home waters. So now, as the weather cools, I am preparing to once again attempt a shot at the large fish in the Smokies. Maybe this will be the year I hook my first large brown. If not, I will still enjoy fishing my favorite water at my favorite time!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Too busy to fish?

As a student in college, I often find myself making very difficult decisions. One of the really tough ones is going fishing. Now, I love fishing and would fish 24/7 if I did not have responsibilities. However, fishing causes all kinds of problems with accomplishing the supposedly more important things such as homework. For example, last weekend I was home for the weekend and decided to fish the Caney on Sunday. I arrived at the river and began battling the crowds, picking up a fish here and there. I moved up by the dam and finally started slaying them. It was definitely almost too easy, but I was having a blast. When I finally looked at my watch, I discovered to my dismay that I had fished much longer than I intended. Oh well, who needs to do homework. Unfortunately, I spent the whole week trying to play catch-up. I decided that this weekend would not contain any fishing so that I could focus on "important" things. Oddly enough, I probably have spent enough time sitting around wishing I was fishing, or at least wishing I didn't have any homework, that I could have gone fishing for a few hours. Now, I have to wait until next weekend before I will have sufficient time to pursue trout again, but when I do, I will fish with a vengeance because I have to catch enough fish to make up for not fishing this weekend. Or not...just getting out on the water should be reward enough for a week of studying! Now where to fish next weekend.......decisions, decisions.....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Exploring Small Streams

The longing for pristine wilderness and an untouched trout stream is probably common to many fly fisherman. I have hiked up and down mountains for miles in a day searching for the perfect stream. I read whatever fly fishing literature I can get my hands on in hopes of some subtle clue. Pouring over topo maps will scratch the itch to explore, but only enough to make it worse. A small stream in Southeast Tennessee has been begging me to try it out for awhile now. I have been in the vicinity several times and just hadn't stopped to fish it yet. This weekend I decided I was going to check it out. I arrived at the stream in the early afternoon and was very concerned at first. As I drove along the creek, the streambed was bone dry. However, it became apparent after I arrived at the trailhead that the stream must flow underground because I could hear water. Sure enough, the creek had enough water to keep the fish happy and healthy. So I grabbed my flyrod and started walking upstream. I had not gone very far before my curiosity got the best of me and I tied on a parachute Adams and started casting. The stream was really small so bow and arrow and roll casts were generally the method of operation. I worked upstream and began getting hits. The fish were really spooky and the water was pretty low so I had to go into stealth mode before I actually hooked up. After a couple of small fish, I started to think that maybe the fly was a bit too large so I tied on a small cream softhackle and it was just the ticket. The rainbows would hit it just about anywhere in the stream but I had to be paying very close attention to notice the takes. I was fishing the softhackle upstream and without any kind of weight so the takes were very subtle most of the time. While the day was overall a lot of fun, I probably won't be making trips just to fish this stream. I caught somewhere around 10 fish and worked for each one. The largest fish I saw all day was probably 8 inches and they were all rainbows. Exploring is hard to beat though and I don't consider my day on the water a waste. Someday, somewhere, I WILL find that water that gets fished by only a few people every year where the fish are practically begging me to catch them. However, until I find that stream, the challenge of finding it will keep me checking out these small streams. Eventually, I will find a hidden gem!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Stalking Smallmouth


With the dog days of summer upon us, the area streams are getting low and clear. This creates a great opportunity to combine hunting and fishing. The ability to stalk your prey (the fish) and properly present a fly is of utmost importance at this time of year. I made the 20 minute drive to Daddys Creek, a stream that contains plenty of smallies in addition to redeye bass and other sunfish. I have never done particularly well in my attempts to catch smallmouth, although I'm always able to interest a small one or two in my meager offerings. This day was not much different as far as the smallies were concerned. I managed a couple with the largest pictured here. I also caught some redeye and a pumpkinseed sunfish. The fish were earned the hard way however, as I had to stay out of the water as much as possible and make long casts that landed like a whisper on the still water. Further adding to the difficulty was the streamside vegetation which necessitated an inordinate amount of roll casting. The trip was worth it though when the little 8 inch smallmouth (above) appeared like a ghost underneath my fly before sipping it as gullibly as a 20 inch rainbow on the Firehole River of Yellowstone taking a PMD Sparkle Dun. I gently raised the rod-tip and after a brief battle, I admired the beautiful specimen briefly, snapped a quick picture, and then watched the fish rocket back to whatever midstream lair I had just lured it away from.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Caney Fork Trip

This report is a bit late, but I thought that I would post anyway. I made it down to the Caney Fork Sunday August 13 and Monday August 14. Sunday I fished the whole time at Happy Hollow, arriving at around 3 in the afternoon. The water was still dropping from the morning generation but was at a good wadeable level. I decided to try wet wading for a change as it was very warm. I fished hard for 3 or 4 hours and managed a few fish including this gorgeous 15 inch rainbow (at left). I also caught a nice brown that went about 16 inches. I had just switched to 7x tippet because I knew that the fish should be biting a little better. I spotted the fish working just below me so I made a slack-line cast downstream and the fish ate immediately. Because of the size of the fish, I was very careful to not put too much pressure on the tippet. I took a little longer landing the fish than I would have liked, hence no picture. The fish had enough stress for one day as it was.
On monday, a friend and I decided to try a more out of the way access that he knew about. We arrived at around 8:00 in the morning and started working our way downstream. Just as it was the day before, the fish were not as cooperative as I thought they should be and we worked hard to coax in a few fish. Later in the morning, we moved upstream to Betty's Island and got into a few more fish, mainly recent stocker browns that weren't very large.
Both days I stuck to my tried and true zebra midges and perhaps that is why things seemed slow. I probably should have tried experimenting a little bit more. At Betty's Island, the fish were rising to our dries fairly well which was rather interesting. My friend had a very nice brown of probably 16-18 inches eat his midge dropper at Betty's but could not connect with the fish. This last picture is a typical small brown my friend caught, the first of several for him.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

So why fly fishing?

I remember my first fishing trip like it was yesterday. I was 4 or 5 years old and my grandparents were visiting from across the country. My dad or my grandpa, I'm not really sure which, decided that it was time for me to go fishing. Now, my family is not a big fishing family. Some families have a great outdoor tradition deeply rooted in hunting and fishing but not so with mine. However, my dad made that fateful decision that I should get the opportunity to try out fishing. Little did he know at the time of the addiction he had so innocently begun. That first fishing trip to the local State Park lake was absolutely enchanting. I caught three fat bluegill and they were huge, at least to the excited small boy holding a fishing pole for the first time. Luckily, my home was out in the country and the farm down the road had a nice pond full of 'gills. The fish were so hungry that sometimes it only took a bare hook to catch them. As time went on, I progressed from the worms that my dad started me with to buying small soft plastic worms that I fished on jigs.

Sometime early in my fishing career, my family made one of the occasional trips to the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. I will never forget driving through Townsend and seeing a guy standing in the middle of Little River waving this long fishing pole, line arcing gracefully backwards and forwards and then floating delicately down to the surface of the stream. It was poetry in motion and I was hooked. I knew exactly what kind of fisherman I wanted to be and the type of fish I wanted to catch. However, it was not to be just yet. My fishing career had a few more steps before I got that first fly rod.

Another small pond was discovered when one of my parents friends invited us out to his place. He had a nice pond with the usual bluegills but also bass and catfish. A trip to Walmart and I was ready to go with my new bass lures. Sure enough, I started catching bass, albeit rather small ones. The bass provided a fun new challenge but I was still looking for something more out of my fishing experience. The scene from the mountain stream kept replaying itself in my head until I finally made myself save up the necessary money to go by a cheap walmart fly rod.

I did not know anything about fly fishing and having no one to teach me I probably bought gear that was not matched in any way. I didn't know there were different line weights and rods and reels to fit those rods. I just got what they had at walmart and proceeded to beat the freshly mowed grass as I clumsily began trying to figure out how to cast the crazy thing. Thanks to a couple of books and a video rented from the local movie rental store, I was soon casting far enough to at least go fishing.

I still had no idea what I was doing though so except for a few minnows, I wasn't catching anything. I kept at it though and my parents purchased a slightly better rod for my birthday. By this time I had figured out about the different rod and line weights so I got the appropriate 6 weight line from Walmart for my new rod. During each occasional trip to the Smokies, I would stop at Little River Outfitters (LRO) in Townsend to ask advice and get some flies as I had just started tying my own and they didn't look like real flies yet. Finally, my first rainbow came on Anthony Creek in Cades Cove on a Gold Ribbed Hares Ear nymph and it was pretty accidental. Nevertheless I was thrilled and wanted to catch some more. Following some advice from the good folk at LRO, I soon found a spot and caught some more small rainbows, this time on dry flies.

From there things kept getting better until I was able to catch fish just about every time I went. A half day spent with Walter Babb, an excellent Smokies guide, and I was catching fish consistently on nymphs as well as dries. From there I seemed to improve a lot every single trip, catching more and more fish and larger ones as well. And so why do I keep going? Why fly fishing?


That is a question that I'm sure many other people would like an answer for. Some people will reply that it is for the solitude, the time alone and in nature. For others, it is the challenge of finding the ultimate fish and figuring out how to catch it. For me? Maybe it is a little of everything. Whenever I go fishing, I am able to forget whatever stress happens to be in my life at the moment. My mind becomes completely free and clear surrounded by the majestic natural world. Life seems simple and uncomplicated when I am on the water, particularly when it is a mountain stream and I am by myself. I have had many memorable experiences fishing, and maybe that is why I go, to try and better my previous stories. Or maybe it is to talk with the Creator God who made all this splendor for our enjoyment. Maybe someday I will find out why I fly fish. Until then, I will continue my search for the perfect sream, the perfect fish, the perfect cast and maybe, just maybe I'll find it someday.

Newsletter

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required