Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 11/16/2017

Fishing is good on the Clinch River right now and that is where I'm doing most of my guiding and fishing. The Smokies have been good as well.

In the Smokies, the brown trout are wrapping up the spawn. Over the next few weeks, the opportunity to catch larger than average brown trout is definitely elevated. I like to throw nymphs or streamers right now and through the winter. Next spring should be good with hatches starting by the first of March and peaking by late April or early May. This is one of the best times to fish in the Smokies so start planning that trip now!

The Caney Fork is about a week away from seeing some more reasonable water levels. If the flows drop, expect some very good fishing as we move into the winter.

Photo of the Month: Evening in the North Woods

Photo of the Month: Evening in the North Woods

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.

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