Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

Fishing is excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park now. We have had a couple of shots of rain the last week and a half which has helped keep the streams flowing strong for this time of year. The cool overnight temperatures will get the brown and brook trout seriously thinking about spawning. Please be careful this time of year and avoid walking on fine sand and gravel in riffles and tailouts. Leave the spawning trout alone so they can do their thing. When you find brook or brown trout that aren't spawning, they are aggressive and looking to feed. Recent guide trips on brook trout waters have been anywhere from good to excellent. Streams with rainbows and browns have been excellent as well. There are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Park right now!

A variety of bugs have been hatching lately. On cloudy days, Blue-winged Olives have hatched along with some other small mayflies. Various caddis, including the Great Autumn Brown Sedges (often referred to as October Caddis by locals) are hatching and provide a nice bite for the trout. Little Black stoneflies are hatching as well. Fish are eating both dry fly and nymph imitations and even still hitting some terrestrials. Don't forget your beetle, ant, and inchworm fly box. A Parachute Adams or Yellow or Orange Stimulator should work well for a dry fly. Smaller bead head Pheasant Tail nymphs should work as a dropper. Caddis pupa are also catching a lot of fish as are stonefly nymphs.

On the Caney Fork, things have been tough lately. The river has been running warmer than is normal this time of year because of heavy generation earlier this year and also with a stain due to the sluice gate operations. Work has been underway to install vented turbines on the generators and they have been working to try and tweak them to improve dissolved oxygen. One day, we were floating and they were checking the DO and found it at 1.5 ppm. If I remember correctly, the minimum target is 6 ppm. Obviously 1.5 is way too low. Trout were sitting along the banks and in back eddies gasping for oxygen. Hopefully all of this won't have too much of a long term effect on the fishery, but needless to say, things are a bit difficult as of right now. Cooler weather should help. Once the lake turns over, oxygen and clarity will improve quickly.

The Clinch River has been fishing well if you can hit it on low water days. Small nymphs and midges will get the job done here.

Smallmouth bass are about done for the year, but we will be back out on the musky streams again soon looking for the toothy critters. This is tough fishing, but the rewards can be sizable.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

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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