Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 01/08/2020

Unusually warm and wet conditions continue to prevail here in middle and east Tennessee. This upcoming weekend is looking like more rain and possibly even severe weather. The wind forecast is bad enough that I wouldn't bother going fishing until Sunday at the earliest unless you can go tomorrow.

In the Smokies, nymphing will be the name of the game, but don't be surprised to see some blue-winged olives from time to time. With all the high water, think streamers, big stoneflies, or worm imitations.

Tailwaters like the Caney Fork and Clinch are still rolling with a lot of water. Both rivers are over 10,000 cfs. While this is still fishable, I don't really recommend it. Flows this high are generally all about swinging for the fences if you feel like hunting a trophy. Many days it won't happen. Once in a while it will. Throw big streamers, hope for a shad kill, and get out there. Those big fish won't get caught if you're sitting home on the couch.

The Caney will produce decent fishing if we ever get flows back down at least a little. One generator would be ideal. Right now I'll even take two. Minimum flow looks a long ways off right now.

On the Clinch, you can throw streamers and also possible nymph up a few fish. If you pick your spots, there are places to nymph even on 12,000 cfs. Let's hope it gets back down to two generators or less soon. Every time we get a big rain event, look for some low water for a day or two or three. TVA will hold water back at tributary dams like Norris to reduce downstream high water effects. This gives those of us who like to wade a day or two to fish.

Winter is our favorite time to get on the musky streams. In between bouts of high water, those will be fishing well for the next few months.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

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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