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

Friday, March 02, 2007

Getting Reacquainted

New streams are always fun. You never know what you will find on new water. Old streams are nice also though...the ones that you could fish in your sleep. Some places I can tell approximately the size of fish that will be caught beside a certain rock. Today was a day for getting reacquainted with a favorite river. It has been altogether too long since I had fished the Caney Fork. I knew that with all the rain over the last 24 hours, most of the river would probably be discolored at best and most likely just plain old muddy. However, a short section up near the dam is unaffected by tributaries and after briefly trying farther downriver, I started fishing immediately below Center Hill Dam.

The water was very cool as I waded to where it was about waist deep just below the dam and began casting. Some fish had been sporadically rising so I knew they were there. Despite the windy conditions, I was soon slinging my line out in the vicinity of the occasional rises. My offering....the usual rig I start with on the Caney, a dry with a zebra midge dropper. I had been casting for probably 10 minutes when a fish discovered the zebra suspended under the dry and quickly inhaled it. I raised my rod and had an energetic rainbow dancing on the other end. As usual on the Caney, I immediately overestimated the size of the fish I had on. It was pulling like a freight train and I just knew I had hooked a solid 16 inch fish. After several nerve wracking runs that had me fretting about the 6X tippet, I finally brought a 13 inch rainbow to hand. I quickly slipped the hook out of its jaw and watched as the fish darted away. Another 20 minutes and I had another fish on, comparable to the first.

I was enjoying myself but curiosity overcame the fact that fish were there and biting and I decided to wander downstream a bit. After an hour of looking around and missing a couple of fish, I worked my way back upstream to just below the dam. A good midge hatch was underway and the trout were reacting by feeding a bit more. I was soon working a good run that I knew had some nice fish in it and quickly had a fish on. The 10 inch rainbow was released and I started working the head of the run.

My cast landed as soft as a feather and I intently watched for signs of a take. Suddenly, a couple of feet downstream from my flies I thought I saw the flash from the side of a nice fish. "Steady," I told myself, "wait for it." Just as my dry floated over the spot, it vanished as the fish took the zebra midge dropper. I gently raised the rod and knew immediately that I was into a fish a bit better than the 12-13 inch fish I had been catching. The first hard run was capped with a spectacular leap as the fish sought freedom. It was soon followed by a second and third leap and I was getting nervous. Would the tippet hold against so many strong runs? I kept turning the fish as it tried to run and slowly worked it towards shallow water. The vivid colors were incredible and all I wanted was to snap a couple of quick pictures of this beautiful fish. Finally, the stars aligned and I brought the fish to hand. It was colored up nicely, probably because it is the spawning season. After getting a couple of pictures, I eased the fish back into the water and was glad to see it rocket away back to its hole. I tried fishing for a few more minutes but knew that I should be getting home. This fish was enough and I decided to quit bothering the other fish for the day. I think I'm going to have to continue getting reacquainted again soon though!!!

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