Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 12/3/2019

Winter fishing is nearly upon us. Snow yesterday has given way to falling water temperatures in the Smokies. In general, fish will be hunkered down, although by tomorrow they should start to get more active again as temperatures warm. For the next three months, expect many more fish in the slower places in the Park. Think nymphs and maybe streamers but don't be surprised to find fish rising to blue-winged olives or midges on some days.

On tailwaters like the Clinch, brown trout and some fall spawn rainbows are doing their thing. This is a good time to review good ethics when it comes to spawning trout. Remember that these are the next generation of trout and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone. Avoid wading through spawning areas and don't fish for obvious spawners. For the foreseeable future, we should have high water thanks to big rains this last weekend. Fishing out of the drift boat will be very good through the winter with both nymphing and streamer fishing a distinct possibility. Want to swing for the fences and go for just one monster? Streamers will just get better and better going into January and February.

The Caney is slowly coming around. A few shad are coming through the dam, but lingering water quality problems are limiting the fishing. Winter streamer floats will produce shots at larger brown trout for anglers willing to work hard. Next spring should bring good fishing again.

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: Big Fish Chuck Strikes Again

Photo of the Month: Big Fish Chuck Strikes Again

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Stuck a Couple Nice Ones

As promised, I went fishing yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours. The rain that was falling as I rolled east gave me high hopes for a good hatch. However, it had basically quit raining by the time I got to the river. The clouds were still thick though and I figured the bugs should pour off sometime in the middle of the afternoon. I started fishing with a parachute Adams and red Copper John as a dropper. "Assuming the hatch was about to start, the fish should be looking for nymphs drifting in the current," I reasoned. The fish were feeding occasionally on top when I arrived, providing me a good opportunity to figure out where they were. I waded slowly, watching for feeding fish and as often as I saw a rise, I got a fish to eat.

It was one of those magic days when you feel that you can do no wrong. Everything happened naturally and smoothly as fish after fish succumbed to the dropper. I would cast straight ahead only to see a fish rise at a 90 degree angle away but no problem. One back cast and then a quick change of direction and my fly was floating right over the feeding fish. Unfortunately, this couldn't go on to long as the generation pulse was rapidly approaching. I saw the water rising upriver and quickly worked my way out and back to the car. A short drive upriver put me above the pulse and back into fish.

Frustratingly, the sun was making a reappearance putting an end to any hopes of a large hatch with fish slashing everywhere. Recalling something I read by Dave Hughes where he recommends using wet flies on small streams when the sun is on the water, I figured maybe it would work on a larger river as well. This proved to be the ticket and I soon was catching lots of fish again until something big broke off my fly. I quickly retied and continued slowly down the river, swinging the softhackle through every likely spot. More often than not, a fish would hit and sometimes I would catch several out of one little pocket.

I finally worked my way to a spot that has a nice deep run with some big overhanging rocks breaking the monotony. "There's got to be fish better than these little stockers in there" I thought to myself. I cast my parachute with the softhackle dropper to the top of the undercut boulder and watched as the dry sucked under. "This better not be hung up on the rock" I grumbled. The hook set provided quick proof that it was definitely NOT stuck on a rock as something on the other end started shaking its head. I immediately started putting a lot of pressure on the fish, trying to get it out from under the rock and it came out but not towards me. It rain downstream a little ways and then back up, bulldogging hard the whole time. A glance at the red flash and I knew it was a rainbow, and a bit better than the usual 8-12 inch stockers also. After a battle that seemed unusually long, I had the nice fish in for a quick picture. It was sporting what was left of a kype jaw which was interesting. While not a huge fish, this was the best rainbow I've caught on the Hiwassee and made the day worthwhile.

"Maybe, just maybe....." was running through my head as I approached the second undercut boulder. This time, my dry was soaked through and so I highsticked the unweighted flies along the rock. The leader gave a brief twitch and I set the hook, again feeling the weight of a better than average fish. After another battle, I admired a beautiful brown that was fat and healthy.

These two fish definitely made my day. I always catch a bunch of the recent stockers and while that is okay, the larger fish provide a much better challenge to land. The softhackle was easily the fly of the day and continues to produce the best fish so far this year.

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