Guided Trips


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

Monday, June 25, 2007

East Tennessee

Originally planned as a South Holston trip, the Watauga was added into the mix when we discovered that they would be generating in the afternoon on the SoHo. I had been looking forward to this trip for awhile and stayed up tying flies the night before. It pays to be prepared and you can never have too many sulphur patterns.

Sunday morning I was up at 4:00 (central) and headed out the door shortly thereafter to meet my fishing buddies on the east side of Knoxville by 7:00 (eastern). The drive was uneventful but the night before I had another of my premonitions indicating good fishing was sure to follow...and it turned out to be right again. We got to the South Holston by 9:00 and were soon fishing. I got things going quickly with a few stocker 'bows and then spooked a large brown. We worked down the river with everyone catching a few and then the pulse started to come through. The water never got too high and we stuck close to the edge of the river and then worked a bit farther down to continue fishing as the water slowly dropped back out. The rush of cool water seemed to slow things down briefly but it provided the apparent trigger for the sulphur hatch to start and soon the fish were nailing our nymph patterns as the sulphur nymphs started drifting in preparation for hatching. Soon the adults started appearing on the water and things just got better. The day became truly spectacular as fish after fish fell to our dries and nymphs. We had lots of doubles and even a few triples which tells you just how good the fishing was. My buddy Kevin took big fish honors on the SoHo with a nice brown of probably 15 or 16 inches that took his dry softly and then battled for awhile until we got it in the net. I missed at least two good fish but it wasn't the day for a big fish on this river for me.

Kevin's nice brown...

After fishing up until just before the generation was scheduled to start again, we headed back to the car and then off to find some lunch. After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed over the the Watauga to check it out. I hadn't been there before but Trevor assured us that it would be worth our time. It turned out to be an excellent decision as the fishing was just phenomenal. Despite dodging lots of water snakes and lots of lightning, we caught plenty of fish and I enjoyed my first time fishing this river.

Trevor fighting a hefty rainbow...

We finished up the day at a heavily used access and I finally got my nice fish for the day. I was fishing a series of deep and very swift runs with a big Tellico nymph. Working almost to the top of one run, I cast up above it to allow my fly to sink all the way to the bottom of the run. Suddenly my line stopped and then darted upstream. Pulling back gently but firmly, I found what felt like a good fish attached to my line. Thankfully I was able to get it on the reel before it really took off and then the battle was joined. The fish bulldogged at first and then made short scorching runs downstream with my reel screaming. The fish finally came up and rolled a couple of times allowing me to realize that it was a nice rainbow. Eventually the fish tired and I worked it into the shallows where Kevin helped me land it and then we got a couple of pictures before watching it swim away. This spot proved good for a nice brown and another good-sized rainbow in addition to some smaller fish. I also had another big rainbow on but the fly popped out as I was applying a lot of pressure trying to keep it out of the rapids.

My nice Watauga 'bow

Shortly after this, another storm was approaching and we all hurried back to the car and decided to call it a day. The trout of East Tennessee will be glad we don't make it up there often as we all caught lots of fish over the course of the day.


  1. I don't think I'd ever get used to timing my fishing trips to a release schedule. As if the hatches, fish, weather and my own general mood weren't capricious enough...

  2. all type of trouts, very nice.

  3. TC, the generation issue can be annoying but the quality of fishing on the tailwaters is such that I just have to fish them occasionally. Also, tailwaters are normally closer to me than my preferred mountain streams (mainly freestones...). I don't remember if you've fished the SoHo on your Tennessee trips the last couple of years but if not, you owe it to yourself to try it sometime. It is a special place...



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