Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 2/11/2017
Fishing has been good lately, both in the Smokies and on the tailwaters. I have been privileged to spend time on both tailwaters and in the Smokies recently. Up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a few bugs are showing up with the warm weather we've been experiencing. With temperatures supposed to be cooling again this week, I don't expect huge hatches. That said, blue quills, early brown stoneflies, little black stoneflies, and probably some little black caddis should be trickling off. This will be especially true when we get a string of warm days. Quill gordon mayflies are not far behind now with the warm winter we've had.

On the tailwaters, the fishing has been mostly good. The Caney Fork is fishing well on streamer floats. Some high water nymphing is picking up a few fish as well. Several people have taken advantage of my special February tailwater trip to book streamer floats. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, sign up for my newsletter so you can stay informed about specials on guide trips and other things.

Now is the time to start thinking about spring fishing. The bookings are rolling in for float trips on the Caney Fork. Spring hatch trips in the Smokies will book quickly as well so contact me soon if you want to get out in 2017!

Photo of the Month: First Trout of 2017

Photo of the Month: First Trout of 2017

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Its On!!!

The Hiwassee is fishing well again finally! After a few outings where only a few fish were caught, today was a great day!!! I stuck to fishing nymphs all day, trying to get back the magic in time for spring break. The water temp was right around 50 degrees all day which I'm sure helped a lot. The fish were feeding very actively. I caught fish mainly on a black simi seal leech and a bead head pheasant tail nymph. Since spring break is approaching, I'll soon be doing a lot more fishing so stay tuned for much more excitement, hopefully including the start of SPRING HATCHES IN THE SMOKIES!!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is it Spring Yet?

As spring break approaches, I have been hoping that the spring hatches would start and be in full swing by the first week in March. Despite some promising trends, it appears that the water temperatures are just not quite going to make it to the magical 50 degree mark just yet. However, we will have some rain moving in over the weekend here in East Tennessee and if we are lucky, it will be a warm rain and boost the water temps into the "good" zone. Will it be enough to get the bugs going? We can only hope...

Thankfully, the lack of strong hatches doesn't mean that fish cannot be caught. I made yet another trip up to the Hiwassee yesterday, this time only for a couple of hours. Once again, the generation pulse made for some fine dry fly fishing. There were more of the little stoneflies coming off than before so that is a good sign. The water from upriver has warmed a bit also which definitely can't hurt. The fish feasted heavily on the stoneflies for the first part of the pulse and then as the water slowly dropped back out, they started keying on a good hatch of TINY midges. Anyone that enjoys fishing very tiny flies to picky risers should try fishing the midge hatch on the Hiwassee. Of course, as always, evening on the Hiwassee is awesome!!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Fly Fishermans Best Friend and Worst Nemesis

The weather. It can make or break a fishing trip. For that matter it can make or break an entire season or year of fishing. For example, in the west, the winter snowpack is crucial in providing plenty of water for the rivers in the summer. A low snowpack and a hot summer can spell disaster for a trout stream. Lately, I have been anxiously watching the winter snowpack reports for the western US. A quick glance at the maps that display the mountain snowpack as a percent of the norm is disturbing. (Additional snowpack products may be obtained here)In the map above, reds, oranges, and yellows represent below normal snowpack. Much of the western US is having a below average to much below average winter for precipitation. With the trip I hope to make to Yellowstone and surrounding areas, I have been nervously watching as the drought monitor continues to indicate abnormally dry conditions throughout much of the west including the greater Yellowstone area.

The first half of the winter I didn't mind the unusual weather associated with El-Nino. Record warmth occurred throughout the eastern United States providing dependable fishing here in Tennessee during months that are traditionally a bit slow due to cold water. However, our fortunes have reversed and we have experienced much below average temperatures throughout the southeast for several weeks now, putting a damper on fishing. Thankfully, it looks like we are headed towards a warming trend by early next week. I'm hoping it brings on the spring hatches in the Smokies. Hopefully the west will get a lot more snow before winter is over as well....

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The River

I ran up to the Hiwassee again yesterday evening. The temperature is forecast to be rather cold for the next few days and I wanted to get one last afternoon of fishing in while it was still nice out. I arrived just a little while before the generation pulse and as soon as the water came up, I started casting to rising fish.


I managed a few fish before the water went back down and things slowed again.

Evening on the river is always worth the drive, even when the fishing is a little off...



Monday, February 12, 2007

Slow Days and the Magic Touch

Yesterday I finally got out on the water again. I ran up to the Hiwassee for an afternoon of fishing, hoping that it would be as good as it was last time I fished a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't. While I did catch fish, it was slow except for when the generation pulse came through. The push of water came through right about the time that the hatch of little black stoneflies peaked. The fish went on a surface feeding binge and for the next 1/2 hour the fishing was good. The fish lost their timidity and were rising well. The best fly during this time was a parachute adams that just happened to very nearly match the stoneflies that were on the water in size and color.

An amusing incident took place later in the day that highlighted an otherwise routine fishing trip. I was fishing with my buddy Kevin and since he is thinking about getting another rod for tailwaters, I offered to let him try out my St. Croix Legend Ultra. I waded over to him while my line flyline trailed downstream and handed him the rod. He simply lifted the rod tip and had a fish on the end without having cast the rod yet (picture at right). Talk about the magic touch. Some days when the fish are feeding well I wouldn't have been as surprised but the conditions were tough yesterday. It gave us a good laugh as I threatened to take back my rod if he caught another fish...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Fishing The Zebra Midge


Hands down the best tailwater fly here in Tennessee for me over the last year and a half, the Zebra Midge is one of the easiest flies to tie and also one of the easiest to fish. I fish it quite often and mention it many of my fishing reports both here and over on the LRO board. People often ask me exactly how I fish it so I decided it was time to address this question. I'm sure different people have different preferences and many different methods will work with this fly so don't just stick to the method I'm about to share.

First, it is important to understand exactly what the Zebra Midge represents. The last section of an excellent article, "Midge Tactics for Tailwater Trout", gives an good explanation on the life cycle of midges. The Zebra Midge is designed primarily to imitate a midge pupa ascending to surface to emerge. Thus, it is most effective to use when you see fish feeding up high in the water column. You will often see rises which are actually trout taking the pupa just under the surface as the bugs drift upwards. Occasionally, fish will break the surface as they pursue the tiny insects.

Whenever you see the fish feeding like this, it is time to try the Zebra Midge. Some type of strike indicator is generally very helpful with this type of fishing. I personally use a dry fly such as a parachute Adams because I feel it gives the fish another option and I'm always surprised at how often nice fish will take the dry. After you tie on the dry, use anywhere from 6-24 inches of 6x or 7x tippet and tie it to the bend of the dry fly. The height should be determined by how near to the surface the majority of the fish seem to be feeding. It also important to remember two other things about the length of the dropper. First, fish will move upwards to take the fly so when in doubt, go shorter. Also, the longer the dropper, the more takes you will miss. I generally start with my dropper at around 12-16 inches.

Now that you are rigged up and ready to fish, you need to find some fish. This rig will work to fish the water blind but you will be a lot more successful casting to specific fish or specific holding lies whenever possible. I like to locate a fish before casting. When you cast to the fish, you want the dropper to land up current of the dry or indicator to make it easy to detect the strike. Sometimes the take will be subtle. In fact, fish will often take the dropper without moving the indicator. This brings up my favorite method. When you find a specific fish working, cast above the fish and watch the fish closely as the indicator/dry nears the vicinity of the fish. Any side to side movement or quick darting to the side will mean that the fish likely took your fly. Often, fish will see the fly as it is passing and dart downstream. WAIT TO SET THE HOOK until the fish makes a sudden turn to face back into the current or to the side. The turn will indicate that the fish has taken the fly. This nice brown moved a couple of feet to the side to take the Zebra Midge...


Finally, once you have hooked the fish, be very gentle. When using light tippets, it is easy to break off the fish if you use too much pressure. However, don't overplay the fish. With practice, 6x tippet will take a lot more abuse than most people think, allowing you to land the fish without exhausting it.

Fishing this fly can be a lot of fun. You will quite possibly catch more and better fish, particularly on waters where midges are a predominant food source. You might even be surprised at some of the fish that will eat this fly, I know I was when this nice bass ate mine...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Things Like This...

...............make me UPSET!!! From Tom Chandler over at the Trout Underground comes THIS frightening story. Enough said...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Big Flies = Big Fish???

We have all heard this advice on catching big fish. Most have also heard people arguing for the other extreme, and with all the pictures (just one example of many) of hogs caught on tailwaters using small flies, I've been persuaded to spend quite a bit of time exploring this method. I even caught my own 20+ inch brown on the Taylor River in Colorado on a #18 CDC BWO this past summer and hooked some even larger on other tiny patterns. However, I recently was able to spot some fish in an area rumored to benefit from a shad kill. The fish looked fat and healthy from my vantage point, but I decided it would probably be good to do a more thorough investigation. In planning for my future assault on these HOGS, I realized that my streamer selection was woefully inadequate. So, this past weekend, I spent a bit of time at the vise trying to figure out how to tie a Zonker. The results were encouraging.


Now I just wonder of the fish will like them... Of course, there is only one way to find out so as soon as possible, the Trout Zone will be making a trip in pursuit of these magnificent fish. I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Fishing in the Cold or Wind?

It seems that El Nino is causing problems not only here in the states but also overseas. As meteorologists are trying to determine a connection between tornadoes in Florida during El Nino, the winds are blowing fiercely in the fly fishing Mecca known as New Zealand. According to this interesting story from the New Zealand Herald, the country is

"cursed by El Nino and its accompanying winds, which until this week had delayed the good summer fishing by two months in the popular Rotorua and Taupo fisheries."

I am trying to find it in my heart to feel sorry for those that are basking in the warmth of summer. However, the continual blasts of arctic air make this extremely difficult for me. This of course brings us to the question of whether it is better to fish in the cold or in the wind? How bad is the wind you ask? Well, if someone will send me a plane ticket to New Zealand I will be glad to find out.

I have to say, I have fished in some nasty wind before but have never been stopped from fishing. This doesn't mean that the fish were biting but I was going through the motions. I recall a time when was fishing a lake in the White Mountains of Arizona where the technique of the day was basically to execute a roll cast good enough to get the line off of the water. The wind would do the rest. If you could manage to actually make a full cast, the line MIGHT end up 10 feet behind you on the backcast and this translated to a good 60 foot cast, all assuming of course that you didn't invent a new windknot. Oh yeah, I caught a nice fat 17 inch Cutthroat that day.

Of course, I've enjoyed some excellent days fishing in the cold as well. Last year I got to fish in the snow for the first time. Being from Tennessee, this was actually a novelty. I guess I can feel a bit of sympathy for the folks in New Zealand. Two months is a LONG time to go without wetting a line. At least I can fish when its cold...and it must be REALLY windy to prevent fishing... Seriously, anyone want to send me a plane ticket to New Zealand? Patagonia? Somewhere warm???

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Fly Fishing End of The Road..... Mongolia

For those that haven't wasted hours of their time on YouTube watching other people catch fish, this one's for you. This time of year, people's thoughts begin to drift to exotic destinations, often with a warmer climate. This video is of a trip that a group of Wyoming guides took to Mongolia...not the first place that most people think of when they start thinking "exotic locations." Anyway, these guys are after the great Taimen. For those who have not heard much about this fish, check out this video. It is a bit lengthy but a great movie. Here at the Trout Zone we are already trying to figure out a way to make the journey around the globe to Mongolia...hey, it is okay to dream!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Big News!!!

Well, it looks like it is final. The National Park Service is planning to eradicate the rainbow trout population in Lynn Camp Prong in the Great Smoky Mountains and will return the stream to native brook trout water. Anglers are having mixed reactions to the news. The largest concern seems to be that most people hate to see the stream closed for the length of time it is going to take for a brook trout population to stabilize. An excellent debate has been taking place on the subject on the Little River Outfitters message board which can be found here.


Around the country, it seems that the return of native fish species is becoming a major focus for fisheries biologists. Last year, anglers were saddened to learn that Bright Angel Creek in the Grand Canyon was being targeted for the removal of non-native brown trout. Being a trout-loving fly fisher, I have recieved news such as this with mixed feelings. I feel it is unfortunate to be losing some great fisheries around the country but at the same time, I support the return of native trout species. Obviously it would be a bit inconsistent to support the return of native trout but not other native fish species. Fortunately in the case of Lynn Camp, the fish species that will be returning is none other than the southern strain brook trout. Despite some of the concerns I have with this project, I believe that the return of the native brook trout will ultimately be worth any short-term inconveniences. I look forward to another great place to catch this special fish!!!

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