Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 5/22/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, strong hatches have been keeping fish looking up.

Yesterday, Blue-winged Olives hatched for hours during the light rain and drizzle. Fish were looking up but also took nymphs well. Streamers were moving some quality fish as well. The summer hatches are well under way now. Expect Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and Isonychia (Slate Drake) mayflies. Light Cahills and Sulfurs have been around as well.

The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from good to great on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater.

Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly! Musky floats are about over for the year unless we get more rain.


Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Continual Lack of Fishing

Benton Falls

I'm officially sick of school, mainly just because it cuts into my fishing time though. I had planned on fishing this last Sunday but my responsible side kicked in and made me study instead. Thankfully I was able to get out and hike a bit on Saturday so the weekend wasn't a complete disaster.




Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hiking

The result of a 4.5 mile hike...

The most recent poll here at the Trout Zone closed last night and I was actually surprised at the results. By far, the most popular response (right at 50%) was that you would hike up to about 5 miles roundtrip on a daytrip into the backcountry. Good thing for me because a lot of my shorter daytrips are just beyond that range. Still, a quarter of the votes were cast for the 6-10 mile roundtrip category and a few of you even voted for the type of trips I like to do, roundtrip of over 10 miles.

Now, that isn't the norm but it does produce some of the most spectacular results short of doing an overnight type trip. Those of you that stay within a couple of miles of the trailhead are missing out on some excellent opportunities. I understand that some people may be limited for various reasons but the rest of you who are just lazy, I want to say thanks for leaving the best fishing for me...

Standard pack for a daytrip

Getting Behind

On average, I fish at least once a week and often more. This new year has seen a slow start for me on the fishing scene though and I'm definitely behind compared to past years. Generally I get in a few extra days in early January before I head back to school but this year, unfavorable generation schedules really limited my time on the water. Fortunately, things seem to be looking better. Last Sunday I had a great trip to the Caney Fork and this coming Sunday, I'm hoping to spend some time on the water as well. In keeping with my hopes of more small stream action this year, I'm thinking about hitting some small streams. My other option of course is the Hiwassee which I haven't visited for awhile. The one good thing about going there is that it is close, just about the closest trout water in fact.

Also in what I hope is the near future, I'll be starting on my late winter and spring backpacking and camping trips. I'm looking to check out some new water this year and the best way to do this is on a weekend trip since most of the streams are at minimum a two hour drive.

Perhaps this Sunday I'll check out a stream for some lake-run fish. That sounds like a lot of fun...I think I'll do it!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Glad to NOT be in Yellowstone

Temperatures across Wyoming were bitterly cold this morning. For once I'm glad to NOT be in Yellowstone. It was -39 at the Canyon Ranger Station compared to a relatively balmy -17 at Mammoth. On the plus side, the water supply in Yellowstone is looking great for next summer with current predictions stating that
The Upper Yellowstone, Snake, Shoshone, Clarks Fork, Little Snake, and Laramie Watersheds are expected to see normal to above normal snowmelt stream volumes this spring and summer.
After the low flows and warm water temperatures last summer, this is some of the best news in awhile...

Fishin' When it is Cold

Fishing has long been a year-round hobby for me but many people prefer to stay inside and keep warm when the temperature plummets in the middle of winter. That's too bad because they are missing out on some fantastic fishing, especially in the tailwaters where the steady water temperature insures a year long supply of bugs for the trout to munch on. Even the mountain streams can provide a good time because those fish still have to eat even when it is cold although probably not as much.

My biggest challenge when fishing during cold weather has always been staying warm. I don't really like fishing with gloves because I feel it really limits my dexterity for casting and also for playing the fish. For awhile I used half-finger gloves while fishing when it was cold but when I lost one of the gloves, I started searching for a better solution. This past weekend, I found a very reasonable solution to the glove problem. Recently, I bought a nice cheap pair of warm gloves (Thinsulate) to try out for cold weather fishing and Sunday was my second time trying them out on the water. The first time I didn't like them very much but it was much colder this past Sunday and I knew that without gloves of some type, I wouldn't be on the water very long.

Starting out, I wore them on both hands but was still having a bit of a difficult time controlling my line. It was after a couple fish (when I naturally had to remove a glove anyway) that I decided to go without on my left hand glove for awhile. This worked out great since the glove on my right hand was collecting all the water off of the line as I stripped it in. As long as you keep your hands thoroughly dry, they will stay warm longer. Best of all, I was out there catching fish and not freezing in the process.

Two other suggestions on keeping your hands warm are to take something to dry your hands on and to take and use hand warmers. I did both and the hand warmer in particular worked wonders. It is always difficult to tie knots in cold weather. The hand warmer not only kept my hands warm but in so doing also contributed significantly to my ability to change flies comfortably.

Another suggestion on fishing in cold weather is to rig up at home. This option isn't for everyone and by doing this you will be guessing blindly what the fish will want. If you guess wrong, you won't be catching fish until you change flies. It worked out great for me though on Sunday. Knowing the river you will be fishing definitely helps in making this a viable option.

I'm still working on solutions to the fly reel freezing up everytime you catch a fish but I suspect the only solutions either include not going fishing in the first place or not catching fish. Ice in the guides and reel are just part of the game when the weather gets cold...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ice Fishing

Going home for the weekend always has the bonus of being able to fish the Caney and this last weekend was no exception. I didn't get as much time as usual due to other obligations but it was still a great opportunity to be on the water. I headed down Sunday morning and arrived on the river around 11:00. The first thing I noticed was that the fish were feeding heavily on or very near the surface. The surface of the river was covered with small midges and the fish were having a feast. The cold temperatures (air temperature in the 20's) made it difficult for the bugs to get off the surface once they hatched and the fish were taking advantage of the banquet presented to them.

The fact that the fish were feeding high in the water column was exciting because I had done something that I've never done before; tie on flies at home (where it was warm of course) and I had gambled on a midge hatch where Zebra Midges would work well. The fish approved and I was soon catching fish after fish. There were several large fish cruising and making quite a ruckus every time they broke the surface in their pursuit of the tiny bugs. The funny thing was, I had probably 6-7 fish that I thought were large when I first set the hook. Caney Fork fish seem to pull as hard or harder than any other trout I've ever fished for and yesterday they were in fine form. Several fish were landed in the 14-15 inch range and each time I was ready to proclaim that I had a bruiser on before I actually saw them. The one brown I landed I honestly thought was at LEAST 18 inches. Despite the fact that none of the fish turned out to be more than 15 inches (or maybe 16 if I stretched them out a little), it was still a great day on the water.


I even learned a few things. Later on I'll share some more of the cold weather wisdom I gained, but most importantly you should know that your reel WILL freeze up every time you hook an especially hard-fighting fish (this is actually a corollary to Murphy's Law). Also, your guides will generally be completely iced up just about the time a fish takes the fly (again closely related to Murphy's Law). Despite these minor annoyances, it IS possible to fish in cold weather and have a good time and even stay warm in the process.


One thing I feel it is important to point out, if you're going to take a picture of a fish when it is this cold, please leave the fish in the water until the last possible minute before you take the picture. Even better, as in the picture of the 'bow, leave the fish in the water (shallow water works great to corral the fish) to take that picture so water completely covers the eyes and gills...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting Ready

Spring is just around the corner and since I'm in school and unable to fish as much as I would like, I'm working on preparing for the next season by tying flies and planning trips. Just in time to help out with the preparation, James Marsh is adding some new material to his Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains site.

My favorite addition is definitely the new "Hatches Made Easy" section that is still being constructed on a daily basis. Many Smokies fisherman often stick to a few standard patterns and while they may do well most of the time, there's always slow times and of course, always the chance for improvement. Paying closer attention to what the fish are really keyed on will help improve your success on the stream...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Weekend


My weekend did not contain any fishing but hopefully next weekend will be different. While I didn't fish, I did manage to take advantage of the nice weather and get out for a bit of hiking and photography. I found some nice water (which doesn't contain trout unfortunately) but really could never do the scene justice with the camera. Here is a sample of one of my attempts...


Another nice photo opportunity presented itself and after experimenting a little with the possibilities, I had a friend snap a picture of me as well...


The sunset gave some of the nicest lighting of the day...


While I won't be able to head to any of those small streams that I'm looking forward to, next weekend I'll likely be home so another trip to the Caney Fork my be in the near future for me... Soon after that, I'll be starting to do trips to the Smokies and to some other small streams in the Cherokee NF... I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Things Have Been Slow

The fishing side of life has been a little slow for me as of late and I apologize for the lack of new material. I'm getting back into the swing of things at school but I'm taking fly fishing as a class so things aren't looking entirely down. I'll even have to take a field trip to go fishing which will get me out of other regular classes...

While you're checking out my blog, please weigh in on the newest poll. I'm curious about how far everyone else out there will hike on a day trip so let me know!!!

Water Revisited

As I mentioned recently, things are looking much better as far as the water situation is concerned in the Smokies. To further bring home the severity of the drought and also the current improvement in water levels, I searched through my old photos for one of a favorite run that I took during the drought. On Christmas day, I took several more to compare. Here are the resulting pictures...first is during some of the worst part of the drought in September 2007.


The following picture contains the same section which is of course tight to the far bank. Notice the lack of flow in the above picture and the nice holding water that exists at "normal" water levels. I've caught browns up to around 12 inches in this run so it is good to see some water in it again.


Here's a closeup for easier comparison...


For yet another view of this run, it is featured as our current Photo of the Month for January.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fishing in 2008

Following the theme of change so prevalent in the presidential primary campaigns, 2008 is going to be about change for me on the fishing scene. I'm going back to my beginnings as a fly fisherman so to speak, back to the smaller streams and eager trout. Perhaps putting it more succinctly, less fishing on the tailwaters. Sure, I'll still fish the Caney when I'm home on the weekend occasionally and probably will still try to make it up to the Cumberland if they ever quit running water. I'll probably even make a trip or two up to the upper east Tennessee tailwaters. However, more than anything I want to spend my time back in the woods and hills of east Tennessee chasing the wild jewels that inhabit our streams.

I want to try some different flies and better learn how to fish some of the more technical hatches. This of course will undoubtedly involve learning some new techniques. Also, not only will I be fishing my favorite mountain streams, I also want to explore new ones, maybe even find a new favorite. This will involve a lot of time in the backcountry, both on day trips and longer overnight type trips as well. I have plans to experience more of what the Smokies have to offer. Specifically, I plan on checking some rumors of lake run fish on the south side of the park and all those streams that drain into Fontana Lake. Of course, I've been saying that I intend to do these trips for awhile so time will only tell if I really make it. I better start planning now so it happens...

Newsletter

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required