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

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...

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