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

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Last Few Days

A tough weekend for fishing purposes meant that I didn't have any good updates for this week. My problem was a big exam I had on Monday that I needed to study for. I had been hoping to float the Caney and throw shad patterns for monster fish but that didn't happen (I have heard that the shad are coming through the turbines though so if you've got a boat, go float the Caney NOW!). Thankfully, I was able to get away Tuesday afternoon this week and again today to try out my skills on fish other than trout some more. Both trips had some great highlights...

On Tuesday, I caught one of the ugliest fish I've ever caught. It was my first Freshwater Drum which was definitely fun to catch at least once. Now that I've caught one, I don't really care to catch many more though. Both trips, I've also caught several Yellow Bass and Hybrids.

Tuesday's trip was interesting because the shad were coming through the dam in large numbers. The fish were absolutely gorging themselves and the first Hybrid I caught started coughing up shad (see picture below). Later in the day, I saw at least one very nice striper rolling down below me, and a guy with a Spey rod showed up and eventually caught what looked like a 6-7 pound fish from the same general area. Today I tried that area to no avail but did "catch" an interesting fish.

I had been casting downstream to where several fish appeared to be feeding when I looked off to my side in the slack water and saw a fish just sitting there. It appeared to be some type of gar or perhaps a pickerel. Carefully, I reached back and unfastened my net and slipped it into the water behind the fish. The fish appeared lethargic, maybe because the water was cold or maybe because it was sick. Regardless, I was able to net it and we got a quick picture of what appears to be a gar. Anyone here know much about these fish? I'd be interested in hearing exactly what type of gar you think this is...


  1. My mom caught a freshwater drum on one of her first fly fishing excursions with me. I know they can get pretty large (30lb+), but I don't know how you would go about targeting the big ones.

    I think you have a spotted gar on your in your hands. How cold was the water?

  2. ijsouth11:52 PM

    Grant above nailed's a spotted gar, pretty common. One of my kids caught one two years ago, and still talks about it. Ugly fish, but they can fight on the end of a line.

    Nice Gaspergou - that's the Louisiana name for freshwater drum - they look pretty much like the black drum you catch in saltwater.

  3. Anonymous9:54 PM

    Wow, that looks like fun! I have never fished for anything but trout with a fly rod. Do you mind if I ask what flies you used to catch these fish? Noe I want to give it a try also!


  4. The water is fairly cold although I didn't actually check the temp... I would say upper 40's to around 50 or so.

    MikeC, I've mainly been using various white shad immitations (just try to match the picture of the shad in this post)... Zonkers and Simi Seal Streamers have done the best for me so far along with smaller white wooly buggers... I've also had people recommend white Clousers. Hope this helps!

  5. Anonymous8:17 PM

    Where were you fishing when you caught the Hybrid in the photo?

  6. Tubakka11:31 AM

    Spotted gar as fun...but if you get into some long nose especially on fly rod, you've got a fight. They're the second to gators in size [a distant] but there's still a shot at 20 pound fish plus. My biggest is around 48", I used to target them for a couple weeks each year when they'd run up a local spillway to spawn. Go down at get about 50 in an hour and a half. I measured two that had been killed when some chain link in place to hold rocks down came unfurled on them. One was 52" the other was 58". They were huge fish, with ginormous teeth.

    gaspergou...I love that. my grandfather and I use to go down to Mississippi to fish and I learned that name. i get drum trolling now and then, and a big one is a good fight. But they roll over as soon as you put them back...not very hardy.

    I haven't been able to fish the Caney much. Only gotten 3 fish over 18" so far this year, one right at 20" but saw the biggest trout of my life come up on a bait at the dam. I musky fish...believe it or I'm used to inches. This fish was a mid 30" easy. Humongous. There are some monsters in there. I'd take those streamers and shads and spend some time down there man. I know people that have been schooled on baitcasters down there by trout. Talk about a fight on the fly! We oughtta go out sometime. you're welcome to float in my boat anytime.

  7. I've been fishing the Tennessee River here in Chattanooga lately...that's as specific as I'm going to get on here but if you want more information, please feel free to send me an email. You can find the link through my Profile...

    Tubakka, your continuing stories of seeing huge fish on the Caney are making me miss the river... I'm hoping to hit it a time or two over spring break the first week in March. I'd enjoy floating with you sometime and seeing how you target these larger fish. Might give me some ideas for the fly rod... Send me an email (link in my profile) or let me know where to send you one and we can discuss this further...

  8. Tubakka1:02 AM

    I can only show you what I know on spinning, and alot of that's location and approach I suppose. I have a couple friends that consistently get browns and rainbows in the 20" class using fact, those two are the best on the river I've met yet, an they're not guides, and they're about our age [still in college]

  9. Tubakka1:15 AM

    I'll hook you up with them. call me at 618-559-3494

  10. Tubakka, I'll give you a holler in a few days when I get home for spring break...



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