Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 01/22/2020

High flows continue across the area but trends are definitely down. A recent cold snap broke the ongoing heatwave so fishing in the mountains has slowed dramatically. Right on schedule, some of our tailwaters should begin returning to more normal flows for this time of year meaning float trips are certainly possible.

For the Smokies, a warming trend should commence as we go into next week. By mid week the fishing should be decent before the next cold front returns us back to winter again. On warmer days, look for midges and possibly winter stoneflies hatching. Some blue-winged olives will be possible on foul weather days as we head towards February. The best fishing is still a few weeks out, but no longer feels like an eternity. Expect good spring hatches to start in late February or early March with blue quills and quill gordons along with little black caddis and early brown and black stones. By April, things will be settling down with the pinnacle of spring fishing usually happening from mid April through the month of May.

On our area tailwaters, high water continues to be the story. The Caney Fork still has at least a couple of weeks of high flows and that is assuming we don't get any more heavy rainfall. This time of year, that is asking a lot. The high water is good for one thing, however. Shad. Yes, the cold months are prime time to try and hit the famed shad kill and catch a monster brown trout. Same thing goes for the Clinch.

Speaking of the Clinch, the good news is that flows are scheduled to begin dropping tomorrow. A steady two generators will feel like low water after the recent period of two generators plus sluicing. Two generators opens up some nymphing possibilities in addition to our favorite winter pastime, stripping streamers for monsters.

The musky streams are settling into fine shape and will be an option moving forward as well. Remember that bouts of high water will get them stained or even muddy for a few days, but as flows come down the fishing should pick back up.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back on the Water

My intentions have been good all along. I've been planning on going back to the Smokies to check for lake run fish and to just enjoy fishing for those wild trout. This weekend it finally happened. On Sunday I drove up to the park and hit a small stream and also checked a larger stream for lake run fish. I finished off the day with my first time on the Hiwassee this year.

The first stream I checked out was fairly slow but I still carefully worked the water, hitting every likely hole, pocket and run. Finally, as I was working upstream in full stealth mode, I saw the light gray color in the water ahead of me that looked like a feeding 'bow. As soon as it moved from side to side, I knew for sure it was a fish. Apparently it was hungry and I got more than one opportunity. My first try should have spooked the fish since I felt the strike and gave a solid hook set. The fish was set on continuing the feast though and soon I got another good drift and it ate. After a quick fight, I brought a beautiful rainbow to hand. I was struck by how skinny this fish was, maybe it was a post-spawn fish. After admiring it and snapping 2 quick pictures, I slipped the fish back into the water and watched it dart away.

So much better than a stocked trout...

My day would have been perfect with just that one fish. A stop at lower Abrams Creek was in order however. On the drive in, at least 5 Blount County Sheriff cars passed me. Later at the parking lot in the park, two more drove in in a hurry and after consulting, left again. I don't know what was going on but it was odd to say the least.


I didn't even end up fishing on Abrams. My rod came out of the car and I was thoroughly prepared but a slow walk along the banks of the stream yielded no fish sightings. This part of the stream won't have many if any trout except perhaps in the colder months when fish may move up from the lake. Also, it is a bit early for smallmouth. I was hoping to find lake run fish but it wasn't to be on this day.

It was only the middle of the afternoon when I left Abrams so I headed back down highway 411 on my way back to the Chattanooga area. The Hiwassee was conveniently located on the way back so I decided I should check it out. The first stop was at the powerhouse where one small rainbow was curious enough to check out my fly. Later on I moved down to the Big Bend area and picked up two more rainbows. I'm giving this river 2 more weeks before things bust loose. For superb spring dry fly action, this is the place to be if you want somewhere relatively close to Chattanooga and other points south.


As far as the bugs I saw, in the mountains there were midges of course along with a few stray stoneflies and maybe a couple caddis. On the HI, it was about the same but probably even fewer bugs (except for midges, there were good numbers of those). Like I said, this should all change very soon, no more than 3 weeks unless we enter an ice age. Once the hatches start, I'll try to keep you up to date on what is happening where.

I'm more excited for the spring hatches than I can ever remember being and I'll try to get to the Smokies as often as possible. Hopefully this will be the spring of a big brown for me. I've yet to break 20 inches in the Park so that is my goal. There may be a few big rainbows left as well. Most of those didn't do so well in the drought last year but the few that are left provide some nice surprises this spring. Last spring, I broke off on a rainbow that was at least 18 inches which is a monster for the park. I'm afraid it probably didn't survive the summer but I'll be back to find out.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:39 PM

    It's getting closer to that magic time. Just yesterday, I noticed the azalias starting to bloom, and the willows are budding out. Now, we're more than a few weeks ahead of the Smokies, but it's always neat to see things fresh and green again. In a few weeks, the Quill Gordons will be hatching, and by the time we are up there after Easter, things ought to be busting out all over. My goal is for my 7-year olds to get their first fish on a fly, and for my oldest to get her first brown. As for me, I'll be happy catching those brookies up on Cosby.

    20 inches? That's quite a target...I was overjoyed with the 10-in rainbow I got on the WPLP - a great fight on the 2wt. Eventually, I'll probably get to the point of targeting the larger fish. That skinny trout reminds me of a bass I caught once - all head and tail, and nothing else. I tried to revive it, but it was a no-go. I was about to carve it up when our neighbors suggested a taxidermist in town that was reasonably priced. So, I have a 9lb largemouth mounted - it would have easily topped 11 if I had caught it a month earlier - I was surprised it was active at all.

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