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

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Keeping Fish

While fishing on Thursday, I was able to enlighten a kid that stopped by to watch my buddy and me fish. When he first came up, he asked if I had caught any fish. I replied in the affirmative and added that I had caught several.

What happened next cracked me up but also showed me the general mentality that people have about fishing. The poor kid looked all over for those fish and then asked, "Where are they?" If you can imagine the confusion on his face when he didn't see any fish laying around, then double that confusion to imagine his face when I said, "I let them all go."

I wanted to have a good chuckle, but since this was a good teaching opportunity I resisted. Three or four minutes later, I hooked up on one of my better fish of the day. He watched me fight the fish and then land it and quickly asked if he could have it. I reminded him that I let all my fish go and he seemed fine with that but wanted to hold the fish. Of course this was okay and so he spent a little while admiring the fish and my buddy snapped a quick picture for me and we let it go.

Hopefully that kid will remember that you don't have to keep 'em all.


  1. Anonymous10:17 AM

    Nothing wrong with keeping a few, particularly stockers.

  2. Tubakka5:48 PM

    Nothing wrong with keeping a trophy to turn back a bunch of little ones either. Why not let the stockers go, grow up, and keep the one or two nicer fish you catch, or just one trophy? I don't see the issue with that. And that's how I roll...selective harvest of larger or trophy fish as opposed to keeping several equivalent smaller fish for the table. I let them grow up, but that's just me. Nice gesture though...youth getting into this need to know that harvest AND release are both parts of respecting and conserving our resources.

  3. I really have no problem with fish being kept so long as it is legal. I've even given a guy a couple stocker 'bows on the Caney before (long story for another time). What does bother me is the mentality that every single fish goes in the bucket or on the stringer. That's what will ruin our fisheries as I'm sure you all know... Personally, I don't eat fish so have no reason to keep any. If I ever caught a 10, 15 or even 20 pound brown, maybe I'd keep it for the wall. Haven't had that happen yet though so those big guys are safe.

    Tubakka, sorry I never caught up with you over spring break. Some other things came up and I didn't fish as much as I had planned. I'd still like to float with you sometime if the invite is still open... How's the river been fishing anyway?

  4. ijsouth10:31 PM

    I've been thinking lately that, on our next Smokies trip, it wouldn't be a bad idea to actually keep a few - good eating and possibly good for the stream, or at least not harmful. Of course, the problem is getting fish that are the legal size - the small streams I like to fish, plus the way I fish, tends to yield a lot of 6 inch fish.

    I actually think the smaller fish are better to keep - not only do they taste better, I think the larger fish (like a 10lb bass, or a big brown, etc) are better to release for the fishery because, at least potentially, these fish can pass on their DNA to the next generation - obviously something went right for them to obtain a large size, and perhaps they are genetically superior.

  5. Ijsouth, since you fish those little brookie streams, you need to whack as many rainbows as possible...hehehe...

  6. ijsouth5:56 PM

    Very true...but most of the 'bows I catch are 6.99999 inches (or less)...although I wouldn't mind keeping one of the stockers that wander in from outside the park - the ones I hung last November on Cosby were a solid 12 inches.

  7. Tubakka6:49 AM

    We had a great good Friday. I didn't get to fish any except the first Sunday of spring break. they took a few monsters that weekend, but the best I got was a 21". I came back and fished two gens on the two sundays after that, and got a 23" adna 19". Good friday, as I mentioned, was great. I took a few friends out and showed them the jerkbait game. I decided to show them by example, instead of trying to explain it and told them just to watch what I do and pick up on the subtle differences in retrieve...mainly just working the crap out of it, but trying slower and steadier retrieves. I ended up catching 3-21" fish and an 18.5". Not a bad day, although I would've traded them all in for a 25-26" or plus. We gotta hit it up. Bring your sinking lines nad get the front deck.

  8. Tubakka6:54 AM

    ijsouth...there's a universal problem with that thinking that large fish pass on large fish genetics. They do...but not only and not most effectively when they're big fish. They don't magically develop those genes for making big fish once they themselves become big...they were passing it one as spawning 15-16" fish or smaller...that's like saying that you want to make an star NBA player, so you're going to use Shaq as your male, but wait until he's 80 years old, instead of 22-23...that's the thinking of most fisherman when it comes to the whole passing on big fish genetics. They passed on those genetics best when they were little fish, and the older they get the less healthy their spawn becomes.

  9. ijsouth10:09 PM

    Makes sense do you know a fish is going to be big when it's just "average sized"? I guess I like to release larger fish because, frankly, they usually don't taste as good as younger fish

    We got back from the Smokies early Friday morning...tonight, we cooked up two 'bows we kept from Lynn Camp - slapped them on the grill...delicious, and I certainly don't have any qualms about keeping a few from that stream, considering what will happen a little later this year.



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