Guided Trips


Water is starting to get to a seasonally low level in the Smokies again while heavy rain across middle Tennessee is increasing flows on the Caney Fork River.

Wet years normally produce some fantastic fishing in the Smokies and this year has been no different. No matter where we fish, it seems that the fishing is amazing this year. We have seen some nice brown trout, big rainbows, and lots of good sized brook trout.

Fall fishing is looking awesome this year. The Smokies in particular will shine. Currently we are still seeing good numbers of Golden Stoneflies and Isonychias. Tiny black stoneflies and a few caddis are also emerging. Soon we should start seeing more of the fall Blue-winged Olives and fall caddis. Terrestrials are still going strong as well so remember your box of ants, inchworms, beetles, and other goodies.

The Caney Fork has continued to be very slow. An occasional large brown trout is of course possible, but numbers of rainbow trout in the system are negligible. Huge stripers are still throughout the river meaning any trout stocked are getting consumed quickly. The fishing will continue to be very slow until the stripers migrate downriver for the winter and some fish are stocked after that happens.

The Clinch River is fishing very well. Fall is one of the best times to be on this tailwater. We will be doing a few trips there over the next couple of months. Low water will provide my favorite opportunities but float fishing should be good to excellent as well.

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

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.



Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required