Guided Trips


Fishing is good in the Smokies and other mountain streams if you can catch it on a day where the wind is minimal. Otherwise, expect lots of leaves in the water for the next few days. Delayed harvest streams are also being stocked and fishing well in east Tennessee and western North Carolina.

In the Smokies, fall bugs are in full swing. We have been seeing blue-winged olives almost daily although they will hatch best on foul weather days. They are small, typically running anywhere from #20-#24 although a few larger ones have also shown up. A few October Caddis are still around as well. Terrestrials are close to being done for the year although we are still seeing a few bees and hornets near the stream. Isonychia nymphs, caddis pupa, and BWO nymphs will get it done for your subsurface fishing. Have some October Caddis (#12) and parachute BWO patterns (#18-#22) for dry flies and you should be set. Not interested in matching the hatch? Then fish a Pheasant Tail nymph under a #14 Parachute Adams. That rig can catch fish year round in the Smokies.

Brook and brown trout are now moving into the open to spawn. During this time of year, please be extremely cautious about wading through gravel riffles and the tailouts of pools. If you step on the redd (nest), you will crush the eggs that comprise the next generation of fish. Please avoid fishing to actively spawning fish and let them do their thing in peace.

Our tailwaters are still cranking although the Caney is finally starting to come down. I'm still hoping to get a firsthand report on the Caney Fork soon although it might be sometime next week or the week after before that happens at the earliest. Stay tuned for more on that. Fishing will still be slow overall with limited numbers of fish in that particular river unfortunately.

The Clinch is featuring high water as they try to catch up on the fall draw down. All of the recent rainfall set them back in this process but flows are now going up to try and make up some of the time lost. It is still fishing reasonably well on high water although we prefer the low water of late fall and early winter as it is one of our favorite times to be on the river.

Smallmouth are about done for the year with the cooler weather we are now experiencing. I caught a few yesterday on the Tennessee River while fishing with guide Rob Fightmaster, but overall the best bite is all but over. Our thoughts will be turning to musky soon, however. Once we are done with guide trips for the year, we'll be spending more time chasing these monsters.

In the meantime, we still have a few open dates in November. Feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in a guided trip. Thanks!

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.



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