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 01, 2008


Well, it was so cold yesterday that I lost a fish...a really nice fish as in a big 18-20 inch trout. Mother nature tricked me though, making me think it was nice out. Seriously, it wasn't all that cold when I started fishing. To celebrate the start of spring break (should be called winter break), I went down to check out the Caney Fork river for a couple of hours. I started out up near the dam with a shad pattern. Despite the dead and dying shad floating lazily along, the fish didn't really seem interested. Oh, and did I mention that it wasn't that cold? In fact, it felt much nicer than I expected.

Finally I decided to head downriver and make the switch to smaller flies. The midge hatch seemed to be an all day event. That probably had to do with the cool (not cold, YET) air temps and clouds not to mention that occasional rain and drizzle. The fish were feeding heavily on the small bugs which seemed odd with all the giant meals floating along.

Anyway, I made the transition on down the river. After tying on a new leader more suited to fishing midges, I soon made my way down to the water and was soon caught up in the business of landing fish. The fish acted like they were starving. Oh, and it was starting to feel cold out.

Then IT happened, the worst thing when your hands start getting cold. My tippet, fly and indicator became horribly tangled. There's only one solution for this disaster and I bravely began the long and tedious process of retying. My left hand was so cold at this point that I couldn't use my thumb and index finger to grasp things much at all. Knot tying became an incredible adventure taking closer to 20 minutes instead of the usual 20 seconds it takes to tie on new tippet AND a fly.

My effort was not in vain though. I soon was catching even more fish than before. I worked my way slowly upriver and then back down. Then I saw the fish. It was feeding in 3-4 feet of water and the flashing side gave it away as a really nice one. I made the cast upstream of this fish a bit farther than I normally would because I knew these big fish tend to cruise instead of staying in one spot. Indeed, my indicator sunk almost immediately and the fight was on. My poor numb hands just couldn't compete with the muscle and grace of the nice fish. It was pulling a lot of line and I was having a hard time operating the fly reel. With these larger fish, the smallest bit of slack means the end of the fight and my quick fight was no different. I was left only with a memory and slight irritation. A perfectly good chemical handwarmer was sitting up in the car but I had been too lazy to go retrieve it. There were gloves in the trunk but, yeah, too lazy....

Too add insult to injury, I worked back upstream and on the return trip down, I hooked either the same fish or one very similar again! This battle was even more brief...I finally realized that it wasn't healthy for my hands to get that cold and I called it a day around sunset...

Despite my losses, I still caught plenty of nice fish. Also, over the course of the afternoon, I did see one huge brown crashing the dead/dying shad on the surface. I guess I'll just have to get back soon to try again. This next week is going to provide some unsettled weather. This time, I'll be better prepared to stay warm. Just because it doesn't feel to cold at first doesn't mean it won't get colder...


  1. I don't even see any snow. Tenn can't be that cold right now. At least you got something for your frozen paws.

  2. Boooo. Says the southener to the crazed northener! Cheer's on the numb fingers and nice fish! Awesome as usual!

    We gotta hit the stream some time soon!

  3. Foulhooked,you're right. It really isn't that cold...I should have prepared and been a bit more ready for the cool air so my hands could have stayed functional. I think I'm going to start keeping one of the handwarmers in a vest pocket.

    Brett, we definitely need to fish...have you been able to get out much lately?

  4. Y of course! I think Kris may wanna load up the boat and head your way in the near and dear future for a float on the Caney! It be killer for certain. How long's the s break? We outta hook up this weekend! Hiawassee maybe? Lemme know!


  5. Brett, my break is pretty much full but I'll be fishing a lot during the upcoming weeks. Weekends are good and I can usually sneak away on Tuesdays...let me know if you head towards the Caney or HI...

    If you get a chance, talk Kris into heading towards the Caney soon. I don't know how much longer the shad are gonna last and you guys would have a blast...



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