Guided Trips


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

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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