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

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Walk in the Park

That's exactly what I did this past Sunday. The weekend was spent camping at Elkmont which was great as always albeit a bit expensive. They seriously need a student rate so poor college students like myself can enjoy some time in the park without breaking the bank. I guess I just need to start backpacking instead of car camping...and now I'm off topic...

One of my favorite ways of fishing is to hike in on a day trip, sometimes up to 15-16 miles roundtrip. Sunday's goal was not that optimistic. I'm out of shape after a lazy winter so 10 miles roundtrip seemed reasonable. The trailhead at Elkmont was reasonably busy when I arrived at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning. An hour later, I was 4 miles deep in the backcountry and ready to start fishing. The stream temperature was about 48 degrees and the clouds hinted that the air temp might not climb much as the day progressed.

A double nymph rig seemed reasonable considering the conditions and I tied on a GRHE with a softhackle dropper and a couple small split shot. After a couple fruitless casts, an energetic rainbow hit the Hares Ear and the day progressed nicely in similar fashion. An hour later I had caught 10 fish and was getting hungry. During lunch I began noticing that every time the sun poked through the clouds bugs would start flying up from the stream. After I started fishing it began to make sense. The rocks were all covered with newly hatched yellow stoneflies. It was too cold to fly quickly so they were waiting for the warmth of the sun to take to the air.

This revelation brought out my trusty Tellico nymph as the new dropper and the catching continued. Not long after lunch I hooked and lost the best fish of the day, a brown pushing 11 inches. I missed a nice brookie as well but the rainbows kept coming to hand at a steady pace.

Somewhere after 30 fish I began to wonder if they might hit a dry and out come a yellow Neversink Caddis. The fish must have been starving, because they attacked it with reckless abandon. The time was slipping away unfortunately so I finally called it a day and started the trek back to the trailhead with another amazing day on the water under my belt. By 7:00 p.m. I was on the road back to Chattanooga with a great sunset in front of me and a relaxing weekend behind...


  1. In prior years I visited the Smokies a couple weeks from now, and that yellow stone dry has always been my best fly.

    I've fished up above Elkmont several times, though the farthest up the Little River I've gone was about a mile past that small footbridge across the river.

  2. TC, That section above Elkmont is some of my favorite water in the park. There is a little bit of everything including good dry fly runs, pocket water, and a few good pools... Definitely a great place to spend time! Too bad you can't make it this year but it looks like you've been having some great fishing out there...

  3. ijsouth10:13 PM

    That was a pretty sunset Sunday; we saw it from the parking lot of Steak N' Shake in Athens (it's a ritual - we always stop there on the way home). However, the fact that we were seeing the sunset there meant that we didn't get home until almost 5 in the morning. I was a zombie at work yesterday.

    I saw a pretty good hatch on Straight Fork on Saturday, but nothing rose to them. It was a different story Sunday on Cosby - we did very well...about 40 between my oldest and myself. I wasn't planning on fishing Cosby this trip - I hate to rely on it like a crutch, but after a near-skunk on Saturday, we wanted some action.

    Heard y'all were in Cataloochee over the weekend, too...I like that area, even if it is a pain to get to.

  4. Ijsouth, glad ya'll had a great trip! Cataloochee is a really cool place although I think the rainbows over there were hit pretty hard by the drought last summer. All we were catching were browns and brookies... Had some interesting problems with the radiator but that's a story for another day...

  5. ijsouth12:13 PM oldest actually outfished me, but I beat her in quality fish ;)...You're probably right about the 'bows in Cataloochee, and I wouldn't be surprised if the brookies take advantage of it. Last summer, I caught a nice spec on Palmer, and not very far up the trail either...I was surprised. There were a lot of nice bows in that stretch, too...and if they're out of the picture, the brookies will have less competition.

    From what your partner posted over on LRO, I know exactly which road you were on...and, that is a scary place to break down - miles from anywhere.

  6. Wow, you have skills. The pics you take of skys and landscapes are awesome. Great site!



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