Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

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

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Observe, Analyze, Plan, Execute

Some of my most memorable fish have come when I’ve had to work for them. Size doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with making a fish memorable. One of my more memorable fish this summer was just a small brown trout. I remember that fish well for a reason. I caught the fish by formulating and following a careful yet simple game plan.


Often a fish is memorable because of a great cast. Several years ago I was fishing a stream “somewhere out west” that also happens to be one of my favorites all time. The stream had trees lining the banks so the casting conditions were very similar to my home waters here in the Smokies. I had spotted a nice 14 inch brown rising just upstream, but the fish was in a very tough spot to cast into. A branch was hanging low over the stream directly above the rising fish making the presentation difficult, at least to me at that stage in my fly fishing career. The cast would obviously need to be punched up under the limb if I wanted any chance to catch the fish. My first cast was perfect with the fly landing far up under the tree and miraculously not snagging on the foliage. The fish did its part by casually eating the fly and soon thereafter I briefly admired a beautiful wild brown. I’ve caught many browns since then and will no doubt catch more but I’ll always remember that fish with a sense of accomplishment.


Catching a memorable fish generally comes down to the ability to carefully observe and then analyze the situation, planning the presentation, and executing the game plan. Another brown was memorable more recently. Once again it was not for anything particularly great, just a feeling of accomplishment when everything came together exactly as I had planned.

A small deep pocket caught my eye as I moved up the stream while fishing near Elkmont. I knew there had to be a fish lurking because of the depth of the pocket and the quality of water around it. There was just one problem. A branch was lodged between the rocks in the pocket leaving a decent piece of water to present a dry on but no room for error once a fish was hooked. Only one solution would work. If a fish hit, I knew my only chance would be to pull it all the way out of the water and into the main channel where there was room to maneuver without the fish snagging on something in the stream. My first cast produced an explosive strike from a 7 inch brown. The hookset was perfect with just enough extra power to lift the fish away from the potential hazard. If I had let the fish run back into its home it would no doubt have snagged the fly on a branch and escaped. Instead I had a picture and a memory…



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