Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 2/11/2017
Fishing has been good lately, both in the Smokies and on the tailwaters. I have been privileged to spend time on both tailwaters and in the Smokies recently. Up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a few bugs are showing up with the warm weather we've been experiencing. With temperatures supposed to be cooling again this week, I don't expect huge hatches. That said, blue quills, early brown stoneflies, little black stoneflies, and probably some little black caddis should be trickling off. This will be especially true when we get a string of warm days. Quill gordon mayflies are not far behind now with the warm winter we've had.

On the tailwaters, the fishing has been mostly good. The Caney Fork is fishing well on streamer floats. Some high water nymphing is picking up a few fish as well. Several people have taken advantage of my special February tailwater trip to book streamer floats. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, sign up for my newsletter so you can stay informed about specials on guide trips and other things.

Now is the time to start thinking about spring fishing. The bookings are rolling in for float trips on the Caney Fork. Spring hatch trips in the Smokies will book quickly as well so contact me soon if you want to get out in 2017!

Photo of the Month: First Trout of 2017

Photo of the Month: First Trout of 2017

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Photo of the Month: New Poll

Our newest poll will allow you the readers to vote for the picture you want to see at the top of this blog for the next month. Vote soon as I'll be updating the blog and pictures soon and the poll will only be open for a couple of days.

To vote, simply go to the poll on the upper right side of this page and click on your favorite and then hit "vote."

Here are the pictures you will be voting on:

#1 Mountain Solitude



#2 Water's Dance



#3 Caught!


#4 Elkmont Evening

#5 Smoky Mountain Speck

Updates

Since I'm home for the weekend, I've finally been able to have a little "Internet time" for myself. At work I have time to post new blog entries and check my email but that's about it. I've been catching up on some of my favorite sites on fishing in East Tennessee and the Smokies including Hugh Hartsell's site and also one of the best on fishing in the park, Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains by James and Angie Marsh. There are several great updates on their site including a new section that will apparently be developed over time about fishing the headwater streams in the Smokies.

They have a new contributor to their site that is helping with the headwaters page. His name is Craig Lancaster and he is a die-hard fly fisher that often hikes into some of the most remote streams in the park and surrounding areas in search of solitude. In addition, Craig has a new blog which looks like it will be very interesting to read.

If that's not enough reading material, I should have a few more updates soon. I've got a book review to do on The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace With the World (which was very enjoyable to read by the way), and tomorrow I might make another Caney Fork trip although the generation schedule is not the best. Also I've decided to make an effort to try and catch some of the larger browns in the Little River watershed so I'll let you know how that goes. Finally, before my time in the park is over, I'll make at least one weekend trip deep into the backcountry. I have a couple of ideas on where to go but nothing definite yet. Stay tuned for more...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Drought Continues...Maybe...

The latest drought outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is not painting a pretty picture for extreme eastern Tennessee and surrounding areas. A small bullseye seems to be centered on the Smokies for the drought to "persist." The other day here at Little River Outfitters, Byron Begley brought an interesting fact to my attention. The current streamflow is actually lower now than it was at this time last year. That can't be a good thing.



Thankfully, we may at least get some short-term relief. Starting today we have rain in the forecast with the best chances over the weekend. Right now, anything will be better than nothing...

Whack a Rainbow, Save a Brookie


This past weekend I stopped by a small brook trout stream that I like to fish. For the first time ever I caught several rainbows. An occasional rainbow is to be expected in this particular water, but unfortunately there were a few more than would qualify as “occasional.”

The first real pool I fished was loaded with fish. My first cast to the middle of the pool resulted in a flashing strike. Looking forward to admiring a brook trout, I quickly brought the fish to hand. I was surprised to discover a rainbow on the end of my line. One rainbow in a pool with 6-8 brookies had beat all of them to a supposed item of food. I’ve always heard that the rainbows out-compete the brook trout here in the Smokies streams but that was easily the most obvious instance of this I’ve ever experienced.


I’m starting to wonder if a policy requiring fisherman to kill rainbows in certain stretches of water might not be a bad idea. In Yellowstone National Park you are required to kill all lake trout you catch on Yellowstone Lake. Perhaps something similar might be beneficial to our special brook trout here in the Smokies…

Oh yeah, despite the rainbows, I still caught several brookies

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Current Park Fishing


The fishing in the park has slowed down just a bit although you can still catch plenty of fish. The water is getting extremely low and after last year we are all a bit worried to say the least. If we don’t start getting rain really soon, this summer could actually be worse than last summer. The fish are still hungry so the fishing is at least decent.

This past weekend I headed up high above Elkmont to Fish Camp Prong and did very well. The water is still plenty cool up high and the fish are relatively stupid. The downside is the long hike to get there and also the fact that the fish aren’t quite as large as their relatives downstream.

Last night I fished above Elkmont and did alright. The fish are starting to get used to seeing all the yellow stonefly imitations out there so don’t be afraid to simplify the game. A small light colored parachute in about a #14-#16 will often catch fish when a stonefly dry will only draw mild interest. I’ve been having good success with a light cahill parachute I tie but anything similar should catch a few. Also don’t forget the terrestrials. Yesterday a customer came into Little River Outfitters and while chatting about he fishing, he told me that he hadn’t been able to catch many fish in the morning but finally tied on a green weenie and started doing well. Ants and beetles will work as well and are often overlooked by many anglers. The large golden stoneflies are showing up in the Elkmont vicinity on Little River now and fishing a nymph imitation might get a large brown to eat.

The biggest key to having success right now is to be very sneaky. Despite catching good numbers of fish lately, I’m still spooking a lot of trout. Be sure and hit all the small pockets close by the better pools because there will often be fish from the pool feeding up in the faster water.

Finally, if it rains, GO FISHING!!! Some of my better days in the park have been the day after a really good summer thunderstorm…

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Stung!


Despite being in Townsend for close to three weeks at this point, I have been avoiding Elkmont. This was largely because of the firefly mania that has been going on above the campground. With the road no longer closed in the evenings I decided to head up there Wednesday evening and see how the fishing is doing on that stream. The results were excellent despite some pain in the process.


I casually sauntered up the trail above the campground with a certain stretch of water on my mind where I have caught some decent fish before. There is a lot of great dry fly water on this particular piece of water, and I was hoping to get a nice fish on the dry. Arriving at my starting pool, I found a log to sit on that was the perfect height for a seat and proceeded to start preparing to tie on a fly. Very little time elapsed before the bugs started bothering me, at least that was the first thought that went through my head as I felt a bug brush against my arm. Suddenly I felt a searing stinging sensation on my arm and quickly slapped at whatever was causing it. In horror I looked down and saw bees swarming. Two more stings followed in quick succession, another on my arm and one on the side of my neck. Anyone walking along the trail at that point would have seen me leap of the log and sprint for the stream. If the bees followed me with the intent to cause harm, I fully intended to dive into the water. Thankfully it wasn’t necessary as the bees only wanted me away from their nest. Yes, you read that right…I sat ON the nest which was inside the log. The bees were still swarming around the entrance. I briefly considered venturing close enough for a picture but you’ll just have to trust my description of the event and the bees.


After “The Stinging,” I finally moved slowly up the stream fishing various dries including a Neversink Caddis, a Parachute Hare’s Ear, and a Yellow Stimulator all in either a #14 or #16. I even broke off on a decent brown on the hookset but the fish shouldn’t have broke me off based on its size. Since I was fishing an extremely soft rod that should have been forgiving, I’ll blame my leader to tippet knot since the fish was nice but not really that big…

I managed a couple of better than average rainbows, the best of which was camera shy, but I got a picture of the other one. As I already said, the dry fly fishing was awesome. It doesn’t get any better than spending an evening on a mountain stream fishing dries to actively feeding fish… This weekend I’ll be doing something out of the ordinary which will be some type of backcountry trip. Either one of my crazy hardcore day trips or maybe an overnight trip…I guess I should spend a little time with a park map and decide where I’m going…

Monday, June 16, 2008

Caney Fishing Well


Since I was home this weekend, I took the opportunity to fish the Caney Fork for a couple of hours Sunday afternoon. I’m not going to give a lengthy report. The important thing is that the river is fishing very well right now. Fish took a zebra midge with enough regularity that I didn’t have to change flies at all once I figured out the color combination they wanted.


I stung 2-3 large fish that would have gone over 20 inches yet again but just couldn’t get a solid hookup with the really good ones. The fish of the day was a nice 17 inch brown that gave me a workout on the 3 weight.


The river is in great shape with LOTS of quality fish right now. Some of the really good fish feed in shallow water and are easy to spot and stalk if you move quietly. This week I’ll be fishing again in the evenings in the Smokies so check back for any exciting reports I may have… Also, next weekend is going to include some type of big trip. Either a backcountry overnight trip or a major day trip deep into the backcountry so I should find some good fishing to go along with the solitude I look forward to so much.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Grouchy Turtle (or Other Uses For Your Rod Tubes)


Driving up to my small cabin after work yesterday, I noticed something in the middle of the gravel road up ahead and stopped the car. A snapping turtle was kicking back, taking it easy in the middle of the narrow road. I figured the opportunity to get some great pictures of a turtle like that don't come around every day and snapped a few before prodding him to get him to move. He was really grouchy about the whole process so I ended up pushing him along with a rod tube (hey, they're good for more than holding those all-important fly rods). He kept snapping at it so I finally just poked at him and each time he would try to bite and lunge a little further. Eventually I got him far enough over in the road to drive around. By the way, if you ever run into one of these, don't get your hands too close. This thing could lunge short distances incredibly fast and I don't want to be the one doing the experiment to see if one will really bite off a finger...


Some of you may have noticed that the number of fishing trips has continued to rise despite a lack in reports. Basically here's what you need to know. The fish are eating well and if you find a stretch of water that no one has fished that day, you can catch plenty of fish. Terrestrials are hot right now with ant patterns still catching a bunch and the Green Weenie still doing its share as well. Isonychias are hatching and the little yellow stoneflies are out each evening. On the Middle Prong of Little River the Giant Yellow Stoneflies are out some evenings in fairly good numbers. They look like hummingbirds flying around the stream and are enough to get you quite excited.

I'm home for the weekend (came to see my dad for Father's Day) but since he has to work tomorrow, I might sneak over to the Caney Fork a few hours before heading back over to Townsend. If so I'm going back to look for the monsters I missed last time. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Candy Ants

Officially summer has yet to begin. Apparently someone missed the memo however, because it has been excessively hot here in East Tennessee. July and August are usually our warmest months and when the heat is combined with lower rainfall, the streams start to warm up a little more than is generally healthy for trout. This year the weather seems to be backward with the temperature in the Little River at the Wye above Townsend spiking up into the 70’s during the afternoon. The streams are starting to get a bit low as well but the forecast shows hope for that and for cooler (at least relatively) temperatures to go along with the much-needed rain.

With the streams warming up and getting low, it is time to start thinking about terrestrials. One thing I’ve noticed during recent fishing trips is the number of ants on the water. Apparently the fish have also been taking notice. Yesterday evening I hit the stream for about an hour and a half. I decided to stick to terrestrials with one of those being an ant pattern. For my other fly I tied on the famed Green Weenie (dropped the ant of that) and added a bit of split shot.

Ants must taste like candy to trout. Approximately ¾ of the trout I caught ate the ant pattern, and most of them hit with gusto. Not only did I catch plenty of fish but also caught some nice ones including one a bit over 8 inches (pictured) and another that was in the 10 inch range that took off while I was messing with my camera. With the water being low, it is extremely important to be stealthy while fishing right now. If you sneak directly up behind the fish you can often spot them out feeding in the prime lie in each hole. The hatches seem to be starting to slow down some, but there is still a good variety of insects on the water including the little yellow stoneflies and a few random mayflies and caddis. Still, the top item in the buffet appears to be ants in all shapes and sizes, but the majority I’ve seen around the water look to be averaging about a #16.


If we get the rain that’s forecast, the fishing should pick up and be good for a day or two at least. Some of my better days in the park are during the summer just after a good rainstorm. The streams will rise a few inches and become a bit stained. At that time the fish will be a bit less skittish and easier to catch. Remember that the rain will be washing a lot of terrestrials into the water so be sure and have plenty of inchworm imitations to go along with some ants and beetles.

Today I have to finish (hopefully) processing the Wapsi order and get all the products out on the shelves. Yesterday I began to get a taste of the misery from the large order so today I should be in the bowels of Wapsi Hell. I think that calls for another evening fishing trip…

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Wapsi: Heaven or Hell?

Wapsi Hell. That's what Daniel Drake at Little River Outfitters affectionately calls the inventory and ordering process from our largest supplier of fly tying materials. My first day on the job included receiving an order from Wapsi, but it was nothing compared to future orders. Daniel said that I was just in Wapsi purgatory at that point. Later in the week when I put in my first Wapsi order I had a foretaste of what was to come.

The order was large, one of the larger ones this year in fact. This next week, probably tomorrow, it will arrive at the shop, and the real agony will begin. Everything must be checked against the packing list and our order form to make sure we get everything we ordered and everything they say was shipped. Once I know what we actually have, everything must be put into the computer so we can actually sell it, and anything without a label needs to have one made. Then I have to get everything out on the shelves. Really it isn't that bad, but when it arrives I'll probably be sweating for awhile...until 5:00 p.m. that is when I'll be out the door headed for a stream.


East Prong Little River


The evening on-stream therapy sessions really help to put Wapsi or anything else in perspective. Standing in the middle of silvery ribbons of water catching wild trout have a way of making any kind of hard work seem insignificant. Besides, not everyone can say that they love their work and even with a large order to deal with, working in a fly shop is better than a lot of other jobs I could be doing. Maybe it should be called Wapsi heaven instead...I won't yet though since I have yet to receive an order of any size. In the meantime, I'll be catching more wild browns on a #8 stimulator...

Wild Brown, Caught on a #8 Yellow Stimulator

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

First Day on the Job


Yesterday was the first day at my summer job working for Little River Outfitters in Townsend, Tennessee. I’m going to enjoy working there. A lot of my time was spent doing the more mundane tasks of receiving shipments from some of our distributors and getting them out in the store. The most enjoyable part of working there though is being able to talk about something I love doing. I’ve always enjoyed fly fishing, and helping others with fly selection and offering advice on where to fish is about as good as it gets (and did I mention I get paid for this?).

Being able to go fishing in a mountain stream after work for wild trout ain’t bad either… As soon as I got off work I headed up Middle Prong to check out how the fish were doing. The fishing was very good with lots of bugs on the water near sunset. There were little yellow stoneflies both hatching and also out laying eggs. The big news from last evening though is that the large yellow stoneflies are out in force. I’ve never seen that many large bugs flying around at one time. As usual this time of year, just about anything yellow worked well including Neversink Caddis, a parachute Sulphur, and a yellow soft hackle. Because of the large stoneflies out and about, I’ll probably be somewhere up the East Prong this evening chasing some larger fish…wish me luck!

For now it looks like I’ll be working weekdays so stop by and see me…

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