Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 6/19/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, frequent rainfall have kept water in the streams so the fish are healthy and ready to eat!

Terrestrials are really coming on strong now. Ants and inchworms continue to get it done, and beetle fishing should be rapidly improving over the next two weeks. Isonychia mayfly nymphs are providing good fishing subsurface along with Golden and Little Yellow Stonefly nymphs. There is still a good variety of mayflies hatching in the higher elevations. Brook trout fishing is about as good as it gets now for those willing to walk. Even fishing roadside is good for now and will continue that way as long as we keep getting rain.

The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from average to good on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater. Midge hatches have been incredible on low or falling water and the fish are feeding. We have the right flies to catch the fish so book a guided trip now!

Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly!


Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cumberland It Is

Pigs on the tailwaters and wild gems in the Smokies will be the name of the game in a couple of weeks. Based on the recent poll, it appears that many of you want to see some pigs from a tailwater. I'll do my best to indulge by fishing the Cumberland and probably the Caney Fork over the upcoming break. Also I have a potential Smokies trip in the works that will probably include car camping along with some extended day trips to the more remote sections of the park chasing big browns and native brookies. The week will undoubtedly go much faster than I would like, but at least I'll be making the most of my time.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Three Days Left

The pole will be closing in three days and I want to take a moment to remind everyone to vote if you want to see reports from a specific destination in a couple of weeks. I'll be trying to get in time on as many streams as possible but with gas prices so high I might be limited on where I can go. You have the opportunity to help me choose one of the options. I'll likely try to hit a couple of the choices and maybe even three. So far the surprise of the poll is that there are so many votes for the Smokies. The freestone streams of the Smokies will always be what I consider my home waters and also my favorite. Despite this, I didn't expect everyone to vote for the Smokies. I assumed everyone would want to see some monster fish from one of the tailwaters. The current votes just go to show that scenic beauty and feisty wild trout are often more interesting then some of our larger rivers...I'm thinking about a pack trip, perhaps before my October break so check back for more on that potential development...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gunnison Trout Part II

The Gunnison River was very good to my buddy Trevor and I on our most recent trip out west. Recall that day one involved figuring out the hot pattern and lots of good brown trout. Day two started out with a trip down to the river. While at the Gunnison, it was a guarantee that I'd be down at the river fishing at every opportunity. Great fishing will do that to me...everything else becomes unimportant including heading back to camp for the occasional snack or water break.

The real draw here was the constant possibility of a monster fish. By some point on the second morning, I had already stuck 3 fish that were easily over 20 inches and at least one of those would have cleared 24 inches. The most frustrating of these was one that towed me all over the river before throwing the hook. The other two fights were much more brief but still disappointing. During the afternoon and evening of the second day we headed back out to water. A quick trip to the fly shop in town had added to the supply and diversity of materials for the hot pattern. One hour after returning to camp I was armed with 20 new midge patterns tied up in a variety of colors to match the prevailing bugs on the water.

It took awhile to get going again and strangely the first fish took a bright orange scud. I had been creeping ever so slowly down the bank when I looked down. Nearly at my feet was a nice rainbow facing downstream into a small back eddy up against the bank. After gently backing up so the cast wouldn't spook the fish, I made a couple casts. The fourth cast was perfect but I was surprised to see the fish move towards the scud instead of my new magical midge pattern. Arguing with a fish that wants to eat your fly is useless so I set the hook and quickly played the fish to the net for a quick picture. Later on it would take much longer to land my best rainbow of the day.


I had been nymphing in my favorite run in the East Portal vicinity when the indicator dove under. Gently lifting the rod brought an explosion from the depths as the big rainbow took the the air. After gaining a bit of control I figured the fight might not be too bad. These hopes were soon dashed as the brute tore out into the main current with another spectacular leap. I gave chase and soon found myself a around 200 feet downstream from where I originally hooked the fish. With a huge midstream boulder blocking downstream progress if the fish went on the far side of it, I decided to make my stand regardless of what happened. Thankfully all the knots held and I soon released a gorgeous 19 inch Gunnison rainbow.


As evening approached we returned to the best two runs on the river and continued to slay the fish. The strange part about day two was that the frequency at which we caught brown trout was plummeting while the percentage of rainbows was up sharply. This would be the pattern for the rest of the trip. We still caught browns on the Gunny but the majority of the fish were rainbows after the first day. As darkness fell, we stumbled wearily back to camp, exhausted from catching fish in the hot canyon all afternoon. Oh what a tough life...


Headwater Streams and the Perfect Fly Store

James Marsh is at it again. In addition to many updates for his sites on fly fishing in the Smokies and Yellowstone, he has started an online store to sell the patterns that are demonstrated in his "Perfect Fly" series on tying. Those that have checked out the DVDs on tying the "Perfect" fly know that he has developed a system of tying that allows one to learn a few basic fly patterns and adapt them to any specific species by just altering the color and size. His new site will allow those that don't tie their own to purchase these patterns for the first time.

In addition to the new store, updates to the "Headwater Streams" portion of his site continue to roll out frequently. The most recent is an interesting one on Enloe Creek. I've never fished this stream but have been close while fishing Raven Fork. This is one of the most beautiful places I've been in the park and the grueling hike up and over a ridge to get there insures that you won't have huge crowds to contend with once you arrive. The hike in makes this a better overnight option although I have done it as a day trip. If you want to look for larger than average brookies, this is one of the better places to try. Beware though that the area is extremely rugged and if you run into trouble you can't count on help any time soon...


A Quiet Pool On Raven Fork

Sunday, September 21, 2008

School Is Now In Session


Student teaching has been going well so far with my one complaint involving how ridiculously early schools start these days. Despite enjoying being in the classroom, I still enjoy my weekends and would not want to spend them at school. The exception to this is when I decide to school some fish.

This weekend was a blur of driving, visiting friends and family, cutting down a couple trees, and just when I thought that was enough, I decided that I better throw in some fishing. Spending the weekend at Nashville has advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage being that it is a bit farther then I really like to drive on a weekend but that mainly stems from pure laziness. The most obvious advantage is that I can swing by the Caney Fork on the way back to Chattanooga and only be going slightly out of my way.

I arrived on the stream somewhere around 2:00 pm Central time and quickly got into some brookies. Quickly growing tired of these easy targets, I decided to take the game into some technical slow moving water where nice browns like to sit and feed just above the lush weedbeds. My Legend Ultra 7'6" 3 weight was the perfect tool for stalking these wary fish, and in the end they proved to be no match for the deadly zebra midge. I caught several nice browns to about 15" or 16". Strangely all were females and as fat as they were, I strongly suspect they are full of eggs or at least getting there as the spawn is most likely just around the corner.


Several of the fish buried themselves in the thick weeds on the bottom of the river and it was only through a lot of effort that I wrestled them back up and to the surface. As a side note, I am extremely impressed with Rio Fluoroflex Plus tippet material. It is cheaper than the Seaguar Grand Max that I like so much and is also exceptionally strong. I didn't lose a single fish today and I believe that a lot of that is because of the quality of the tippet.


Days like this are fun, because for every day where I catch plenty, there are lots of other days where I work hard for just a handful of fish at best. Eventually all good things must come to an end. I had to hit the road on towards Chattanooga, but it had been a great day! Next weekend may include some more adventures. This time of year I really like to go camping so I may try to do that. Of course, some fishing is a given and it will most likely be an east Tennessee freestone stream in the mountains...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunset Beats the Fishing

Monday evening was spent down on the river somewhere below Chickamauga dam. The fishing was great although the catching was slow. Sometimes what makes a trip is unrelated to the actual fishing though...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where Should I Go Fishing?

Our latest poll will allow you to decide what kind of fishing report you want to see. My October break is just around the corner and I'll have a week off to do whatever I want. I'll probably try to fish at least two different locations over this break. Help me decide at least one of those locations from the options provided or reply here to suggest another that is not far from East Tennessee. Just vote in the new poll to let me know where I should go...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Colorado Sampler Part 2


Now that everyone has probably forgotten all about my glorious trip (yes I am gloating), I'm going to bring it back up. I promised some more stories from Colorado so here's part 2. Recall that our first stop was at the Taylor River and while we caught fish, things were not quite as good as last year. Last year there was one river we didn't get to fish. I was quite disappointed because the Gunnison is probably one of my favorites. This made up for last year and then some.

Our first day on the Gunnison consisted largely of moving and setting up camp, but in the evening we got in a few hours of fishing. We made our way downriver from the campground as the shadows crept up the towering canyon walls. When we started fishing, it took a little time to get things figured out, but it was worth the effort.

We were camping at East Portal which is as far upriver as you can go in the Black Canyon National Park and the only place in the park where you can drive to the river. The fishing here is generally considered technical with small midge patterns accounting for a lot of the success. As you go downriver, hopper/dropper rigs begin to work better. The river has a large biomass which supports one of the designated Gold Medal waters in the state of Colorado. Rainbows and browns grow quickly and average an honest 16-17" at least in the East Portal area. Finding the fish is easy since the large fish often feed high in the water column and in the riffles in only 18-24" of water. Figuring out what they are eating can be a little more tricky.

I started out fishing a Copper John that has produced well on the Gunnison in years past. The fish didn't seem particularly impressed though and I started thinking about trying something else. Fate decided to intervene on our behalf and my fly snagged the bottom of the river bringing up a large clump of weeds. Instead of throwing the mess away in disgust, I did a quick bug check in the mass of green. Our problem became obvious since there were a ton of tiny midge larva throughout the weeds and not much else.

A hurried check of the fly boxes turned up some of east Tennessee guide Hugh Hartsell's blackfly larva pattern in black and brown. With just a little surgery to cut off the poly yarn sticking off the front, I soon had a decent larva pattern and was into fish right away. Several fish later in just a matter of a few minutes had us both convinced that we didn't have nearly enough larva patterns.


I stuck 2 or 3 large fish and even saw one before it ran into the heavy current that would have approached 24". All the fish I brought to hand were in the 16-18" range and interesting were mainly browns. That's the perfect size for having a lot of fun if you ask me and I was having a blast. Unfortunately our small supply of midges was quickly drying up so we planned on a quick trip to town for more tying supplies. I only had 2 colors of the proper material for these magical larva and wanted a better match. The next day would prove the flies capabilities even further...


Carrying Your Gear: A New Perspective

For many years in this sport, a vest was the only way to carry your gear. There were very few fly fisherman that even considered any alternative. Things are different now of course but I had not realized how different until this poll closed. Nearly 50% of you are apparently using a chest or lumbar pack of some type. That doesn't mean that people aren't using vests, just not as much.

Personally I still have a vest and where it some of the time. If I can get away with a lanyard I prefer to go light. There are times though when you are on a new stream or perhaps a challenging spring creek or tailwater where you don't want to be caught unprepared. In those circumstances a vest is still very beneficial. My vest is organized carefully and I always know where everything is when I carry it.

The beginning of this summer brought about some big changes in how I carried gear. Up until that point I had always used a vest. Then I got a lanyard and everything changed. Now I usually like to wear a fishing shirt with the large pockets so I have a place to stow a couple fly boxes. The vest holds pretty much everything else I need. I can always throw an extra pack of leaders and a couple strike indicators in a pocket and I'm good to go.

The benefits far outweigh any negatives for me. When I carry the vest, I'm prone to carrying too much. This seems to be a common problem for most fly fisherman since we always like to be prepared. When you have a lanyard, there just is not anywhere to put more gear so you are forced to cut back. A heavy vest can pull on your shoulders all day leading to tightness in your neck and consequently tension headaches. Once you get used to a lanyard, you almost forget that it is there.

I haven't tried any chestpacks. Honestly I was planning on getting one before I found an excellent deal on the lanyard. I am guessing that the benefits of a small chest or lumbar pack are very similar to that of the lanyard. If anything it might be better because you can carry slightly more stuff without overloading.

The final word for the day...my recommendation: If you haven't tried something other than a vest yet, try a chest or lumbar pack or a lanyard...I think you'll be pleasantly surprised...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

New Endeavors


Redeye caught by my cousin, Nathan Stanaway

As implied in the name of this blog, I prefer to catch trout most of the time. Other game fish have demanded my attention from time to time, and with the recent high gas prices, I've taken to fishing for more warm water species. The one thing I haven't done much of is fishing for smallmouth. Sure, I've intended to target them for awhile now but just haven't gotten around to it...until now that is.

This past Sunday I decided to try something different. Small stream fishing will always be special to me since that is how I learned to fish. Here in Chattanooga, there are lots of small streams around the area and I finally tried one out. The results were good and the potential was unreal. I'm not going to name any names so you can put your atlas up, but let's just say that for the size of this stream there are some BIG smallies present.

According to rumor, the fishing only gets better the higher you go up the creek so you'll probably be hearing more on this location soon. In the meantime, here are a couple pictures from the day. All my fish came on beadhead Simi Seal Leech patterns in crawdad colors. The best fish of the day was a smallie of around 12 inches that escaped at my feet before a picture could be taken. Even that fish would have been bait for some of the ones that never got stuck in the first place...but they will soon...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More Tropical Moisture for Tennessee?

The last hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast temporarily sent oil prices back up and set into motion a huge evacuation. The powers that be clearly don't want a repeat of the fiasco that was Katrina. Now another threat is looming. Hurricane Ike is still well out to sea and the forecast path is still somewhat uncertain. Some of the computer models are now hinting at the possibility of a landfall along the Gulf Coast somewhere near the Alabama/Mississippi border. Of course others show a possible landfall as far west as Texas. Forecasting a hurricane so many days out is an uncertain science at best, but if the remnants come any where close to us, Tennessee stands to get another tropical soaking.

Our current drought situation has improved somewhat thanks to the rainfall from what was left of tropical storm Fay. Another big rain event could just get us out of the woods. While the landfall of a major hurricane is not something to be wished for, it may have some hidden benefits. The most recent drought forecast from the Climate Prediction Center is showing improvement in the southeast. I don't really care how that happens just so long as it does. Our streams have been low for too long...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Late Caney Report

Student teaching is keeping me fairly busy. Probably the hardest part is getting up at what to me seems an unearthly hour. I was quite spoiled this summer while working at Little River Outfitters. Since the store didn't open until 9:00 each morning, I didn't have to get up until the sun was clearing the ridge above the cabin I was staying at. Now I'm up well before first light which leaves me tired in the evenings when I should be spending time tying...priorities you know... Anyway, the one good thing about this new schedule is that we actually get holidays off. The prospect of a long weekend sent me home as soon as I could get away last Friday with visions of Caney Fork monsters in my head.

Unfortunately this trip wouldn't turn out to produce another 20 inch plus trout. Still, I can't really complain about a day where I easily lost count of the number of fish brought to hand. The browns and brookies are really starting to color up nicely as we approach fall.




A highlight of the day was spending a bit of time instructing a young man that is fairly new to fly fishing. My buddy had the idea of inviting him along and helping out a bit. Late in the day he had caught several fish including rainbows and brookies but was still looking for that brown to complete the Caney Fork slam.

We were all lined up working a section of bank that sometimes holds large fish. I moved down and told him that we would finish the slam. After just a little instruction he was putting the cast precisely where I asked him to, and within 5 minutes or less we were admiring the third member of his slam for the day. Catching fish is a lot of fun, but helping other people catch fish can often be just as much fun if not more.

The fishing was a little strange last Sunday but not too unusually for a hot late summer day. When we arrived at the river we immediately were into fish. As the sun climbed higher in the sky the fish sought refuge in deeper water right on the bottom. Later on as the sun crept closer to the western horizon, the fish started feeding again. By approximately one hour from sunset, the fishing was just silly. I experimented with several rigs over the course of the day but the old faithful of a dry and Zebra Midge dropper proved to be best. The river continues to be a zoo on the weekends and I really don't recommend fishing it except midweek until the weather cools off a bit. My next fishing target date for the Caney is early October but we'll see if I can actually wait that long. Until then I'll be checking out some wild streams in East Tennessee.

We're Back!!!

Finally...the long awaited moment is here. I have Internet again and that means that the Trout Zone is back on a regular basis. There are still lots of stories from my trip to Colorado last month along with current fishing reports to give. Additionally, I'll be have information soon about some great new patterns that might be of interest. In Colorado, the fish have seen just about every pattern available in the fly shops and so we were forced to make some adjustments. The result was nothing less than spectacular. I'll get things kicked off shortly with a late (and brief) trip report from the Caney last Sunday. Coming over the next few days will be more recent fishing stories along with the best of the Colorado 2008 trip. Stay tuned for that and much more...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Gear Poll

Many of you have already noticed our new poll that has been up for the last week or so. For those that haven't voted yet, please take a minute to vote and let me know how you generally haul all your gear. I've changed things around just a bit this time and allowed people to choose more than one option. For example, I've largely switched over to a lanyard and cram a fly box into my pocket. When I vote, I pick those two options since they go together. If you use a landard and a backpack or some other combination, you can vote for both at the same time... The middle of this week is the long awaited day for getting connected to the Internet so expect an end to the recent down time.

Newsletter

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required