Monday, December 28, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Joe's Nice Brown
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
My family will be staying in the Smokies for three nights including Christmas, and naturally I can't be that close to the Park without doing a little fishing. This time of year can be quite fickle if you are interested in actually catching fish but it is far from impossible. Even on the coldest days you can often find rising fish if you put in enough time looking for them. My buddy Joe Mcgroom has been doing well on better than average browns with some new techniques so hopefully I'll be able to meet him to chase some monsters.
I intend to devote this winter to fishing the Park. I had already made this decision a few months back, but the relentless rain has made it the logical choice. The area tailwaters are all blown out and look to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Right now, the only thing holding back full blown withdrawal symptoms has been the memory of yet another first, and 2009 has definitely been the year of firsts. The most recent was my first walleye. My secret striper spot has now yielded up many different species from trout, to stripers, and now the walleye and seemingly everything in between. I was quite pleased to catch the walleye, especially since it was caught by sight casting (my favorite way to catch fish!!!). Apparently my shad pattern works on fish other than stripers and that's a good thing. This next week I hope to finally get up the promised pictures of this pattern along with lots of other goodies. With a little luck, I'll have some great fish tales to tell in another week or two as well!!!
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
A few months ago, I was making a routine stop by Little River Outfitters when Daniel Drake told me he had something for me to try out. Upon returning from the back of the store, he handed me a device called the Handi-Measure. I had seen pictures of the product before but never actually tried one. Basically it is a tape measure that attaches to your net. When you catch the fish, you can simply pull out the tape while cradling the fish in the net and get a measurement.
Since Daniel gave it to me, I have found myself using it more and more when I want to know the length of a fish. To me, it is a lot easier than carrying a measuring tape in a vest pocket and having to rummage around for it while the fish is wondering what just happened. If you have been looking for a good way to measure your fish quickly and efficiently, I would highly recommend that you check out the Handi-Measure.
Initially I did not plan to fish this past weekend, but when David Perry from Southeastern Fly emailed me to see if I wanted to float, I couldn't refuse. Recent reports coming from the river have been distressing, and we both wanted to see what the situation really was. When Sunday morning donned cloudy, my expectations immediately went up. I was hoping to find some big browns willing to chase streamers.
By the time I got to the river to meet David, the clouds were starting to think. By the time we made it up to the dam to launch, the clouds were giving way to sunshine. Still, we were excited about the potential for the day. To get things started, we headed up to the base of the dam and looked for big fish feeding. After checking the sluice (and finding it a bit dirty), we finally headed down into the main river channel to start floating. As we worked our way down the river, I noticed that others were catching fish which was a good sign. We both had fish within a reasonable amount of time although it wasn't on fire either.
As we continued on down the river, we found plenty of rising fish, but in general there was no consistency at all to their rises. When I find a fish that rises consistently, I will stop and fish for it. We did this for a couple of fish, but I was too lazy to tie on the tiny midge dries that worked well for me last time I was on the river. I took over rowing duty for awhile and watched as David worked the water with his indicator rig. We were seeing a few fish but just not as many as what should be expected. After he caught a few, we switched places again.
Just as I was starting to get concerned about the lack of larger fish, we discovered a large pod of risers with some better heads showing each time the fish rose. A big head almost always indicates a larger fish. I cast my nymphs and indicator just upstream of the risers and watched as the indicator twitched and then slowly pulled under. The hookset attached me to a bulldogging brown that made several hard runs. Finally I brought the fish close enough for David to get the net under it. He handed me the net, and I was admiring a nice 18 inch female brown. After a couple of quick pictures, I gently held the fish in the current and then watched it bolt back into the depths.
We continued down into a favorite spot of mine where I missed a good fish the last time I was on the river. I wanted to work the water carefully to try and stick the big fish, but things just didn't work out. We continued on down the river and shortly I saw the indicator dive again. The next fish was almost as large as the previous one and was definitely fatter.
For the rest of the afternoon, we continued down the river, taking turns at the oars while the other fished. As darkness fell, we still had aways to go to reach the takeout. I decided to go back to the streamer rod and see if I could find a good fish willing to eat something big. My efforts were rewarded with a couple of quick hits but the fish were just not committing enough. Finally, as I was swimming the fly back towards the boat, I felt a solid hit and soon boated the last brown of the day. The fish was right around 16 inches and fat!
Overall, I was encouraged with the results of our scouting expedition. My main goal on this trip was to just see what was happening on the river, and that goal was exceeded by catching some very nice browns. The numbers were lacking, but I'll take quality over quantity whenever I fish. I want to thank David Perry for a nice day on the river. He is an excellent fisherman and guide, and I learned a lot throughout the day.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
My first impression of the River Trekker was a bit skeptical. This was because I couldn't believe that a shoe worn over your regular shoe could actually be comfortable. As it turns it, the exact opposite is true. As soon as I tried them on I was impressed with how comfortable they were, and I didn't feel like I was walking on top of a platform. The best thing about them is how fast you can get them on and take them off. These are perfect for several things including as a quick backup pair of waders that you keep in the car for those rare opportunities when you want to fish but don't have all your gear with you.
My chief complaints about the River Trekker are that it is only a hip wader and that the rubber soles don't grip well on mountain freestone streams. The first part is just a personal preference. I am a very aggressive wader and prefer chest high waders instead of hip waders. I am definitely limited about where I can wade if I am only wearing hip waders. The other complaint is that I wish they had a felt sole. The Vibram sole works great on smaller rocks and gravel and makes these perfect on the tailwaters. However, on larger rocks in mountain streams, I just didn't feel safe. The rubber sole just does not grip the slick rocks as well as I would have liked. To be fair, I still haven't tried on any rubber soled boots that I feel are as good as felt. As far as rubber soled wading boots go, the River Trekker is probably as good as any other.
These hip waders have a couple of great applications. The first is for anyone that has a drift boat or other type of boat but doesn't want to wear waders throughout the whole float. The ease with which the River Trekkers can be put on or taken off makes them ideal for those times when you need to get out of the boat in the shallows such as launching or taking out or stopping for that shore lunch. They are also great for wading small creeks that don't have lots of larger rocks. As long as the bottom is gravel, silt, sand, or even mud you will be fine. Shallow tailwaters are also ideal for using the River Trekkers. They will work even on a river like the Caney Fork, but you will be limited on the water you can access.
For certain applications, these are a great wading product. I can't really recommend them as your primary wading gear unless your wading is mainly on the water types that I mentioned as being ideally suited for them. I think that the addition of a felt sole and maybe also making these as a chest high wader would make them better, but as they are, they do have some great uses.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Upon arrival in the Park, I found Joe stalking a good brown which is what I normally expect to find him doing. He showed me where a monster had been sitting before it spooked and then we headed up towards Elkmont. Joe was going to keep fishing while I checked in to our campsite. After leaving a chair and the little paper to show that our site was occupied, I went looking for Joe again.
Naturally he was looking for more good fish but hadn't found any yet. I decided that, due to the late hour, I wasn't going to fish the first evening. Instead, I got my camera to document any good fish that Joe might happen to catch. Walking the bank, we found another good fish but spooked it before Joe could even get a cast on it.
At this point we decided to head back to camp for the night since it was getting dark. We stopped at the Crusher Pool on the way back and met a couple of guys from the Murfreesboro area that had been fishing. We swapped fishing stories for awhile and talked about the Caney Fork. Area fishermen are really excited about the regulation changes that will be enacted on the Caney in 2010. This river can support tremendous numbers of quality fish if the new regulations can be sufficiently enforced. After checking the Crusher for big fish, we continued on up to Elkmont and set up camp. After sitting out enjoying the campfire for a few hours, we both decided that it was a good idea to get some rest before the next day of fishing arrived.
Day two was tough. There is no other way to describe it. The rain was falling in earnest when we woke up. Joe was the tough one and went fishing while I decided to snooze a little longer. Finally he came back excited because he had found some good fish, and I rolled out of the warm sleeping bag. We fished several places during the day covering a large portion of the Little River. In all places we found fish feeding but the increasing number of leaves in the water and the rising water levels made catching them tough. Nymphs were at best very difficult to fish but I managed to fool a few fish on a BWO parachute.
Finally the conditions were just too tough and we both decided to quit fishing for the day. Joe headed home for the night and I spent awhile trying to decide whether to pack everything up and head home as well. In the end, I decided to stay which turned out to not be such a great idea. This week, I came down with the flu and have spent the last couple of days feeling quite miserable. I'll blame it on a combination of getting too cold and wet and eating way to much sugar over the weekend. Still, it was a great trip. The catching wasn't as good as I had hoped but if that was the only reason I go fishing, I would probably plan my trips around peak feeding times. The fall colors were nice and I had the chance to at least see some really quality fish. Strangely, I never really took any pictures which was mostly because of the rain. I'm not about to get my good camera out in bad weather.
I'm hoping to try and catch some more stripers sometime soon but this is really the season for trout. I'll probably head back to the Smokies sometime soon and will also start hitting the tailwaters as soon as they cut back on the generation. Right now I'm guessing that could happen as early as sometime next week although not for extended periods of time. I've still got a couple of product reviews coming as well so check back for those...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
My official "Favorite Time of the Year" is back but in a strange way. The past two years have produced near perfect conditions on the tailwaters for fall fishing. Largely due to the drought, the low flows were idea for wade fishing and produced many good sight fishing opportunities for large browns feeding in the shallows. This year has been the exact opposite. We have recovered from the drought but payed for it with difficult conditions on the tailwaters.
A nice Cumberland brown
Originally I planned to do a multi-day camping trip on the Cumberland River this October. After the success I had last year, I couldn't wait to get back and chase some more big browns. Unfortunately, it appears that I will have to cancel my camping reservations and the trip. The flows are up and look to stay that way for at least another couple of weeks. The same thing goes for the Caney Fork and Clinch Rivers. The only tailwaters in the area with a shot at good wading conditions are the upper east Tennessee rivers.
Despite the tough tailwater conditions, the mountain freestone streams are all in peak condition. Recent high water cleaned out the streams and knocked down the rock dams thrown up by the tourist tubers. Water levels are high for this time of the year making for interesting fishing conditions. The fish are also healthier than they have been in some time. There is plenty of food in the streams and the fish have been eating well all summer.
Smoky Mountains fall rainbow
There are also some sleeper streams that no one knows about. They are definitely hit or miss, but if things turn out well, the hit will go for a home run.
Monday, October 05, 2009
I have often wondered what I would do if I caught a huge fish. I hope that I'll be able to let the fish go without having second thoughts. Personally I would hate to kill such a magnificent fish. If I have a memory then I'm happy, and if I have a picture, it is even better. So, what would each of you do with a possible record? Vote in the poll on the right hand side of the page and let me know!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009