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

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Crowds on the Caney

First Fish of the Day on Sunday

To say the Caney is crowded these days would be an understatement. Apparently everyone has heard about how great a river it is and has to get in on the action. Unfortunately for all those hopeful for a day of spectacular fishing, the river continues to be a bit tough for wade fisherman. I only saw a handful of fish caught today by fly fisherman but the bait guys seemed to be doing okay.

Crowds Below the Steps

My general fishing methods employ the use of 5x or 6x tippet (normally fluorocarbon) when fishing on tailwaters. The last couple of trips, Friday and today, have forced me to downsize. Today, all but one fish came on whatever fly was tied to the 7x tippet in a three fly rig. The first fly was on 5x, the next fly was dropped with 6x, and the last was on 7x. Over the course of the day I had to retie multiple times because I kept breaking off on the light tippet.

Several things really stood out to me today. Probably each will be worthy of its own separate post as I have time to mull everything over but for now I'll just mention them. First, it doesn't matter how great a river is, it can only handle so much pressure. Just before leaving for the day, I watched a couple of bait fisherman haul in one nice fish after another and put them on their stringers. When I say nice, I'm not talking about 12-14 inch fish but nice 15-18 inch fish. I realize that everyone is entitled to use their fishing license as they see fit, but watching that many quality fish leave the river is difficult knowing that given another 6 months, they would probably all be solid 18-20 inch fish. If the fish just had the opportunity to grow the river would be full of large fish.

The second thing that stood out to me today was that there is absolutely no boater etiquette being observed on this river except by a very small minority. I watched many boats float down the river without regard for the numerous wade fisherman. In fact, I saw a few wade fisherman literally dodging boats that refused to move. I saw probably 3 boats in which the occupants were polite including a well-known guide that went out of his way to maneuver clear of as many wading fisherman as possible. If you have any idea of how crowded the Caney is, you know just how many other boats were not very polite.

Finally, it seems that the fish are not spread out quite as much right now. Once you start finding fish it can be easy but it can take as much good observation skills as actual fishing skills to find the fish and figure out how to catch them.

Yep, that's a #28...

Today's best fish came on a #28 stripper midge on 7x fluoro tippet. On Friday, my best fish took a zebra midge also fished on 7x. Both fish were around 15-16 inches and fought well for their size. As much fun as the Caney is, I'll probably be looking to diversify my fishing experience in the next week or so. The Great Smoky Mountains have been calling to me and I'll probably be heading that way sometime midweek. I've got a few surprises up my sleeve and will try to have something exciting to share in the near future...


  1. That line-up of fisherman is crazy-- to heck with that! I always think its better to not be in prime water than to have to deal with crowds like that (someone is bound to get upset-- probably me). Pyramid lake here gets that way-- and all it takes is a 20 minute drive and you're all alone... even if fishless :-)

    I can't believe thats a #28... I've never used anything smaller than a #18! (tying on a #18 1x short scud hook is challenge enough for me right now)

  2. Mudboots, funniest thing is that it really isn't what I would call prime water. Decent yes, but most people are too lazy to explore for themselves and find better water... I've seen pictures of Pyramid Lake and it looks crazy but I'll have to try it someday. Do you fish it much?

  3. Anonymous2:05 PM

    Nice blog. It is funny about the crowds it was not very long ago that even on the weekends you could be by yourself. Do you post on If you do I am hidden_hatch on there. I fished the lower river on Friday with a friend. There were boats all over the place for that area. Keep up the good work.


  4. Hello I'm fernando, The Spanish. I have never seen a thing like that in our rivers. When I fish near my town it is difficult to see more than 2 anglers near the place you fish.Great job, and I am particularly amazed with the size of the hooks you use.
    Greetings. Fernando.

  5. Kindoff reminds me of the Davidson River crowds in late summer and throughout the fall. With temperatures in the upper 60's to low 70's in the middle of winter it's tough to find a secluded spot.

  6. hey david, i couldent agree with you more. when i fish these small trout stream gems in az and see people leaving with the larger breaders it hurts. but they are more than legal to. another point you made, crowds. for me one of the biggest reasons i love fishing, is getting away, relaxing and enjoying gods creations at its best. i hike the extra mile or drive the exrta hour just to get away, im sure many other anglers do to! sorry so long , but keep up the good work i really enjoy your postings!

  7. Houston, I haven't been on the trophyfishingtn board...just haven't gotten around to signing up yet... I do spend some time over on the LRO board though...

    Fernando, it must be nice to have the streams to yourself mostly. I wish I could fish and only see 2 other anglers.



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