Guided Trips


High flows continue across the area but trends are definitely down. A recent cold snap broke the ongoing heatwave so fishing in the mountains has slowed dramatically. Right on schedule, some of our tailwaters should begin returning to more normal flows for this time of year meaning float trips are certainly possible.

For the Smokies, a warming trend should commence as we go into next week. By mid week the fishing should be decent before the next cold front returns us back to winter again. On warmer days, look for midges and possibly winter stoneflies hatching. Some blue-winged olives will be possible on foul weather days as we head towards February. The best fishing is still a few weeks out, but no longer feels like an eternity. Expect good spring hatches to start in late February or early March with blue quills and quill gordons along with little black caddis and early brown and black stones. By April, things will be settling down with the pinnacle of spring fishing usually happening from mid April through the month of May.

On our area tailwaters, high water continues to be the story. The Caney Fork still has at least a couple of weeks of high flows and that is assuming we don't get any more heavy rainfall. This time of year, that is asking a lot. The high water is good for one thing, however. Shad. Yes, the cold months are prime time to try and hit the famed shad kill and catch a monster brown trout. Same thing goes for the Clinch.

Speaking of the Clinch, the good news is that flows are scheduled to begin dropping tomorrow. A steady two generators will feel like low water after the recent period of two generators plus sluicing. Two generators opens up some nymphing possibilities in addition to our favorite winter pastime, stripping streamers for monsters.

The musky streams are settling into fine shape and will be an option moving forward as well. Remember that bouts of high water will get them stained or even muddy for a few days, but as flows come down the fishing should pick back up.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

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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