Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 7/9/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. Recent rains have kept flows up in the Smokies, although it has also dumped too much water into the Caney Fork system.

Terrestrials are really coming on strong now. Ants and inchworms continue to get it done, and beetle fishing is very good now. Backcountry trips are excellent now and probably are the best way to enjoy a day of fishing during the hot months. Brook, rainbow, and brown trout are all available to those willing to walk.

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. Stripers are now a distinct possibility as well. High water will stick around for at least a couple of weeks it appears due to the recent rains.

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! See the recent blog post for more on that!

The calendar is full until the last week of July. If you want to get in on a guided trip, contact me soon as I've had to turn away a lot of trips from people who waited too long to book.


Photo of the Month: Pig Brown on the Caney

Photo of the Month: Pig Brown on the Caney

Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Poll

What type of fishing do you want to see and hear about from my upcoming trip to Colorado? This is the topic of the new poll. We'll be spending some time on lakes as well chasing pike but I'm curious if you prefer reports on rivers like the Taylor, Gunnison, Frying Pan, and Green or would you prefer to see reports from high country small streams that consistently produce lots of small to average trout? Hopefully I'll be able to do an occasional update while on the road...actually I would say it is fairly likely. No, you probably won't be getting every last exciting detail but a few pictures will be better than waiting until we get back...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Our Photography and Coming Soon

I often get people asking whether or not they can use my photography. Generally I am fine with it as long as they give me credit for my work. I'm pleased to say that my photography will be appearing over at the Perfect Fly Store from James Marsh. More of my pictures will be appearing over there in the upcoming months so check it out sometime! Anyone that is interested in using my photography is welcome to contact me by email and we can discuss what I expect...

In other news, please expect a new poll to be up shortly. I want to know what types of things you are most interested in seeing in my reports from out west. Also, I have had several requests to see what I am tying for the upcoming trip to Colorado. I'll try to get some flies photographed and a post about it up in the next couple of days.

Finally, I want to thank the guys over at Calvary Outfitters for a great time Thursday night! I was able to share about fishing midges and some of the tactics that I use. They were very friendly and made me feel right at home. We also spent a little bit of time tying some Zebra Midges and I showed some other patterns that I like to tie. Anyone that is in the Murfreesboro area should definitely check them out!

I'm leaving for Colorado a week from tomorrow so hopefully I'll accomplish all of this before it is time to go. I still have a lot of tying to do and it will be taking most of my time over the next few days. With a little luck I'll fish once or twice before then though...check back soon to see what I have actually accomplished!

Small Stream Water


Our recent poll was about your favorite water type on small streams. Most people consider streams as having runs, riffles, and pools, but when I think small streams I think pocket water and plunge pools. In a small stream, most pools are almost pocket water themselves so you could say that it is the predominant water type. The vast majority of you interestingly prefer fishing pocket water over those larger pools. This is my favorite water type as well although the best fish will often come from the pools. Moving fast up a small stream picking the pockets is great fun with a light fly rod and a few dries.

As we move into the summer months, this will be the most efficient way to fish in the Smokies. If you are lazy, tie on a pair of nymphs instead. The only problem with fishing dries is that when the fishing is really good the fish will destroy the floatability of the dry fly long before they will chew a nymph to shreds. A well tied nymph will generally hold together much longer.

Still, if you are willing to tie on a new fly every 10-15 fish, stick to a dry fly and have a great time on the water. I'm hoping to try a small stream or two while I am in Colorado. They really are a blast to fish and while the big draw out west is all the big fish, sometimes its nice to go back to where I started this sport...on the small streams with plenty of pocket water!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Finally, after several weeks of heavy generation, it looks like the Caney Fork will finally be wadeable soon. Unfortunately the crowds of people fishing and boating will be very heavy since we are now well into the summer floating season. The river will still fish decently well although it may be frustrating to those wanting solitude.

Anyone wanting a more secluded fishing spot should think about a trip to the mountains. The streams in the Smokies are all fishing well from everything I've been hearing. Summer terrestrial season is now upon us and inchworm imitations and ants should both produce well. Bugs are still hatching including the little yellow stoneflies in the evenings.

I still haven't been fishing much for awhile but hope to get out once or twice before my trip to Colorado. I'm thinking about a quick trip over to the pond nearby for bass and bluegill and I might also go spend a few hours battling the crowds on the Caney to see what the river looks like now. I expect it to look different in places because of the high flows, and I'm excited to see what new holding water is available to the fish.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

This Week

My immediate future doesn't hold a lot of promise as far as fishing is concerned. However it is starting to appear that there may be a chance at fishing the Caney before I head to Colorado. Since it is close and convenient, if the opportunity arises I'll definitely take it. Still, there's no point in getting too excited yet as this is purely speculation with a healthy dose of wishful thinking thrown in for good measure.

Later this week I'll be doing a presentation on midge fishing for Calvary Outfitters over in Murfreesboro. I'll be working over in Nashville for a few days this week and my evenings will probably be dedicated to tying for Colorado 2009 and preparing for the presentation... I have a LOT of salmonfly patterns to tie not to mention all the other random flies that I haven't tied yet.

I just got a new rod that will be used on this trip to chase some pike and maybe throw streamers for big trout. The rod is a TFO TiCr X 9' 7 weight rod and the thing is absolutely a cannon. I threw the whole line (85') out in the yard the first time I strung it up and while 85 feet is not as long as some lines, it was still a first for me, and I'm definitely not a distance caster...

Right now the plan is to leave Tennessee in two weeks. This year I might try to get into town often enough to provide at least a few short updates so you can look forward to reading about the excitement while it happens...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Results May Vary

One reason I keep returning to the stream with a fly rod in hand is because I can always count on Mother Nature to keep things interesting. There are days where I can do no wrong and it seems the fish are literally throwing themselves onto the hook. Other days are much different and it is only through patience and perserverence that I catch fish. Yesterday was one of those more difficult days.

I made another quick trip to the Smokies because I needed to stop by Little River Outfitters. Not that I need an excuse to go fishing but it does make it seem more reasonable to everyone around me. Two trips to the Smokies in a week is a bit extravagant on my salary, but at least I'm keeping my priorities straight.

After stopping by the shop, I drove up to the trailhead at Elkmont. I had a friend with me that I'm teaching to fly fish and wanted some pocket water that would not require long casts. The plan was to fish some bead head nymphs under an indicator. In the past, this has been a fool proof way to put beginners on fish...not pretty of course, but the important thing is that they start catching fish. After fishing up through a normally productive stretch without catching anything I started getting suspicious. I fished some as well and only missed a couple of strikes for the effort.

Finally in one hole we had lots of fish hit but my buddy was having a hard time with the hookset on these extremely fast fish. I was getting hungry and decided a break might be in order. On the way back down the trail, we stopped at a hole that I can always find a fish in so I could catch one to show him. Success finally smiled on us and I was able to show him what a wild rainbow trout from the Smokies looked like.


We headed back to Subway in Townsend and then went over to Tremont. The first stretch of water that we fished was really nice and should have been producing well. Once again the fishing seemed off. I was really suspicious this time, thinking that most likely someone had already fished through there ahead of us. My suspicions were confirmed this time when we hiked back down the road, following wet footprints nearly all the way back to the car.

Once again we moved upstream and finally found some decent fishing. The fish were still picky and seemed to prefer the flies down in the surface film instead of riding high. The highlight of the day was when my friend caught his first trout and it was on a dry fly! It was not a large fish but that one fish meant a lot to him. Shortly after he hooked and landed another. Unfortunately, the increasingly dim light caused the pictures to come out blurry but I don't think it matters too much. He is enjoying learning to fly fish and has made a lot of progress already. I don't think he lost one fly in the trees all day long!

Overall it was a strange day on the water. I felt that we were fishing behind someone for a large portion of the trip. There were a ton of anglers on the water as we drove up Little River Road and I'm becoming thoroughly convinced that everyone that is losing their job due to the recession is going fishing. I just don't remember ever seeing so many people fishing on weekdays as there have been over the last few months.

The bugs were largely absent until very late in the day. Near sunset, things improved dramatically with light cahills, little yellow stoneflies and golden stoneflies all making an appearance in good numbers with lots of other random bugs thrown in for good measure. After the great hatch Sunday evening, it was a bit frustrating to wait so long on the bugs to show up but it was worth it. Our last fishing was all done with dry flies and the fish weren't too picky... The stream was beautiful in the evening light as sunset approached. I grabbed my DSLR and took a few pictures from the bridge at the traihead on Middle Prong...


Caney Flows Dropping

Finally, it looks like flows on the Caney are about to drop to a fishable range. Center Hill Lake has been rapidly dropping for several days, and I anticipate the river to be fishable, at least by boats, in the near future. Happily I won't be around to experience the joys of fishing it anytime soon due to my impending trip to Colorado. Normally I would regret missing opportunities to fish the Caney but in the case of Colorado I will make an exception.

As flows drop, I want to leave you with some reminders of what the river looked like at the peak of the high water event. These pictures were sent to me by my friend Daniel Freeman. He took them during a camping trip to the Caney last weekend. The trip didn't produce any trout but they did catch striper, hybrids, shad and even a largemouth bass.

This first picture is of the "wooden steps" at Buffalo Valley...scary high if you ask me... The last two are of the Buffalo Valley boat ramp...






Monday, May 18, 2009

Blizzard Hatch

In the Smokies, a blizzard hatch is probably a little different from one in more nutrient-rich waters. Still, from time to time the stars will align and the bugs will pour off the water all at once. Yesterday was such a day and I was fortunate enough to be there to enjoy the event.

I drove up to the Smokies planning to enjoy the last few hours of Troutfest but also planned on fishing. Driving into Townsend I noticed that LR was up and muddy. Thoughts of big browns were soon roaming through my head but I decided to check out Troutfest first. That proved to be an excellent choice. I got to meet a lot of great tiers but the pinnacle was watching Joe Humphreys do his casting seminar. I learned a lot of great stuff watching a true master who is also blessed with the ability to teach!

After the seminar, I headed over to LRO to pick up some stuff I've been needing and then drove up LR road to look for some good fishing. The first few places I stopped all had a few scattered bugs coming off but nothing special. The water was very high and I tried to avoid wading as much as possible. Chucking big nymphs and streamers was the order of the day until my 3rd or 4th stop. The pool is one of the better known ones on Little River and is known for producing good fish. I was hoping to find a large brown out looking for a big meal. As I ran my streamer through the pool, I couldn't help but notice that the bugs were quickly becoming thicker and despite the high, stained water, the fish were rising enthusiastically for the banquet. I ran back up to the car and grabbed my dry fly box and a new leader and hurried back.

The surface activity was better than before and I had a hard time tying everything on and watching all the fish rising at the same time. Finally I had a parachute light cahill and started casting. I tried to remember the tips that Joe had talked about. The tricky currents required a lot of slack in both the line and leader or a reach cast with slack in the leader. Most of the fish were rising on the far side of the pool right along the current seam and into the softer water. This made getting a good drift difficult but I started getting it figured out and the fish responded.

Naturally the best activity was impossible to get to with the high water. If I had my waders with me I probably would have attempted a suicidal stream crossing because the fish on the far side under the overhanging trees looked a lot bigger than the 7-10 inch fish I was catching. Fully satisfied with the fishing, I decided to do some exploring...well, kind of anyway... I went up to another popular pool to see if the hatch was as good.

When I got there things seemed a little slower. The fish weren't rising as enthusiastically that I could see and the bugs were definitely fewer. Still, I figured, I might as well give it a shot. Over the next 30 minutes, I had some of the best dry fly action I might have this whole year. The fish were going absolutely crazy. I got some nicer fish up to around 10 inches to take the fly including a couple of browns along with some smaller fish as well. The light cahills were hatching better than I have ever personally experienced. I think it was probably a combination of higher flow and also the cloud cover. Did I mention that NO ONE else was fishing? I could have fished literally wherever I wanted to... The fishing definitely provided the perfect end to a day at Troutfest! Here's a few of the fish I managed to fool...





Friday, May 15, 2009

First Time

Yesterday I took a friend fishing that had never fly fished before. He has been asking to go for a little while and I finally had a few hours free. We hit the small lake nearby that has been producing well lately in hopes of finding a few bluegill. First timers with a fly rod need agreeable fish and I was hoping that they would be hitting as well as they were a week ago.

We arrived to find a small crowd fishing and decided to walk down towards the dam to get away from everyone. I decided to start out on the same bank that was hot last week. After rigging up, I showed him the basics of casting. After a little experimentation he soon found the proper motion and was casting 20 -25 feet easily. About the time he really started casting well we moved on down to another spot. The fish were obviously not up feeding as shallow as they were last time so we decided to start exploring in hopes of finding the fish. The next spot produced a couple of fish really quickly for me and I started thinking that our luck might improve.

After working up and down the bank, I walked back past my buddy and threw in not far away. Almost immediately my line went tight and then my friend hollered. Looking over, I saw his rod bent as well. Quickly fighting my fish and coaching at the same time, I finally released mine and got out the camera to document the first fish he had ever caught on the fly rod. We took a couple of pictures and then released the fish to catch again another time...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Small Stream Poll

If you have not done so already, please vote in the poll (on the right side of the page) on your favorite water type in a small streams. Most small streams are largely pocket water with the occasional large pool to break the pattern. Pocket water is probably my favorite type of fishing, but pools provide special opportunities as well. Sometimes the difference between the two can be blurred. On really small streams, the pools may be the size of most small pockets on a larger river. Still, the pools generally require a more stealthy approach than the pocket water regardless of size. Normally my preference is pocket water, but some days I just want to fish pools and hustle past all the prime pockets in the stream...really, it is all fun...

So, which do you prefer?

Nothing But Busy

My fishing time has been suffering a lot lately. Unfortunately that is what happens when you get a real job. Today, I'll probably sneak off a few hours for the first time in a while. Time on the water will help ease my stress levels and also get me excited for this summer when I'll be fishing a lot more.

I have some good stuff coming. This weekend is Troutfest in Townsend, Tennessee, and all be heading up for the day on Sunday most likely. There will be several famous fly fishermen there including Lefty Kreh, Joe Humphries, and Bob Clouser. My plan is to check out some of the events and seminars for a couple of hours and then head into the park to fish a little also. There is no way I can be that close to the Smokies streams and not fish.

Mid-May through mid-June is prime time in the park for good hatches and rising trout. Many of my best days in the Park have been at this time of the year so I'll hopefully be returning often until I leave for Colorado.

Anyway, check back sometime tonight or tomorrow morning to find out how today's fishing went. I'll be chasing bass and bream on a local pond. Maybe I'll finally get that big bass I've been looking for...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Spilling Water

With the abundance of rainfall, hydroelectric dams across middle Tennessee have begun spilling recently. Yesterday, my sister kindly stopped by Center Hill dam on the way to Nashville and took a few pictures for me. All of you that enjoy fishing the Caney Fork will be interested to see the river up and out of its banks. Currently, 5 out of 7 flood gates are open making for an impressive sight after the last few years of drought. Because of the ongoing repairs to the dam, TVA is trying to draw the lake back down to target levels. As a result, we can expect lots of water for at least the next month and probably until July. The benefit is that the fish that survive will be relatively untouched for awhile and will probably grow well with the high water. Much thanks to my sister, Amy Wren, for taking all of these pictures...



Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Remembering Trips Past

Today, as I was thinking about my upcoming trip or trips, my thoughts turned to past trips to places like Colorado and Yellowstone. Some of my favorite memories have no photographic documentation unfortunately. Of course, it seems like having a camera around is the surest way to NOT have a memorable experience. Still, I've been fortunate enough to get many of my memorable moments documented. The large brown on the Taylor that was sipping PMD spinners at sunset, the day of catching big rainbows on the Gunnison, elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, and buffalo in Yellowstone. All of these together form some of my favorite memories of fishing trips past.

While thinking about past trips, I started looking back at some of my favorite pictures from past years. Here are a few examples of why I love to travel "out west:"

(All pictures not labeled as "David Knapp Photography" are by Trevor Smart)








Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Update: West Trip 2009 Planning

Right now I'm still trying to work everything out for my trip or trips out west this summer. The way things are shaping up, my first trip might be just to Colorado plus the Green in Utah. If everything goes the way we're hoping, we'll be fishing lots of West Slope streams, rivers and lakes for 2-3 weeks give or take in mid to late June. Most of the freestoners will be high from runoff at that time but the tailwaters should fish very well. This time should also give us a chance to target pike before the lakes warm up too much. Also we'll get to see some different hatches compared to what we normally see. I've always wanted to hit the Salmonflies in Colorado and maybe the Cicadas on the Green and with our schedule there's a good chance we'll get lucky this year!

Later on, I'm looking at a possible trip to Yellowstone near the end of July. If it works out, I'll be in that area for around 10 days chasing big browns, rainbows and cutts. As much snow as they have, there might even be a few salmonflies around on the Yellowstone in the Park!

Once again, if anyone has any advice on any of these streams and areas it would be appreciated. In particular, I'm interested in the Green, Yampa, and Colorado rivers in June. Runoff will be a problem but big bugs might make up for the limited wading opportunities!

Update on Middle Tennessee Weather

Just when it was looking like the lakes and rivers around here might be starting to slow down, the National Weather Service in Nashville has issued another Flood Watch for our area for Wednesday. At this rate, we might not fish the Caney again this year...at least, not with any fish in there. Late last week they stocked the river but fresh stockers plus high water is going to equal a lot of fish that vanish.

Another item of interest meteorologically is the tornado survey for the Cumberland County tornado. In addition to details on the actual survey (they rated it an EF-1), they have put lots of pictures up of the damage. If you are interested in severe weather, you should check out the survey page.

While our streams continue to be unfishable, I might have to resort to fishing lakes some more. There should be some good fishing to be had for warm water species and I also have my eyes on a lake that should produce trout for another few weeks before the water warms too much. These trout that remain from the winter stocking program by TWRA are generally destined to die once the lake warms too much but until then they should provide some fun fishing. I also still have that big bass to catch at the lake nearby so check back soon to see if I actually find a little time to go fishing...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Caney Update

The updated forecast releases on the Caney are now showing over twenty thousand cubic feet per second for the next several days. Here's hoping some of the trout actually stay in the river and don't end up clear down in the Mississippi... I'll see you on the Caney to fish, sometime next fall...:(

Severe Weather Strikes

A random tornado and way too much water made life interesting here in Crossville over the last 24 hours. May 3rd will long be remembered from a meteorological standpoint for the tornado outbreak that included the Moore Oklahoma F5 back in 1999. Here in Crossville, we celebrated with a tornado of our very own and one that no one was really expecting. To their credit, the National Weather service was on top of things and got a warning out but the storm really came out of nowhere and shortly after producing the tornado it seemingly vanished back to wherever it came from. Synoptically, the overall weather pattern favored severe weather but well to our south. In fact, the Storm Prediction Center did not even have our area outlined for a slight risk for severe weather.

The main threat to middle Tennessee was from flooding. Here in Crossville, we went from a flood watch, to a flood advisory, to a flash flood warning. Area creeks, including the headwaters of the Caney Fork, where well out of their banks. Center Hill Lake on the Caney Fork has come up over 10 feet in 2 days which is truly incredible.

Despite all the water, I didn't really expect much in the way of flood damage. Last night, something strange happened which would make a lot more sense this morning. Our water pressure suddenly dropped off, not all the way but much lower than normal. As I drove to work this morning I found the road closed. Immediately I guess what had happened but wanted to see for myself. After teaching my first class I have some free time so I headed down to check it out. The people manning the barricades kindly let me drive around so I could take some pictures. What I found surprised me even though I already had assumed what happened. The road bed was completely gone and the debris line showed that the water had been within a couple of feet of coming over the road before washing it out.

No one had started repairs yet so I got some great pictures of the damage and then headed over to get some tornado damage pictures. Thankfully, most houses were still in good shape. The tornado knocked down a lot of trees and damaged some outbuildings but it could have been much worse. Anyway, here are some pictures, first of the washed out road and last of the tornado damage.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bluegills Galore

The rain does not want to stop but that's just fine as far as I'm concerned. Foul weather just seems to turn the fish on. The obvious downside is that our tailwaters will be generating for several more weeks, but I'm okay with that as well. After 2+ years of severe drought, too much rain is definitely preferred over not enough rain.

This afternoon I made a quick run over to the nearby lake I've been hitting more frequently lately. When I arrived, a gentle rain was breaking up the surface so it was hard to spot fish. I decided to try something different today. Instead of just carrying one rod I carried two, one for 'gills and one for bass. My four weight was rigged with two simple flies, a #10 white Wooly Bugger variation and trailing behind was a #16 purple Simi Seal Leech. The rain began to taper off and I started spotting a few fish in close to the bank. After varying the retrieve, I settled on fairly fast 6 inch strips and the fish were soon jumping all over my flies. Early on, the white fly was killer but as the afternoon wore on, the fish became increasingly keyed on the smaller leech pattern and wanted it fished slower.


I never landed any good bass although I did hook a couple on the little leech. A bass on a #16 hook and 6X tippet doesn't stay on long without a lot of luck and while mine was good, it wasn't that good. I had to be satisfied with a bunch of feisty bluegill which were actually a lot of fun since most of them were caught while sight fishing. One of the large specimens of the afternoon had been gorging on earthworms. When I landed the fish, it commenced spitting up worm after worm. I finally got it to stay still long enough to get a picture with a nice juicy worm dangling out of its mouth.


Now I know why worms worked so well back when I was a little kid with a cane poll and bobber. Apparently all the rain brought the worms out and they got washed into the lake where the fish were waiting for the feast.

As the rain came down harder, I started thinking about how nice it would be to go home and dry out. Finally I gave in and called it a day. Not a bad way to spend a few hours in the afternoon!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Just In Time

Yesterday's fishing trip was taken just in time. The Caney Fork is back to running 2+ generators 24/7 again after heavy rain over middle Tennessee has caused Center Hill Lake to start rising fairly quickly again.

Releases
Date Time (Central) Generators
5/2/2009 6pm - midnight 2 or more
5/3/2009 midnight - midnight 2 or more

The 5 day generation forecasat is not showing any relief in sight. With flood watches posted across the area and more rain on the way, it could be June before the Caney is wadeable again. Hopefully by then I'll be headed west to Colorado. Until then, I'll be doing most of my fishing in East Tennessee and will also be chasing area bass and bream. Most of all, I need to start tying a LOT of flies. Every year I say that I'm going to tie my flies ahead of time but invariably I end up tying on picnic tables at the campsite I'm staying at. Maybe this will really be there year. With all the water we're getting I won't be making any trips to the area tailwaters for a long while so I should have plenty of time on my hands...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Silver Rockets

Here in Tennessee, TWRA stocks more than one strain of rainbow trout. While not as beautiful to look at, the lightly colored fish that almost resemble steelhead go absolutely ballistic when hooked. Sure, I enjoy catching a big colorful rainbow but when it comes to straight up fighting power, the silver rockets cannot be beat...

Today I took advantage of a few hours of wader friendly water on the nearest tailwater. My timing was good because it appears that the generators will be coming back on for the next few days. This will be good for those with boats, but all of us that wade will have to wait awhile again.

Thunder and lightning made the trip interesting, but in between those electrifying close calls I actually caught a few. The fish were feeding very heavily to the midges that were having a hard time becoming airborne with all the water falling out of the sky. After getting a few on the standard dead drift, I started stripping my flies and quickly picked up this acrobatic freight train...errr, silver rocket...


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