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, June 28, 2009

Saving the Best For...

...Last? How about first... In retrospect, going to the Taylor River first might not be a good idea. Seeing hundreds of huge trout and even catching a few definitely increases expectations for the rest of the trip. However tradition has been set and dictates that our first stop on these crazy road trips is the Taylor River near Gunnison Colorado. On this trip, we drove straight through as usual with just a brief stop to sleep in the car a couple of hours. Upon arrival, we found a campground and set up our tents and then drove to the river. The rumor was that the big rainbows were coming off the spawn and theoretically should be feeding heavily.

When we got there, we immediately found more big rainbows out than we have seen in the past. There were lots of big fish just waiting for a choice morsel like a mysis shrimp to drift past. My buddy Trevor and I rigged up and started flogging the water. These fish are pounded literally every day of the year and the key to success is matching the natural foods accurately, getting a drag free drift (much easier said than done), and a fair amount of luck. These fish will spook just from split shot drifting in the vicinity. I cannot begin to count the times that I saw a fish carefully drift a foot out of the path of my flies and after they passed, move back to its spot.

Despite all the challenges, these fish are not impossible to hook. Landing them is another story however. Before landing my first fish, I lost 3 fish from 18-22 inches. This type of fishing is definitely not for everyone. Every time I go there I see visiting anglers shake their heads in frustration and finally leave without hooking a single fish. It takes dedication and creativity to be successful here.

After fishing for awhile and losing some nice fish, I finally started working a particularly large fish. This turned out to be the big rainbow I posted on already. The fish ate and when I set the hook, it bolted downstream. I had to follow it down the river a couple of hundred feet, stumbling along the bank and splashing through the shallows. Upon netting the fish, I discovered several other flies in the jaws of the big rainbow. Apparently others had hooked this nice fish as well but lost the fight. Flies it had consumed already included a big red copper john and small midge patterns. This big rainbow taped out at 24 inches and I was glad to have my large Coho Ghost net to corral it with. This fish was the largest landed during the trip, and while I won't complain, catching the biggest fish first is probably not the best way to have a good trip.

In the waning light, we finally called it a day and wandered back to camp completely exhausted from the last two days on the road. We headed straight for bed as the cold night made sitting up a not so inviting proposition. While we were fishing the Taylor River, I was hoping to target pike up in Taylor Reservoir and I fell asleep entertaining thoughts of large toothy fish inhaling big nasty flies...


  1. Hey David. Hell of a way to start a trip. Can't wait to see what else happened.

    Mark (Shoreman)

  2. David,

    Looks like your trip out west was very enjoyable. Hope the same goes for your up and coming Yellowstone trip. I was out in SW MT for 2 weeks to fish the Madison last June. The "longest riffle in the world" was high, muddy, dangerous, and impossible to wade. The waters in the park are looking pretty good. I hope you're able to pin down the Salmonflies...

    I'm in the slow process of deciding on either a fishing trip to Montana again or one to Colorado/Utah. After reading your most recent posts, the Taylor, Gunnison, and Frying Pan all look pretty darn good to me.


  3. Shoreman, while that fish was the biggest, there were many more memorable moments. Hope you enjoy hearing about them all in the near future...


    If you are willing to do some driving, you can do both in the same trip. That is what we did a couple of years ago... If you are interested in Colorado and Utah, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll be glad to help you out as much as possible. Trying to decide where to take a trip is definitely not a bad problem to have...

  4. masterbaetis3:53 PM

    I'm an old Hotchkiss boy and have called the Gunny my home river for many a year. I'm in Utah now and have been traveling to The Henry's Fork, Madison and there abouts every weekend I can.

    Nice Fish! I've been skunked on the Taylor many a time.

    Although it may not be as pretty as the Canyon, I'm a fan of floating from the Pleasure Park down to Austin. The Willow Fly hatch catches more fisherman than fish - after an hour or two those fish are just too damn full. Try hopper season on the lower river for a change of pace, it can be memorable.



Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required