Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

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

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Changing River


This past winter, minor rumblings erupted into widespread complaint about the Caney Fork River here in Tennessee. Unethical anglers had simply taken too many large fish out of the river during the spawn. After fishing throughout the winter and spring and not finding the same numbers of large fish, many people concluded that the river was toast. Fortunately, a changing attitude about the resource now prevails and many fisherman are moving towards catch and release as a way to keep good fish in the river. So far this summer, I have not seen as many fish leaving the river on stringers as in the past. This is in no way to say that people are not keeping fish anymore because they are but I believe that an attitude shift is taking place.

Current regulations allow fisherman to keep 2 brown trout with a minimum length of 18". The problem with the current regulations is that it is producing a river full of fish up to 17" but not nearly as many over that as the river is capable of supporting. Based on the number of complaints and suggestions this spring to TWRA, we will probably see some new regulation proposals this fall for the river. It would be nice to have a slot limit of 16"-22". I really do not mind people taking fish as it is their legal right but it would be nice if the fish were allowed to grow just a little longer before harvesting. Brown trout in the 18"-22" range are really the perfect size. There will still be larger fish, but the river could support a large number of fish in this range and the fishing opportunities would be exceptional.

The floods we experienced this past spring also severely damaged the river and raised the water temperature of Center Hill Lake. As a result, current water temperatures on the tailwater are running a little warmer compared to other years. The flushing the river received during the high water episode actually does not appear to have damaged the actual river. The huge weedbeds are still intact and the river has not changed too much. The fish populations on the other hand took a significant hit. Prior to the high water, you were guaranteed to hook several hard fighting rainbows in the 16"-18" range in a fishing trip if you knew where to look for them. Now it seems that the overall number of rainbows is quite low. I don't want to make any generalizations based on just a couple of fishing trips but I would have to say that the number of quality rainbows has definitely decreased. On a positive note, the brown trout population seems to be doing very well. There are good numbers of fish in the river from 5"-6" all the way up through 17"-18". Larger fish are there, but it often takes a change in tactics to find them.

The shift in the fish population is definitely significant. Fisherman will probably fish the river and think it is much worse off than it was and in some ways they would be correct. However a change in your tactics will allow you to continue to catch fish. Numbers of brown trout are definitely up but these fish will still eat similar flies. Sight fishing opportunities abound if you know where to look and are proficient at spotting fish. The bug life on the river seems to be doing well also. Midge hatches are still the main fare for the resident trout but scud and sow bug populations are also doing fine.

Overall I would say that the Caney still has a lot of potential. I really do not expect much from it for the rest of the year but with the slowly changing attitude of the people who fish it and regulation changes from TWRA, I believe it can still be a quality trout stream to rival any river in the southeast.

3 comments:

  1. good post! Lets hope the river can recover, a few bad apples can ruin the whole barrel... er, river.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful fish. Shame people keep them. Grocery stores sell trout that are raised on farms. Trout in wild streams should be left for the sportsmen to enjoy. Just my humble opinion though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great photo, I always enjoy them, butI get so disgusted with what I see happening to our streams by those who do not care.

    ReplyDelete

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