Guided Trips


Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Gunnison and Something New

Our first full day in the Black Canyon was somewhat lazy. We decided to spend a lot of it just fishing at East Portal for the big wild rainbows and browns that reside there. Over the course of the morning, several nice fish were caught, but the bite slowed down as the sun rose higher over the canyon.

The beauty of fishing at East Portal is that you can do a fair amount of sight fishing. My favorite aspect of fly fishing is targeting visible fish that are out feeding. Blind fishing with a deep nymph rig will produce plenty of fish on a river like the Gunnison, but very nice fish will move into the shallows to feed. Here on my home tailwaters it is normally easy to sight fish and cast to them because the water is so clear. However on the Gunnison, the off color water means you have to find fish near the banks and in the shallows. The brilliantly colored rainbows stand out if they are anywhere near the surface and even the browns can be spotted if you look for them.

Our favorite spots to target these fish are the shallow riffles and the tailouts of the deeper runs. You can spot the fish holding near any type of structure such as weed beds and even small rocks that offer just enough of a break in the current for the trout to rest. Interestingly, we caught more rainbows than browns which is a change from the past few years. For awhile, the river was devastated by whirling disease and the rainbows suffered a huge setback. Stocking of disease resistant strains of rainbows have boosted the population of rainbows and seems to be helping the river return to its former glory when the huge 'bows were measured in pounds instead of inches. There are not a ton of huge fish yet, but there were good numbers of fish in the 16-22 inch range.

After we got tired of fishing East Portal, we drove into town for some food. After finishing everything that we needed to do, we decided to try something different. Neither of us had ever fished the Uncompahgre so we drove up to Ridgway State Park to fish the tailwater just below the reservoir. The special regulations on this section gave us the hope that there might be some big fish. We got down to the water and immediately realized that the flows were way up from a good level for fishing. However it was not impossible to fish and we set about making the best of the situation.

The first couple of spots we tried produced absolutely nothing. However I finally waded across a side channel and into a good bend pool. My first few casts produced absolutely nothing but then I let one of my drifts swing in the current. Almost immediately I felt a hard strike and it was game on! Several cutthroat soon followed the first. The fish would hardly touch a dead drift, but as soon as we allowed it to swing, they would go absolutely crazy for just about anything we had tied on. There were not too many good pools with a flow that was conducive for swinging nymphs and soft hackles so after exploring a bit further upstream, we decided to check out the stocked ponds by the river. As expected they were full of catch and keep type fisherman and freshly stocked trout but we had a good time casting to the fish cruising for midges. After a couple of fish each in the pond, we decided that it was time to head back.

On the drive back to where we were camping, we started talking about the next day's fishing. Both of us were itching to try something else because the word around town was that it would be at least a week before the salmonflies were in full swing. Since that was the biggest reason we were there, we both agreed that it might not hurt to head for the Green River for a few days and then come back later. Back in camp we went straight to bed in anticipation of the long day ahead...


  1. What type of lanyard do you use?

  2. I use a Mountain River lanyard and really like it. I've gone through lots of different ways of carrying things and the lanyard is here to stay for awhile...



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