Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 01/22/2020

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day of Dreams


All good fly fishermen spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about their sport. Perhaps it is mindlessly gazing out the window on the first nice day of spring while you are at work, or maybe it is getting the shakes on a cloudy, drizzly day in the fall because you aren’t out chasing the big browns that you know are on the move. Regardless, time on the water is normally somewhat difficult to come by for most fishermen. Unless you are a guide or independently wealthy, most people just can’t afford to fish all the time.

In between fishing trips I normally pull out maps, look at pictures form past trips, and tie plenty of flies in hopes that maybe one of them will be the magic fly to entice a monster brown or chunky rainbow. Rarely does my time on the water reach the point of ridiculousness that causes me to just stand and laugh as large fish line up for the opportunity to be caught. Naturally, many of my day dreams about fly fishing involve large fish, and occasionally nightmares as well. There is always the big one that got away to think about.

A few months ago, I started dreaming about my fall break. Every year I try to do a camping trip to chase trout somewhere or another. Traditionally this trip has been to the nearest mountains that have trout. Several of these trips were to the Smokies over the last few years, and I always love going to the place where my fly fishing career started and my skills developed. This year I wanted to do something a little bit different. I started planning a trip to the Cumberland River in Kentucky well in advance, making reservations to camp there, and inviting others to join my buddy Trevor and me.

Unfortunately, as the time of departure approached, unseasonal heavy rain began pounding the region. All the area tailwaters with the exception of those in extremely upper east Tennessee were running large quantities of water. Since we didn’t have a boat, plan B started to sound good. I cancelled the reservation at the campground and started thinking about returning to the Smokies after all. The rains continued though and instead of camping in the wet weather with unusually high streams to fish, I decided to just stay home and do day trips wherever the best conditions were each day.

My first couple of days went well, but I felt that I should have much better fishing. Day three is when things took an abrupt turn for the extraordinary. Trevor and I had decided to make the drive over to Cherokee to fish the tribal catch and release water where we hoped to tangle with some monster rainbows.



The trip turned out well but we really didn’t catch as many big fish as we had hoped for. The water was really high for that area and we did best on up the Raven Fork. As daylight started fading, we decided to call it a day. The drive over the ridge is better if done while it is still light out. Since it wasn’t too far out of the way, I decided to check on a couple of striper spots as I headed back to Crossville. When I arrived at the first one, I was amazed to see big fish stacked up near the bank. Since I had only caught 3-8 pound fish up until this point, I probably should mention that big fish doesn’t mean 50-60 pound fish.

I ran back to the car and feverishly started putting my 7 weight together, calling Trevor at the same time. He could hear the seriousness in my voice as I told him about the monster fish there. “I’m on my way” he said and I returned to fish. There was no one else out on the water, no one at all to see the big fish rolling on the surface and darting around like shadows just under. In no time at all I was hooked up with the biggest fish of my life and learned what it is like to worry about your backing knot. When I hooked the fish, I had maybe 20 feet of fly line out. It took no more than 3 seconds to see my backing racing through the guides and probably another second before my heart started pounding.

The rest of that night is a bit hazy, kind of like a good dream where you wake up and everything seems so real and yet so distant. I do remember that the first fish threw my fly while the next broke my off. Eventually I started landing fish. Trevor showed up and both of us caught stripers over 20 pounds according to the boga. Both of us got cleaned out a few times as well. These fish are insane when hooked and head for the far reaches of the earth in their efforts to throw the fly. Occasionally I would just burst out laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation was. We were there alone with more monster stripers than we could possibly hook in a night, and the fish were just so big.


While it is possible that a night of monster fish could ruin me for life, I believe I’ll still enjoy chasing trout at least as much if not more than big stripers. When I think about fishing now, I still am taken to a trout stream in my dreams. Not to mention that I would need a heavier outfit if I was going to chase stripers that were any larger than the 15-25 pound fish we were catching. My 7 weight was pitifully inadequate but somehow managed to get the job done. I felt quite helpless every time one of these fish started running. Of course, if they just rolled over and beached themselves, then it probably wouldn’t have been a day to dream about…

8 comments:

  1. that's a pretty fish you got there. we don't see 'em that big up here in boone (at least I don't know where to find them :). I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know I enjoy reading the blog. keep it up with the good pics. -josh

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  2. And here I was all proud of my 20 inch browns and rainbows I've caught this summer! Thanks, David, for maintaining a great blog. I've learned a lot and really enjoy the pictures. If you wanna see my comparatively small catches, my blog is www.flytiewriter.blogspot.com.

    Best,
    John

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  3. Hey David. Some mighty hefty Stripers there. I have to credit your talent and ability that you could land a Striper that big on your 7wt. Nicely done.

    Mark

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  4. Nice! I have been wanting to try and catch some stripe on the fly but don't really know where to go. I figured you had to have a boat to get to them. Any suggestions?
    Thanks.

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  5. Guys, thanks for the kind words. I had a blast catching these fish...biggest fish of my life so far!

    Erich, they can be caught from the bank on tailwaters where they are known to live. Some tailwaters are even wadeable if you are careful. If you would like to talk some specifics, then shoot me an email...

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  6. David,
    Congrats on some great fishing. I got your message while I was on vacation down in the Carribean, but I will have to try for some striper action again soon.

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  7. WOW - fun!

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