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

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Smokies Excursion


The Smokies call my name year round, but my favorite time to go is the fall. The leaves are gone now and the streams are cooling down, but it is still the perfect time to go. My cousin Nathan and I had been planning a camping trip during Thanksgiving break for a couple of months. As the time approached, we decided to cut the trip down to just one night because the forecast was not ideal.

We made the drive up on Monday, stopping by Little River Outfitters as usual to say hi to everyone and allow Nathan to pick up a fishing license. I also wanted to give Byron one of the streamers that I've been catching all my stripers on so he can try it out on some of the lakes he fishes. After stopping at the shop, we drove on towards Elkmont. I wanted to check a couple of spots for big fish and was amazed to find a monster at the first place we checked. Luck was not on my side and after fishing for it awhile, the big fish spooked.

After trying for the big fish it was time to get a campsite. There were more people at Elkmont than I expected, but there were still lots of empty sites. We set up the tent and spent a little time foraging for firewood. A big fire was perfect for the chilly night in the mountains and we spent the evening sitting around the fire.

I had planned on getting up early to stalk big fish but was feeling kind of lazy when I woke up. Instead we lazied around the campsite and cooked up a big breakfast before heading out to fish. The destination for the day was the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon. We wanted to hike a short distance up the Ramsey Cascades trail and drop into the gorge section for rainbows and brookies.



The day had started out with plenty of sunshine, but as we got closer to the trailhead the clouds thickened. When we started up the trail, the sun was completely obscured by the clouds. In general I like cloudy days better, but in the cold months I prefer sunny days. The water temperature never came up at all, but the 47 degree temperature was not too bad. The fish still eat just fine in the colder water but are concentrated in softer water. This seems to be the case now as all the fish we caught came from the pools and slower runs instead of pocket water. For the next few months it will be important to focus on these types of water to find success.


I had been hoping to fish dries but most of our fish came on nymphs. The two best patterns were a Prince Nymph and a Tellico nymph. Both Nathan and I were fishing tandem rigs with other patterns but these two were easily the best producers. There were a few little dark stoneflies flying about and a stray caddis or two but that was it. I did coax a few fish to a stimulator in the slower water, but in general they just weren't interested in rising.


We eventually decided to call it a day. Between the two of us we managed between 20 and 30 fish which isn't too bad. From now on the fishing will tend to be slow although excellent fishing can still be had if you time your trips right. I'll be fishing tailwaters more for the next few months but will still get to the mountains on a fairly regular basis as well...



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