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, December 01, 2009

Back on the River

Photograph by David Perry


Initially I did not plan to fish this past weekend, but when David Perry from Southeastern Fly emailed me to see if I wanted to float, I couldn't refuse. Recent reports coming from the river have been distressing, and we both wanted to see what the situation really was. When Sunday morning donned cloudy, my expectations immediately went up. I was hoping to find some big browns willing to chase streamers.


By the time I got to the river to meet David, the clouds were starting to think. By the time we made it up to the dam to launch, the clouds were giving way to sunshine. Still, we were excited about the potential for the day. To get things started, we headed up to the base of the dam and looked for big fish feeding. After checking the sluice (and finding it a bit dirty), we finally headed down into the main river channel to start floating. As we worked our way down the river, I noticed that others were catching fish which was a good sign. We both had fish within a reasonable amount of time although it wasn't on fire either.


As we continued on down the river, we found plenty of rising fish, but in general there was no consistency at all to their rises. When I find a fish that rises consistently, I will stop and fish for it. We did this for a couple of fish, but I was too lazy to tie on the tiny midge dries that worked well for me last time I was on the river. I took over rowing duty for awhile and watched as David worked the water with his indicator rig. We were seeing a few fish but just not as many as what should be expected. After he caught a few, we switched places again.


Just as I was starting to get concerned about the lack of larger fish, we discovered a large pod of risers with some better heads showing each time the fish rose. A big head almost always indicates a larger fish. I cast my nymphs and indicator just upstream of the risers and watched as the indicator twitched and then slowly pulled under. The hookset attached me to a bulldogging brown that made several hard runs. Finally I brought the fish close enough for David to get the net under it. He handed me the net, and I was admiring a nice 18 inch female brown. After a couple of quick pictures, I gently held the fish in the current and then watched it bolt back into the depths.





Photograph by David Perry



We continued down into a favorite spot of mine where I missed a good fish the last time I was on the river. I wanted to work the water carefully to try and stick the big fish, but things just didn't work out. We continued on down the river and shortly I saw the indicator dive again. The next fish was almost as large as the previous one and was definitely fatter.



Photograph by David Perry


For the rest of the afternoon, we continued down the river, taking turns at the oars while the other fished. As darkness fell, we still had aways to go to reach the takeout. I decided to go back to the streamer rod and see if I could find a good fish willing to eat something big. My efforts were rewarded with a couple of quick hits but the fish were just not committing enough. Finally, as I was swimming the fly back towards the boat, I felt a solid hit and soon boated the last brown of the day. The fish was right around 16 inches and fat!


Overall, I was encouraged with the results of our scouting expedition. My main goal on this trip was to just see what was happening on the river, and that goal was exceeded by catching some very nice browns. The numbers were lacking, but I'll take quality over quantity whenever I fish. I want to thank David Perry for a nice day on the river. He is an excellent fisherman and guide, and I learned a lot throughout the day.

3 comments:

  1. Just curious; What were the distressing reports?

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  2. Ian, a lot of people that have been fishing since the sluice turned off have reported slow to very slow fishing. Additionally, lots of people haven't been seeing fish like we are all used to. Overall, I think the fish have just been trying to get used to the changes in generation. The fish just haven't been feeding and holding where anglers expect them so people just assume that the fish have died or something... Both times I've fished in the last week and a half have been slower than sometimes but I've caught fish both times including some quality browns.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great report and pictures as always this time of year can you still fish with the 18-22 zebra midges under a strike indicator? I have no clue yet as to how to fish a streamer...

    ReplyDelete

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