Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 01/08/2020

Unusually warm and wet conditions continue to prevail here in middle and east Tennessee. This upcoming weekend is looking like more rain and possibly even severe weather. The wind forecast is bad enough that I wouldn't bother going fishing until Sunday at the earliest unless you can go tomorrow.

In the Smokies, nymphing will be the name of the game, but don't be surprised to see some blue-winged olives from time to time. With all the high water, think streamers, big stoneflies, or worm imitations.

Tailwaters like the Caney Fork and Clinch are still rolling with a lot of water. Both rivers are over 10,000 cfs. While this is still fishable, I don't really recommend it. Flows this high are generally all about swinging for the fences if you feel like hunting a trophy. Many days it won't happen. Once in a while it will. Throw big streamers, hope for a shad kill, and get out there. Those big fish won't get caught if you're sitting home on the couch.

The Caney will produce decent fishing if we ever get flows back down at least a little. One generator would be ideal. Right now I'll even take two. Minimum flow looks a long ways off right now.

On the Clinch, you can throw streamers and also possible nymph up a few fish. If you pick your spots, there are places to nymph even on 12,000 cfs. Let's hope it gets back down to two generators or less soon. Every time we get a big rain event, look for some low water for a day or two or three. TVA will hold water back at tributary dams like Norris to reduce downstream high water effects. This gives those of us who like to wade a day or two to fish.

Winter is our favorite time to get on the musky streams. In between bouts of high water, those will be fishing well for the next few months.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Friday, January 29, 2010

Force Feeding


Sometimes you have to hit a fish in the nose to get it to eat....literally. A couple of weekends ago I was fishing in the Smokies with a couple of fishing buddies, Joe and Caleb. Joe was fishing a nice flat run while I spotted from on top of the bank. In the back, a brown aggressively chased his offering but wouldn't quite eat. After a couple of repeat performances, the fish finally saw him and moved into the middle of the stream where it sat motionless on the bottom.

Not wanting to bother with a fish that was only eleven or twelve inches, Joe worked on upstream. I continued to watch the fish. Finally it occurred to me that the fish would probably eat if I could just force feed it. I grabbed my fly rod which had a weighted wooly bugger and crept into position. The first several casts drifted close but there was little interest from the fish. Once it gave a half-hearted glance at the fly drifting by but that was it.

I couldn't shake the feeling that the fish would eat and decided to try and drift the fly directly into the fish. A couple of casts later, the fly was drifting perfectly and a well-timed mend set up the final drift. Suddenly the fly seemed to disappear into the fish, and I set the hook hard. I can't say that I actually saw the fish open its mouth, but I did notice the fly just seemed to vanish with the fish being the only likely culprit. After a brief but lively battle, I brought the fish to hand and Joe came back downstream to snap a couple of pictures for me. It definitely wasn't the largest fish I've ever landed but it was one of the more satisfying. I believe it was the first time I ever force fed a fish intentionally without having it ever move to take the fly...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Still Around

Nope, I didn't just disappear although I'm sure it has appeared that way. I had to send my computer in to HP for some repair work so despite being out on the water a couple of times, I haven't been able to get up a report. I hope to get caught up on a lot of stuff over the next few days including a good story from a Smokies trip. It is time to be submitting an article for the Little River Journal so that will keep me busy as well...

A couple of weeks ago I hit the Caney Fork with David Perry from Southeastern Fly to float in search of big browns. The day was a bit slower than we were hoping for and the frigid temps kept ice forming in our guides all day but it was still a good trip. We both caught fish including a couple of nice 18 inch fish. For more on that trip, check out the report over on the Southeastern Fly Blog.

Check back soon for more!!!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Christmas in the Smokies


My Christmas trip to the Smokies was a great experience with lots of good food, time with the family, and even a little fishing thrown in. The extended family rents a cabin every other year around Christmas so we can all spend a few days together without anyone having the pressure of playing host.

In years past, I took a day on each end of the trip to go to the South Holston since the tailwaters generally fish much better in the cold months than the freestone streams. Unfortunately, 2009 was the year that the drought finally broke and did it in a big way. All of our area reservoirs have been generating round the clock for weeks now and so I decided to just fish in the Park.

Christmas Eve day was our arrival day. The plan was to arrive early and have a few hours to fish before meeting up with the family. I got up there early but not as early as I intended. Still, I had plenty of time to hit the stream before I headed for the cabin and a hot supper.

I’ve been on a streamer kick lately. This is a type of fishing that I’ve only recently started to thoroughly learn. For many years I more or less ignored the potential productivity of streamer fishing, but lately I’ve been running low on new techniques to try. Most of the area waters are perfect for streamer fishing and especially the tailwaters. The mountain streams are a bit trickier though. The small size of the streams along with spooky fish makes it difficult to cast and then manipulate the fly properly to induce the hard strikes that make streamer fishing so much fun. My goal for the next few months is to work out a good system for fishing streamers on freestone streams known to hold larger fish.

The first two places I stopped and fished were disappointing to say the least. I never saw so much as a flash but wasn’t ready to give up without a bit more effort. Finally, at the third spot I tried I was rewarded with some active fish. I was working the far side of a nice pool when a fish came out and struck hard but failed to hook itself. A couple more casts to the same spot convinced me that the fish wasn’t going to show itself again so I moved down a bit further. The next likely piece of cover produced the same response as a fish darted out to attack my streamer. This time everything came together perfectly and I soon had a nice 10 inch brown in the net. Not the monster that I always hope for when fishing streamers but at least it was a fish. After a couple more brief stops, I realized that the hour was getting late. I wanted to get in before it got too late and headed towards the cabin.

The rest of my stay in the mountains was a blast but lacked much in the way of meaningful fishing. I fished for a little while each day I was up there but never had enough time to get off the beaten path. The biggest problem was high water that was comprised largely of snowmelt from the highest elevations. The fish were still feeding but I quickly realized that I needed heavier streamers to get down in the fast current. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

Even though the fishing was slow, I still managed to take a lot of pictures of the streams which are looking good with lots of water. The following are some of my favorites from the trip.

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