Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 12/3/2019

Winter fishing is nearly upon us. Snow yesterday has given way to falling water temperatures in the Smokies. In general, fish will be hunkered down, although by tomorrow they should start to get more active again as temperatures warm. For the next three months, expect many more fish in the slower places in the Park. Think nymphs and maybe streamers but don't be surprised to find fish rising to blue-winged olives or midges on some days.

On tailwaters like the Clinch, brown trout and some fall spawn rainbows are doing their thing. This is a good time to review good ethics when it comes to spawning trout. Remember that these are the next generation of trout and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone. Avoid wading through spawning areas and don't fish for obvious spawners. For the foreseeable future, we should have high water thanks to big rains this last weekend. Fishing out of the drift boat will be very good through the winter with both nymphing and streamer fishing a distinct possibility. Want to swing for the fences and go for just one monster? Streamers will just get better and better going into January and February.

The Caney is slowly coming around. A few shad are coming through the dam, but lingering water quality problems are limiting the fishing. Winter streamer floats will produce shots at larger brown trout for anglers willing to work hard. Next spring should bring good fishing again.

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: Big Fish Chuck Strikes Again

Photo of the Month: Big Fish Chuck Strikes Again

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good Pictures and Slow Fishing

As planned, I was able to get out and both hike and fish this weekend. The hiking was good and provided me some good opportunities to do some photography. On the other hand the fishing was slow to say the least. In fact, this was my first trip without a fish landed in quite a long while. Not that I didn't have my chances. Over the course of the day yesterday, I had several follows and at least one fish that ate. I just couldn't finish the deal with a good hookset.

On Saturday I hiked to Virgin Falls on the Cumberland Plateau. I have been there a few other times and always enjoy seeing it again. The waterfalls in this area are all very unique in that they fall into caves or just vanish underground. Virgin Falls itself had a greater volume of water than any other time I have visited it. Also, the spray off of the falls had collected into beautiful ice deposits on the trees and bushes, giving the forest the appearance of a large ice storm. The other area falls were nice as well. On the way back up the trail I spent some time photographing one of the area streams. The pocket water and plunge pools would constitute an amazing trout stream, but unfortunately the water temperatures and flow are too inconsistent to support trout.

Here are some of the pictures from the hike this past weekend. I should have spent some time photographing the Smokies streams in the snow but was too concentrated on the fishing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Deep Freeze

Winter continues relentlessly here in Tennessee. I'm going to try to get out this weekend to cure the cabin fever. Between hiking and fishing I might actually be cured...for a few days anyway. The fishing will include a lot of hunting for big fish so wish me luck! One of these days I'll get a big one in the Smokies...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rising Water

High water has been the theme lately, both on tailwaters and on the freestone streams of East Tennessee. I had been planning to fish the Smokies this past weekend for awhile now. High water just meant a better chance for large fish.

Friday was perfect for throwing big stuff on Little River. After stopping at Little River Outfitters, I drove on up the river. The water was up to around 1800 cfs when I started and continued to rise throughout the day. Eventually it peaked at somewhere around 2500 cfs.

Finally I found the pool that I wanted to start on. After rigging up, I thoroughly fished the first pool without glimpsing any fish. That is never a good way to start, but I moved on to the next pool with high hopes.

Things improved but not immediately. I worked the pool slowly and methodically and finally had a brown come out and slam my offering. Thankfully the fish found the hook, and I was soon admiring my first fish of the day. The brown was pretty but not very large. Still, a fish is a fish, and I wasn't about to complain.


The rest of the day brought a lot of hope but each time I was disappointed. Several fish came out to play but each one just couldn't seem to find the hook. Visiting the Park is probably just about my favorite thing to do though so I had an enjoyable day. Fishing in high water is always sketchy. Catching one fish is always better than catching no fish. Next time I hope to fish during normal flows. Sight fishing is the way to go but almost impossible during high water. Of course, in a month or so we'll be fishing the spring hatches.

Those of you that are looking forward to the hatches just remember that there are bugs hatching now. Everyone is excited to fish the "big" hatches in the spring but there are plenty of bugs hatching now. You just have to spend a little more time finding the hatch. Midges, various dark stoneflies, and even a few blue quills and blue-winged olives are hatching.

Don't let bad weather or high water keep you from fishing. The fish are still there and still hungry...

Monday, February 01, 2010

Winter in Tennessee


Finally some snow!!! Here in Tennessee, we don't get as much snow as when I was a kid. A snowfall is always an exciting event. Starting January 29, we got more than the usual snow.

The first several inces fell just like normal but around 11:00 p.m. on the 29th, warm air above the surface started changing the snow to freezing rain. The flakes were melting before hitting the ground but the surface temperatures were still below freezing. The result was quite unusual for this area. We had a layer of snow with a layer of ice on top. Usually when we get both, the order is reversed.

The trees were covered with a sparkling glaze of ice, and the result was extremely beautiful...

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