Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

Fishing is excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park now. We have had a couple of shots of rain the last week and a half which has helped keep the streams flowing strong for this time of year. The cool overnight temperatures will get the brown and brook trout seriously thinking about spawning. Please be careful this time of year and avoid walking on fine sand and gravel in riffles and tailouts. Leave the spawning trout alone so they can do their thing. When you find brook or brown trout that aren't spawning, they are aggressive and looking to feed. Recent guide trips on brook trout waters have been anywhere from good to excellent. Streams with rainbows and browns have been excellent as well. There are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Park right now!

A variety of bugs have been hatching lately. On cloudy days, Blue-winged Olives have hatched along with some other small mayflies. Various caddis, including the Great Autumn Brown Sedges (often referred to as October Caddis by locals) are hatching and provide a nice bite for the trout. Little Black stoneflies are hatching as well. Fish are eating both dry fly and nymph imitations and even still hitting some terrestrials. Don't forget your beetle, ant, and inchworm fly box. A Parachute Adams or Yellow or Orange Stimulator should work well for a dry fly. Smaller bead head Pheasant Tail nymphs should work as a dropper. Caddis pupa are also catching a lot of fish as are stonefly nymphs.

On the Caney Fork, things have been tough lately. The river has been running warmer than is normal this time of year because of heavy generation earlier this year and also with a stain due to the sluice gate operations. Work has been underway to install vented turbines on the generators and they have been working to try and tweak them to improve dissolved oxygen. One day, we were floating and they were checking the DO and found it at 1.5 ppm. If I remember correctly, the minimum target is 6 ppm. Obviously 1.5 is way too low. Trout were sitting along the banks and in back eddies gasping for oxygen. Hopefully all of this won't have too much of a long term effect on the fishery, but needless to say, things are a bit difficult as of right now. Cooler weather should help. Once the lake turns over, oxygen and clarity will improve quickly.

The Clinch River has been fishing well if you can hit it on low water days. Small nymphs and midges will get the job done here.

Smallmouth bass are about done for the year, but we will be back out on the musky streams again soon looking for the toothy critters. This is tough fishing, but the rewards can be sizable.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Last Cast

Spur of the moment fishing trips always have an element of uncertainty. The careful planning that goes into most trips is nonexistent and expectations are usually kept low. After all, when you get a last minute opportunity to get out on the water, the experience is often sufficiently satisfying and catching fish can be a pleasant afterthought.

Most of this week has been spent telling myself I need to fish more. Fishing Sunday and Monday apparently wasn’t enough to make up for the recent dearth of fishing trips. What I’m really craving is a good trout fishing trip, but when the nearest trout water is 50 minutes away you simply take what you can get. About three miles from where I live is a small lake that most people would miss when driving by. It is tucked back in the woods mostly out of sight and the entrance is unmarked. However, it is a public lake with a TWRA boat ramp. When I first bought a float tube earlier this year, I envisioned evening trips to this particular lake on a regular basis, but so far those dreams have not been realized.

In an effort to start fishing more and begin learning the lake, I decided to drive over last evening to see what was going on. The float tube came out and was soon ready to go. I quickly dug through my fly boxes looking for enough random bass and panfish flies to make the evening a success. Soon I was on the road, happy to be going fishing again. The first time I took the tube out, pre-launch preparations took me quite awhile but this time I was in the water fairly quickly, kicking my way across the lake with a large diving hairbug in tow.

The first 20 minutes produced absolutely nothing on the large bassbug so I switched to a small Clouser. Again, nothing happened. While I don’t consider myself a particularly proficient warm water fisherman, I at least like to imagine that I can manage to get by. The first 30 minutes on the water had me wondering if I really truly had no clue what I was doing or if the lake only offered poor fishing. Finally, after kicking across the lake to another shoreline, I snagged my fly within a few feet of the bank and had to work in close to retrieve it. As I moved into the shallows, I saw small bass and bluegill spooking in all directions.

Convinced that it must be my method, I decided to try a smaller fly. Out came the fly boxes again and this time I decided to try a small Simi Seal Leech. These simple but deadly flies are some of my favorites for bluegill and small bass and work great for trout as well. Again I started slowly working the shoreline, but other than a couple of bumps, I couldn’t buy a fish. Moving into a cove, I finally discovered one reason that at least some of the fish weren’t biting well. I discovered a large area of bedded fish. There appeared to be both bass and some type of sunfish in this area although I can’t be positive that both were on beds since one may have been raiding the beds of the other.



The scenery was great!

The trip was pleasant and while it would have been nice to catch a few fish, the Mountain Laurel blooming along the water’s edge helped make my effort worthwhile. I still had to get back to the ramp though. The area where I found the large concentration of fish had been rested long enough so I slowly worked my way back. The first cast up against the shore produced a solid strike, and I soon was admiring a small bluegill. Releasing the fish, I quickly caught another, this time a yellow perch. Next, a nice 8” bluegill came to hand. Then the dreaded lull took over.



First decent fish of the evening...


An offering to the fish gods or a weak effort at an interesting camera angle?

The evening shadows were growing long and the sun had disappeared below the hills. I decided that one last cast was in order before I called it a day. Most people have more than one "last cast," but I was actually reeling in line after this one. Right on cue, the largest bluegill of the day struck and staged a determined fight. The fish literally hit as I was reeling in the line so I just kept cranking away. The fish fought valiantly, but in the end I was the victor, my reward being a couple of pictures of the nice 9”+ fish. After watching the fish swim off, I started kicking back across the lake.



Big fish of the trip

Probably midway back, excruciating pain surged through my leg. “What now?” I thought as a muscle cramp threatened to end my trip while I was still out on the lake. The leg simultaneously wanted to double up and straighten itself out. Balancing my fly rod across the tube, I massaged the tired muscles, hoping to end the misery. Reclining in the tube with my legs sticking straight out, I paddled slowly with my hands, laughing to myself at the absurdity of trying to go anywhere very quickly with my hands as the main propellant. I was making progress though and the thought of standing up to stretch my leg kept me going. By and by I realized that I could kick with the one good leg without going in circles if I was careful. Slowly the pain eased and by the time I approached the boat ramp, I was again kicking gently with both legs.

While some people would be worried about going out in a float tube again, I took the muscle spasms as I sign that I need to get out more. After all, the best way to avoid a problem of this nature is to strengthen the muscles involved. Last minute trips always seem to have a random occurrence, it just so happened that this one was quite unpleasant. Maybe next time I’ll make up for it by catching a monster fish.

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