Guided Trips


Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the Other Side

My Smokies excursions tend to be limited to the Tennessee side of the ridge. Obviously that is a result of proximity but also of familiarity. The comfort of fishing my home water keeps me coming back time and again. Over time I have learned the river almost like the back of my hand. At this point, the main challenge has become chasing the larger browns in the river. Ironically, every trip to the other side of the Park tends to produce a memorable moment. On Little River it is easy to fall into the trap of routine, but I retain some of the suspenseful excitement of fishing new water on North Carolina streams.

This past weekend I headed up to fish the Park with the plan to meet my buddy Joe Mcgroom. After a late start, I finally was rolling up Little River a little after noon and found Joe's truck near a favorite stretch of water. After some consultation, we checked out a couple of spots on Little River before deciding to head over the ridge.

The trip up and over Newfound Gap was faster than you can normally make it during peak vacation months. There was a noticeable absence of lost tourists stopping in the road which was a nice change from the norm on Park roads. Rain was developing over the higher elevations, a warning of things to come. We developed a game plan while en route and finally stopped along the Oconaluftee River.

Joe had a definite goal in mind and our first stop put us at a nice pool that can produce some better than average browns on occasion. I was not ready to fish yet and told Joe to fish the pool while I rigged up. We both started with the usual double nymph rig.

As I tied on some fresh tippet and selected flies, Joe worked methodically through the pool. Nothing happened until he hit the head where fish often feed in the low water of late summer. Finally a solid fish struck the fly and the excitement started. I watched as Joe fought the fish downstream into the slower portion of the pool and finally corralled it in the shallows. Interestingly, in addition to Joe's flies, the fish also had a short section of tippet and small nymph in its mouth, obviously the victor in another recent fight. After freeing the fish from its unwanted jewelry, we snapped a couple of pictures and then Joe spent a few moments reviving the nice 14 inch brown.

First pool success is often a sign of slow fishing for the rest of the day and this trip didn't deviate from that standard. More than anything, I think our own laziness set the pace for the rest of the day. We both caught several more fish but nothing out of the ordinary and the catching was definitely not as good as it could have been if we were more focused. Sometimes its nice to have slow days though. Really all I wanted out of this trip was the chance to get out on the stream, and any fish caught were just a bonus.

A little later in the day the rainfall from higher elevations finally caught up with us and the water turned muddy. Fish still fed just fine, but after fishing in the higher water for a little while, we decided to call it a day and head back over the ridge.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to get out more than I have been. The intense heat and humidity of the summer should slowly yield to the changing seasons as we approach my favorite time of year. I'll be heading back to the Smokies soon as well as making some tailwater trips. Expect another report in a couple of days...


  1. Morning David. Nice fish and great stream. Sounds like an OK day to me.


  2. Mark, it was definitely an OK day!!! Nothing like getting out on the water...

  3. Great report. Even if the first pool wasn't totally and indicator of what was to come, I'd take a day like that anytime.

    BTW - That 3rd pic is beautiful. I've always wondered how to get the "fuzzy water" effect with my camera. Is there a particular camera setting you use? Is it something that can be done on a point & shoot or does it need to be a DSLR?

  4. Thanks! The "fuzzy water" effect is definitely best done with a DSLR. Basically though it is just a long exposure so if your point and shoot allows you to change exposure settings you can just use it... I saw a good article or something about this once. I'll see if I can track it down...



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