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

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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