Guided Trips


Current fishing conditions in the mountains have been tough although rain overnight has bumped up the levels on Park streams, especially on the Tennessee side. Be careful as lots of leaves are going to be coming down now with brisk northwest winds behind the cold front. That can make fishing challenging. If you do fish, I would suggest fishing dry/dropper with a #14 Orange Stimulator or Orange Elk Hair Caddis up top and a bead head Green Weenie, Isonychia Nymph, or Blue-winged Olive Nymph (#18-#20 bead head Pheasant Tail will suffice here) underneath. Focus on stealth and accurate casts.

If you are flexible in where you fish, I recommend heading for your favorite tailwater to trout fish. Most tailwaters are offering good flows for wade fishermen right now and the fish are hungry. The Hiwassee River has been recently stocked for the delayed harvest and the Caney Fork continues to fish very well on our guide trips. The Watauga, South Holston, and Clinch Rivers should be great as well.

If musky are on your mind like they are for me, then be patient and hope for more rain. The musky streams and rivers are very low right now and we need some water before safely navigating those streams in the larger boats that are preferred.

This is the time of year that brown and brook trout as well as some strains of rainbow trout spawn. On rivers like the Caney Fork, many anglers choose to target these spawning trout. This is unfortunate, especially this year. There are plenty of pre- and post-spawn trout to target if you want to catch big fish. With low water the norm, the Caney Fork actually has a chance at producing some natural recruitment this year barring any unforeseen high water. The same thing applies in the Smokies. Spawning brown and brook trout are extra vulnerable because of the low water and should be allowed to do their thing in peace. The future of these fisheries depends upon conscientious anglers doing the right thing. If you must fish to spawning trout, please use very heavy tippets and quickly land and release all fish caught. If you want to learn how to be successful this time of year without chasing active spawners, please consider booking a guided trip, and I would be glad to teach you how to hunt these large fish.

Photo of the Month: The Colors of a Rainbow

Photo of the Month: The Colors of a Rainbow

Friday, November 26, 2010

November Sunset

This is one of many reasons why I love the cold months.  It seems the sunrises and sunsets are consistently better this time of year, and of course that could just be my imagination.  Regardless, I DO know that I particularly enjoyed the sunset this evening despite the coldest temperatures of the season yet and stiff breeze that tried in vain to deter my photography session.  The beauty in the heavens was too much for me to be distracted by something as insignificant as cold weather.  Here are a few of the pictures from the evening...


On the way home from my last fishing trip, trouble caught up with my car, and now I'm immobile at least for a few days and perhaps longer.  My trusty troutmobile finally had some serious problems so it looks like I won't be fishing much for awhile.  I still have a report or two to post and hope to get some tying posts up as well.  During the cold months is the time to start tying and stocking up on flies for the new year.  I will be offering up some patterns for sale on a limited basis, so if you need a source for your 2011 patterns don't hesitate to contact me.  If you need recommendations for a particular destination just let me know, and I'll do my best to help or point you in the right direction...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Big Day on the River

Today was one of the better days I've had on the river in the last few months.  Fish were feeding heavily and once I found the right fly combination I was into fish pretty much the whole time.  I fished a fly that I haven't really thrown yet this fall but was reminded how it has been one of the better tailwater patterns I've fished over the years.  The hot fly was a midge larva pattern that I have fished out west on rivers like the Gunnison and Roaring Fork in Colorado as well as the tailwaters here in the east.  If anyone doesn't tie and needs this pattern, I'm offering a few patterns now so just shoot me an email, and I can give you the details and pricing. 

The Caney has not had the best schedule for wade fishing, but you can still fish the upper river late in the day for a few hours once the water starts falling out.  Right now the fishing is tough if you don't know the river well.  These are the conditions when a good guide can be particularly helpful to put you on the fish.  The water is still running quite cloudy which isn't helping those who prefer to sight fish.  Fish are concentrated anywhere the water is funneling food.  Shoals provide the best concentrations of fish right now, but fish are spread throughout the river as well.  Late day midge hatches are coming on strong and bringing a few trout to the surface.  Anglers that enjoy stalking trout with tiny dries and emergers can do well right now as long as they stay patient. 

Within the first 10 casts I caught 3 fish, a brookie, then a brown, and finally completed the slam with a rainbow.  Throughout the afternoon, I managed more rainbows than anything else but did catch 3 beautiful brook trout and 3 browns including one chunky fish that was close to 18 inches. 

I found a few fish that were willing to eat a zebra midge late in the day.  Over the next few weeks, the streamer bite should start to pick up.  The browns are coming off the spawn and should be hungry.  Overall, the river is in the best shape I've seen for awhile.  If we can avoid any major flood events and keep generation to a minimum this winter, then next year should be a great one for the Caney Fork...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Caney Fork Outings

Despite my lack of trip reports, I actually have got a little time in on the stream.  Over the last month, I have been on the Caney Fork a couple of times including a float trip with David Perry this past weekend.  The river is fishing fairly well although the water is quite off color right now during generation.  I'm not sure if the lake is turning over or if it is just a result of the low lake levels.  Whatever the cause, the water clarity could definitely be better.

A few weeks ago, I went down for an afternoon on the river and had one of my best outings in a long time.  The days where expectations are low seem to turn out the best, and this was one of those days.  I fished here and there before finally settling onto a nice riffle that spills over into a deep run.  It seemed that every rainbow in the river had moved up into the shallows to feed.  The routine was so simple that it almost was ridiculous.  Throw in my nymphs, watch the indicator dive, raise the rod, and voila, a trout was hooked.

Caney at sunset

Caney rainbow

On this and subsequent trips, the hot fly was a Ray Charles which does a good job of imitating the scuds and sow bugs present in the river.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with this fly, I highly recommend giving it a shot.  At certain times of the year it is particularly effective.  If you don't tie and need a source for this fly, contact Trevor Smart at  He charges $1.50 per fly and ties other patterns as well such as the South Holston staple, a Tungsten Bead Stripper Midge (#20-#22).

Trevor Smart Photograph 

 Trevor Smart Photograph

This past weekend's float was very similar.  Early on, I started out throwing streamers in the hopes of finding an aggressive monster brown.  All that wanted to play though were the rainbows.  Later, the nymph rod did the trick with the Ray Charles producing well most of the day and Copper Johns picking up the slack later on.  The fish all seemed to be quite healthy including one hot rainbow that came from a slot up against a log.  This fish shot out of the water in the first of several jumps as soon as it was hooked, truly one of the better aerial shows I've seen from a trout this whole year.

 David Perry working a nice run

I FINALLY saw a train on the tracks along the Caney on this particular trip.  Up until this float, I had NEVER seen a train anywhere around the Caney although I could only assume that the tracks weren't just there for nothing.  Best of all, we caught the train as it crossed the Smith Fork bridge, providing a photo opportunity that few get without either getting lucky or going to some effort.

Train over Smith Fork bridge 

Late in the day, we found three Bald Eagles that also gave me an opportunity to use my camera.  Someday I'll have a better zoom lens, but in the meantime I'm just glad to have seen these beautiful birds and documented the experience.  We also saw deer and even the river itself provided incredible opportunities for my camera.

Bald Eagles 

Fog makes the river almost eerie yet beautiful at the same time.

 Hopefully I'll be returning to fish the Caney in the next few days.  I also have a trip to the Smokies coming up in just over a week.  Check back for updates on those trips as well as some more reports from the last month or two...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


We haven't had a poll in quite a while here at the Trout Zone, but I finally fixed that.  The poll is simply asking what water type you do most of your trout fishing on.  I'm curious what type of fishing most of the readers here do.  I spend more time on freestone streams personally but not by too much.  I make it out to the tailwaters often as well.  You can only choose one option on this poll, so if you have a close second then leave a comment explaining that...


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