Guided Trips


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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fighting For Food

As fishermen, we dream of the ultimate fishing experience which is probably different for everyone.  Most likely each has a common denominator however.  Large numbers of quality fish is the stuff dreams are made of, and the best is when the fish are fighting over the opportunity to inhale your fly.  In the Grand Canyon, I was able to have such an experience. 

Our second full day in the bottom of the canyon found most of us in better shape and ready to venture further afield in search of the hidden wonders of our surroundings.  Myself and three others decided to make the hike up to Ribbon Falls.  I wanted to enjoy using my camera and of course wanted to explore Bright Angel Creek further in search of the beautiful trout that inhabit its waters. 

After a hearty breakfast, four of us began the hike up the canyon towards the falls.  As we hiked, I forced myself to keep moving past all the beautiful water.  Our goal was to reach the falls before the sun moved behind the canyon wall.  Ribbon Falls is beautiful regardless of your perspective, but I wanted pictures with the sun on the water.  This meant that I had to skip every spot where I saw nice trout hanging suspended in the clear water of Bright Angel Creek. 

The fast hike was worth it in the end as was denying myself the time to stop and fish.  I would still have the whole afternoon ahead to fish my way back down the creek.  Ribbon Falls was beautiful with the sun creating a rainbow in the spray of the falls.  Just 45 minutes after arriving at the falls, the sun moved behind the canyon walls and the now shaded falls did not have the warm ambiance it had upon arrival.

Catherine McGrath Photograph

I climbed up behind the falls to enjoy the view through the spray, taking pictures at every step along the way.  After enjoying the scene, I moved a short distance back down the canyon to cook up some lunch.  The delicious spinach ziti gave me the energy to hike back to camp and do some fishing along the way.

Strolling back down the canyon, I started seeing spots I had promised myself I would fish on the way back down.  A large rock by the trail provided the perfect spot to sit down and change into sandals to wade the cold waters of the creek.  Rigging up my rod with a wooly bugger and pheasant tail, I moved down the steep slope to a deep run that just looked fishy.  As I moved slowly along the edge of the stream, I started seeing trout holding everywhere in the calmer water near current seams.  The crystal clear stream made finding trout the easy part of the equation.  I still had to make the cast and correctly present the fly though. 

My first cast was a little sloppy and not very accurate, it splashed just behind the trout I was targeting.  To my surprise, the fish turned and chased the flies downstream, turning as it took the pheasant tail.  I set the hook and was soon admiring a beautiful resident rainbow. 

Moving another step up, I repeated the process and caught another trout.  Thinking to myself that I might be experiencing the easiest catching I would ever enjoy, my next cast was made to the deepest part of the pool.  In awe, my eyes beheld dark shadows racing from every direction as the rainbows were nearly fighting for the opportunity to inhale my offerings. 

Small stream trout are absolutely a blast.  Bright Angel Creek is now high on my list of best small trout streams.  The overall quality of the experience makes a trip well worth the effort required.  The trout did not seem particularly spooky, probably because the flows were a little high due to the recent winter storm.  Fish that "spooked" would still often take a fly. 

Finally, after catching more than my share of fish, I headed back down the trail.  Just before Phantom Ranch, I made the turn onto the Clear Creek trail.  A short distance up, I settled down at an overlook of the river to watch the sunset.  Nothing could make the experience better except to have a few more nights scheduled at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Someday I will go back, but until then I have great memories of the best backpacking trip yet!


  1. Grand Canyon is an amazing place. I didn't fish either of the two times I've visited... but there's always next time.

  2. Great photos. Interesting coloring on the first two pictures. Maybe just the sun reflection, but the side stripe looks almost yellow instead of pink.


  3. Those are some beautiful shots and sounds like a great day of fishing as well. I've only fished out west once but it was an amazing experience

  4. Nice!

    Years ago,a friend introduced me to small stream fishing in the foothills and mountains of Fresno County, CA. There was one creek in particular we would go to. Where the road crossed the creek was where the State stocked the stream but we would hike up-stream through the brush,boulders,and rattlesnakes to fish the riffles and pools where most people didn't goand caught some beautiful Bows.



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