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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stalking Risers

Spring in the Smokies is for rising trout.  Usually this means lots of 4"-10" rainbows with a few browns thrown in the mix.  Yesterday I had some business in Knoxville so as soon as I finished, the Park started calling my name.  The sunny skies and warmer temperatures had me dreaming of big hatches and even larger trout.  Large browns do not rise freely to insects very often, especially in the freestone streams of east Tennessee, but if you are going to catch one on a dry then spring is the time to do it. 

When I first arrived at the stream, there were good numbers of Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, and even some Hendricksons mixed in as well as a huge midge hatch.  Several fish were rising, but I was after larger game.  I spent a lot of the afternoon simply looking for large browns.  Some time was spent simply covering water with a dry or double nymph rig and I scored a few decent fish this way as well.  Several very nice fish were out feeding, but it wasn't until late in the day that I struck gold.

I was creeping along the bank of a nice pool when I noticed a dark shadow float to the surface to take an insect.  It was so unexpected that I almost ignored it, but thankfully my fisherman's instinct kicked in and I froze.  Thankfully the fish hadn't seen me, and I watched from behind the cover of a large tree trunk as the fish moved back and forth in the lazy current, rising occasionally to pluck something from the surface.  I checked the rest of the pool to make sure I wasn't missing something larger before returning to sit on the bank and observe the nice fish.  The brown was still there and another slightly smaller fish had moved in behind to feed as well. 

After considering my options and observing the fish, I carefully tied on a dry and crept down the bank to within 15 feet of the fish.  Stripping several feet of line off the reel, I carefully made two false casts and then dropped the fly gently above the fish.  For a second nothing happened.  Then the fish moved and began its ascent through the water column as my heart started pounding.  For an agonizing second (or was it an eternity?), the fish stared hard at the fly and then confidently inhaled my offering. 

As soon as I raised the rod tip, I knew I had a solid hook set and a good chance at landing the fish.  What I hadn't counted on was the fish going aerial.  My heart sunk as the fish repeatedly took to the air, but soon it grew tired, and I confidently raised its head prior to netting. After a couple of pictures, I cradled the fish gently in the current while it regained its energy before heading for a rock to hide under. 

At this point my day was perfect, and I couldn't ask for anything more.  I did spot another good fish, but finally decided to just head home and let the other fish in the stream feed in peace for that day.



  1. Anonymous7:06 PM

    What a great looking fish! When are going to come try some saltwater? Kevin Thomas

  2. Kevin,

    Man great to hear from you. I was wondering just last week what you are up to these days... Going to be in FL for awhile still?

    David Knapp

  3. Always good stories. Keeps the readers adrenaline flowing. Nice when you can work, then hit the creek.


  4. great fish. always fun to sneak up on them like that


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Wow that is a beauty of a Brown. That header picture is like a Utopia. I live in Wisconsin and I am always searching for nice holes. I would love to stumble onto that hole coming up around a bend. I will have to plan a trip to Tennessee sooner than later... Great Blog and the pics are awesome!
    Crouchin Low and Tight Lines!!!!!!!

  7. Anonymous8:07 PM

    Looks like I will be here a few years. I caught quite a few spanish on the fly last Saturday. Heading back out this weekend. I've got a flats boat and a couple 8wts. Come down sometime! Kevin Thomas



Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required