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

Monday, September 19, 2011

TWRA Changes Proposed

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has unveiled its proposal for regulation changes for the upcoming year.  The proposed regulation changes and/or additions seem reasonable, and I can support them.  Over the past 2-3 years TWRA has made tremendous strides in implementing regulations that enhance fisheries across the state and the new changes look to continue that trend.

However, TWRA has a proposed guide license on the table which appears to be completely ridiculous.  It unfairly targets trout guides, the largest number of which are fly fishing guides.  The proposal "was made to consider a fishing guide license only for the following waters: the rivers immediately below Wilbur, Watauga, South Holston, Cherokee, Norris, Appalachian, Tim’s Ford, Center Hill, Dale Hollow, and Normandy dams."  If you fish in the great state of Tennessee, you know that the above listed waters are all of the state's trout tailwaters. 

The justification from TWRA for the proposal is "that a guide license is needed to assist in expenses at TWRA’s state fish hatcheries due to the likely reductions in trout production at federal fish hatcheries in Tennessee, Dale Hollow and Erwin National Fish Hatcheries."  I can understand that people should pay to utilize a resource, but TWRA stocks many other fish species than just trout.  Maybe they already have funding for those hatcheries, but the burden should not be limited to just fishing guides.  Any walleye guides, striper guides, musky guides, etc., should also help shoulder the burden because TWRA stocks those fish as well.  In the end, if a guide license must be introduced, I think all guides should have to purchase a guide license. 

The following is the email I sent to TWRA:

I am writing concerning the proposed fishing guide license. While I don't have a problem really with the concept of a guide license, I do have a problem with TWRA finding just another way to charge their "customers." The main proponents of a guide license do have a good point that a lot of out of state guides are making lots of money off of our state's resources. If that is the real problem, then charge the out of state guides to utilize our resources and in the process, advance local Tennessee business interests which is always a win-win situation.

If the issue really is one of finding funding for the hatcheries, then this is one of the most ridiculous proposals I have seen in a long time. Why is it that you only want to target trout guides? If you implement a guide license, you should require one for ALL fishing guides across the board, regardless of what species they primarily target. I know that TWRA stocks species other than trout, yet there is no mention of a tax on striper guides or musky guides, or any other guides. This is very pointedly directed at trout guides and should never get anywhere close to being implemented.

Additionally, if you really want to make the right people pay for the trout being dumped in our streams, charge an "urban" fishing license fee to cover all the trout that are dumped in various bodies of water throughout the winter to provide "trout fishing" to people who normally do not go to the effort of seeking out these beautiful fish in more natural environments. Every single fish that is stocked in the winter stocking program is doomed to death, either by high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen during the summer or in the frying pans of those who like to catch and keep their fish.

Also you should consider charging catch and keep fisherman a higher license fee (trout stamp, striper stamp, musky stamp, etc...) than all the catch and release anglers. Sure there is some mortality of fish with the catch and release anglers but not nearly as much as if they are killing everything they caught. If I and some of the other excellent anglers I know kept all the big fish we caught on rivers like the Caney Fork, Clinch, and South Holston, then the population of larger fish would soon be decimated.

For full disclosure, I am NOT a guide nor am I associated with any fishing or tackle shops. I do fish with guides on occasion and would hate to see yet another tax burden on them as they try to maintain their livelihood.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my opinions.

If you are interested in contributing your opinions to the decision making process, please contact TWRA at  Please include "Sport Fish Comments" or "Guide License Comments" in the email subject line.  I would encourage everyone to send your comments to TWRA as they are fairly good at listening to public opinion/input. 


  1. David,

    That was my major complaint as well. It seems as if they are targeting only trout fishing guides. I agree that if they are going to charge one type of guide, they should charge them all. I would almost guarantee that the bass guides working Dale Hollow and Kentucky Lake are raking in the money. Not to mention all the striper guides all across the state...

  2. Your point is well stated, but do the Federal (USFWS) hatcheries have anything to do with walleye, stripers, musky, bass, etc.? If they don't then I can understand fully why trout guides are specifically targeted.
    I have to agree, they're should be a C&R license at a lesser fee than a harvest license. That's something that I think is long overdue.

  3. Jay,

    To my knowledge most of the hatcheries in question do not produce anything other than trout although not sure about the musky. My point is that if TWRA is losing federal dollars from part of their budget, then they should redistribute their budget evenly across all fisheries and let all users of the state's resources pick up the rest of the tab.

    David Knapp



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