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

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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