Even a couple of weeks worth of high water on my local tailwater can seem like an eternity. The last several weeks are starting to seem more like several years. The last time I was on the Caney was last November. Since then, the generation has been pretty consistent at over 10,000 cfs. That's a lot of water no matter which way you look at it. A few brave souls are still out in boats but most people have been trying other spots.
Now, Center Hill Lake is finally slipping below the magical 630 feet above sea level. Unfortunately, in the colder months this threshold has little meaning. Winter pool is much lower than that so while we might start to see TVA cut back on the generation a little, it is doubtful that there will be any wadeable windows any time soon. The active weather pattern looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future, so it is doubtful that the lake will drop very fast. In fact, don't be surprised if it spikes up again within the next week or two.
Thankfully, there are still fish that can be caught. In fact, when I stopped by the river to take a look a couple of weeks ago, there were fish rising in a very accessible spot. I doubt I'll be driving 45 minutes to fish a small section of bank, but I can take comfort in the fact that I could if I really wanted to.
The last few days have awakened the first stirring of spring fever somewhere inside. Visions of Blue Quills, Little Black Caddis, Quill Gordons, and of course rising trout, have been dancing around in my head in several spare moments. I find myself staring out the window. What I'm really seeing is not the dreary sky threatening more rain, but huge hatches with lots of rising trout. As inspiration grows, I'll be heading to the Smokies searching for fish willing to be force fed in the colder water now flowing. Some days will be phenomenal with lots of fish out feeding. Other days will be classic winter fishing with tight-lipped trout hugging the bottom, but thankfully those days will soon draw to a close as winter gives way to spring.
UPDATE: 9/12/2016 Smokies Fly Fishing Report -- Current Hatches: Isonychias (aka Slate Drake or Mahogany Dun), Mahogany Duns (Paraleptophlebia), Little Yellow Stoneflies, Golden Stoneflies, Tan and Cinnamon Caddis, inch worms, beetles, and ants. Some cooler weather has been helping conditions in the Smokies. Nighttime lows are falling enough to keep the lower elevations close to fishable. Probably give them another week though and then it will be game on. Fish are eating fairly well. Yesterday's Little River Outfitters Day 2 School was successful with all of my students catching fish even with the low water conditions.
Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report: Our floats continue to churn out some really nice trout. See some of the recent blog entries below for more on that. I have some availability if you are looking for a guided trip so contact me about a float or wade trip if you want to enjoy this fishing at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.
Clinch River Fishing Report: Flows are mostly up so heavy deep nymphing or streamer fishing will be the way to go during periods of generation. Look for fish eating terrestrials along the banks and especially in areas of soft water. On low water, think midges and long fine leaders. Dark seems to be the color although both dark and silver beads are working on the midges. I recommend strike indicators with hooks in them on low water. Last week I caught my best fish on a #14 Yellow Stimulator that was serving as my strike indicator.
Holston River: Give this river a break on the trout sections until next winter. Water temperatures on most of the trout water are elevated and fishing now will stress these beautiful fish.
Cumberland Plateau Fishing Report: Smallmouth bass fishing is good but the water is low. We have another week or two of warmer temperatures before the final turn towards cooler weather begins. Both topwater bugs and subsurface offerings are getting it done. Before we know it, the cooler weather of fall will have us chasing muskie again as well!