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.
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 3/23/2017
The fishing has been great lately! This spring has been phenomenal in the Smokies. Long hatches have produced dry fly fishing lasting for hours every day. The Caney Fork has been producing some great fish on high water.
In the Great Smoky Mountains, the spring fishing has started early this year. Quill Gordon (#12-#14) and Blue Quill (#16-#18) mayflies are starting to transition into Hendricksons (#12-#14). On foul weather days, the Blue-winged Olives (#18-#22) have literally poured off of the river. The recent cooler weather actually enhanced the dry fly fishing. The bugs have been having a harder time getting off of the water, so despite the cool water temperature, fish have been rising lazily through an extended afternoon hatch. Little Black Caddis (#18-#20) have been hatching well along with some Early Brown Stoneflies (#12).
On the tailwaters, the fishing has been decent to good. The Clinch is fishing well along with the Holston. The Caney Fork continues to be my river of choice, however. Streamer trips continue to produce and we are doing some high water nymphing as well. This is as good a time as any to have a shot at large rainbow and brown trout on this tailwater!
I still have some open dates for guided trips in April and May, but the calendar is filling fast. I've been turning away trips because people wait too long to book. Don't make that mistake!