Guided Trips


Current fishing conditions in the mountains have been tough although rain overnight has bumped up the levels on Park streams, especially on the Tennessee side. Be careful as lots of leaves are going to be coming down now with brisk northwest winds behind the cold front. That can make fishing challenging. If you do fish, I would suggest fishing dry/dropper with a #14 Orange Stimulator or Orange Elk Hair Caddis up top and a bead head Green Weenie, Isonychia Nymph, or Blue-winged Olive Nymph (#18-#20 bead head Pheasant Tail will suffice here) underneath. Focus on stealth and accurate casts.

If you are flexible in where you fish, I recommend heading for your favorite tailwater to trout fish. Most tailwaters are offering good flows for wade fishermen right now and the fish are hungry. The Hiwassee River has been recently stocked for the delayed harvest and the Caney Fork continues to fish very well on our guide trips. The Watauga, South Holston, and Clinch Rivers should be great as well.

If musky are on your mind like they are for me, then be patient and hope for more rain. The musky streams and rivers are very low right now and we need some water before safely navigating those streams in the larger boats that are preferred.

This is the time of year that brown and brook trout as well as some strains of rainbow trout spawn. On rivers like the Caney Fork, many anglers choose to target these spawning trout. This is unfortunate, especially this year. There are plenty of pre- and post-spawn trout to target if you want to catch big fish. With low water the norm, the Caney Fork actually has a chance at producing some natural recruitment this year barring any unforeseen high water. The same thing applies in the Smokies. Spawning brown and brook trout are extra vulnerable because of the low water and should be allowed to do their thing in peace. The future of these fisheries depends upon conscientious anglers doing the right thing. If you must fish to spawning trout, please use very heavy tippets and quickly land and release all fish caught. If you want to learn how to be successful this time of year without chasing active spawners, please consider booking a guided trip, and I would be glad to teach you how to hunt these large fish.

Photo of the Month: The Colors of a Rainbow

Photo of the Month: The Colors of a Rainbow

Friday, February 24, 2012


Go fishing now!!!  The first early spring hatches continue to happen pretty much daily over in the Smokies.  Some nice fish have been caught on dry flies for the fishermen willing to work hard and find those wary browns. 

Currently, bugs are hatching from near Townsend to up past Elkmont, but on the warmest days, the hatches are actually coming off pretty early.  Larger fish will be easiest to catch on those days that keep all but the diehards off the water.  Right now, the crowds are heavy on good days meaning you may be fishing used water.  Thankfully, during hatches at least, you can still catch fish even on "used" water.  This is the best time to fish if you are a relative Smokies novice as fly selection can be as simple as tying on a Parachute Adams.  However, closer inspection will often reveal the fish to be taking Blue Quills or Black Caddis in various stages. 

On a recent trip, I found a good hatch early in the day that dwindled to just a few stray bugs by early afternoon.  During the hatch, the dry fly action was fast and furious.  Before moving to another spot, I found a nice brown rising and got it to nail the dry.  The first cast produced one of the most stressful refusals I have ever had as the fish rocketed out of nowhere just beneath the fly only to vanish just as quickly.  The second cast must have been a better drift and a beautiful brown was soon posing for a quick photo.


The rainbows are fatter than I ever remember seeing a Smokies trout.  The high water that has kept the tailwaters off limits to wade fishermen has done wonders for the fish in the Park.  The warm winter probably helped as well.  Anyway, I expect the next few months to produce some of the best fishing in the Smokies in the last 10 years.  As soon as the tailwaters become fishable we should see similar epic fishing on them as well.  Get ready for a great fishing year!!!


  1. Oh David you are making me very wistful. We have to wait until our close season finishes. All Fools' Day is 33 days away but I have it all planned, it will be great. How could it be otherwise?

    Your photo at the bottom reminds me of the upper reaches of the river I fish most days in the season - the Derbyshire Wye.

    Regular Rod

  2. Regular Rod, everytime someone tells me about living in a place with closed seasons it makes me glad that I don't have to worry about such things. Is your closed season mostly tradition that is now law or is it also just too cold?

  3. David,

    Beautiful photos and great report. Looks like fun to be fooling those fish with dries. Looking forward to your spring break trip report too.


  4. Hi David!

    Really beautiful photos! Unfortunately I'm still waiting for the ice to melt a little more on the rivers and brooks to be able to go fly fishing. That comes with living in a place that can have nasty winters. Your photos and the stories of nice fly fishing makes it itch in my right arm longing for the opportunity to cast a fly or two.

    Have fun fly fishing and thanks for sharing the joy you experience,
    Mats Olsson



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