Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 8/13/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. Caney Fork floats are happening either early or late, and in the Smokies we are fishing the high elevations to beat the heat.

Terrestrials are now a strong producer no matter where you fish. Beetle fishing has been good this summer. There are still fish ready to slam a beetle or hopper. In the mountains I prefer a beetle or ant while on the tailwaters I lean towards a hopper or beetle although ants work well there also. Hike in fishing on the brook trout streams is still good right now although flows are low enough that you need to focus on stealth.

On the Caney Fork, the great sight fishing opportunities of summer are in full gear. Daily midge fishing to big trout is a possibility. Night times can produce some exciting fishing on streamers or even mouse patterns. Just be careful out there when its dark. The river is unforgiving even in the daylight.

Smallmouth bass fishing has been good to great. Fish are looking up as usual for this time of year. When they don't want to hit flies on top, crawdad or baitfish patterns will work.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tailwater Diversity

One benefit of the Tennessee tailwaters is that they normally contain more than just trout and char species.  In fact, many Tennessee tailwaters are not trout streams but that is not my point.  On any given day, you can fish a river in Tennessee and have a good shot at catching rainbow, brown, and brook trout, as well chances at smallmouth, largemouth, bluegill and other sunfish, carp, walleye, stripers, white bass, hybrids, yellow bass, musky.....I hope you begin to see my point.  There are many possibilities when it comes to fishing here in Tennessee.  On a recent float with David Perry, we came across a lot of nice fish that included but was not limited to trout.
 

A recent stocking of small brown trout got us in the game early.  The fish were already aggressive and willing to chase flies nearly as large as themselves.  Our main goal was to catch larger fish though.  As the weather warms, we are thinking more and more of carp.  Sure enough, as we drifted down the river we started to find them stacked up in the pools with little or no current.  With a long float ahead, we didn't play with them for long.  Next time we'll hook one though... 

The white bass were another story.  We found them stacked up in similar water as the carp, just a little closer to the current.  White bass are nice when the fishing is slow, but can get frustrating when they are running because they are almost too easy to catch.
 


Later, we got onto some more trout.  Both of us caught some nice rainbows and we started noticing a little hatch coming off.  Light colored bugs were flying around.  It appeared that both Light Cahill's and Sulphurs were hatching and the fish were pretty excited.
 


Photograph by David Perry

We are early enough in the hatch that nymphs will still produce more strikes than the dries will.  After David P. had caught more than his share of rainbows, I moved to the front of the boat.  Not far down the river, I cast to a favorite log.  Sure enough, the indicator dove under.  I lifted the rod tip expecting another 14" rainbow.  A swirl of golden brown on the other end hinted at my favorite, an elusive brown trout.  As I fought the fish, I thought it was about 14".  However, as the fight continued, that estimate kept going up.  When we landed the fish, it was definitely larger than 14"!  After the necessary pictures, the beautiful male swam away, hopefully to grow a few more inches before I catch him again.
 
Photograph by David Perry 

Photograph by David Perry 

Photograph by David Perry

As I turned to look around me and enjoy the moment, the sun broke through the clouds and lit up my surroundings with that rich evening light.  Out came the camera.  The bugs were still hatching and I took pictures of them as well.
 



Catching big fish usually lands the angler at the rower's bench.  I climbed into the boat and started guiding David P. down the river again.  The bluegill got active and we added another species to the list for the day. 


The sun was casting its rays across the sky, and I let the boat slowly spin in circles as I clicked away with the camera.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Smokies Getaway

Last week some friends, my sister, and I all headed for the Smokies for a couple of nights camping in Cades Cove.  The main goal was some rest and relaxation from our hectic schedules, but of course I hoped for at least a little time on the water. 

Light showers were scattered across the mountains and adjacent areas when I drove through Maryville.  The light rain let up as we approached Cades Cove and we quickly chose a site and set up the tent in case it rained again later.  That task accomplished, we headed out on our first of several trips around the Cove.  In fact, we were in for a real treat.

Most of the time, I avoid Cades Cove like the plague.  While it is probably my favorite place in the Park just to visit and relax, I can't stand the number of tourists that normally crowd the roads around the and throughout the Cove.  The evening of our arrival was perfect.  Since it was during the week, most weekend crowds had not arrived yet.  The inclement weather kept most locals away as well.  That's just fine by me because the wildlife was awesome! 

The first evening featured good numbers of wild turkeys with many gobblers strutting around trying to impress the hens.  Deer were out in profusion as well.  The only thing that eluded us was a black bear.  Rumors swirled that plenty of sightings had been taking place but apparently we just did not happen to drive through at the right moment.  We even saw several Pileated Woodpeckers.





After a delicious pasta dinner we all went to sleep, excited about finding more wildlife the next day.  Waking up the next morning, we took time to make pancakes before planning the day's activities.  First on our list was to check out the Cove again in an effort to see a bear. 

Upon entering the one-way road, we found turkeys again.  The deer were a little more scarce though.  Because of our lazy morning, it was approaching noon and most wildlife was probably catching a midday nap.  In fact, we found several nice bucks (minus their antlers) bedded down not far from the road.  In another location we found a group of bucks feeding in the shade of the woods along Abrams Creek. 




On sudden inspiration, we decided to take Rich Mountain Road out to Townsend to pick up a couple of grocery items forgotten in our initial shopping.  This one-way road winds steadily out of the cove and is a great drive in the fall when the colors are at their peak.  Spring turned out to be a beautiful time to drive it as well although the trip was relatively uneventful. 

After the stop in Townsend, we decided to head up the gravel road at Tremont to explore and photograph the Cascades on Lynn Camp Prong.  The stream was beautiful although I found the cascades to be challenging to photograph with the sun casting contrasting shadows on the scene.  The area immediately upstream provided some nice photo opportunities though.


The spring flowers were a highlight of the trip to Tremont.  Another treat was seeing all the butterflies although it can be a little disturbing to see what they like to gather on.



 
After our adventure over on Middle Prong and Lynn Camp, we headed back to Cades Cove.  Along the way, a bear was finally spotted shortly before we actually arrived in the cove.  We took a few pictures but the lack of a tripod meant the pictures were all at least a little fuzzy.


A short rest at camp provided me the opportunity to sneak over to Anthony Creek and catch a couple of small rainbows.  As the sun sank lower in the west, we headed out for yet another adventure around the Cove.  This would be the best yet as we saw another 3 bears as well as more turkeys than ever and the usual deer.  The afternoon light was filling the Cove and I had my camera out even more than normal trying to capture the changing moods of the mountains.






Our last day in the mountains started out with an epic breakfast that included one of my favorites, breakfast burritoes!!!  After that we packed everything and decided to make one last drive around Cades Cove. 

We experienced several treats that included iris blooming near an old home site, and a still quiet pond in the woods, but the trip took an interesting turn as we returned to our car from the pond. 




As we climbed the gentle slope back to the car, a highway patrol SUV came into view.  We stood there staring as car after car then rolled by, all TN highway patrol.  Finally, what seemed like an eternity later, the last car was followed by an SUV and we got in our own car wondering what was going on.  I'm still not really positive, but I think they just went on a big joy ride together.  We drove out of the Cove immediately behind them and I was impressed with how fast they made the trip back to the Wye!


Leaving the Cove behind us, we headed towards Sugarlands and then the West Prong of the Little Pigeon.  I wanted to see how the pocket water of that particular stream was fishing in the name of science and research of course.  We drove up to the Chimneys Picnic area where I spent some time prospecting with a dry before finally biting the bullet and tying on a Tellico.  A few rainbows quickly ate the tantalizing offering and I started seeing fish sitting very deep in the water column.  A strong breeze was keeping the gorge quite cool.  I did find some cool bugs flying around though!






Another stop lower on the West Prong produced no additional fish but did provide some good material for my camera.



The last treat of the day was photographing a flame azalea along Little River Road.  It appeared to already be in decline with most flowers drooping.  A few were still looking decent though and we appreciated the opportunity to take some pictures.
 

Until my next trip I'll be looking forward to the opportunity to return to the mountains.  The high price of gas will keep me closer to home this summer.  This has benefits as well as drawbacks.  I'll be glad to learn more about my local streams but will miss the opportunity to fish for trout in the mountains and other great locations.  In the meantime, I'll still make occasional trips to the Park and perhaps some tailwaters as well...





Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creek to Ocean: The Everglades Saga Continues

Paddling in the Everglades can be a challenging task, especially when it comes to navigation.  A good nautical chart is definitely a requirement, but sometimes a little luck helps too.  After spending two nights at Lostman's Five, we intended to paddle almost back to Darwin's Place before cutting off past Gopher Key to Charley Creek and out to the Gulf.  We received an ominous comment from one of the NPS rangers at Everglades City when I asked about the Charley Creek route. Her response, "Some make it, some don't," was definitely not the encouragement we needed and nowhere near the beta I hoped to gather about the route. 
Over the first four days of the trip, doubt grew in my mind about the route.  Big wind was forecast for the area meaning the Gulf would be choppy and possibly even dangerous.  Perhaps we shouldn't even head for the ocean.  After a group consultation, the decision was made to go ahead with the original plan.


Tuesday morning began early as we wanted a head start on the wind.  Packing up camp and eating took a little time, but soon we were paddling back north towards the turnoff west towards our campsite for the night, New Turkey Key.  The wind started to build and by the time we emerged into Cannon Bay from Tarpon Bay, the waves were big enough to capsize our canoes if we let our guard down for an instant.  Strong east winds drove us west where we entered Gopher Key Creek and immediately things calmed down.



A strong tidal current was pulling us towards the sea and warned us that we must not waste time.  The Gopher Key to Charlie Creek Route is notorious for shallow mudflats that can strand paddlers who don't make it through during high tide.  As we paddled peacefully along, we began to see birds everywhere.  This area is quite remote and perfect for bird watching.




The potential for trouble began to manifest itself as we paddled deeper and deeper into Gopher Key Bay.  The bottom was often only 8 or so inches down and obviously composed of thick mud.  Some areas grew shallow enough that we moved by pushing along with the canoe paddles.  With a good distance still left before reaching the ocean our concern mounted.

The route leads past several small unnamed bays as well as Rookery Bay before things get dicey.  Small islands and shallows surround you as you continue generally southwest and Pelican Bay starts to appear on the horizon.  At this point, we held a consultation.  This route is NOT on the nautical charts and we were following directions given in my book on paddling the Everglades.  Our heads told us that we had missed something but gut instinct pulled us on.  Finally, the lead canoe entered a small opening with some current and soon our worries turned to relief.  Winding back and forth and obviously a creek, the route continued on into deep mangrove forest.

 
Small crabs often appeared on the nearby trees.  Obstacles in the water presented some interesting moments as we had to get the canoes around, over, and under downed trees and similar hazards.


Eventually the creek began to widen and we knew that we would at least make it to the Gulf of Mexico.  With the tide now heading rapidly out, we had only a little time left to get across the shallows before the water was gone.  Once again pushing along the bottom with our paddles, we headed straight out to sea with the wind helping from behind.

After a long and tiring adventure, New Turkey Key was close and we were soon running in circles around our island home for the night.  The tide was now getting quite low and expansive tidal flats were exposed on the seaward side of the island.  Cameras were pulled out of dry bags and we wandered around taking pictures of shells, starfish, birds, and just the great scenery.




 

A northwestern extension of New Turkey Key had a large Osprey nest on it and we spent quite a bit of time taking pictures of the parents as they circled the area.



 
As the sun sank lower, new picture ideas gave way to experimenting with the late day light and silhouettes.  Finally, with the sun almost to vanish, I got some pelican shots I had been hoping for.









Back at camp, we made sure to secure everything carefully as a precaution against the raccoons. These critters come out under the cover of darkness searching for something to eat as well as fresh water.  We heard quite a few rustlings nearby but none were bold enough to come right up to us thankfully.  Since everyone was exhausted, it wasn't long before we all fell asleep knowing we would need as much energy as possible for the challenging paddle the next morning. 

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