Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

Fishing is excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park now. We have had a couple of shots of rain the last week and a half which has helped keep the streams flowing strong for this time of year. The cool overnight temperatures will get the brown and brook trout seriously thinking about spawning. Please be careful this time of year and avoid walking on fine sand and gravel in riffles and tailouts. Leave the spawning trout alone so they can do their thing. When you find brook or brown trout that aren't spawning, they are aggressive and looking to feed. Recent guide trips on brook trout waters have been anywhere from good to excellent. Streams with rainbows and browns have been excellent as well. There are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Park right now!

A variety of bugs have been hatching lately. On cloudy days, Blue-winged Olives have hatched along with some other small mayflies. Various caddis, including the Great Autumn Brown Sedges (often referred to as October Caddis by locals) are hatching and provide a nice bite for the trout. Little Black stoneflies are hatching as well. Fish are eating both dry fly and nymph imitations and even still hitting some terrestrials. Don't forget your beetle, ant, and inchworm fly box. A Parachute Adams or Yellow or Orange Stimulator should work well for a dry fly. Smaller bead head Pheasant Tail nymphs should work as a dropper. Caddis pupa are also catching a lot of fish as are stonefly nymphs.

On the Caney Fork, things have been tough lately. The river has been running warmer than is normal this time of year because of heavy generation earlier this year and also with a stain due to the sluice gate operations. Work has been underway to install vented turbines on the generators and they have been working to try and tweak them to improve dissolved oxygen. One day, we were floating and they were checking the DO and found it at 1.5 ppm. If I remember correctly, the minimum target is 6 ppm. Obviously 1.5 is way too low. Trout were sitting along the banks and in back eddies gasping for oxygen. Hopefully all of this won't have too much of a long term effect on the fishery, but needless to say, things are a bit difficult as of right now. Cooler weather should help. Once the lake turns over, oxygen and clarity will improve quickly.

The Clinch River has been fishing well if you can hit it on low water days. Small nymphs and midges will get the job done here.

Smallmouth bass are about done for the year, but we will be back out on the musky streams again soon looking for the toothy critters. This is tough fishing, but the rewards can be sizable.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

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. 

1 comment:

  1. What a fun adventure. Never a dull moment in the Glades.

    Mark

    ReplyDelete

Newsletter

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required