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

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Low and Slow

Those two words sum up my Caney Fork experience late this afternoon.  Rumors of minimal numbers of fish in the river needed to be tested, and I found it to be true, sorta.  The river still has fish in it, but overall I would say that the fishing was as slow as I've ever experienced there.  The water was unbelievably low.  I have no idea why the Corps is not at least running a 200 CFS sluice but something clearly needs to be done. 

Information from reliable sources suggests that trout stocking has not really been taking place much over the winter months because of poor water quality.  The water seemed unusually warm to me for this early in the year, and I can only hope there is enough cool water in the lake as we head into the warm months to support trout through until next winter.  At least some big fish have survived but the larger rainbows in particular seem to have taken a hit.

The good news is that the fish will still eat.  Good midge hatches are happening on the upper river.  You will notice right away that the birds are working above the water for their food.  The other thing you will notice is the distinct lack of rising fish.  If you go, focus on the deeper water and on the shoals where faster water funnels into the deeper runs.  Midges and sow bugs will catch some fish...

If you really want to fish, there are still fish to be caught but until the flows improve, expect to work hard for every fish.  The low clear water produces some very spooky trout.  The fish you do catch will all be healthy looking fish with their fins intact, at least until the stocking truck shows up.  Don't expect big numbers of fish, but at least you're out on the water.



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