Every year for the past 3 years or so, east Tennessee has had a cold first week of March. I was always glad to be heading out-of-state to places like the Everglades and the Grand Canyon for spring break. Also, each year had a warm second week of March. Since spring break out here in Colorado fell on the second full week of March, I was hoping to hit the weather right in Tennessee. So far it looks like everything is working out!
With snow and cold temperatures in Tennessee right now, I'm glad that I'm not walking the banks of Little River looking for a hatch that may never start. The long range forecast calls for moderating temperatures. That means that while the bugs haven't exploded yet, they might be trickling off in fishable numbers upon my arrival.
I've been patiently waiting for spring break but my patience is quickly wearing thin now. With only a week to go, I'm now tying flies during every available moment. Last night it was #18 Parachute Adams to match the Blue Quills. Today it will be more of the same as well as larger #12 and #14 flies for the Quill Gordons. I've stocked up on my Copper and Partridge Soft Hackle as well to match the caddis that will also be around. I tied plenty of Tellicos and other stonefly patterns weeks ago and am fairly confident with my supply there. Still, there is rarely a fishing trip that I feel completely prepared for. If all else fails I'll be stopping by to see my friends at Little River Outfitters and picking up a few extra flies if I run low.
Lately I've been paying special attention to Ian and Charity Rutter's fishing report as well as Josh Pheiffer's. Both are excellent area guides that frequent both the mountain streams as well as the tailwaters. The most recent reports indicate that bugs are hatching sporadically but in general the big hatches have yet to happen. I guess I don't have a lot of options and will have to try and stay patient for another week. Going home will be a nice treat for spring break!!!
UPDATE: 9/12/2016 Smokies Fly Fishing Report -- Current Hatches: Isonychias (aka Slate Drake or Mahogany Dun), Mahogany Duns (Paraleptophlebia), Little Yellow Stoneflies, Golden Stoneflies, Tan and Cinnamon Caddis, inch worms, beetles, and ants. Some cooler weather has been helping conditions in the Smokies. Nighttime lows are falling enough to keep the lower elevations close to fishable. Probably give them another week though and then it will be game on. Fish are eating fairly well. Yesterday's Little River Outfitters Day 2 School was successful with all of my students catching fish even with the low water conditions.
Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report: Our floats continue to churn out some really nice trout. See some of the recent blog entries below for more on that. I have some availability if you are looking for a guided trip so contact me about a float or wade trip if you want to enjoy this fishing at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.
Clinch River Fishing Report: Flows are mostly up so heavy deep nymphing or streamer fishing will be the way to go during periods of generation. Look for fish eating terrestrials along the banks and especially in areas of soft water. On low water, think midges and long fine leaders. Dark seems to be the color although both dark and silver beads are working on the midges. I recommend strike indicators with hooks in them on low water. Last week I caught my best fish on a #14 Yellow Stimulator that was serving as my strike indicator.
Holston River: Give this river a break on the trout sections until next winter. Water temperatures on most of the trout water are elevated and fishing now will stress these beautiful fish.
Cumberland Plateau Fishing Report: Smallmouth bass fishing is good but the water is low. We have another week or two of warmer temperatures before the final turn towards cooler weather begins. Both topwater bugs and subsurface offerings are getting it done. Before we know it, the cooler weather of fall will have us chasing muskie again as well!