Recently, while cruising through the Big Thompson River canyon, we spotted a bunch of Bighorn Sheep. That in itself was not particularly unusual or shocking, but the cool part of the trip was seeing a group of 3 mature rams hanging out on and around the highway. These bad boys were sporting some serious head gear, and I would hate to be on the receiving end of a headbutt from one of these critters.
Of course, it didn't take long for me to begin pondering the implications for fishermen. After all, one of the most important pieces of equipment that we have is our favorite lucky fishing hat. Not only does it have all that good fish-catching mojo stored away, but it also shades and protects our eyes so they can spot fish. But imagine this now: What if fly shops started selling head gear that very closely resembled something a viking sailing the north Atlantic would feel comfortable wearing. Imagine how intimidated the trout will be when they see that coming down the stream at them. They will probably just role over and wave the surrender fin...
I think I'm onto something here, but it will probably take me a while to discover how to come up with some Bighorn Sheep horns legally and more important cheaply. In the meantime, here's an old one but a good one of what I might look like with quality elk head gear...
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/21/2016
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.
A NOTE ON SPAWNING TROUT
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.