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

Monday, August 19, 2013

One, Two, Three, Set!!!

My favorite fishing trips are those I take with minimal expectations.  A box of dry flies, a 4 weight fly rod, and wet wading gear is the recipe for a perfect afternoon on the water.  If I catch a few small stream fish I'm happy.  Big fish are not the goal here although deep down I always hope to catch a bunch of fish.

A week or so ago I experienced one of those rare days where everything goes right.  My destination?  A small stream in Rocky Mountain National Park.  To be fair, around here it might be considered a medium sized stream.  Anyway, back to my fishing trip, I hit the road at the lazy hour of noon.  A stop at Taco Bell and Dairy Queen for burritos and blizzards provided the fuel I would need to navigate the steep pocket water reach I hoped to fish.

At the trailhead I was happy to find a parking spot on the first try.  Soon I was hauling my favorite 4 weight out of the trunk, an old Orvis Tight Loop Superfine.  I attached the Battenkill Original Reel I've had for the past 15 years and switched out to a fresh 7 1/2 foot 4x leader that I extended with some 5x tippet.  This rig has fished with me across the country from small streams in the Smokies to spring fed streams in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

A complex mixed hatch was going on.  Little Yellow Stoneflies, Caddis, PMDs (duns and spinners), midges, and other assorted flying critters were floating the breeze above the plunge pools and pocket water.  I'm all about keeping things simple and selected a Parachute Adams.  It didn't particularly look like anything I saw on the water, but with opportunistic fish I figured that wouldn't matter.

Walking up the trail, I wondered if the tiny tributary stream flowing under the bridge just ahead held any fish.  Glancing upstream into the 5 inch deep "run" above, I saw a shadow finning in the current.  My casts were sloppy as I tried to sling the fly under the overhanging brush.



My backcast snagged, and I spent the next few minutes untangling things.  Finally, 5 or 6 casts into the experience, I got the fly somewhat close to the fish.  It turned and ate the fly without hesitation.  A brook trout to get things going!


Moving on to the main destination stream, I started casting.  The first cast was blind, but then I spotted a trout holding.  My second cast was too far right, but the third was right on.  One fish every 5 or so casts?  I'll take it.  Moving on up the stream and away from the obvious access point, I started catching nice brook trout.  Even though the spawn is still a month or two away at least, the fish are already starting to show their fall colors.




Best of all, each fish was eating the dry fly with abandon.  Brook trout are sneaky and their rises can be much more subtle than a rainbow would be in similar water.  Usually, when I saw the fly disappear, I would set the hook.  More often than not a trout would be on the other end of my line.  In fact, the trip reached "epic" status when I cast upstream to a boulder just above.  The fly drifted out of sight and I counted one, two, three to myself and then set the hook.  Sure enough, there was a brook trout dancing on the short line.


The stream alternated between steep pocket water and wider sections with nice runs and pools.  Fish were everywhere.  



I knew something was up when I started catching dinks.  It took probably 30 feet of stream to be sure, but I figured I was fishing behind someone.  Small fish were still coming to hand but the big chunky 8-10 inch brookies seemed to have evaporated.  The hour was getting late so I headed back down the trail.

When I passed a couple of pools that were huge for this stream, I had to stop.  Maybe, just maybe....

It wasn't until I threw all the way across alongside the undercut rock ledge before my fly vanished.  When I set the hook I was excited.  The potential large wild brook trout morphed into a brown and my smile grew even wider.  Variety keeps things interesting.  



Wouldn't it be crazy if I caught a cutthroat?  The slam was now within reach, but I was well below where cutts start to show up regularly.  The thought kept nagging though so when I spotted the nice "brookie" while standing on a rock I should have known better.  When I set the hook it didn't take long to figure out that this fish was not a brookie.  Cutthroat just don't normally seem to fight as hard, at least in my experience.  Thrilled to catch such a beauty, I snapped two quick pictures.  



A parting stream shot was in order.  The tourists had mostly left for the day so the rocks were barren and wild, just the way they should be.  


27 comments:

  1. Outstanding.
    Beautiful brook trout.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! This stream has some of the prettiest brook trout I've caught anywhere...

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  2. Replies
    1. Juan, we need to fish again sometime!

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  3. Great fish and pics. I love cutthroat but you're right about the fights.

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    Replies
    1. Kevin, cutts are the strangest fish. I've had very few that really fought...

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  4. Nice sized fish for such a small stream. Just the scenery was worth it.

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    Replies
    1. Mark, I continue to be amazed at the average size this stream puts out.

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  5. David
    I really liked this post, not only for the beauty of the area and of course the trout, but also for the detailed description of the outing. Thanks for sharing

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Bill!!! Glad you enjoyed reading. Sometimes I wonder if I'm wasting my time and perhaps everyone just looks at the pictures. Its good to know someone is reading what I'm writing.

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  6. Well done! This is one of my favorite entries.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Lungs! Glad you enjoyed it.

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  7. brilliant and gorgeous fish, thanks for taking us on the journey!
    Tight Lines,
    Koz
    True North Trout

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the trip with me!

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  8. It feels all that much better when you recognize the water and can call the fish by their first names. Great post David.

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    Replies
    1. Howard, I just wish I lived a little closer so I could fish here more often such as in the evening after work...

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  9. Great job on the slam! It is always amazing when days like that come together, and I must agree with the above sentiments: that brookie was gorgeous!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I never ceased to be amazed at how beautiful those fish are!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. David, I am new to your blog. I linked through from Juan's blog. The stories makes the post, nice job. "If history was told through stories it would never be forgotten." One question though. You mentioned the Slam...where's the rainbow? Did I miss it?

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    4. Lencho, you did not miss it. I personally (probably should have clarified) have never actually seen a rainbow in the N. St. Vrain at Wild Basin and thus meant slam (three species I know exist there) as opposed to the gram slam which I consider a minimum of 4 species. Maybe I should have called it a hat trick... :)

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    5. I might add, "Welcome" and thanks for stopping by.

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  10. David,

    You are the Master!!. Spectacular pics and trips. I envy you back here in Tn.. I am ready to pack up and track you down. No kidding.

    Kelly Galloup is doing a streamer Class this fall and thinking about bagging that to come towards you.

    Keep representing the South in a way only the Dr. can.

    Watching you from afar,

    Breck

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    Replies
    1. Breck, you are welcome anytime you can make it out here! The streamer class would be incredible if you get the opportunity. Kelly is a great guy and really knows his stuff.

      If you make it to Colorado at any time give me a holler and let's go fish!

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