Guided Trips


Fishing continues to be good to excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. Delayed harvest streams are also being stocked and fishing well in east Tennessee and western North Carolina.

In the Smokies, fall bugs are in full swing. We have been seeing blue-winged olives almost daily although they will hatch best on foul weather days. They are small, typically running anywhere from #20-#24 although a few larger ones have also shown up. A few Yellow Quills are still hanging on in the mid to high elevation brook trout water although not for long. October caddis (more properly, great autumn sedges) are hatching in good numbers now on the North Carolina side of the Park and just starting on the Tennessee side. Terrestrials still have a place in your fly box as well although they are definitely winding down for the year. Isonychia nymphs, caddis pupa, and BWO nymphs will get it done for your subsurface fishing. Have some October Caddis (#12) and parachute BWO patterns (#18-#22) for dry flies and you should be set. Brook trout are still eating smaller yellow dry flies as well. Not interested in matching the hatch? Then fish a Pheasant Tail nymph under a #14 Parachute Adams. That rig can catch fish year round in the Smokies.

Brook and brown trout are now moving into the open to spawn. During this time of year, please be extremely cautious about wading through gravel riffles and the tailouts of pools. If you step on the redd (nest), you will crush the eggs that comprise the next generation of fish. Please avoid fishing to actively spawning fish and let them do their thing in peace.

Our tailwaters are still cranking although the Caney is finally starting to come down. I'm hoping to get some type of a report for there soon. Stay tuned for more on that. Fishing will still be slow overall with limited numbers of fish in that particular river unfortunately.

The Clinch is featuring high water as they try to catch up on the fall draw down. All of the recent rainfall set them back in this process but flows are now going up to try and make up some of the time lost. It is still fishing reasonably well on high water although we are holding off for the low water of late fall and early winter as it is one of our favorite times to be on the river.

Smallmouth are about done for the year with the cooler weather we are now experiencing. Our thoughts will be turning to musky soon, however. Once we are done with guide trips for the year, we'll be spending more time chasing these monsters.

In the meantime, we still have a few open dates in November and one or two in October. Feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in a guided trip. Thanks!

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Hunch

Most fishermen I know have a favorite place they like to fish or perhaps a short list of favorite places.  As I have explored my local streams, I've developed an affinity for a few select streams, most of which are within an hour or so.  A few trips have led me further afield.  Some ended up producing good fishing while others were largely a bust.  Back in the old days, exploring would often start by staring for a while at a map followed by daydreaming of the possibilities.  Technology has changed that.  Now I cruise the landscape on Google Maps, switching to the satellite view when I'm ready to hone in on a particular spot.  Further research happens as I search for every little bit of information the internet contains on a potential destination.  The ones I like most?  Anywhere that has very little information available.

When my buddy Joe McGroom was planning a trip out to visit, I naturally wanted to show him a good time.  Favorite fishing spots were reviewed and new ones contemplated.  After a bit of research, I started to develop a hunch about a certain piece of water.  We both have a soft spot for meadow streams.  Choosing to fish them in an unorthodox manner using techniques that can produce large fish, prowling grassy banks are one of my favorite things to do.  Recently this has been resulting in trips up to Moraine Park, but for Joe I really wanted to find a special piece of water that wouldn't be crowded.

When I informed him of my hunch, he was all in.  "David, you know me.  If you say 'meadow stream' and 'brown trout' in the same sentence I'm in."  That was what I wanted to hear.  Joe is a good sport and will enjoy fishing a piece of water regardless of how fast we are catching or not catching.  He is always willing to hunt for that one big fish that can make not just your day but even a whole trip.  The stream is quite out of the way and not the first place most people would think of to hunt big browns.  After considerable effort and time to find the stream, we were finally there and rigging up.

We both knew the routine.  Joe headed for the far bank so we could work upstream by leapfrogging.  The first  couple of bends were sadly lacking in fish, but soon thereafter Joe hooked up with a little fish of maybe 13 inches.  Chuckling at how most people would be thrilled with a fish of that size, we continued hunting.  My hunch was now being tested, and I hoped it would prove correct.

The next hole was interesting.  Joe snagged his fly on the far bank but did not want to spook any potential fish.  He called me up to fish the head of the run before he waded over to unhook his fly since he didn't want to break it off.  My second cast was perfect and a larger trout hammered the fly.  After one good jump, the brown (yep, leaping brown trout!) threw the fly, but we both were pretty happy.  The hunch seemed to be confirmed.  The fish was in the 17-18" class and super chunky.

Moving very purposefully now and really working the water, Joe was the next to hook up.  We finally had our first photo-worthy trout.  You can judge for yourself.  Not a bad fish eh?

In the meantime, I caught a couple little 16-17 inch fish.  I did not want to waste time photographing little fish so quickly unhooked them and kept on fishing.  Joe was again in line for photo worthy fish.  As soon as he hooked up I could tell it was a nice one and hustled over with my net and camera.  This fish had a weird growth or old would under his jaw.  You can barely see it in the second picture below...

Continuing on up the stream, it was finally my turn.  Joe returned the photo favor, and after a couple of shots, I let the fish go.

The next fish was also mine as we finally broke the twenty inch mark.  This fish came out of a rather unusual spot that was the perfect reminder to NOT ignore any water.  I was definitely thankful I fished it.  The best part was watching the take as the big brown slid out from under the bank and eyed my fly, drifting back in the current lazily and then slowly inhaling my offering.

Catching big fish can really work up an appetite.  Despite the good fishing, we decided to try a different spot over lunch.  After a quick relocation upstream, we were back on the water.  Joe was working the far bank when a big fish again materialized from under the undercut bank and the fight was soon on.  We had the fish in the net pretty quick, and I snapped pictures of another 20" fish.  This fish was particularly beautiful with that rich buttery brown color and a bright blue dot on its gill plate.

I found a couple of dinks but this spot was getting owned by Joe. The camera came back out, and I just enjoyed photographing the moment.

The crazy thing about this trip is how many quality fish we caught.  We both caught more 14"-17" trout than we knew what to do with.  The camera did not even come out until we hit at least 18 inches and not even for all of those.

My hunch had paid off more than either of us had hoped or dreamed for.  Sadly, when we got back to camp, Joe received some bad news from home that would lead to a late night drive back to Denver so he could fly home the next morning.  I still believe that day was a special gift for both of us since his weeklong trip was cancelled.  I'm sure that we'll fish this great place together again sometime but am not sure if it is possible to ever match our first encounter with this piece of water.


  1. David
    I haven’t seen a post anywhere with as many big trout pictured. I would keep this place a secret if I was you. Not just anyone could land that number of trout in that size range. This is why I have told you in the past you should consider guiding during your summer break. Congrats on a great trip---by the way that 13” trout would have been a prize on our tailrace—thanks for sharing a great post!

    1. Thanks Bill. I don't intend on letting others in on this stream. Thankfully, even if and when others do fish it, most will not ever have a chance of seeing these big fish much less catching them. We got lucky with a combination of perfect weather and flows which does not happen often...

  2. Well, Bill nailed it and I agree. I wouldn't go advertising that spot. The fish are gorgeous, the scenery great and a good job buddy.

    1. Howard, I'm right there with you and Bill. As I mentioned above to Bill, most people fishing this stream will never see the big fish anyway. We talked to a guy who had fished it for 3 or 4 days in a row and was thrilled with is "big" 13 incher he had caught. I'm okay with that...

  3. Congrats on an excellent trip David.

  4. Beautiful rivers and trouts.
    Congratulations and best regards.

    1. Thank you for the kind words!



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