Puddles don't look like much, but they can sure surprise you. That's what I learned today. A long drive through the mountains eventually led me to the headwaters of a rather well-known trout stream. Normally I chase brown trout in this particular area and today my intention was the same. Since moving out here, I have fished a large portion of the stream and have discovered that it has more nice brown trout than most people think.
Pulling in to a familiar parking area, I quickly grabbed my gear and started the short walk to the stream. I had barely started walking when I noticed something in a small puddle along the path. A rise??? In all likelihood, the small puddle was the work of beavers at some point in the past. The puddle was small enough I really didn't think of looking for fish in it.
Edging over, I was soon casting. A small and eager brook trout swirled again and again but couldn't quite figure out how to eat my fly. I was rigged up to chase brown trout after all, and a snack for a nice brown would be a 5 course dinner for this little brookie with leftovers to spare. Again I tossed the fly out with the same result. On the third cast, a larger shadow swirled and found the hook!
Not a large fish, this brookie made up for lack of size with its beauty. I was just enjoying having caught a fish out of a puddle that I'm sure many other fishermen walk right past on their way to the real trout water.
Oh yeah, I caught a few brook trout in the stream as well. I suppose I'll be tying some brook trout colored streamers for the browns this year...
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.