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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dialed In

When I planned to go fishing this past weekend, there were a few question marks surrounding the potential trip.  The biggest was the cold I had been battling for several days.  Cold weather camping is just plain miserable when you have a cold.  Instead of taking off as early as possible on Friday, I decided that I would relax and get a good night's rest Friday night.  The new plan was to leave Saturday morning for two relaxing days and one night out in the deep wilderness as far from civilization as possible.

The excitement was building to the point that, while it was nice to sleep in my own bed, the sleep part never was particularly great.  I kept waking up wondering if it was time to go.  By around 6:00 the next morning, I was ready to get up.  On the road around sunrise, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there were very few people out at this time of day.  Instead of getting stuck in the usual slow weekend traffic, I made good time and a few hours later was cruising through one of my favorite mountain towns in America.

Pushing on to a remote tributary, I found a campsite and put in my claim by setting up the tent and leaving my camp chair up and ready.  On the way down to the campsite I was all over the road, mostly because I was staring at the beautiful stream instead of the narrow dirt road.  Someone following my car's tracks probably thought that a drunk guy had been driving and expected to find a crash around every bend.

On the drive in I had located two good pools full of Kokanee salmon with most fish podded up but a few were doing their thing on the redds.  A handful of browns were around also gobble up any stray eggs.  Never having encountered Kokanee before, I rigged up with a pair of bright nymphs and started working the pod.  My indicator dove 3 or 4 times before the line came tight.  The fish had eaten one of the nymphs!

The fish was strong and full of fight.  By the time I had netted the fish it had worked me back to the tail of the pool.  Another few feet and it would have gained the faster current below.  I was lucky on that one.  A couple of quick pictures were taken to document my first ever salmon.  The Kokanee were fun, but I think I'm ready for Alaska now.  Bring on the real salmon!


In another hour or so of fishing, I accidentally snagged a couple of salmon and fair caught one more.  Apparently snagging salmon is a big sport, but as I wasn't fishing for table fare, I tried to stick to the high road.  The sun was beginning to lower by the time I made it back down to camp.  The only other people around had left by this time, and I had the whole stream to myself.  


Walking downstream, I found several nice pools.  One in particular seemed to hold some salmon.  A streamer had been dug out of the bottom of my fishing pack and tied on so I was looking for something other than the Kokanee.  Swinging the fly, swimming the fly, stripping the fly, any method I used seemed to produce about the same...absolutely nothing.  Perhaps it was the full moon...or maybe I had the wrong color on...or maybe there were no fish.  You know how it goes.  Lots of great reasons for my lack of success were occurring to me by this time.  

Distracted by the scenery and lack of fish, I started to take a few pictures of my surroundings.  The colors in the landscape seemed more beautiful in the late evening light.  




Then I returned to the pool with the Kokanee.  Finally, like a flash of brilliance (more likely just dumb luck) I thought maybe I should fish the far side.  

One of the best things I did all day was to throw the streamer to the far side of the current.  By the second strip, I saw a huge flash as a brown rolled on the streamer.  For the next 45 minutes, nearly every cast produced at least a follow, and I was catching enough beautiful lake run browns to mostly forget that I had a camera hanging around my neck.  I was dialed in although I think it was more along the lines of stumbling into luck.  The salmon were podded up near me while the browns were almost all in the soft water on the far bank.  

The next morning I returned to the same spot and again caught some nice fish including a small lake trout.  Some fishing holes are definitely better than others, or at least that seems to be the main lesson I learned.  Later on Sunday, I would again stumble upon a great fishing hole, but more about that later.  


10 comments:

  1. Kokanee are an available fishery here in Connecticut. Unfortunately it's takes place in a few lakes.
    They are pretty when spawning time is around.

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    1. They were definitely colored up really nice! Thanks for reading.

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  2. Beautiful looking pics. Color me green with envy!

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  3. Great job, David. I have fished a Kokanee stream a few times in Idaho that had large Cutthroats that would follow the Kokanee up the stream to eat the eggs. Had some great memories from those trips. Isn't it just awful when you stumble into some "dumb luck"! Embarrassingly, good fishing!

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    1. Mel, now that I've stumbled into it, I think I'll have to make it an annual tradition.

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  4. Well done David and great report. I'm dying to know where this water is, but I'll wait until we're face to face. I won't tell I promise. On lakes, Koke usually go airborne. Did you experience the same on the stream?

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    1. Howard, this fish went nuts and was airborne 4 times if I remember correctly. I'm just glad the fly stayed where it was supposed to be each time it jumped. When we get together sometime I'll let you in on this one. You would enjoy it I'm sure if you haven't been there already...

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  5. David
    One could absolutely get lost in the scenery and forget about the fishing in this place. You had the best of the both worlds in this place. Enjoyed the read--thanks for sharing

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    1. Bill, when the catching gets slow, my camera comes out. It didn't come out as much on this trip but I did stop a few times because the surroundings where so nice...

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