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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Runner Browns

As I discovered in the waning evening light below camp, some pools were full of both salmon and brown trout following the bounty of eggs.  Assumedly the trout would soon do their own spawning activities.  That camping trip will live on in my memory as one of the all-time great trips.  The next morning after the catching extravaganza, my goal was to scout a bit more of the stream to see if there were more runner browns in the system.  Starting early in the morning at the same pool as the evening before, I managed a few more brown trout as well as a surprise lake trout thrown in for good measure.  Some days you just never know what to expect on the other end of the line.


The cold was still of the bone-chilling variety so I kept fishing instead of stopping to eat breakfast.  A few chips and a cold bagel provided enough energy to stay focused.  Moving upstream from camp, I came across a deep pool with a nice rock ledge on the far bank near the tail out.  Wonder of wonders, a sizable brown was lying right on the rock ledge just like the browns always do back home in the Smoky Mountains.  While I was watching a much larger brown darted out from some unseen hiding place and blended into the depths until I wasn't sure if I had really seen it in the first place or if it was an early morning vision generated by my hopes of finding a big trout.

Looking up higher in the pool, I noticed a classic sandy bottom.  Fish do not often sit on these spots because they are so easy to see but when they do you can usually catch them.  Suddenly my eyes must have bugged out just a bit, because there wasn't just one or two, but a whole row of fish finning at the bottom of that deep hole.  A second examination confirmed that they were definitely not salmon moving up and were probably, in fact, brown trout.

The big streamer was soon flashing back and forth with me ducking a little on each cast for safety.  I plopped it into the water and started swimming it around and....nothing.  Maybe they are resident fish.  The runner fish seemed much more aggressive towards streamers while resident fish are much more wary, having spent their whole life avoiding predators in the stream.  Lake fish tend to have less fear, having dwelt at great depths where they are generally safe from most predators.

I quickly changed my rig to a big stonefly with an egg pattern trailed behind.  Maybe they are watching for eggs from the salmon spawning upstream.  An indicator completed my rig, and then I was back casting to the fish who were now onto me.  One trout in particular was still sitting out though. Just a little behind and across from a large boulder, I suspected that it would eat given the proper drift.

The current was tricky and definitely not conducive to an easy presentation.  However, with enough trial and error, the correct line was soon discovered.  Hitting that line was also tricky, but finally everything came together.  The big brown moved four feet to inhale one of my offerings, the indicator twitched, and I set the hook.  Immediately the fish went ballistic, running all over the pool before heading towards the faster water downstream.  Resigned to losing the fish, I gave chase but without hope.  Any minute the fly should pop free.  Then I started to gain some line.  Okay so there's a chance. The moment I slipped the net under that trout was almost a miracle.  I rarely have such pessimism about losing a trout as I did with that fish, but everything came together for one of those moments I'll always remember.


Definitely not the largest trout I've ever caught, not even close, this fish was memorable because I had worked hard, going through flies, changing tactics, until I found the one that would work on that fish.  The colors were amazing.  The flash in the picture above dull the colors but the net shot below shows the richness of the golden brown hues along the trout's sides.


Amazingly, my weekend trip was not over and would get, if possible, even better.  Stay tuned for the rest of the trip coming up soon!

10 comments:

  1. Largest or not, we'll take one that size any day.

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    1. Mark, so true. You can't go wrong with a nice fish...

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  2. David
    Some trout fishermen fish a lifetime for a trout like that on the fly. The challenge you had enticing this fish to hit proves just how good of a trout fisherman you are. I have learned in a short period of time that one has to have patience when trout fishing; this read indicated you put patience to the test and won. I am really looking forward to the next installment. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks Bill. I wish I always had the necessary patience but I'm encouraged with trips like this.

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  3. Exciting, David, great post with good detail. Persistence pays off if you stick with it. You did that for sure. Thanks for showing us "OL Geezers" what we have to do get our "Game" on!

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    1. Thanks Mel. I was definitely excited!

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  4. Sounds like a great trip!

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    1. Thanks David, it was for sure.

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  5. David, I'm jealous. What a wonderful sounding trip. I certainly hope that my life settles down and allows me to hook up with you when the weather is more greezer friendly. You're living the life.

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    1. Howard, we definitely need to make this happen. Let's fish soon!

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