Guided Trips


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.

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.

Photo of the Month: The Colors of a Rainbow

Photo of the Month: The Colors of a Rainbow

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Cool Down

As November gave way to December, there were still some great fishing opportunities to be had locally.  Then it cooled off just a little.  From highs in the 50s and even 60s, we are now going to be lucky to get to 10 or so above zero.  The low temperatures last night were well below zero.  As you can imagine, open water is going to be closing quickly now.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I made a trip over to El Dorado Canyon to find some solitude.  A recent snowstorm had both coated the stream banks and chased away other anglers.  I'm just fine with that.  If it takes a cool down to get some water to myself so be it.  Rocks were already gaining ice caps, and this was before our recent plunge into the deep freeze.

The snow on the plains had barely been a couple of inches.  In the canyon it had piled higher though, up to 5 or 6 inches.  Scrambling up and down the steep stream banks was an adventure but I just took things slow and made sure to not take any serious falls.  This included NOT wearing waders, but instead just wearing hiking boots.  Long ago, it became obvious that wading boots encourage me to take risks that I shouldn't even be considering.  My solution now is to just stay out of the water.  Yes, there is less water I can reach, but it also forces me to creatively improve my casting as well as try new methods.  I tend to fish streamers a lot more when I'm stuck on the bank which isn't too bad of a trade off if you ask me.

Anyway, as I walked up the access road and stared almost straight down to the stream, the thought of scrambling down was a bit frightening.  Eventually, I was almost to the top of the steepest stretch before I found a decent path down to the water.  Here, the danger factor was in the "broken leg" range if I fell instead of "likely death."  Oh well, surely I could drag myself with my hands out of the canyon.  I'm glad I snuck down where I did.  The browns were small but willing.  Getting around the banks was a bit tricky, but I navigated enough stream to feel that the scramble down had been worth it.

When I discovered the road was now much easier to get to, I decided to jump out and head back down the canyon.  Eventually I found myself fishing a hole near the car as the sun started to sink below the horizon.  Already shaded by the clouds and canyon walls, the stream was becoming even darker.  Finally, as the temperature was rapidly dropping, one last nice brown was eager to eat.  A quick picture, and the fish was back in the water, and I was headed to the warmth of my car.


  1. Glad you're being careful. I fish a good deal by myself too and injury is always on my mind. It's harder to recover the older you get.

  2. I applaud you and second Mark's comment. No fishing is worth your life, even though in the heat of battle some of us forget that little bit of wisdom. Beautiful fish on a cold day, Dave. Happy holidays!

  3. Nice pic! Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the solitude of winter. Fly fishing a Colorado winter has to be experienced! Stay safe!

  4. It's interesting to take note of the tradeoffs of fishing on a cold winter day as compared to a warmer day in the summer. Though some may consider that it isn't worth fishing in the cold because of the discomfort and low pay out, I appreciate that you took note of the benefits. Fishing on a cold day gives you the opportunity to appreciate the majestic beauty of a Colorado winter, solitude, and a greater appreciation for the fish that captured. Sounds like a relaxing trip!



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