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.
UPDATE: 7/27/2016 Smokies Fly Fishing Report -- Current Hatches: Isonychias (Slate Drake), Little Yellow Stoneflies, Golden Stoneflies, Tan and Cinnamon Caddis, inch worms, beetles, and ants. Hatches are sparse for the most part. We have reached that point in the summer where heading higher in elevation will increase your odds of success as will a good hike. Please avoid fishing Little River and any other low elevation stream with warm water. Carry a thermometer and use it. Terrestrials have reached the peak of importance. As the water cools over the next couple of months, we'll eventually start to see more bugs hatching again. In the meantime, ants, inchworms, and beetles will catch a lot of trout. Don't overlook a Yellow Stimulator with a small bead head dropper as well. If you need to learn how to fish these streams and where to go, a guided trip with me can help you accomplish that!
Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report: Terrestrials are catching some nice trout now. Earlier this week, on a guided wade trip, we found a Japanese beetle tree hanging over the water. Downstream, trout after trout succumbed to our beetle imitation. When not throwing terrestrials, nymphs and midges will still account for a lot of fish. The best way to enjoy this fishing is out of the drift boat which allows us to access some less pressured sections. Contact me about a float or wade trip if you want to enjoy this fishing at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.
Clinch River Fishing Report: For the most part, the Clinch is going to fish best on nymphs and midges. Terrestrials will be important as well now however so be prepared.
Holston River: Give this river a break on the trout sections until next winter.
Cumberland Plateau Fishing Report: Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent right now. See some of the recent blog posts for more on this.