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.
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 3/23/2017
The fishing has been great lately! This spring has been phenomenal in the Smokies. Long hatches have produced dry fly fishing lasting for hours every day. The Caney Fork has been producing some great fish on high water.
In the Great Smoky Mountains, the spring fishing has started early this year. Quill Gordon (#12-#14) and Blue Quill (#16-#18) mayflies are starting to transition into Hendricksons (#12-#14). On foul weather days, the Blue-winged Olives (#18-#22) have literally poured off of the river. The recent cooler weather actually enhanced the dry fly fishing. The bugs have been having a harder time getting off of the water, so despite the cool water temperature, fish have been rising lazily through an extended afternoon hatch. Little Black Caddis (#18-#20) have been hatching well along with some Early Brown Stoneflies (#12).
On the tailwaters, the fishing has been decent to good. The Clinch is fishing well along with the Holston. The Caney Fork continues to be my river of choice, however. Streamer trips continue to produce and we are doing some high water nymphing as well. This is as good a time as any to have a shot at large rainbow and brown trout on this tailwater!
I still have some open dates for guided trips in April and May, but the calendar is filling fast. I've been turning away trips because people wait too long to book. Don't make that mistake!