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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Officially Booking

For those who have noticed my progress towards being a fly fishing guide, I have some big news.  The Commercial Use Authorization permit from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has arrived.  That means that I can now accept bookings for guided fly fishing trips in the Great Smoky Mountains.  If you are interested in doing a trip with me there, or perhaps even on the Caney Fork or one of the warm water streams of the Cumberland Plateau, head over to Trout Zone Anglers and take a look around.  While you're at it, send me a message and let me know about your interest.  Dates are already filling so if you want to get on the calendar don't wait too long.

With the cold weather again looming, I anticipate that the spring hatches will be sputtering along until March 6-10 or so when things should really bust wide open.  Our best trips for overall numbers will be day trips into the Park's backcountry and those will be prime from late March through the middle of May.  If you are willing to hike 2-4 miles (minimum) each way to get to your fish, you will have a shot at the day of your life.  By summer, the mid and higher elevations of the Park will be fishing great.  Days of throwing dry flies will be the norm at the higher elevations although dry/dropper will get us into more fish.


  1. David
    Don't forget my Caney Fork trip with you in August. Weekdays will work for me, not weekends. Congrats on getting everything in order to start your guide service. Looking forward to our trip

    1. Thanks Bill. I've still got it in mind. When the time gets closer we'll put a specific date on the calendar for you to make sure I'm free. Weekdays will be perfect that time of the year and should allow us to have a good trip!

  2. Congrats on your guiding status. Good luck to you.

    1. Thanks Matt! I'm excited to see where this leads.



Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required