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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter Is Holding On

While you wouldn't know it right now thanks to highs in the 60s today and 70s tomorrow, winter is going to be slow to relinquish its hold over middle and east Tennessee.  This warm weather we are experiencing might get a few hatches going, and of course once the bugs start they can't really stop, but realistically it might still be a couple of weeks at best.  As recently as 5 days ago it was looking like we might be in for an early warmup that would last long enough to get the hatches going, but now with a strong front moving in tomorrow night and forecast highs by the middle of next week in the 40s at best, I'm ready to tie a few more flies and wait for the main event.

My friend James Marsh over at reported a couple of days ago that some Quill Gordon nymphs he found just outside of the Park were nowhere close to being ready to hatch.  This short warmup won't be enough to get the main show rolling.

The 6-10 day and 8-14 day outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center indicate extremely high chances of colder than normal weather for the next couple of weeks.  Here are the two graphics for those two time periods respectively.

Yep, it's going to be cold still for a while.  On the plus side, the cold weather should include fairly dry conditions which will allow time for the tailwaters to come down after the rain tomorrow.  Also, I should mention that some of the best shad kills on the Caney Fork have happened in years that were cold later into March than usual.  Plus, all the cold water now translates into happy trout that will stay healthy all summer on the tailwaters.


  1. I hear you, what a frustrating winter this has been. Up and down. Here we are in the 60's for three days then down back to the thirties. Enough to drive one insane.



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