Have you ever gone fishing and had a fantastic day of catching your intended species only to come across a fish that is quite different and decide to try for it as well? That is one of the amazing things about tailwaters, the variety that is. You can fish hard for trout all day and then find that one 4 pound bass or 15 pound carp and fish for that as well. Maybe you even get a shot at a striper later on as well. When I'm striper fishing, I sometimes have lucked into trout and even some walleye. In other words, on a tailwater you just never know what you will find.
Yesterday I headed down yet again to the Caney Fork yet again to get some trout fishing in and check several different spots on the river. Scouting the water is about as important as actually fishing and this trip was intended to include both. After all, when heading out on a guide trip, it is essential to be in touch with what is happening on the river. My basic research was just locating fish and the best places to land both numbers of fish and quality fish.
The morning's highlight occurred when I saw a big brown charge into a pool full of small stockers and eat one or two while I was fishing for them. Yes, my heart rate is still a bit elevated, but that is the beautiful thing about fishing trips; you just never know what is going to happen. After calming down enough to actually fish, I worked a favorite section pretty hard and found a lot of chunky rainbows. These fish are super healthy right now and providing great nonstop action if you have the right flies, the right depth, and a knowledge of where to use them at.
A little after noon, my buddy Tyler and I headed back to the car for some lunch as well as some air conditioning on the ride down to our next spot. When we got to the next spot, things continued about the same as before. In other words, we were both catching a lot of fish. The insects were varied on this day and the occasional caddis and cranefly kept the fish looking up. Our dry flies were getting enough action that we never switched over to an indicator nymph rig, preferring the dry/dropper method instead to cover our bases.
Eventually the heat and sun took its toll, and I was ready to call it a day. Heading back to the car, I stopped at a spot where there are usually some carp and buffalo hanging out. While this was definitely a trout trip, I had no problem at least looking at other fish. Of course, you can guess where this eventually took me. Upon seeing all those carp, I naturally had to at least cast a couple of times.
I've fished this spot and a couple of others nearby many times over the years. In fact, given the opportunity, I would rather catch at least one or two carp on each trout trip. Not that I'm ready to turn my back completely on trout. Its just that carp are some of the toughest fish you will ever fish for. Being a carp fisherman automatically makes you better at catching other species as well, trust me. The crazy thing about this particular spot is that while I've put in my time to attempting to catch these fish, I've never really had any success. Oh, I've caught carp other places on at least a couple of different rivers, but these particular fish had always outsmarted me.
So here I was casting to fish that I could see just fine but really didn't expect to catch when lo and behold one of the fish ate! Seriously, it was all so easy that I pondered momentarily why I hadn't caught one before. Then the fish realized it was hooked. If you've ever hooked a carp, even a small one, on 5x, you know how I felt as this fish started running directly away from me for a underwater log. I really had no chance, or at least that's how it felt. By some miracle, the fish always came out on the right side of those logs. All the pressure I thought the tippet could handle was brought to bear. Once the fish ran under another log and only came back out when I kept muscled it back. I know, it's hard to believe all of this happened on 5x, but in the end, the best moment of the day came when my buddy slipped the net under the finally tired fish. A couple of pictures later and the fish tore off back to its pool to rest up for our next meeting.
If I lived close by, I would chase these fish all the time. Seriously. They are that much fun. Every one I've caught has been memorable. Oh, sure, the trout fishing was awesome too, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but as an afterthought, those carp sure provide a lot of fun!
If I can help you with a guide trip to the Smokies or the Caney Fork tailwater, please contact me. I'm not booking trips through July.
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 5/22/2017
Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, strong hatches have been keeping fish looking up.
Yesterday, Blue-winged Olives hatched for hours during the light rain and drizzle. Fish were looking up but also took nymphs well. Streamers were moving some quality fish as well. The summer hatches are well under way now. Expect Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and Isonychia (Slate Drake) mayflies. Light Cahills and Sulfurs have been around as well.
The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from good to great on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater.
Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly! Musky floats are about over for the year unless we get more rain.