Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 11/1/2018

Fishing is good in the Smokies and other mountain streams if you can catch it on a day where the wind is minimal. Otherwise, expect lots of leaves in the water for the next few days. Delayed harvest streams are also being stocked and fishing well in east Tennessee and western North Carolina.

In the Smokies, fall bugs are in full swing. We have been seeing blue-winged olives almost daily although they will hatch best on foul weather days. They are small, typically running anywhere from #20-#24 although a few larger ones have also shown up. A few October Caddis are still around as well. Terrestrials are close to being done for the year although we are still seeing a few bees and hornets near the stream. Isonychia nymphs, caddis pupa, and BWO nymphs will get it done for your subsurface fishing. Have some October Caddis (#12) and parachute BWO patterns (#18-#22) for dry flies and you should be set. Not interested in matching the hatch? Then fish a Pheasant Tail nymph under a #14 Parachute Adams. That rig can catch fish year round in the Smokies.

Brook and brown trout are now moving into the open to spawn. During this time of year, please be extremely cautious about wading through gravel riffles and the tailouts of pools. If you step on the redd (nest), you will crush the eggs that comprise the next generation of fish. Please avoid fishing to actively spawning fish and let them do their thing in peace.

Our tailwaters are still cranking although the Caney is finally starting to come down. I'm still hoping to get a firsthand report on the Caney Fork soon although it might be sometime next week or the week after before that happens at the earliest. Stay tuned for more on that. Fishing will still be slow overall with limited numbers of fish in that particular river unfortunately.

The Clinch is featuring high water as they try to catch up on the fall draw down. All of the recent rainfall set them back in this process but flows are now going up to try and make up some of the time lost. It is still fishing reasonably well on high water although we prefer the low water of late fall and early winter as it is one of our favorite times to be on the river.

Smallmouth are about done for the year with the cooler weather we are now experiencing. I caught a few yesterday on the Tennessee River while fishing with guide Rob Fightmaster, but overall the best bite is all but over. Our thoughts will be turning to musky soon, however. Once we are done with guide trips for the year, we'll be spending more time chasing these monsters.

In the meantime, we still have a few open dates in November. Feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in a guided trip. Thanks!

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Last Chance


Being a tailwater fisherman can be a roller coaster from joy to disappointment and back again.  Hours are spent poring over forecast rain amounts, then analyzing actual rainfall totals during and after a precipitation event.  If you live out west then you might spend your winters checking out the latest Snotel information to see how the snowpack is coming along.  Long term generation guidance is also consulted on a regular basis, all in an effort to figure out when your favorite tailwater might be fishable.  Of course, in a dry year, all of this becomes unnecessary as anglers enjoy the rare opportunity to fish whenever and wherever they desire.

Over the past few weeks, I've been checking the generation schedules daily, sometimes even multiple times a day.  I guess I'm just optimistic.  Maybe the schedule will change for the better, and of course, eventually it did.  Unfortunately, the theme this year is that low flows signal the next round of heavy rain.  Streams here on the Plateau shot up from around 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to over 15,000 cfs over the last few days.  One stream went from 70 cfs to over 3,500 cfs. That's a lot of water no matter where you live, and when you consider that 3,500 cfs is approximately the amount of water that one generator releases at a time on my favorite tailwater, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that many days of generation are on the horizon.  All that water here on the Plateau eventually drains into the valleys on either side and into either Tennessee Valley Authority or Corps of Engineers controlled dam systems.

As the major weather system this week started to really get cranking, my nearest tailwater finally cut back on the generation.  I planned to fish Monday morning, but early day storms were already rolling in and prompting the first local tornado warning of the year.  My fishing trip became a storm chasing trip, and I was stuck waiting for the next opportunity.  Tuesday morning was shot as well, and Wednesday was the last day of low flows, my last chance to get on the water.

My friend Tyler, who has quickly become addicted to fly fishing, had never fished a tailwater before.  I explained that the water would be cold but that people had been known to wet wade there before.  He was all for it so we planned on when and where to meet.  Wednesday morning couldn't come soon enough for me, and before long I had scarfed down a quick breakfast, made a sandwich, loaded my gear, and headed out the door.  Tyler was on time and we were soon headed for the river.

Muddy water...

Upon arriving, I headed straight for a favorite run that requires less wading than some spots.  After all, I knew Tyler was excited but if he didn't have to freeze then all the better.  Driving along the river, the first thing we noticed was mud thick enough to walk all the way across the river on.  On second glance, we realized it wasn't quite that bad but we definitely weren't going to fish in the slop.  Back up the river we headed to the clear water just below the dam.  Several other anglers were already crowded in the best spots (for easy wading that is), and I was concerned that Tyler was going to be stuck getting soaked and cold.

One possibility remained and we headed down to a favorite spot of mine.  Another angler was fishing just upstream but otherwise we had the water to ourselves.  Showing Tyler a rising trout and explaining the process of mending and fly placement, I started downstream to get some fishing of my own in.  Just as I was getting my own rod ready to cast, Tyler yelled as he hooked the first trout of the day.  It turned out to be his first brown trout so I brought the net and camera for a quick picture.  As I made my way back down the river he hooked another, and another, and so on and so forth.  In fact, he soon lost track of how many he had caught.


I found a nice hole and started catching a few of my own, and then more, until I was catching fish after fish as well.  Over the next two hours, we never ventured far.  Tyler didn't have to wade deeply to fish, and I was having some of the best midge fishing I've had in a long time.  Both of us quickly lost count of how many fish we caught and even had several doubles as the fish were almost racing each other to get to our flies.



Now that tailwater is pushing a lot of water down the river as the lake continues to rise.  We'll be lucky if it is fishable anytime in the next two weeks and if we get more rain it will take a lot longer than that.  A more realistic prediction is a minimum of 3 weeks but we'll have to wait and see what happens.  When it does drop again, I'll be back looking for another fantastic day on the water.

Oh, and I should mention that Tyler forgot to be cold.  He was catching so many fish he didn't even notice the 50 degree water flowing around his legs.  His comment to me was, "Knapp, you've created a monster!"  Yep, tailwaters can be fun, and I'll look forward to getting on one again.  Hopefully it will be sooner instead of later...

On our way home, we stopped to chase some bass, and I had my best bass day on this particular lake ever, but more on that a bit later.

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