Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 01/22/2020

High flows continue across the area but trends are definitely down. A recent cold snap broke the ongoing heatwave so fishing in the mountains has slowed dramatically. Right on schedule, some of our tailwaters should begin returning to more normal flows for this time of year meaning float trips are certainly possible.

For the Smokies, a warming trend should commence as we go into next week. By mid week the fishing should be decent before the next cold front returns us back to winter again. On warmer days, look for midges and possibly winter stoneflies hatching. Some blue-winged olives will be possible on foul weather days as we head towards February. The best fishing is still a few weeks out, but no longer feels like an eternity. Expect good spring hatches to start in late February or early March with blue quills and quill gordons along with little black caddis and early brown and black stones. By April, things will be settling down with the pinnacle of spring fishing usually happening from mid April through the month of May.

On our area tailwaters, high water continues to be the story. The Caney Fork still has at least a couple of weeks of high flows and that is assuming we don't get any more heavy rainfall. This time of year, that is asking a lot. The high water is good for one thing, however. Shad. Yes, the cold months are prime time to try and hit the famed shad kill and catch a monster brown trout. Same thing goes for the Clinch.

Speaking of the Clinch, the good news is that flows are scheduled to begin dropping tomorrow. A steady two generators will feel like low water after the recent period of two generators plus sluicing. Two generators opens up some nymphing possibilities in addition to our favorite winter pastime, stripping streamers for monsters.

The musky streams are settling into fine shape and will be an option moving forward as well. Remember that bouts of high water will get them stained or even muddy for a few days, but as flows come down the fishing should pick back up.

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Photo of the Month: Starting the Year Off Right

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Smokies Tips and Strategies: Part 1

Spending a lot of time on the water with clients as I did this previous week will get you thinking about how to help someone catch more fish under conditions that, while not optimal, are not yet truly terrible.  Anyone who remembers the drought years of 2007 and 2008 can remember the Smokies streams being a trickle.  Little River got down around 25 cfs at the Park boundary.  Compared to a normal spring time flow of around 300-450 cfs and a normal summer flow of perhaps 100-150 cfs, 25 is a really small number.  This year we are seeing water conditions that are less than the long term average but thankfully not dangerously low...yet.

So, what's a fisherman to do when the conditions get tough out there?  Answering this very question for several clients this past week got me to thinking about all the little things that a veteran Smokies angler does without even thinking, but without doing them the average angler will catch only a few trout.  That's too bad because this time of year can be as good as any if you focus on a few things that you should be doing differently as compared to earlier in the year.  Having already addressed this topic for the Little River Journal a few years ago, I suggest you read my thoughts here and here.  I'm going to revisit some of these items as well as address some new ones.

For this particular post, I'm only going to focus on one issue: stealth.  Now, I'm going to guess that if you have read this far, you are probably nodding your head in agreement.  However, I'm going to approach the question of stealth from a different angle than usual.  You see, being stealthy often means sneaking around on the trout stream, making sure the fish don't see you, keeping a rock between you and that next fishing hole, always approaching the fish from behind, and I could go on and on.  All of those things are great, and I've written a lot in the past on the importance of each of those.  Here's the shocker: the difference between a good fisherman and a great fisherman is not in any those things.  Oh sure, a great fisherman will do all of those things, probably without even thinking about it, but they are very easy to learn and even a beginner can pick it up very quickly.  Will doing those things increase your catch rates?  Of course.  However, hear me out on this one.

Let's say that you are pretty much a beginner and would consider an outing in which you caught 5 trout to be a great trip.  By adding in the above mentioned items whose sum is basically being stealthy, that beginner might move up to catching 10-20 trout.  If you're a beginner you are probably salivating at that.  As soon as I tell you that the great fishermen are likely catching 50-60 fish or more (100 fish days anyone?), 10-20 fish is no longer good enough.  What else can you do to catch all those extra trout?  Right flies, right place, right presentation.

Sounds simple enough, but consider that the last two both hinge on your ability as a fly caster and your line control once the flies have been cast.  Presentation and getting your flies in the right place involve many things, but if you do not have exceptional line control and great casting ability, having the right flies is nearly useless.  Improving as an angler means you have to become a competent caster and have impeccable line control once you have made your presentation.  These things do not come easily.  They are born of many hours of practice, both at home on the lawn or casting pond and on the streams.

To excel at mountain fishing, it is rare that you will ever need to cast a long distance, but the ability to cast a long distance will make you better at line control and overall presentation.  In fact, while most anglers are sneaking as close to a run, pool, or other section of stream as possible, I'm fishing the same water from 10-25 feet back, allowing my longer casting distance to keep me far enough from the trout so they don't spook.  Here's the best part: becoming better at line control and better as a caster will only happen through a lot of practice, so clearly you need to get out and fish more if these are areas in which you need to improve!  There it is, the perfect excuse for more time on the water.  Guess what? I have to fish more, because I realized I need to become a better caster...  I can hear the conversations now.

Once you decide to make the jump to fishing big water like tailwaters or large freestone streams out west, that ability to cast and have great line control will shine.  On rivers like the Caney Fork where I guide, most anglers miss opportunities for large trout on dry flies because they cannot make the required cast.  If you don't mind only catching smaller fish then don't worry about it.  That will leave more nice fish out there for me to target...


4 comments:

  1. Continued success David. Sounds like you've found your niche. Vacation in Colorado?

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    1. Thanks Howard. I definitely am enjoying the ride for now. Vacation in Colorado for sure, just not positive if I'll pull it off this year or next. Shoot, I may have a guide job out there by next year so I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

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  2. Anonymous9:06 AM

    You said part one, so I will bite my tongue until I have read part 2, which I am looking forward to :) (but the further you cast the more line control you must do, so on our multiple cross & side currents...it's all in mastering line control, agreed!) Keep up the great posts.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the reply, and don't worry about biting your tongue. I hope to generate at least a little discussion or even good natured disagreement. It's how we all improve as anglers. :) If it makes you feel any better, I'll be addressing line control MUCH more in depth in the not too distant future in Part 2.

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