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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Learning the Smokies

This summer, I have been blessed to share the Smokies with many anglers from all over the country.  That's one cool thing about being a guide: you get to meet a lot of interesting people.  Some of the best trips are where I get to take young people fishing.  I recently had the chance to guide a father/son duo who live just down the road from me.  They were wanting to learn some skills that will consistently get them into fish in the Smokies.

Originally planned as an overnight backcountry trip, the threat of rain encouraged us to rethink the trip.  Ultimately Kent decided that he and his son Blake would enjoy things more if they stayed somewhere with real beds and some A.C.  instead of dodging the rain and thundershowers up in the mountains.  On our first day of fishing, things went well as we covered Smoky Mountain fishing techniques and caught some fish along the way.  The second day was great however.

On the spur of the moment, I decided to take them to a high gradient stream where I have always had great success.  Having seen them work around a stream the day before, I knew that they could handle the hard work required to maneuver through a stream like this.  Also, Blake wanted to catch a native brook trout and the stream I chose offered us a chance at brookies.

After picking them up at Little River Outfitters, we headed up the mountain.  Let's just say we took care of the brook trout pretty quickly!  In one of the first little pools, I showed Blake how to sneak up on the pool by using a rock to hide behind.  On his first cast, a brookie came out and slammed the fly.  Mission accomplished!



Continuing up the stream, we eventually transitioned to fishing subsurface patterns.  That has been a theme this summer.  You can catch fish on dries, and even catch some really nice ones, but overall the dry fly fishing this year has been less than stellar.  If you must fish the dry, then try dropping a bead head nymph 18-24 inches behind the dry.

Near the end of our trip, I mentioned to Kent that if he really wanted to master fishing in the Smokies, he would need to learn to nymph without an indicator in the old "high stick" style.  Quite similar to Czech nymphing, high stickin' developed separately here in the Southern Appalachians and originally was executed with a long cane pole.  The old timers could effectively cover even large pools with this method.  The beauty of fishing without an indicator is that you can vary the depth of each drift depending on the depth of the water you are fishing.  Of course, it does have limitations, most obvious of which is that it works very effectively at close range, but once you have to make longer casts it begins to become more difficult to manage all that fly line.

Anyway, as soon as I mentioned it to Kent, he was all ready to try it out.  Even though I normally reserve teaching this technique to anglers who have a little more experience in fishing the Smokies, I could tell that Kent had all of the skills necessary to make it work.  In the very first pool he tried, Kent had several strikes before catching a fish.  Once he got the hang of it, he was ready to start putting up some serious numbers.


At the end of the trip, we decided to do one last picture with Blake's last trout.  These father/son trips are going to provide great memories for many years to come!


It was a pleasure spending a day and a half with these two guys.  They were very quick learners and are well on their way to becoming great Smoky Mountain anglers.  Thanks for a good trip guys!

If you are interested in a guided fly fishing trip in the Smoky Mountains, please email me at TroutZoneAnglers@Gmail.com or text/call (931) 261-1884.  You can also visit my guide site at TroutZoneAnglers.com.  

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Always glad to see young people enjoying this sport...

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