Guided Trips


Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

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 or text/call (931) 261-1884.  You can also visit my guide site at  


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



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