Guided Trips

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.


Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fishing For Fun

Anyone who has fished the Smokies knows that you don't come here to catch big fish.  Yes, there are big browns around, even some true monsters, but few people ever see them much less catch them.  The rainbows, on the other hand, provide the bulk of the entertainment unless you travel up high in elevation searching for brookies.  This year, I've been privileged to catch some really nice rainbows.  In fact, within the last month I've caught personal bests for the year twice!

The first one was 12 inches almost exactly.  I know, that doesn't sound like a very large rainbow.  Everything here is relative.  On the Caney Fork which I also frequent, a 12 inch rainbow is normal, one of the standard put and take rainbows that are constantly being dumped in to keep the catch and keep crowd happy.  In the mountains, well let's just say it doesn't happen every day.  That's why I was so surprised when I caught an even larger trout just last week.

The story actually begins the day before with me waking up at an unearthly hour to head over to Little River Outfitters for a couple of days working in the shop.  As I headed out of the house and down the mountain towards Knoxville, I started contemplating my options for fishing after work.  Each week, I've attempted to scratch a different itch.  Once or twice I've chased brookies up high, and once I even made the dreaded drive into Cades Cove to fish Abrams Creek, not because it is the best place to fish, but more for old time's sake.  I used to fish it often many years ago.  Lately I just can't stomach the traffic getting there.

By the time I got to work, I was still trying to decide where to fish, but did have it nailed down to one of two stretches on Little River.  The evenings are arriving earlier than ever with the changing seasons and I didn't want to waste time driving up the mountain for brookies or hiking up high above Elkmont.  Fast forward a few hours and it is nearly time to get off of work.  I've made a major strategic decision regarding my evening fishing.  Normally I'll get to the stream and evaluate what is happening stream side before determining how I want to fish.  Without rising trout and an obvious hatch, I'll usually go with a nymph rig of some sort to maximize my success.  On this particular Thursday, I decided that I just wanted to have fun.

Right now you're probably scratching your head.  Isn't all fishing about having fun you ask?  Yes, but there is fun because I'm catching fish and then there is fun because I enjoy how I'm fishing.  The two often go hand in hand but not always.  For my fun on this day, I decided to fish a dry fly.  While I hoped that would be enough, I was still hedging my bets by dropping a small bead head behind the dry.

On my way up Little River, my car just sort of eased itself off at the first place I was thinking about fishing so I took that as a sign that I should fish there instead of heading further upstream.  My preparation was fairly simple and before I knew it I was down on the stream casting.  There were some small trout rising in the pool in front of me but they seemed unusually wise for their size.  Moving up into the pocket water, I soon found more willing candidates.


The rainbows on Little River are gorgeous.  This time of year their large pink stripes seem to stand out more than ever, like they are dressing up for the fall season along with the browns and brookies.  Colorful trees around me made the moment even better.


Moving up the creek, I found good numbers of willing trout, although nothing of any size.  The dry fly was a big orange Elk Hair Caddis I tie that mimics the big fall caddis that we have in the Smokies.  The dropper was a #16 Zebra Midge.  Both caught fish, although the larger fish did seem to have a preference for the dropper.  The leaves continued to awe me with their colors as well so my camera saw a fair amount of action.


Climbing out of the river before it got too dark, I was soon back at the car.  Instead of breaking down my rod, I just left everything strung up to fish the next morning on my way in to work.  After a pleasant evening in camp at Elkmont relaxing, I hit the sack a bit early and before I knew it morning had arrived.  Throwing all my gear in the car, I was all packed and ready to fish before I knew it.  Noticing the dry/dropper rig from the previous evening, I decided to leave it on not knowing what a great choice that would end up being.

There is a pool, somewhere on Little River, that is a favorite of mine.  This is more due to the fact that you can see into it so well than anything.  It may get fished more than any other pool on the entire river so the fish are often skittish.  If you arrive first thing in the morning though the fish can be caught with a healthy combination of luck and skill.

With limited time before I had to arrive at work, I started in the middle of the pool and worked my way towards the head.  Before long I was admiring a seven inch rainbow and was pretty content with my morning.  By the time I had tricked another fish, slightly smaller at six inches, I was getting concerned about the time.  A quick check revealed that I still had twenty minutes to fish so I moved all the way to the head of the pool and started working the bubble line with my offering.

When the dry darted under and the line came tight, I quickly realized it was a nice fish.  Expecting the golden hues of a brown trout's side, I was surprised to see a big pink stripe.  Thankful I had a net with me, I quickly worked the fish away from all obstacles and into open water.  When the fish finally gave up the fight and allowed me to slip the net under it, I was one happy fisherman!


The nice rainbow definitely made my morning and measured between 13 and 14 inches.  Not the largest rainbow I've caught in the Park, but easily in the top 5 for wild rainbows I've caught in the Smokies, the trout was a perfect way to start my morning.  I still have a nagging suspicion that if I had been fishing my usual deep nymph rig the fish would never have been caught.  I guess it is good to just go out and fish for fun sometimes instead of taking things too seriously.

3 comments:

  1. Nice post David! Being a dry fly enthusiast I also opt to fish the dry when other methods might be more effective but it's the way I like to fish, simple and very visual. You are blessed to save such pretty country close by.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Mark, I am blessed indeed. One of the best things about living here other than the scenery is that our winters are mild enough to fish dry flies year round...

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    2. What makes you think we can fish dries up here in snowy New England all winter? Like I was saying, sometimes I just fish the way I want whether conditions dictate or not !

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