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

Friday, November 14, 2014

Be Careful

This time of year is pivotal for the brown trout populations on the streams that support wild, self-sustaining populations.  One of the biggest mistakes that I see made by other anglers is wading through the areas that have been recently spawned.  I'm not going to get into the ethics of fishing (or not fishing) for spawners as everyone seems to have pretty strong opinions one way or the other and I'm not interested in starting up that debate on here (but maybe over on the Facebook page for the Trout Zone).

The one thing we should all be able to agree upon is that it is a terrible idea to wade on the redds where the eggs have been recently laid.  This past week, on two consecutive days when I had guide trips, I saw people fishing a popular spawning site for the browns in the Great Smoky Mountains.  The unfortunate thing about it was that they had waded out on the gravel where the fish have been spawning to get a good cast at some fish they had spotted.  If you have very sharp eyes and can spot the redds and wade around them, then I guess we are back to everyone making their own ethical decisions.

The unfortunate reality is that most people have a tough time identifying redds in normal years, and this particular year is anything but that.  You see, we had a high water event that bordered on a minor flood only 3 or so weeks ago.  It cleaned all of the gravel in the streams of the Smokies to the point that now it is close to impossible to determine where the fish have dug out their nests.  That means that wading through a known spawning area (or any gravel area where you have spotted fish holding on or near) is likely resulting in the loss of the next generation.

The best solution? Stay away from the small gravel in the back of pools and in the riffles.  If you have spotted a large trout holding in that type of water, it is probably on a nest and should be left alone.  Above all, when it spooks 30 feet upstream, don't wade out on the gravel it just vacated to try and cast to it.  There were probably eggs there that you are crushing.

Here is an example of a normal redd when high flows have not scoured out the stream recently.


The difference this year is that all the gravel is the same color as the cleaned area in the middle so again, it is nearly impossible to identify redds unless you have a very keen eye.  If you must fish the Park during the next 2 months, please at least stay away from gravel areas like this.  The really good quality gravel is not in as great a supply as some think and the fish need a good spawn to contribute towards future generations of big wild brown trout.

To wrap up, here are a couple of pictures from a few years ago that will look familiar to those who have been following this blog for a while.  These are large spawning brown trout in the Smokies.




4 comments:

  1. Thanks David. As a fisherman who relishes fishing a well known Colorado brown trout water in the Fall, I needed lots of schooling before I was able to spot some of the redds.

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    Replies
    1. Howard, they can be tough to see. I can't begin to count the number of spots that I've looked at this year and thought, "That could be a redd but I'm not positive." When in doubt, I always just completely avoid an area...

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  2. Love those pics! Especially the fact that the bottom two both have a different smaller male encroaching on the redd. The one in the last one is surprisingly smaller!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I was fortunate to be there when the fish were so active. It was a golden opportunity for pictures.

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