Guided Trips


Fishing continues to be good to excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. Delayed harvest streams are also being stocked and fishing well in east Tennessee and western North Carolina.

In the Smokies, fall bugs are in full swing. We have been seeing blue-winged olives almost daily although they will hatch best on foul weather days. They are small, typically running anywhere from #20-#24 although a few larger ones have also shown up. A few Yellow Quills are still hanging on in the mid to high elevation brook trout water although not for long. October caddis (more properly, great autumn sedges) are hatching in good numbers now on the North Carolina side of the Park and just starting on the Tennessee side. Terrestrials still have a place in your fly box as well although they are definitely winding down for the year. Isonychia nymphs, caddis pupa, and BWO nymphs will get it done for your subsurface fishing. Have some October Caddis (#12) and parachute BWO patterns (#18-#22) for dry flies and you should be set. Brook trout are still eating smaller yellow dry flies as well. Not interested in matching the hatch? Then fish a Pheasant Tail nymph under a #14 Parachute Adams. That rig can catch fish year round in the Smokies.

Brook and brown trout are now moving into the open to spawn. During this time of year, please be extremely cautious about wading through gravel riffles and the tailouts of pools. If you step on the redd (nest), you will crush the eggs that comprise the next generation of fish. Please avoid fishing to actively spawning fish and let them do their thing in peace.

Our tailwaters are still cranking although the Caney is finally starting to come down. I'm hoping to get some type of a report for there soon. Stay tuned for more on that. Fishing will still be slow overall with limited numbers of fish in that particular river unfortunately.

The Clinch is featuring high water as they try to catch up on the fall draw down. All of the recent rainfall set them back in this process but flows are now going up to try and make up some of the time lost. It is still fishing reasonably well on high water although we are holding off for the low water of late fall and early winter as it is one of our favorite times to be on the river.

Smallmouth are about done for the year with the cooler weather we are now experiencing. Our thoughts will be turning to musky soon, however. Once we are done with guide trips for the year, we'll be spending more time chasing these monsters.

In the meantime, we still have a few open dates in November and one or two in October. Feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in a guided trip. Thanks!

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Local Trout Update

Yesterday, I took a brief scouting trip.  The goal was to see if TWRA had stocked any trout at Cumberland Mountain State Park.  Each year, the small lake is one of many winter stocking sites to provide a seasonal trout fishery.  With the tentative stocking date already past, I figured it wouldn't hurt to at least take a walk with my fly rod.

The trip didn't last long.  Either the trout were not stocked or they did not know how to behave like trout.  I didn't spot the first rise.  Normally those fresh stockers will rise well most of the winter so it looks like the fish may be delayed this year if we are lucky.

Where does luck come in?  Well, in the process of exploring the lake, I heard what sounded like an awful lot of water below the dam.  Upon closer investigation, I discovered that the drain seems to be open.  Now, I'm not sure why, but it seems like every year or two the lake is drained for some reason or another.  If that is what is happening right now, we may not even get the winter stocking at all.  So, there goes all the luck out the window....maybe.

At least there are still a few bluegill around and willing to play.  I managed a few like this one and one small bass that flopped off before I could manage a picture.

Also discouraging was the widespread algae coating the lake bottom.  Runoff from the golf course has been altering the lake for years now to the point that I'm wondering how it is affecting the fish population.  This lake used to put out some slab sized panfish and nice bass up to 8 or so pounds.  The last few years, I just can't find any fish over 2 or 3 pounds and even those seem to be few and far between.

Currently I'm looking into the possibility that the Park is illegally polluting their own lake with fertilizer rich runoff from the golf course. As of right now I'm not sure about all the regulations on such things, but the situation is getting bad enough that something needs to be done so I guess I'll be doing some legwork over the next few days.  More on that later if anything comes of it...


  1. My family and I have also wondered why it is so often drained.

    1. Kent, the last couple of times I've been hoping that they will rebuild the bridge across the lake by the boat house. So far no luck and I can't think of too many other good reasons to drain it unless they are going to dredge some of the muck out which also does not seem to happen. Hopefully something good will come of it if they do drain it this time!

  2. Looking good David! A bluegill is never second place, it's just isn't what you were expecting.

    1. Howard, they are definitely a lot of fun to catch. I think they pull a lot harder than those little stocker rainbows also which is a plus!

  3. One thing to also consider is how the fish are being managed on a relatively small body of water. When a smaller lake is new or has been recently drained and restocked (with bass and bluegill or similar), the fish grow big quickly... bass get big eating all of the small bluegill... and a few bluegill growing to slab proportions... and a truly magical time for fishing occurs. Then things settle down and the bass just don't seem to get as big and the lake end up full of bluegill the size of the one in your photo above. It's a very common pattern. So much so that at the state park lake at Oak Mountain SP in Alabama (where I used to work) they have signs encouraging anglers to keep their catch because "catch & release practices may be harming the quality of fishing" in the lake. There are lots of golf course lakes across the country that are at least somewhat eutrophic due to golf course runoff and still produce quality fish. I certainly don't condone polluting the waters, but the chemicals put on golf courses are regulated by EPA to be non-toxic. The harm is in the excess algae and in turn their effect on dissolved oxygen in the water. Just some stuff to think about.

    1. Jay, the dissolved oxygen is what I'm mostly concerned about. The lake had quality fishing for many many years (with no drawdowns) as the local crowd did a pretty good job of harvesting to keep the balance there. The lake is still a quality lake and I do not mind the chemicals enriching the lake, just concerned about the oxygen as the fish are obviously holding in pockets away from the algae. Not sure if that is because they don't like the algae or if it is actually a problem...any further insight? Thanks for the great explanation thus far!



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