Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 10/17/2017

Fishing is excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park now. We have had a couple of shots of rain the last week and a half which has helped keep the streams flowing strong for this time of year. The cool overnight temperatures will get the brown and brook trout seriously thinking about spawning. Please be careful this time of year and avoid walking on fine sand and gravel in riffles and tailouts. Leave the spawning trout alone so they can do their thing. When you find brook or brown trout that aren't spawning, they are aggressive and looking to feed. Recent guide trips on brook trout waters have been anywhere from good to excellent. Streams with rainbows and browns have been excellent as well. There are good numbers of fish to be caught in the Park right now!

A variety of bugs have been hatching lately. On cloudy days, Blue-winged Olives have hatched along with some other small mayflies. Various caddis, including the Great Autumn Brown Sedges (often referred to as October Caddis by locals) are hatching and provide a nice bite for the trout. Little Black stoneflies are hatching as well. Fish are eating both dry fly and nymph imitations and even still hitting some terrestrials. Don't forget your beetle, ant, and inchworm fly box. A Parachute Adams or Yellow or Orange Stimulator should work well for a dry fly. Smaller bead head Pheasant Tail nymphs should work as a dropper. Caddis pupa are also catching a lot of fish as are stonefly nymphs.

On the Caney Fork, things have been tough lately. The river has been running warmer than is normal this time of year because of heavy generation earlier this year and also with a stain due to the sluice gate operations. Work has been underway to install vented turbines on the generators and they have been working to try and tweak them to improve dissolved oxygen. One day, we were floating and they were checking the DO and found it at 1.5 ppm. If I remember correctly, the minimum target is 6 ppm. Obviously 1.5 is way too low. Trout were sitting along the banks and in back eddies gasping for oxygen. Hopefully all of this won't have too much of a long term effect on the fishery, but needless to say, things are a bit difficult as of right now. Cooler weather should help. Once the lake turns over, oxygen and clarity will improve quickly.

The Clinch River has been fishing well if you can hit it on low water days. Small nymphs and midges will get the job done here.

Smallmouth bass are about done for the year, but we will be back out on the musky streams again soon looking for the toothy critters. This is tough fishing, but the rewards can be sizable.

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

Photo of the Month: Night Time Hog

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...

6 comments:

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

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    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!

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

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    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!

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  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.

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    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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