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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Fishing in the Smokies

Winter fishing does not have to be all about frozen guides and numb fingers.  In fact, if you choose your moments, the fishing can be as good as during the warmer months.  This fact was driven home yesterday on a guide trip I had in the Park as well as afterwards when I fished a bit for myself.

Guiding in the winter can be a tricky proposition.  The generally cold water temperatures and sluggish trout means that the catching can be tough even for the best of anglers.  Over the last few days we have experienced a welcome reprieve with water temperatures at the Townsend USGS gauge flirting with the 50 degree mark yesterday.  That is almost always a good thing, especially this time of year.  When we hit the stream for a half day trip starting in the late morning, I was not sure what to expect.  When 2 of the guys had fairly hard strikes early on I was feeling better.  Getting new fly fishers on fish can be tough, but when the fish are hitting hard it helps a lot.

We finally hit up a pool that always holds a lot of fish and really started to do well.  In fact, the three guys took turns and caught a total of 6 fish out of that one hole.  The lesson there is that when you find fish in the winter, there will probably be several.  Wintering holes will have a lot of fish stacked into a small space.  Look for deep water with moderate to slow current with easy access to food.

By the time the guys had each caught a couple, I decided to head downstream to another section to see if we could find water where they could all fish at the same time.  We got on a few more good spots and landed another trout before we had to call it a day.  It was at this last spot that I started seeing the bugs hatching.  Midges were everywhere and some caddis were making an appearance as well.  I even thought I saw a mayfly but was not positive on that.

After dropping the guys off at their cabin and stopping by Little River Outfitters to see Daniel and Bill for a few minutes, I headed back up to the Park to see if I could scare up a few myself.  Sure enough, it didn't take long before I was catching trout.  Over the next hour and a half, I caught and released 17 trout.

The fishing was so good that I decided to see what they wouldn't eat and tied on a Green Weenie.  Sure enough, I kept catching fish.  I even had at least 2 solid strikes on the strike indicator which tells me that I could have caught at least a few on dries.

So, the other lesson for the day was that warm water will almost always be a good thing in the winter.  I think the best part about the water temperatures yesterday though was the fact that they had risen gradually and didn't need a big push of rain water to help them climb.  The fish were feeding like it was their last meal.  Maybe they knew it was about to get cold.  The temperature has been dropping steadily ever since and will through at least tomorrow.  I'm just glad I got to be there on such a good day!


  1. Not bad for a winter day in the park!

  2. David, now that is the kind of winter fishing scenario that a guy likes for sure. Put up with cold, get some bugs going, and, new fly fishers are born. You did well out of the bullpen, too. Thanks for sharing.



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