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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Floating the Caney Fork River Before the Cold

Last week, with the cold weather on the way, I wanted to get one more day of fishing in. After checking around, I discovered that my buddy Tyler was free and we agreed on a float of the Caney Fork River. With forecast temperatures supposed to rise into the low 50s, we were excited about one last nice day on the water before the arctic air plunged into the region.

Timing our arrival to coincide with falling water, we launched shortly after the last generator was turned off. Fish were rising all across the dam pool when the wind wasn't blowing but unfortunately there was more wind than not.

We started drifting with Tyler in the front casting brace while I enjoyed some time at the oars. It wasn't until we passed the second ramp that Tyler got in the zone with his casting and mending. The water was slow to fall out, probably due to the fact that they had been running two generators for several hours. That is a lot of water to drain down the river to the Cumberland.

About the time that I felt water levels were improving, Tyler made a nice cast and mend that set up a long drift. Right at the very end of the drift his indicator dove and he set the hook. A nice big golden flash got both of us excited but the fight was over as fast as it started when the fish threw the hook. Shortly after, Tyler made a long cast to the bank and after a short drift, the indicator dove again. This time everything worked out and we had our first little brown trout of the day in the boat.


I continued rowing and it was not too long before Tyler caught some more including a nice rainbow trout.



This fish was big enough that I decided to do a quick throat sample. While I do not recommend doing this with every fish, it is a good way to find out what the fish are eating. Thankfully this one seemed to handle it pretty well. Here is what was on the menu that day.


We continued down the river with Tyler catching a trout here and there but none of any significant size. Eventually, when we were a good third of the way into the float, I decided to let Tyler row. He willingly took a turn at the oars, proving to be a quick learner as it was only his second time rowing.

I got into some fish in an unlikely spot that I will remember for future reference, as well as some spots that I usually expect to find fish. Late in the float, I finally hooked the big fish of the day. This rainbow really wasn't a large fish, but I wish you could have seen its girth in person. The pictures do not do it justice. I guarantee it weighed at least double of what other fish of equal length weighed. Either this is a female full of eggs, or it has been eating a bunch of shad lately. I'm guessing the first one is correct based on where I caught this fish, but of course the shad hypothesis is a bit more interesting.


Two Photographs above by Tyler Debord

With forecast overnight lows expected to drop below zero in the upcoming nights, the shad kill likely is on the way. I'm already planning another trip to the river, and hopefully I'll be throwing streamers again next time. Until then, I think I'll try to stay warm.

If you are in the Huntsville area, I will be speaking to the Tennessee Valley Fly Fishers this upcoming Thursday evening about fly fishing in the Smokies. I'm looking forward to meeting a bunch of new friends! Come out to learn more about the excellent fly fishing we have here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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