Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 12/3/2019

Winter fishing is nearly upon us. Snow yesterday has given way to falling water temperatures in the Smokies. In general, fish will be hunkered down, although by tomorrow they should start to get more active again as temperatures warm. For the next three months, expect many more fish in the slower places in the Park. Think nymphs and maybe streamers but don't be surprised to find fish rising to blue-winged olives or midges on some days.

On tailwaters like the Clinch, brown trout and some fall spawn rainbows are doing their thing. This is a good time to review good ethics when it comes to spawning trout. Remember that these are the next generation of trout and the best thing you can do is to leave them alone. Avoid wading through spawning areas and don't fish for obvious spawners. For the foreseeable future, we should have high water thanks to big rains this last weekend. Fishing out of the drift boat will be very good through the winter with both nymphing and streamer fishing a distinct possibility. Want to swing for the fences and go for just one monster? Streamers will just get better and better going into January and February.

The Caney is slowly coming around. A few shad are coming through the dam, but lingering water quality problems are limiting the fishing. Winter streamer floats will produce shots at larger brown trout for anglers willing to work hard. Next spring should bring good fishing again.

Winter is our favorite time to get on the musky streams. In between bouts of high water, those will be fishing well for the next few months.

Photo of the Month: Big Fish Chuck Strikes Again

Photo of the Month: Big Fish Chuck Strikes Again

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Hiwassee River Round Two

After such a fantastic day on the Hiwassee River last week, I had to go back for more. A couple of friends planned to meet me for an afternoon of fishing.


We planned on meeting just about the time they cut off the generators, but instead of starting at the powerhouse as I did two days prior (if you haven't read it, you will want to do so then come back), we started a bit further down the river. Since the water was still high, we had to be extremely careful wading as the water slowly dropped out. The Hiwassee is one of the slickest rivers I know, and more than once I came close to taking a spill when my wading boots slipped on the slick ledges of the big river.

Both of my friends quickly got into a trout or two on nymphs and streamers. There were a couple of flashes in the vicinity of the streamer I started out with but otherwise it was slow compared to the last trip.

Once the water dropped out enough, I switched over to the same dry/dropper rig that had produced so well for me earlier in the week. That proved to be the ticket once again, especially once the water levels dropped out close to the minimum flow level. Fish again showed a distinct preference for my subsurface offerings instead of the dry fly.

Not too long after we had slowly slipped and stumbled our way across the river, my buddy Chase hooked a hot fish. After a strong fight, he finally managed to land it. We were both surprised that the fish wasn't any larger. Based on the fight, this fish should have gone more like 16-17 inches, but that is the effect a tailwater has on fish. I never cease to be amazed at how strong fish from area tailwaters are.


Meanwhile, Jayson was off fishing some ledges above us. He continued to catch a fish here and there. I happened to be nearby for at least one of them and snapped a picture of one of his fish as well.



I was pleasantly surprised to catch my first ever brookies on the Hiwassee River on this trip. While they may not be the best use of TWRA's money (seriously, they just become bait for big browns and stripers), they do provide a bit of a break from the routine of stocker rainbows and fingerling browns. The average size of stocked trout on the Tennessee tailwaters seems to have decreased over the years. I'm guessing that it has something to do with the budget and cost associated with raising larger fish. Interestingly, in some states at least, they have discovered that they can stock fewer but larger trout and actually provide better catch rates.


Catching a Hiwassee River slam was a nice first for me. The brookies are sadly pale compared to their wild counterparts that I love catching so much in the Smokies but they are still brookies.

The day had one last high point for me. With the sun sinking quickly, I found myself in the same area that I caught the nice brown on the previous trip. Throwing my fly in the same run the brown came from, I hooked a strong fish. When I got it closer, I saw that it was one of the prettiest rainbows I have seen in a long time. It reminded me a lot of the beautiful rainbows I caught in Colorado.



Shortly after catching the rainbow, the generators came back on for the night. With rising water approaching, we made our exit from the riverbed and headed home completely satisfied with another great day on the water!


You may enjoy reading some of these other recent articles:


Also, sign up for our newsletter to get great fly fishing tips and tricks, more great photography and fishing stories, and news and special offers about guided trips with Trout Zone Anglers.

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required

2 comments:

  1. David
    Nice looking trout, have you tried the Seal Leech here? Enjoyed the post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill, in past years the Simi Seal Leech was one of my favorite flies on the Hiwassee. On this particular trip I did not try it. However I did try it two days prior to this for a short time and did not catch anything on it. I'm sure I could have though if I had chosen to stick with it a little longer...

      Delete

Newsletter

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required