Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 5/22/2017

Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, strong hatches have been keeping fish looking up.

Yesterday, Blue-winged Olives hatched for hours during the light rain and drizzle. Fish were looking up but also took nymphs well. Streamers were moving some quality fish as well. The summer hatches are well under way now. Expect Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and Isonychia (Slate Drake) mayflies. Light Cahills and Sulfurs have been around as well.

The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from good to great on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater.

Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly! Musky floats are about over for the year unless we get more rain.


Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Photo of the Month: Shad Eating Rainbow

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Beginning a Drought?

Temperatures are up and stream flows are down around middle and eastern Tennessee. Across the Smokies, we are experiencing flows normally reserved for August and September. Same thing goes for the Cumberland Plateau smallmouth bass streams which, by the way, are fishing well even with the low water.


Are we on the verge of a drought? Only time will tell. The one bright spot under these conditions are the great tailwater fisheries across the state. The Caney Fork has been fishing well most of the time. During the slower periods, a few quick fly changes have kept us catching fish. Sometimes different fish are eating from different menus.

Last Thursday I fished the Caney to explore a couple of spots. Lots of fish were obviously in the river, but they were tougher to catch than the previous week. After a few fly changes, the hot fly was located, and then my rod was bent for a couple of hours. During the excitement, I did pause long enough to take a couple of stomach samples. You have to be extremely careful if you are going to do this and avoid sampling any fish less than 12 inches. However, the results were intriguing.

Just to confirm, I tied on one of the usual patterns we fish out of the boat and then dropped a much more exact imitation of the obvious menu item that showed up in both samples. The pattern that killed them the previous week was getting one hit for every 10 fish I caught on the hatch matching fly. Big surprise there I'm sure, but the point is that if you aren't catching fish, keep on changing patterns or put your face down to the surface and look for bugs.

Later in the day, further down the river, I found out again that the fish didn't want the "usual" pattern so I started changing. Surprisingly they didn't want the second one either. Seeing some Sulfurs hatching got me excited and I tried dry and nymph versions of those. Nada. Finally, after seeing a few caddis flutter by, I tied on a favorite caddis pupa pattern and was immediately back into fish including this beautiful brown trout. Notice the fleece jacket sleeve on my arm. The high temperature here at home never got out of the low 50s last Thursday! I briefly thought I had died and gone to Heaven the Rocky Mountain high country.


With the low clear water, long casts and leaders were mandatory if I wanted to actually catch fish. If you are planning on floating with me, I would suggest considering brushing up on your casting before you come out for the day. It will help you enjoy your trip a lot more if you haven't been consistently casting 40-50 feet. When I fish in the mountains, I rarely cast more than 20 feet so I can often go long stretches without a longer cast. Heading out to my favorite casting pond gets me back in the zone for a great day of fishing no matter where I plan to fish.

Over in the Smokies, we are seeing more and more of an emphasis on small and medium sized streams. Just a little bit of rain will change that, however. This week we have a good chance of rain just about every day so hopefully the streams will rise a bit and fishing will return to normal. If not, keep chasing those Smoky Mountain jewels on the steeper mid and high elevation streams.


Despite the low water, conditions remain good for both fish and fishermen as long as you come prepared with low water stealth mode enabled. Last Wednesday, Logan and Rick were up to enjoy some time in the mountains and wanted to enjoy a new to them stream in Cades Cove. After telling them that the conditions were a bit less than optimal, they still wanted to try Abrams Creek so we decided on a late day trip (1/2 day trip) and hope for an evening hatch.

The fishing ended up being very good despite very low water conditions. Logan worked hard to learn some high stick nymphing techniques without a strike indicator and was soon catching hungry rainbow trout. Rick caught on quickly to our Smoky Mountain fishing techniques despite being more of a tailwater guy. By the end of the evening, both guys had caught numerous rainbows up to 9 or 10 inches on both dry flies and nymphs. We witnessed a good variety of bugs but the hatch was never as concentrated as I was hoping for. That didn't prevent the fish from feeding though! Here is Logan with a nice rainbow trout.


The Mountain Laurel is in bloom in the Smokies right now. That made for some incredible photo opportunities along the stream.


The highlight of the evening was when a deer waded out across the slick ledges and posed midstream for us.


With the rain in the forecast, I expect good things for the fishing in the mountains. Hopefully we won't receive too much that we get the tailwaters messed up. The Caney is in great shape for drifting right now so don't delay if you want to get a trip in. I'm avoiding the river on the weekends and hitting it when the crowds moderate slightly during the week. The next two weeks are booked solid but I do have some opening starting after that.

If I can help you with a guided fly fishing trip in the Smokies or on the Caney Fork River, please contact me via email at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.


4 comments:

  1. We're seeing much of the same here. WE NEED RAIN!

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    Replies
    1. Meanwhile, out west they are getting too much of the wet stuff. Crazy times!

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  2. David! hope the water hold for ya and if I could send some of ours your way I sure would! Nice fish, excellent post and as always nice pics! Tightlines!

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    Replies
    1. I'm hoping that all of the moisture you are getting translates into fantastic late season fishing. Things should slow down around here by then so I may make a late run to Colorado in early fall.

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