Guided Trips


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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Moving Day: Initial Thoughts on the Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack

Moving is always hard. In fact, I dread the day I have to move again just because of the work involved. Packing, loading, unloading, unpacking and don't forget all of the cleaning involved on both ends of the trip. New gear is kind of like moving, especially in the case of moving from one storage system to another. It can take some getting used to, but usually there is also some excited anticipation involved.

The transition will be easy in many ways since I'm moving from one waist pack to another. On the other hand, I know I'll reach for something only to discover it isn't where I expect it to be. Probably I'll do that several times over the next few days and weeks.

One of the major selling points for me on this new system is how easy it will be (I hope!) to eliminate the lanyard from my current setup. I'm not convinced that I won't pull it back out, but I'm excited to at least attempt fishing without the lanyard. Less clutter dangling off of my neck for one thing, and just a cleaner system in general all points to this new system staying for a while.

As with all moving, I've been comparing the new pack with the old. Some things I like while on others the jury is still out. For example, I loved the twin water bottle holders on each side of the old waist pack. The new pack has a single water bottle holder on the bottom of the pack. By the way, my old pack is a William and Joseph pack (back from the days when their packs were still made with zippers versus the newer magnetic closure system). The new pack, as the title above says, is a Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack. I've noticed that William and Joseph is still making a pack with twin water bottle holders so there is no guarantee that I'll stay with my current setup.

I also really like the roominess of the old pack. I like the roominess on the Simms Guide pack as well, just in different ways. For example, on the old pack, there is one massive main compartment without any dividers other than one mesh pocket along the back wall. On the new pack, there is a handy divider with plenty of pockets to stash things like leaders and extra tippet spools, split shot containers, strike indicators, and all of those little gadgets that most fly fishers eventually find themselves carrying. Simms definitely put a lot of thought into this pack.

The downside of the divider is that it is non-removable. In other words, once you get stuff crammed in all those little storage pockets, it can be tough to add a LOT of fly boxes. Right now I comfortably have four in there. My old pack was set up in such a way that I could probably get 6-8 fly boxes in easily and still have plenty of room for the other stuff. I'm sure with some repacking I can get more in the new pack, but it would be great if the divider came out easily when I wanted it to. Velcro would have been an easy addition/solution there.

One of the things I really like on the new pack is how easy it is to store tippet and forceps in a readily accessible position. The tippet holder attaches to the pack through the use of velcro. This is probably the main thing that makes me wonder if I'll go back to a lanyard as I have yet to see how well the velcro holds up. In my experience, velcro generally has some limits to its longevity. Again, time will only tell.

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack

The new pack is also great because it does only have one main compartment. Yeah, I know, I just sort of complained about that feature. The good side of it is that I open one zipper and everything is at my fingertips. Flies, split shot, indicators, tippet, floatant, and many other things are all right there ready to use. That prevents me from wasting time and opening multiple pockets to re-rig someone who has just broke off or got a birds nest so bad that the best solution is to cut it out. As a guide, I deal with that on a regular basis, as a fisherman too I might add.

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack

So at the end of my move, my initial thoughts are largely positive. I'm already excited to try out the new pack. My clients may wonder why I keep reaching for imaginary gear, but in the end I think we'll still get out there, find a few fish, and trick some into eating our flies. Once I get some time on the water in I'll follow up. Until then, I am recommending the Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack as a great way to carry your gear out on the water.

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