Guided Trips


Fishing continues to be good to excellent in the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. Delayed harvest streams are also being stocked and fishing well in east Tennessee and western North Carolina.

In the Smokies, fall bugs are in full swing. We have been seeing blue-winged olives almost daily although they will hatch best on foul weather days. They are small, typically running anywhere from #20-#24 although a few larger ones have also shown up. A few Yellow Quills are still hanging on in the mid to high elevation brook trout water although not for long. October caddis (more properly, great autumn sedges) are hatching in good numbers now on the North Carolina side of the Park and just starting on the Tennessee side. Terrestrials still have a place in your fly box as well although they are definitely winding down for the year. Isonychia nymphs, caddis pupa, and BWO nymphs will get it done for your subsurface fishing. Have some October Caddis (#12) and parachute BWO patterns (#18-#22) for dry flies and you should be set. Brook trout are still eating smaller yellow dry flies as well. Not interested in matching the hatch? Then fish a Pheasant Tail nymph under a #14 Parachute Adams. That rig can catch fish year round in the Smokies.

Brook and brown trout are now moving into the open to spawn. During this time of year, please be extremely cautious about wading through gravel riffles and the tailouts of pools. If you step on the redd (nest), you will crush the eggs that comprise the next generation of fish. Please avoid fishing to actively spawning fish and let them do their thing in peace.

Our tailwaters are still cranking although the Caney is finally starting to come down. I'm hoping to get some type of a report for there soon. Stay tuned for more on that. Fishing will still be slow overall with limited numbers of fish in that particular river unfortunately.

The Clinch is featuring high water as they try to catch up on the fall draw down. All of the recent rainfall set them back in this process but flows are now going up to try and make up some of the time lost. It is still fishing reasonably well on high water although we are holding off for the low water of late fall and early winter as it is one of our favorite times to be on the river.

Smallmouth are about done for the year with the cooler weather we are now experiencing. Our thoughts will be turning to musky soon, however. Once we are done with guide trips for the year, we'll be spending more time chasing these monsters.

In the meantime, we still have a few open dates in November and one or two in October. Feel free to get in touch with me if you are interested in a guided trip. Thanks!

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

Photo of the Month: Fishing in Paradise

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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