Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 09/04/2019

Fishing has slowed down in some places and heated up in others. Smallmouth bass fishing on the streams of the Cumberland Plateau has been good to excellent while the tailwaters have slowed down somewhat.

In the Smokies, streams are getting low and warm. Stick with mid and high elevation streams for now until we get some rain and cooler weather. Right now it looks like this will probably last for another week although we do have some rain forecast next week. Let's hope that happens! A variety of bugs are working here, but lean heavily on your terrestrial box. Yellow Stimulators in particular have also been good lately.

The Caney Fork continues to produce a few fish here and there. Stripers are still thick in the river which isn't helping the trout at all. As long as things stay dry, this will be a viable option. There are a few large fish present if you know where to look. Yesterday's big fish was a 21.5" rainbow caught while sight fishing. Don't expect that every day, but if you're prepared to put in your time, there are good fish to be caught (and released!!!).

The Clinch seems to be in the middle of the annual late summer drawdown of Norris Lake. High water will be the norm here for the next few weeks. If you don't have a boat, then don't bother except, possibly, during early mornings. Weekends are offering some morning windows but crowds will generally be thick as well.

Fall fishing is not far off. The Clinch should fish well unless we have a wet fall. Sometime between mid October and early November, we should see flows start to come down. The Smokies are my personal favorite for fall fishing. The fish will be hungry and maybe even looking up!

Photo of the Month: Guide Trip Fish of the Year for the Smokies

Photo of the Month: Guide Trip Fish of the Year for the Smokies

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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