Guided Trips

FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 11/21/2017

Fishing is good on the Clinch River right now and that is where I'm doing most of my guiding and fishing. The Smokies have been good as well. The Caney Fork is just now starting to offer some decent windows again so that is great news!

In the Smokies, the brown trout are wrapping up the spawn. Over the next few weeks, the opportunity to catch larger than average brown trout is definitely elevated. I like to throw nymphs or streamers right now and through the winter. Next spring should be good with hatches starting by the first of March and peaking by late April or early May. Spring is one of the best times to fish in the Smokies so start planning that trip now!

The Caney Fork is starting to offer some wade opportunities as well as some good schedules for half day floats. If you would like to get in a late season float or wade trip here, let me know as I have a few openings over the next few weeks.

This winter is looking like a good bet on the musky streams. We'll be out hunting the toothy critters in the near future so stay tuned for more on that!

Photo of the Month: Evening in the North Woods

Photo of the Month: Evening in the North Woods

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Camping in Cataloochee

Bees Balm along Rough Fork in Cataloochee Valley
Bees Balm along Rough Fork in Cataloochee Valley

Some of my favorite experiences in the Smokies over the years have involved camping trips with a healthy dose of fishing thrown in for good measure. When some time was freed up a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make a last minute run to the Park for my first camping trip in quite a long time. The destination was Cataloochee Valley, one of the places where elk are again roaming wild in the Park after their successful reintroduction several years ago. The elk are just one of the reasons I love camping in Cataloochee although I must say that they have increased the crowds there a lot.

When people ask me where my favorite place to fish is, I always have to pause and think. Little River would probably be at the top of that list, but the rest would shake out differently each time depending on the day and my mood. Cataloochee always deserves a place near the top of that list. The reasons are much more complicated than great fishing and in fact if fishing was the main goal, I probably would not choose Cataloochee for a trip. The fishing is just about as good as anywhere else in the Park but certainly not better. The remote nature means there is more water available per fisherman which is beginning to come closer to the truth of why I love Cataloochee.

For my most recent trip, I decided to take the scenic route and drove in from Big Creek which is a good enough fishery in its own right. On the drive over, I stopped to sample a couple of small tributaries ranging from very tiny to just barely fishable. I was happy to discover brook trout just where they were supposed to be although getting a fly to these fish was challenging to say the least.

Continuing my drive, I arrived at the campground and quickly ate my lunch. I headed back out to fish again and stayed close to camp. In a couple of hours of fishing, I didn't catch anything particularly noteworthy or memorable but did experience one of those moments that seems to always happen and make my trips to Cataloochee exciting.

I was headed down to the creek and was close to bushwhacking but had found a faint path to follow. When the sound of water grew louder, I looked up and realized the path I was following dipped under a bridge. A flicker of movement soon materialized into a doe which stared back with little apparent fear. A brief moment of anxiety over whether she had a fawn close by caused me to quietly talk to her while moving slowly around to give her plenty of room. She watched with big dark eyes but soon couldn't stand the close encounter any longer and bounded off through the rhododendron. The same rhododendron that would take me hours to navigate I might add. I watched as she contorted her body in each jump to slip between the branches and was amazed at the body control she was displaying. The moment was fleeting, and soon I was staring at an empty spot where she had disappeared.

That is why I like Cataloochee. Special things always seem to happen there. Being a good fisherman, I was there to fish as well. It was time to quit staring at the brush and try to catch some trout. As it turns out, the fishing was good just like I remembered it being. Could I have caught just as many fish closer to home? Probably, but it was nice not competing with other anglers and don't even get me started on all the swimmers and tubers on Little River right now.

The fish seemed keyed in to terrestrials with the best action being on inchworm imitations and beetles. Caddis were also out and about and a caddis pupa was like candy to these fish. In fact, on day two, the caddis pupa worked even better than the terrestrials for the most part.

Soon enough, my time came to an end, and I had to head back home to the responsibilities of life. I was refreshed from my time camping in Cataloochee and ready for the six straight days of guiding fly anglers the next week.

Here is my stay at Cataloochee in pictures, which to me does a better job at capturing the essence of the fishing there than words ever can.

Cataloochee brook trout closeup
Brook trout from a high elevation tributary 

A tributary of a tributary to Cataloochee Creek
Tight quarters but willing brook trout 

Rainbow trout were eating terrestrials in Cataloochee Creek
Green Weenies were on the menu

Cataloochee Creek in Cataloochee Valley
Cataloochee Creek is a gentle, largely low-gradient stream. 

Rainbow trout were eating beetles on Rough Fork in Cataloochee Valley
The trout liked beetles as well... 

Brook trout liked beetles too in Cataloochee
...including the brook trout...

Even this little brown trout ate a beetle in Cataloochee
...and this little brown trout. 

Bees balm in Cataloochee Valley along Rough Fork
Bees Balm was seemingly everywhere... 

Bees balm close up in Cataloochee Valley along Rough Fork
...providing bursts of color upon the stream banks. 

Morning rays on Cataloochee Creek
Morning in Cataloochee breaks forth on Cataloochee Creek in blinding shafts of light.

Rainbow Trout from Palmer Creek in Cataloochee Valley
Some of the rainbows were nice sized. 

Rhododendron blooms along Palmer Creek in Cataloochee Valley
There were even a few rhododendron still blooming along the streams.

For now I'll have to wait, but I'll be eagerly looking forward to my next adventure camping in Cataloochee.

10 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful area David. I can see why you love going there...besides the fishing of course.

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    1. Howard, these mountains always have something other than the fishing to remind me how special they are. The fishing is pretty good as well!

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  2. David
    Colorful trout, and some beautiful scenery; I assume the humidity was less in some of those higher elevations. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Bill, the humidity is still pretty high but the air temperatures are low so it is manageable. I was lucky enough to visit Cataloochee just after a weak cold front that helped clear some of the humidity out so it was actually very comfortable.

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  3. Nice fish and beautiful scenery. Bees Balm, interesting plant. It's not something you'd see out here so I'm glad we have many fellow friends and bloggers to show us the rest of the country.

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    Replies
    1. Mark, I always enjoy seeing flora and fauna from other parts of the country as well. It is a treat to be able to enjoy things from the other side of the country from the comfort of my house!

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  4. Great photos Dave.
    Wonderful colors from the stream and along it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! The always changing scenes along the streams never gets old.

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  5. Very nice David! After seeing that road in, I know why it does not get much attention!

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    Replies
    1. Mark, that road is definitely an adventure!

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