Guided Trips


Things have changed a lot since the last report. Unseasonably warm weather has kicked off the first hatches of the year in the Great Smoky Mountains while an extremely wet February means all of the tailwaters are blown out across middle and east Tennessee.

If you want to fish in the Smokies, nymphs and streamers will be your best bet unless you encounter a hatch. In that case, Blue Quills and Quill Gordons should be in your arsenal as well as Blue-winged Olives.

For now, just forget about the tailwaters in the short term. continued rain means it will be at least another month before the tailwaters are fishable again. With luck, we can start thinking about some streamer float trips on the Caney Fork in mid to late March, although that may be optimistic. In the meantime, head for the mountains and enjoy chasing the wild trout there.

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Photo of the Month: Breaking Cabin Fever

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Low Water

Fly fishing the Caney Fork River
Wading a likely looking run on the Caney Fork River.

Floating on low water is usually the preferred method for fly fishing the Caney Fork River. In addition to being much safer, the low water concentrates the fish and allows anglers opportunities to sight fish and also normally to catch good numbers. Last week, day two with Nathan and Frank was scheduled to be a low water float. We would have a hard time following up the big fish excitement of the previous day but hoped to find a few more trout. Then, in the afternoon, they had to take off, but I was going to do another section on high water again to see if the streamer bite was still on.

We met early and were soon at the river dumping the drift boat and getting the shuttle taken care of. With everything ready to go, we soon pushed off and were floating downstream. Early on, we experimented with some patterns and tried a few different spots. A couple of fish hit but came unbuttoned quickly and we moved on to look for more willing candidates.

Soon we were drifting over a favorite shoal that normally has a good number of trout. Sure enough, there were fish taking midges up and down the shallow gravel bar. I pulled the boat over and both Nathan and Frank jumped out to work the water more carefully. Caney Fork River fly fishing often entails sight fishing to steadily feeding trout and this day was no different.

I grabbed my camera to record the fun.

Fly fishing the Caney Fork River
Frank working a good stretch right before hooking up with a feisty brown trout.

Fly Fishing the Caney Fork River
Nathan prepares to land a healthy rainbow trout caught on a midge pattern.

Frank had been wanting to find a fish willing to eat a dry fly. A friend of his had given him a handful of flies and he wanted to catch a fish on them and get a picture. That mission was soon accomplished.

Caney Fork brown trout on a dry fly
Caney Fork brown trout caught on a dry fly.

Fly fishing the Caney Fork brown trout
A happy angler with a Caney Fork brown trout.

After the excitement, we were back in the boat and floating again. Some more fish were missed and then the action slowed. It became apparent we were following another boat so we passed them and rowed well downstream to not encroach on their water. Our time was running low but there were still a couple of big moments during the float.

Nathan was the first to score. I had pointed to a spot and requested that the anglers drop their flies in a small section of moving water. Nathan used pinpoint accuracy to get the flies drifting exactly where they needed to be, threw a nice upstream mend, and then set the hook as the indicator dove under. Soon the healthy holdover rainbow trout was in the net and we took a couple of quick photographs.

Caney Fork rainbow trout
Caney Fork rainbow trout.

Downstream a bit further, we had our last big moment for the day and it was really the highpoint of the whole float. We were drifting down on another good spot, and I directed the anglers to place their flies right on the current seam. Almost immediately both indicators went down and the guys got good hooksets. Soon the net was filled with trout and we had two happy anglers on board the boat!

Two happy anglers with a Caney Fork brown trout and a rainbow trout
One rainbow trout, one brown trout, and two happy anglers!

Soon we arrived at the takeout and quickly hauled the boat out before the generation caught up with us. A good morning fly fishing the Caney Fork had been had by all. The guys had a long drive back to Georgia, and I needed a break to eat lunch and rest before the afternoon streamer float. More on that to come soon!

If I can help you with a guided fly fishing float trip on the Caney Fork River or a walk/wade trip in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or on the Cumberland Plateau smallmouth bass streams, please call or text me at (931) 261-1884 or email me at

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