There are some days on the water where you work really hard all day and end up not catching any fish. Other days you may catch just one or two fish. These days are much easier to enjoy when one of those fish turns out to be a really big brown trout.
Yesterday, I hit the river with David Perry for a long day on high water. The norm on high water is heavy rods, big flies, and sinking lines. We had the added bonus of steady rainfall all day which is great streamer weather if you ask me, but the moisture can get a little tiresome after six or seven hours on the water.
Usually, when you bring your own boat, you get to choose when to fish. Despite bringing his boat, David was nice enough to row first for a while. Eventually, we switched and he started working the water. After he had cast countless times to a long and usually productive bank with nothing to show for it, I looked through my box and pulled out a fly that I developed last year for these tough high water conditions. With nothing better going on, it wasn't too hard to convince him to tie it on.
Soon we were drifting through some good looking water. I found a safe spot to drop the anchor so I could throw a few casts out of the back of the boat with my own streamer rod. Only a few casts later, David said, "There's one." He was calm about it, but I started reeling in my line anyway just in case. Only a breath later he followed up with, "It is a pretty good one."
I yanked up the anchor as fast as possible and started chasing the fish down the river. Soon we were within striking distance so I grabbed the net. Amazingly, everything worked as it should and we were staring at 25 inches of gorgeous brown trout. All I can say is that David is a fish catching machine. He not only catches some really big trout, but also puts his clients on big fish as well.
The rest of the day was anticlimactic. David graciously returned to the oars after catching his monster. I eventually found a couple of small fish willing to play and near the end of the day David caught another smaller fish as well. A bald eagle made an appearance as well which is the first time either of us have seen one for several months, at least on the river. Still, neither of us could stop thinking about the big fish, and I'm guessing we'll be back looking for more again over the next few weeks.
For the time being, high water is going to be a problem on the area rivers and streams. Not good high water either, but higher than you really want to float and fish for the most part. Heavy rain over the Cumberland Plateau means we'll see extended high flows. The good news for streamer fans is that the elevated flows will eventually push all the fish into high water lies so streamer fishing will become better once fish become established in those places. Check back in another few weeks for more as our winter streamer season really gets going.
Until my next time on the water, I'll be tying flies and dreaming of big brown trout!
FISHING REPORT AND SYNOPSIS: 5/22/2017
Fishing is good to excellent across the area. The Caney Fork River continues to shine on both high and low water. In the Smokies, strong hatches have been keeping fish looking up.
Yesterday, Blue-winged Olives hatched for hours during the light rain and drizzle. Fish were looking up but also took nymphs well. Streamers were moving some quality fish as well. The summer hatches are well under way now. Expect Golden and Little Yellow stoneflies and Isonychia (Slate Drake) mayflies. Light Cahills and Sulfurs have been around as well.
The Caney Fork River continues to fish anywhere from good to great on high water streamer floats. Anyone who wants to target trout with streamers will find this to be exciting fishing. Low water is becoming more and more likely, and if that trend continues we will see some great low water floats. The fish are hungry and we are going into some of the best fishing months on this fine tailwater.
Cumberland Plateau smallmouth streams are rounding into fine shape now. Rain will bump flows up again, but in between the fish are hungry and willing to hammer a fly! Musky floats are about over for the year unless we get more rain.