Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Showing posts with label Caney Fork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caney Fork. Show all posts

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tailwater Action


Recent float trips have been producing some nice fish. The other day, an angler hooked an 18" brown trout and played it perfectly through several blistering runs before it finally got the best of him and spit the hook. Another recent Fathers' Day gift trip produced a memorable trophy for this dad! I'm not sure if he or his son was more excited. His son did a great job on the camera though while I helped pose the fish. Check out this gorgeous rainbow trout!

Big Rainbow Trout on the Caney Fork River
Photo Courtesy of Trone Sawyer

The lack of recent updates is a direct result of how busy things have been. I'm scrambling to get caught up, but most of my free time is spent keeping a good supply of fish catching flies in stock for guide trips.

Lots more is on the way so stay tuned for more reports and thoughts on the current fishing around the area!

If you are interested in a guided float trip on the Caney Fork River or in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please contact me through Trout Zone Anglers, via email at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com, or call/text (931) 261-1884. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Evening Drifting


The main problem with our Caney Fork float trips is that the scenery is nice enough to make you forget to watch your flies or indicator.  Last week I was floating and looked up long enough to notice the sky.  The fly rod was soon traded in for my camera.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Float for Me

Guide's day off trips don't happen as often as I would like.  Of course, helping others catch fish is always pretty awesome some I'm not complaining.  I guess you could say that I'm simply pointing out  that being the one handling the fly rod is nice on occasion.  Last week I had a short vacation.  My cousin Nathan came up to fish with me for a few days.  We started the week fishing for smallmouth, followed that up with a trout float on the Caney, and finished up with some awesome trout fishing over in the Smokies on a day that was all about sheer numbers.  In other words, I had an incredible week.

The smallmouth trip was a lot of fun, but neither of us hauled a camera along so there is no photo evidence.  I guess that means I can inflate the size of the fish we caught.  Really it was a standard smallmouth wade trip with some nice fish caught but nothing to write home about, the kind of comfortable every day fishing that scratches the itch but leaves you wanting a little more.

Day two started out much the same with the main difference being that we were floating in the drifter instead of wading.  The generation schedule on the Caney has been a little strange lately.  The Corps of Engineers can't seem to decide what schedule is the best so each float is determined the evening before after a consultation of the following day's generation schedule.  We figured that we could sleep in a little and still make it in plenty of time to catch falling water.


We dumped the boat and were into fish before I had really gone anywhere.  There's nothing like those willing hatchery fish waiting at the ramp to get the skunk off so everyone in the boat can relax and focus on the task at hand.  I was at the oars and Nathan was wearing out the fish.  By the time we got around the first corner, I had turned the boat sidewise in the soft current so we could both fish.  Rowing and fishing at the same time presents a minor challenge but nothing that cannot be overcome.  It wasn't too long before I had caught a couple as well and decided to just focus on rowing while Nathan fished.  He quickly got several nice brook trout as well as a few rainbows but the nice browns were eluding him.




Eventually he offered to take a turn rowing and I assured him that he could take over at a certain point.  I was hoping he would catch a nice fish first but eventually we got to a spot I was dying to fish, and I let him take over rowing duties.

Sure enough, two casts later (seriously, I had barely even got to the front of the boat) something big came up and inhaled the hopper I was trying out.  Fighting the fish on one hand and telling Nathan where to row on the other kept me busy but soon the fish was in the net and we could all relax.  Nathan took over camera duty while I enjoyed the nice brown trout.




Soon we took off again, and I continued to catch fish on the dropper under the hopper.  Nathan eventually figured out how to row and fish as well and started catching some nice fish including his brown for the slam.


Not too long after that we made it to the take out just as the rising water caught up with us.  I was glad that we had finished before the water came up too much.  Nathan was getting pretty tired by the end.  The river can get awfully hot without any shade and a hot summer sun beating down.  We were soon on our way back home to get ready for the Smokies adventure starting the next morning!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Carp Afterthought

Have you ever gone fishing and had a fantastic day of catching your intended species only to come across a fish that is quite different and decide to try for it as well?  That is one of the amazing things about tailwaters, the variety that is.  You can fish hard for trout all day and then find that one 4 pound bass or 15 pound carp and fish for that as well.  Maybe you even get a shot at a striper later on as well.  When I'm striper fishing, I sometimes have lucked into trout and even some walleye.  In other words, on a tailwater you just never know what you will find.

Yesterday I headed down yet again to the Caney Fork yet again to get some trout fishing in and check several different spots on the river.  Scouting the water is about as important as actually fishing and this trip was intended to include both.  After all, when heading out on a guide trip, it is essential to be in touch with what is happening on the river.  My basic research was just locating fish and the best places to land both numbers of fish and quality fish.

The morning's highlight occurred when I saw a big brown charge into a pool full of small stockers and eat one or two while I was fishing for them.  Yes, my heart rate is still a bit elevated, but that is the beautiful thing about fishing trips; you just never know what is going to happen.  After calming down enough to actually fish, I worked a favorite section pretty hard and found a lot of chunky rainbows.  These fish are super healthy right now and providing great nonstop action if you have the right flies, the right depth, and a knowledge of where to use them at.


A little after noon, my buddy Tyler and I headed back to the car for some lunch as well as some air conditioning on the ride down to our next spot.  When we got to the next spot, things continued about the same as before.  In other words, we were both catching a lot of fish.  The insects were varied on this day and the occasional caddis and cranefly kept the fish looking up.  Our dry flies were getting enough action that we never switched over to an indicator nymph rig, preferring the dry/dropper method instead to cover our bases.


Eventually the heat and sun took its toll, and I was ready to call it a day.  Heading back to the car, I stopped at a spot where there are usually some carp and buffalo hanging out.  While this was definitely a trout trip, I had no problem at least looking at other fish.  Of course, you can guess where this eventually took me.  Upon seeing all those carp, I naturally had to at least cast a couple of times.

I've fished this spot and a couple of others nearby many times over the years.  In fact, given the opportunity, I would rather catch at least one or two carp on each trout trip.  Not that I'm ready to turn my back completely on trout.  Its just that carp are some of the toughest fish you will ever fish for.  Being a carp fisherman automatically makes you better at catching other species as well, trust me.  The crazy thing about this particular spot is that while I've put in my time to attempting to catch these fish, I've never really had any success.  Oh, I've caught carp other places on at least a couple of different rivers, but these particular fish had always outsmarted me.

So here I was casting to fish that I could see just fine but really didn't expect to catch when lo and behold one of the fish ate!  Seriously, it was all so easy that I pondered momentarily why I hadn't caught one before.  Then the fish realized it was hooked.  If you've ever hooked a carp, even a small one, on 5x, you know how I felt as this fish started running directly away from me for a underwater log.  I really had no chance, or at least that's how it felt.  By some miracle, the fish always came out on the right side of those logs.  All the pressure I thought the tippet could handle was brought to bear. Once the fish ran under another log and only came back out when I kept muscled it back.  I know, it's hard to believe all of this happened on 5x, but in the end, the best moment of the day came when my buddy slipped the net under the finally tired fish.  A couple of pictures later and the fish tore off back to its pool to rest up for our next meeting.



If I lived close by, I would chase these fish all the time.  Seriously.  They are that much fun.  Every one I've caught has been memorable.  Oh, sure, the trout fishing was awesome too, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but as an afterthought, those carp sure provide a lot of fun!

If I can help you with a guide trip to the Smokies or the Caney Fork tailwater, please contact me.  I'm not booking trips through July.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Drifting with Friends

One of the best things about the sport of fly fishing is all of the great people you meet.  From fly shops across the country, to stream side chats, I've met some of the nicest and most generous people.  Meeting for a float is about as fun as it gets so when my friend Breck checked in about a possible Caney Fork float, I was all in.

He was wanting to see the Caney since he hadn't fished it yet and was bringing his boat.  The generation schedule called for high water so it would be a day of throwing streamers the whole way.  I tied up a few more flies the night before and got up early for a start at daybreak.

Once he arrived, we dropped my car for the shuttle later and headed on up the river.  Breck is a streamer fanatic and with good reason I might add.  He has caught some huge browns on rivers like the Clinch while drifting and knows what it takes to have a good day on the water.  His boat boxes were full of monstrosities designed to turn the largest fish in the river.

It didn't take long to get the first fish of the day as well as some drive by action that resulted in the usual exclamation of "Did you see that?!?!?"  The skipjack are up in the river right now but not in the size that I'm accustomed to from the Chickamauga tailwater in Chattanooga where 18 and 20 inch skipjack are normal.  Once we started drifting, the early cold started to wear off as the sun rose higher.  Fish started to flash with some regularity and Breck came up with the first rainbow and brown of the day.




I love rowing and stayed with it for a while even after Breck offered to take a turn, but eventually the pull of throwing big flies was too strong, and I finally agreed to take a turn with the fly rod.  We covered a lot of water, pounding the banks as well as trying to work over deep water in the middle near shoals and structure.  Fish came from a lot of different places with most of mine coming off of banks and Breck's coming from out in the middle.

It wasn't until we were near or past the halfway point that Breck got excited.  I looked and saw a dark shape swirling before hammering the streamer.  Unfortunately luck was not on our side as the hook pulled from the big brown's mouth and we were both left plotting how to return again for another try some day.  Finally, as we came into the homestretch, Breck offered to switch again, and I was back on the fly rod.  Flashes and swipes became more common and soon I had my own fish as well.

When I offered to row again so Breck could fish, he told me to keep fishing.  See what I mean about generous?  I didn't argue too long and kept at it strong until the takeout.  We had a great trip even if we didn't get that big fish.  Thanks again Breck for a great day out on the water!

You can see Breck's report on our trip on the Little River Outfitters message board here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BRRRRR

The frost this morning appeared as promised, but thankfully it doesn't seem to have hurt anything too badly.  We don't have too much green around here yet.  The trout streams are probably having a much tougher time of it.  Take a look at this temperature graph from Little River just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Talk about falling water temperatures...that is a continuous drop of close to 15 degrees, and a drop from the highest recent temperature of more than 15 degrees.  I would be willing to bet that the fish might be lethargic to start things off today simply because of the drastic change.  Fish don't like huge fluctuations in temperature or water levels very much and will normally take a bit of time to adjust.  The good news is that the general direction of the water temperature is most important.  We should see temperatures begin to increase shortly as the stream receives full sun exposure throughout the day.  Once that temperature starts to rise, then the fish will be happier for sure.

In other news, it looks like I might get out on the water.  The Caney Fork is showing a 5 hour window without generation so someone clearly needs to go investigate to see how things are on the river.  Hopefully I'll have good news!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Caney!!!

Now that I'm blessed with tailwaters full of large wild trout, I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed fishing on the Caney Fork.  Those little stockers with rubbery fins rubbed raw by the concrete abode they call home for the first portion of their life can provide a lot more fun than I remembered.  My first venture onto the river this year finally happened on Wednesday morning.  Anticipation and excitement woke me up around 5:30.  Not too long after I was on my way.

Driving west through early morning light as the sun slowly edged higher behind me, I had a chance to recall other trips to the river.  I remembered when I first started fishing the river and discovered that the browns in an undisclosed area had a fondness for terrestrials.  Next I remembered that I had not had much luck in that area for many years now.  Past float trips were recalled with equal fondness and before I knew it I was exiting I-40 and rolling past Happy Hollow.  Crowds of early arrivals encouraged me to keep going in my search for fresh water.

The dam was conscientiously checked and also dismissed, again due to crowds.  Finally my car led me over the dam and down to Lancaster.  Only one car was there ahead of me.  I got out and chatted a bit with the two guys getting ready to fish.  Its always a pleasure meeting new people on the river.  I wished them luck as they headed down.  Remembering the forecast high of 96 degrees, I decided to wet wade, something I have rarely if ever done on the Caney unless floating.  Best decision of the day...

I decided to rig up by the water.  Normally I do this so I can first check if there is any obvious hatch situation going on.  Enough trout were dimpling the surface that a dry/dropper rig seemed a logical choice.  My long-time favorite Caney Fork rig has been a Parachute Adams with a midge dropped behind it anywhere from 1-2 feet.  Just like that I was ready to fish!

My casts unfurled so nicely that I even thought to myself, what nice casts today!  I'm rarely if ever conceited, I promise, but you know those days when you find yourself in the zone without even really trying?  Well this was one of them for me.  I haven't fished enough lately so my casting arm was fresh and....oh yeah, this isn't a professional sports report, just a fishing story.

Anyway, so here was my little #16 or #18 Parachute Adams floating high with a midge hanging temptingly below when a little brown trout swam by and noticed breakfast.  That was fish number one. The fish were all up in the riffles so I soon moved there until the sun was on the water.  About the time the sun hit I happened to look upstream.  The view was so beautiful that I just paused and absorbed the scene, until I remembered my camera that is.  What perfectly calm water!


The mist was thick for a while, but as you can see above the sun soon burned it off.  After catching 7-8 of the little stocker browns, I arrived at the stage of I wonder what the fish won't eat?  Several nymphs and streamers were attempted but the fish clearly wanted midges and not much else.  About this time, a boat drifted by, and I got to talk to another angler.  A couple of other fishermen in 2-3 hours of fishing is not bad!

I wandered down the river utilizing a favorite technique for long drifts while wading.  My reward was a fat rainbow that looked pretty healthy!



Getting bored, I decided to head back to the car and explore some more of the river.  Down at Betty's Island it didn't seem as if much was going on but the crowds were still at Happy Hollow, until I realized that there really weren't any crowds.  The number of people actually on the water did not compare to the number of cars in the lot.  This pleasant discovery encouraged me to fish at Happy for a while and I'm glad I did.  In addition to some freshly stocked browns, I also discovered brookies and some more 'bows.  A couple of the browns were a bit larger in the 12"-14" category and fought like fish larger than they were.




By the time I started thinking about home, I had caught more than my fair share of fish.  I was starting to get hungry and thought about the nice air conditioning back home.  That did it and I headed back up to the car.

Tomorrow I'm headed back.  Expect another report.  Next week?  The Smokies, and some smallmouth, and maybe even musky.  Stay tuned for more!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More Fishin'


That's right! I went fishing twice this weekend...I guess it was just making up for lost time. Regardless, the second fishing trip was better than the first. Since I was home for the weekend, I just went down to the Caney Fork which I've been wanting to fish for awhile now. The fishing was great and the catching was phenomenal. I completely lost track of how many times I caught fish on consecutive casts and some of them were even eating the dry I had on as an indicator for my midge.

This river will continue fishing well and I hope to make another trip there again as soon as possible. There are a lot of nice fish in the river and they are very willing to eat right now as winter is just around the corner. My best fish of the day was a hard fighting 16" rainbow but that was just because I missed the much larger brown that ate the zebra midge and then spat it out before I reacted... I'll just say I'm rusty since I haven't been fishing enough lately...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Home Water


After a long fishing trip, it would be easy to have one of two problems. The first problem that could develop would be an addiction to fishing every day as much as you wanted. The second potential problem is that you could get so tired of fishing that you wouldn't go for a few weeks.

I probably am as close to being right between these two problems (and hopefully this means normal) as you can get. The shakes haven't taken over yet but I don't have to stay away from fishing either. Curiosity took over yesterday and I made the short drive down to my "home" tailwater, the Caney Fork. I had to do some research to see how the fish were doing.

Wow! Talk about being a bit rusty. As much as it sounds ridiculous, the west had spoiled me with hard to spook, easy to catch fish. I started out using standard indicators and quickly had to go back to my dry dropper to get into fish. Once I started the old routine I remembered so well, things started to improve. Another problem soon became apparent however. Caney Fork fish are perhaps some of the fastest in the world at taking a fly and spitting it back out. I had grown accustomed to big stupid Cutts on the Yellowstone that would grab my fly and dart upstream with the indicator dragging behind. Reaction time wasn't all that important and so my reflexes were a bit off.


I stuck some nice fish and missed a bunch, but somehow managed to bring a few to hand as well. The good news I discovered is that the fish are in great shape heading towards fall. If we can avoid any late summer dissolved oxygen issues, this fall should bring some of the best fishing we've seen in awhile on the Caney Fork including some excellent sight fishing opportunities for larger fish. There are lots of healthy holdovers and all the fish seemed fat and full of fight. Of course, I can't make too many judgements off of just one fishing trip so expect to see me on the river again soon doing more "research."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fishing With My Uncle

The last couple of days have been spent with relatives visiting from out of state. My uncle has spent a bunch of time telling me stories from his younger days when he fished a lot. Big browns in Montana are generally the topic of my favorite stories but he has good stories to tell from throughout the west. He can't get out in the river well anymore himself but thought it would be fun to come watch me catch a few. I assured him it was a good time to go as the fishing has been great lately so we headed down to the Caney Fork for a couple of hours. He made himself comfortable in a chair on the shore and I proceeded to catch a few fish to show him. Another big fish ate my fly but this time I didn't even get the hookset so he is still out there to be caught. Fortunately, some other nice fish decided to play.


My appreciation of fluorocarbon tippet is increasing by leaps and bounds. I can't remember the last time I fished 5x so successfully on the Caney and it is nice to be able to pressure fish a little. Midges are still working well...

My uncle got a kick out of watching me catch fish and a good afternoon was had by all!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The River Report

Today I made my weekly stop by the Caney Fork for a couple of hours and did very well for a change. The river has been tough lately with the fish appearing to be a bit leader-shy. Today was much better, perhaps due in part to my first experience with Fluorocarbon tippet. I finally decided to shell out the extra $$$ and I'm sold. We'll see how it does when the fish get spooky again though.

The action was basically non-stop with seemingly every fish out feeding. My first fish was caught sight-casting. I had an indicator on but cast down and across to get the proper drift and watched as the fish moved over to eat as my indicator drifted over. The indicator never moved but I could see the fish had taken something and the hookset was sufficient to inform me that it had been my fly. After a lengthy battle, a chunky rainbow came to hand.


I was very impressed with the healthy and overall quality of this fish. As the day progressed, the other fish that had obviously been in the river awhile all seemed in equally good healthy. Based on what I'm seeing now, as long as no disasters occur, the Caney Fork should fish exceptionally well this coming fall and winter. I'm expecting lots of good browns to be caught this next October and November so plan your trip now.

After the first nice rainbow, I continued working up the river catching fish in just about every spot and seeing even more fish. I could have stood in one spot the whole time and caught fish but I like to keep moving around. After I had fished up as far as I wanted, I started to work back down as a storm was approaching. Lightning and graphite rods don't mix well and I wanted to get out in plenty of time. One spot needed special attention as good fish had been working on my way up but wouldn't commit to my fly. The first cast on the way down nailed the fish which turned out to be a beautiful brown. This fish I consider my consolation prize for the day.

As I fought this fish, my thoughts turned to the big fish I had missed. When I first got on the river I had hooked a large brown, somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 inches. It threw the fly before I could get it on the reel and left me staring at the spot where the great fish disappeared. It was particularly tough to lose because I have been trying for this fish for around a month now. I know where it likes to feed and today was the first time I was able to hook it. Thankfully there's always another time and I'm sure one of these days I'll land it as long as someone doesn't haul it out of the river.


Once I landed the consolation brown, I paused just long enough to get a couple of pictures before the release. The fish surged back to its home to be caught another day. The lightning was closer by this time and I got out of the river and made it to my car before the downpour started, satisfied by a nice bit of time on the water...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Caney Outing and Vacation

The first of at least two summer trips for me has finally rolled around. Tomorrow I depart for Oklahoma and while I won't be sampling its trout waters this trip, I will be spending an inordinately large amount of time down at a small creek casting for whatever is out swimming.

Since it will be a while before I get close enough to a trout to be dangerous, a stop at the Caney Fork River seemed in order today. I was passing through on my way home from Nashville and stopped to fish for about 3 hours. Enough fish were fooled to keep things interesting but the severe headache I got kept me from doing too much damage. Word of advice for the day, stay hydrated if you want to catch lots of fish. If you don't, your reflexes will suffer... Several large fish were spotted throughout the afternoon and I got a few to eat but my feeble attempts at setting the hook (this was later in the day once the headache had developed) only worked on one of the better fish, and this was nowhere near the largest. Despite my troubles, I had a nice outing and then went home to sleep off the migraine.


Another recent stop at the river was good for this nice brown.

As you can see, the fish are healthy and quite colorful. As long as a catastrophe doesn't occur, this fall should bring excellent fishing with lots of good-sized fish. With this river it can be tough with the late summer and fall dissolved oxygen posing a problem. We can only hope...

I'll hopefully be bringing reports on my warmwater exploits in Oklahoma within a few days so stay tuned for details...