Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth
Showing posts with label Drift Boat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Drift Boat. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guides Guiding Guides

There are guide trips, and then there are guides guiding guides. Of course, it is possible for there to be some crossover between the two. Let me be clear from the start by saying that there was no money exchanging hands on this particular trip, just three friends getting together to have a good time.

The day began the week before when David Perry contacted me about getting out to fish streamers together on Sunday. When I told him that my calendar was clear, it was time to find a third person to join us. We talked about some possibilities and soon settled on another great Caney Fork River guide, Susan Thrasher. Amazingly, her calendar was also open and things were quickly finalized to meet Sunday morning. With the time change happening that Saturday night, we didn't start too early and targeted 9:00 AM as a good time to meet up.

Morning came too early with the time change, and I was glad we hadn't started any earlier. David Perry had brought his boat. It didn't take long to throw the necessary items into his truck and ride up to the dam. I stayed with the boat to get everything ready while he and Susan ran the shuttle. Before long they were back. Comfortably settled in at the rower's bench, I told them to jump in, and we were off for a few laps around the dam pool.

Fish started to come with some regularity and soon it was time to trade off on the rowing job. We ended up each taking a lap around the dam pool before starting off down the river. Both strikes and fish were coming with enough frequency that you had to stay on your toes. This was going to be one of those good days.

I had some experiments to try out. I've been working on deep water nymphing techniques for one and two generators. On several previous trips I had the one generator routine dialed in, but wanted to try some things for two generators. The ribbing from my guide friends started in earnest when I pulled out a pack of balloons. In the end, the amount of weight I was trying to float ended up being more of a hassle than it was worth, and I quickly ditched the balloon idea. Unfortunately, I didn't quit before Susan snapped a picture to preserve the evidence. To be fair, before my experiments came to an end, everyone wanted to try the lucky flies so it wasn't a complete failure. They just didn't want to fish them under a balloon!

Photo Courtesy of Susan Thrasher ©2017

Early in the float, David P. had the hot hand with plenty of fish coming to the net. Susan started to catch up and then we got into a pod of fish that was producing almost every cast. By the time we started down the river, everyone was on the board. The hunt continued and we tried some different techniques out. The key to any of the techniques was depth (isn't it always?), and when the depth and speed was correct the fish would respond.

White was a clear favorite as far as fly colors go. The fish are responding to shad imitations such as my PB&J even when there aren't any obvious signs of a shad kill which leads me to believe they have been coming through at times. A few weeks back, on a guided float, we saw some come down the river and the fish were going nuts for them. All of this bodes well for the fishing this upcoming year! Fish are healthy and growing well this winter and early spring.

The highlight of the day came shortly after I nailed a nice rainbow trout. We were having a conversation about how nice it was to fish with other guides. As much as we all love guiding, it is also nice to occasionally spend time on the water without being responsible for putting someone else on fish. Sharing ideas together allows each of us to become better anglers and guides.

Photo Courtesy of Susan Thrasher ©2017

About that time, David P. was back on the rower's bench and I was in the front of the boat. As we came into a nice bend in the river, I stuck a good brown off the right side and was followed shortly after with Susan putting a deep bend in her rod. David P. was left to ask which of us wanted our fish netted first. Both fish came to the net about the same time so we pulled over for the always enjoyable "Double" picture. Susan's was a gorgeous rainbow trout while mine was a buttery brown trout. David P. did the honors taking pictures for us and soon both fish were released to swim and be caught again another day.

Photo by David Perry ©2017 and provided courtesy of Susan Thrasher

There were more fish to be caught and still some distance left to float. As the shadows started to lengthen, we got the crazy idea to do it all again. Well, sort of. Things slowed down and we started thinking about the dam pool again. There were and are plenty of fish up there and we decided to run up there and make a few more laps. Accordingly, we hustled down to the takeout, loaded the boat, and were soon back up at the dam.

The final fish were caught and we were all starting to think about work the next day. All good things must come to an end or so it seems most of the time. This was no different. We loaded the boat and put up gear. Soon we were saying our goodbyes and promising to do another trip like this one as soon as possible. Thanks again David P. and Susan!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Birthday Rainbow Trout

Guide trips seem to always be in a state of flux right up until the moment I meet the angler(s) for the day. This past Friday things were no different. Deb had fished with me before, but the friend she was supposed to bring would be on the water with me for the first time. Unfortunately, at the last second, that friend had to cancel, but of course Deb was still all for a day on the water. Part way through the trip I would discover why.

We started off the trip in a steady rain. The radar did not look promising, but if I have learned anything while guiding, it is that I should not cancel a trip for weather reasons unless it is truly dangerous. Deb was a trooper and would not be deterred by the water falling from the sky.

The early portion of the float was unusually quiet. I commented on the fact that normally we would have had some quality fish earlier in the float and started through my fly changing routine. Eventually we settled in on some patterns and started drifting again. A few smaller browns were hooked. Some were landed, and some were lost.

Then, we reached an area where I was certain we would find some good fish. It was just a matter of what flies would be necessary to make that happen. Right as I was about to go through another fly pattern change, the indicator took a determined dive. Deb set the hook and the battle was begun. Quickly dropping everything required to rig up differently such as fly boxes and tippet spools, I grabbed the oars and started chasing what was quite obviously a large rainbow. The fish surged up and down the river and we stayed hot on its tail. The one thing that stood out to me during this fight was how calm an angler I had in the front of the boat. A lot of people will get tense and make a mistake when fighting a large trout but not Deb. She was enjoying the experience immensely though, that much was obvious.

Before long, I slid the boat into shallow water and jumped over the side with the net. This fish wasn't going to have any chances for escape. The rod lifted, the net dipped, and the big rainbow trout was safely where we could enjoy it briefly. Pictures were taken and then Deb commented, "That is my birthday fish!"


I'm really glad she waited to tell me until after catching such a great fish. If I had known that her birthday was last week the pressure would have just about killed me. Thankfully, the fish posed for a couple of pictures and was soon released to be caught again another day. After high fives and a moment to soak in the moment, we pushed back out into the river. I was about to row back upstream, and in the meantime Deb had cast out to get her line ready. Right as I pulled hard on the oars to head up for another pass, her indicator shot under again. No way, I thought.

Sure enough, we had as close to a repeat performance as is possible, except that this fish was a little longer than the 19.5" fish that we had just released and a whole lot heavier. Back to back quality trout and we still had a lot of the float to go.


By this time, the rain had eased and we were left to drift down the river under leaden skies. The calm was almost eery at times, but also beautiful and a real treat to experience the river this way. We picked up some fish here and there, but soon our time was drawing to a close. I really wanted to put her on one nice brown trout and knew just the place to do that. That was the easy part. The hard part was making a very long and pinpoint accurate cast and then getting a good drift.

Of course, Deb was up for the challenge. The fly lit softly on the water and started drifting. Suddenly the dry fly sucked under as the trout took the midge underneath. She set the hook like a pro and again we were rowing all over the river. This fish didn't take as long as the big rainbows, but was still an excellent trout to end the day on.


We were soon pushing on down to the takeout, another good day on the water behind us.

This week and next week both have some guide trip openings, so if you are wanting to experience this great fishing, contact me to learn more about a float trip with Trout Zone Anglers.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Heading For the River

This is a shot I took a couple of months ago on my way to a good day of floating for musky. That trip is an epic tail in itself, but I'll save that for another time...


Monday, May 11, 2015

Fishing With Dad

Last week, I had a great opportunity to fish with my dad, but it was a chance that almost didn't happen. On Tuesday, I decided that I wanted to fish on Wednesday and based on how well the Monday guide trip went, I knew I had to get out on the Caney Fork. After a couple of texts to friends to see if any of them were free or wanted to ditch work, I figured I could check with my dad. At this point, it is important to emphasize that he really doesn't fish. Yes, he does enjoy going along with me from time to time, but getting him to actually go fishing is another thing. When he agreed to go along, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least and even more so when he agreed to fish on the trip!

After a late night run to Walmart for a fishing license, we were ready for the next morning. A breakfast of waffles had me fueled up for a few hours of rowing, and when we threw some sandwiches and sides into the cooler along with some water, we were ready to go. Before long, we were dumping the boat and ready to float.

I gave my dad the quick lecture on how to cast and then got him fishing. As is normal with most beginner fly fishermen, it took some time to figure out the whole "hook set" thing. I was using the boat to help achieve long drifts, subtly dipping an oar here or there to keep everything moving steadily and without drag. Several times, the indicator shot under and one fish even found itself briefly hooked, but still a fish in the net eluded us.

Finally, I changed up patterns, adjusted the indicator, and not too long after we saw the indicator go down yet again. This time, dad came tight on a feisty rainbow trout that found its way into the net. Posing for a quick picture took a few seconds, and I soon had proof that my dad went fishing. The fish was freed to be caught again another day, and we continued drifting.


One fish down helped a lot. Once that pressure is removed, it allows everyone to relax and most people fish better without too much pressure. Dad was soon in a groove, catching fish and remembering to carefully count, announcing each one before it even hit the net. I reminded him that he couldn't count fish until they were landed, but of course he told me that he was going to land them all. Can't argue with that!

Eventually, we got to a shady spot to eat our sandwiches and potato salad. After a delicious lunch, I hopped out of the rower's seat and waded up to the top of a shoal that always holds fish. Working the Sage Accel 904-4, I made a long cast to the middle of the river. Soon the indicator dipped and when the fish flashed I briefly panicked. Thankfully, the next flash convinced me it was not quite as large but still a beautiful holdover. My dad did a fantastic job on the net as I fought the fish down to where the boat waited and then again with the camera. What a rainbow trout!


I jumped back behind the oars and my dad quickly resumed catching fish. One promising spot was good enough to anchor on for a few minutes so we both fished. I climbed into the back of the boat and dad was in front. A few casts later, we landed our first double!


After the double, I started rowing again since the water would start coming up before too long. I didn't want to get caught with rising water at the boat ramp. Almost immediately, my dad hooked another trout. The pink stripe was so gorgeous and the fins so healthy that I took a quick shot before I let it go and then one of dad fishing out of the front of the boat.



One final spot called for us to anchor up so stopped the boat and we both fished again. My last fish of the day was a gorgeous 14 inch brown trout that fought like a much larger fish.


At this point, my dad was quickly closing in on around 20 trout for the day. Somewhere around 16 or 17 we both lost track but when he caught a few more we decided it must be 20 and probably more. I was impressed with how quickly he caught on and started catching a lot of fish. He was probably getting tired of my "coaching" (hey, it is hard to quit guiding), and I could tell from his casting that he was getting tired. Most people who are not used to fly fishing get tired after a long day in the hot sun catching lots of fish. He hung in until right at the end but thankfully the ramp was just ahead. We pulled the boat out just as the water started to rise and were soon enjoying the air conditioned car on the ride home.

Dad got a year long license so I'm sure I'll convince him to get out on the water with me again. You don't want to waste all that money after all!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

First Time Musky

One of my favorite things in fly fishing is seeing someone catch a fish for the first time.  Kids who are picking up the long rod for the first time and even seasoned anglers catching a new species all enjoy the experience so much that just being around is fun.  Yesterday, I had the privilege of spending the day on the water with my buddy Dan from Little River Outfitters.  He has been dying to catch a musky, and I had some time free and an idea of where we might catch one.

We met up and hit the water early enough that it was still pretty chilly out.  The adventure almost got off to a bad start when I nearly didn't get off the ramp with my car/trailer (minus the boat of course).  Recent wet weather had really messed up the top of the short ramp with a deep ditch cut by runoff.  Thankfully, after more suspense than I really care to have, the car eased on up, and I was able to start breathing again.  Soon we were drifting and Dan was throwing big flies looking for the toothy critters.

The early part of the float was pretty slow.  I suspected that we would start seeing fish after the first couple of miles.  Slowly floating down, we enjoyed the nice day and the warmth of the sun that was not just making it more comfortable for us but hopefully was also warming the water to turn on the musky.  We both started wanting a snack at about the same time so I pulled the boat over and we got out to stretch our legs on firm ground for a little while.  I also got busy with the camera.



As soon as we started floating again, Dan had 3 strikes in a row off of the same bank.  We never did get a good look at the fish but were glad to see the action picking up.  Continuing down, we got close to the section I wanted to really hit hard and I decided to take one more turn in the casting brace before getting Dan on the prime water below.

Just a few feet further down the river, I had cast up into a big back eddy and was retrieving the fly when a familiar shadow appeared behind the fly.  I started speeding up the retrieve and the fish charged on, unmindful of the boat.  Going into my figure 8 motion, the fish shot past, only to come charging back.  Unfortunately I made a little more commotion than I should have with the fly rod in the water and the fish bolted at the last second.  My buddy Dan was going crazy at this point. "Did you see how big that fish was?!?!? he asked.  His eyes got even bigger when I told him that it was a small to average fish, probably around 3 feet long.

I kept casting a little bit longer but as we closed in on the prime water, I insisted that Dan get back in the front of the boat and it didn't take much urging on my part.  He was ready now after seeing that fish chase.  The wind was starting to pick up and the clouds were lowering as rain moved closer.  It was now or never.

Dan was working a large pool, casting to logs and other structure.  Finally he turned and started working the far bank when I heard "There he is!"  Almost immediately the line came tight and the battle was joined.  I started rowing after the fish and it was a strong one.  Dan had the 8 weight bent over more than I believed was possible and the fish would not give up.  Several runs later and some lucky oar work thrown in for good measure, we had the fish in the net.  Dan was pumped, and I have to admit I was as well. These fish never get old!



We pulled over for the obligatory photos.  Soon the fish swam off, still incredibly strong considering the battle we had just enjoyed.  Minutes later, the rain arrived and we did not see another fish the rest of the way.  Still, getting a musky in the boat rates as a great day and we both had more than enough energy for the ride home.  I'm sure we'll be hitting it again sometime soon and I'm positive we have a new convert to musky fishing.  These fish have a way of getting in your blood.


Friday, June 06, 2014

Tailwater Float

On Wednesday, I loaded up the drifter and headed for a tailwater.  Rod had called to book a trip for him and his brother Barry who was visiting from out of state and wanted to show him a good time.  We decided on a half day float and confirmed details on where to meet.  Wednesday morning arrived and right on schedule they pulled in ready to fish hard!

We headed on up the river to drop the boat in.  Right as I was about to shove off from the ramp, another truck started backing down towards the water.  Looking up, I laughed when I realized it was the trout truck!  Good fishing for all, at least for a day or two!  He waited until we had cleared the ramp so I rowed out a bit and dropped the anchor.  This was a photo opportunity not to be missed.


After joking about how guilty we would feel if we pestered the freshly stocked fish, we shoved off and caught the current downstream.  A couple hundred yards down the river we started working our flies and right away we got the first fish in the net!  Barry was the first to strike, but that made sense because he was in the front casting brace.  The usual crowd of wading anglers were working hard so we maneuvered the boat to try and stay out of their way and were soon drifting down through open water.

Not too far down the river is a hole that I like to hit.  With the boat perfectly in position, I showed the guys where to drop their flies.  Barry had the hot hand again and soon a larger fish was tugging on the end of his line.  This fish turned out to be much nicer and in great shape.  He decided that perhaps a picture was in order for such a good trout.  We snapped a couple of quick shots and then I gently cradled the fish in the current until it surged off, hopefully to be seen another day.  Check out the belly on this rainbow! It has been eating well for sure...


By this time Rod had started catching some fish as well. I turned to suggest another spot to Rod when I sensed that Barry had set the hook.  Turning around I saw that he looked pretty serious.  When he told me that the fish was ever better than the nice rainbow I got serious as well.  The net came back out and before long we were celebrating a nice brown to hand with another picture!  Barry said it was his largest brown ever so he was understandably happy about it.


That brown ended up being the highlight of the trip, but we would have some other memorable moments.  One of the strangest things that has happened to me in a long time while rowing the river was when a large dead vulture drifted down on us while we were anchored in a good spot fishing.  I'm still not sure what happened to that poor bird.  Even more strange was when his friends started circling overhead as he drifted downstream.  I know they eat dead stuff but eating your buddy seems just a little strange.


Another cool moment was when Rod and Barry doubled up.  Barry had just hooked a nice rainbow when Rod hooked up as well as I was sliding the net under Barry's fish.  I kept the net in the water and got the nice brown in it as well for a couple double shot.


Finally we saw the takeout ramp approaching.  Barry wanted to strike once more and put one more nice brown in the net to round out a good day on the water.


These two brothers were great to have in the boat.  They fished hard and even participated in the good natured joking around about who was catching the best fish that I started.  In the end, honors for this trip went to Barry, but I'll bet that next time Rod will get a big one!

If I can help you with a guided wade or float trip, please contact me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com
I'm permitted to guide in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and also do tailwater trips and Cumberland Plateau smallmouth bass trips.  We're looking to add some smallmouth float trips in the future as well.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Boat!!!

Yes, you read that correctly.  I have a new boat! Well, new to me at least.  While not a brand new boat, this beauty is in extremely good shape and will bring many pleasant days on the water for both myself and any lucky anglers who choose to fish with me.  If you are interested in a day of drift boat fishing, please head over to Trout Zone Anglers to explore your options.


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, June 19, 2013

Float Down the River

One of the most peaceful and enjoyable ways to fish larger streams and rivers is to float.  While I enjoy the intimacy of wade fishing the Caney Fork, sometimes it is nice to sit back in a boat and relax.  Last Friday I had plans to meet David Perry to float.  We finalized where to meet the evening before and everything was set.  As before most trips, I spent the evening before furiously tying up a few last midge patterns.

Friday morning I got up and was soon on the road.  A quick stop for breakfast and fuel slowed me down temporarily but before I knew it I was cruising along the river to the takeout.  David and Brent had already dropped off the boat so I waited until David came back to do the shuttle.  We rode together back up to the launch point while catching up and discussing the day's fishing prospects.  We found Brent waiting with the drifter and after arranging fly rods and other gear were soon underway.

I somehow found myself in the front seat but the hot spot to be was in the back.  Before we knew it Brent had caught several trout while I was still looking to get rid of the skunk.  My luck was slow to turn while Brent continued to boat trout at a ridiculous pace that soon landed him on the rower's bench. Changing up to a deeper rig to get down to where the fish were holding, I finally fed a few fish and the day was looking up.




Naturally just being back on the river with friends was a great way to spend my time.  I found it difficult to concentrate on the indicator, instead getting distracted by herons, deer, beavers, and whatever else happened to be in view at any given time.  Still I was catching enough fish to make the day amazing.

The best part of the day was when Brent and I doubled up and David P. was kept busy with both fish in the net at once.  I had to ask for a picture.  In the background you can see Brent is already back at it and trying to catch the next fish.



The one disappointment of the day was the lack of big browns.  We normally see a few monsters but the largest we saw was probably 18 inches or so.  Hopefully we just weren't looking in the right places.  If we don't get too much more rain the river may be at low flows for much of the rest of the summer.  To get in on the good fishing, consider taking a trip with David Perry.  He knows the river well and always seems to crack the code early in the trip to get into fish.

Oh, one more funny picture.  I snapped the picture right as the fish panicked...