Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

When the Fish Are Where They Should Be

A big part of guiding is knowing where to find fish. Of course, it also helps to know what those fish will eat once you find them. However, if you can't find fish, then it won't do you any good to have the right flies. Some days are easier than others, of course. On those days, the fish are where they should be. You know what I mean. Those obvious spots that hold fish more often than not are popular with lots of anglers for a good reason. Sometimes, those spots aren't quite as obvious. Nevertheless, if you know the water well, the fish are still where they should be. 

Yesterday, I was able to get out and fish a river that I haven't been on as much as I would like lately. This lack of fishing is mostly because I've been busy with non fishing things. This is the time of year that I'm able to catch up on things that get neglected through a long and busy guiding season after all. Still, it was good to get out and the weather was about as pleasant as you can ask for this time of year.

My buddy John came along to fish and help rowing a little. We started while the generators were still running. John wanted to try his streamer setup with some newly tied streamers. Those proved enticing to some skipjack but at this point, the trout eluded us. As soon as the water cut off, we started slowly drifting down the river with what we thought were the right flies fished in the right places. And we drifted, and drifted, and so on and so forth. Fish were occasionally rising so we knew there were some around. We weren't sure how many, but some fish is better than no fish. Amazingly, we were much farther down than we had wanted to be without a bite and it was time to change. I suggested a possible fly I was considering, and John said he was thinking the same thing.

I anchored for a minute while he changed his rig and then started drifting again. Not too far down the river, we were coming into a run that has historically held plenty of fish but has been slow the last few years. I positioned the boat and suggested he switch to the right side of the boat. A short drift later, his indicator went down and we were into our first trout of the day. When he almost immediately got another bite in the same spot, I started thinking that I should probably change flies as well. 

By the time we got to the next big run, I had switched up flies as well. With the boat in the perfect spot, I decided to anchor for a bit so we could both fish. The wind was blowing strong so we had to work a little at casting and mending. Once the drift was started, we could extend it by throwing more line into the drift with the rod tip. Keeping just enough slack is tricky in this situation. If you get too much, then setting the hook is nearly impossible. Not enough and you'll end up with immediate drag. 

Finally, after several solid drifts, my indicator shot under and when I set the hook, I knew it wasn't a little stocker rainbow. After a strong fight, a healthy brown trout can to hand in the 14 inch range. I took a couple of closeups because the fish had incredible blue spotting behind the eye. After a few more drifts without another bite, I pulled the anchor and we started down the river. A few bites came as we moved through the tailout of the pool, and then we moved on down to the next spot.



The next little run was where things started to look predictable. I again maneuvered the boat into position and suggested John try a spot to our left. After a short drift, just when I was thinking that maybe there weren't fish there, the indicator shot down. We quickly netted the rainbow and on the very next cast, he had another bite. The fish were where they should be.

That pattern then continued on down the river. In fact, several of his fish came after I said something like, "You should have a hit any second." Those are the sorts of things guides love. This wasn't a paid trip, of course, but it always gives you confidence. Clients always think you're a magician when you predict bites a second before it happens. There really is no magic here, though. The fish are simply where they should be.

To learn where the fish should be, it is necessary that you spend a ridiculous amount of time on the water. This knowledge is not something that happens overnight. Often, these things can change year by year. Yesterday, I was noticing how much the river has changed over the last few months and also how it is similar to the usual river we all know and enjoy. Features change, fish move, but they also are where you would expect.

The best fish of the day was near the end of a stretch that had produced a few fish already. We were nearing the end of one of the better pools. I suggested to John to get a little closer to the far bank. He dropped his fly into position. The mend set up the right drift and soon the indicator was diving. When he set the hook, the fish seemed a little more solid. It came mostly right to the boat though. When he lifted its head, the fish saw the boat and went ballistic. We came close to losing this beauty in the resulting fight, but somehow everything held. We had to pull over for a quick picture of this fish before heading on down the river towards the takeout ramp.



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beginners' Luck

Luck. Some of us have it and some of us don't. If you are like me, you will get a good run of luck, but the whole time you are dreading the inevitable turn of fortunes. A bad string of luck can involve losing giant fish, breaking fly rods, and even filling up your waders after an innocent slip on the rocks. Some people seem to have a knack for catching big fish, and it doesn't seem to matter whether they are seasoned pros or beginners.

Last week, I had a couple of people on the boat who said they were beginners. After a trip like we enjoyed it can be hard to believe something like that, but I'll take them at their word.

This was one of those trips that had been on the calendar for months. The goal was to help them learn how to successfully fish the Caney Fork River. As fairly new fly anglers, Jeff and Sandy wanted some instruction that they could then take and apply on their own to enjoy the sport of fly fishing. Upon booking the trip, we left the question of a wade or float trip to be decided later. As the trip drew closer, I received an email and discovered that the decision was to float. That was great with me since it meant I wouldn't have to walk around the river roasting in my waders in the 90+ degree heat we've been enjoying. Additionally, I prefer floating the river for guide trips as it allows us to access some spots that I know have big fish.

On the evening before the trip, after consulting the generation schedule, I contacted Jeff and Sandy to set up the meeting time and place. Then I hit the tying vise for a couple of hours of prep work. We would have plenty of the hot patterns for our trip.

We met the next day and were soon at the put-in ramp. Taking 20 minutes before the trip to go over the finer points of playing large trout was hot even though we found some shade, but it paid huge dividends before the day was over. After coaching first Sandy and then Jeff through the proper technique for fighting large fish on a fly rod (both were accomplished anglers using other tackle), we were ready to go. I dumped the boat and rowed out into the river before we anchored up to rig the rods. Soon both of them had the first fish of the day. These were monster brown trout in the 6-8 inch range. In other words, they were catching the future of the fishery but not the fish we had come to find.

I pulled the anchor and we were off. In the first section the fishing seemed a little slow, but Jeff was steadily catching some trout from the front of the boat. The largest early on was around 12 inches but most were smaller. Sandy, after her initial luck, had things slow down for a while.

By the time we were a good distance downstream, both anglers had settled into a routine. Cast, mend, drift...repeat. The water was just high enough from the generation to allow us to slide over a couple of gravel bars that are normally off limits. It was in one such place, as we approached a deep slot, that Jeff had a great drift interrupted by the indicator plunging down. As soon as he set the hook I knew it was serious. I instructed Sandy to get all of her line out of the water so we wouldn't have any distractions for Jeff to fight his Caney Fork trophy. Soon I was rowing up and down the river. Finally, the fish seemed like it was getting tired, and I dropped the anchor over a gravel bar and jumped out of the boat with the net. The big rainbow trout slid into the net and congratulations were passed around. Jeff had learned quickly and earned his picture with the beautiful fish.


Sandy got jealous when she saw how nice Jeff's big fish was. However, she would have to wait a little longer before her turn for a picture came around. A few hundred yards down the river, Jeff had a nearly repeat performance except that this fish was 19 inches instead of 22 inches. Either fish would be the catch of the day on most trips and Jeff had found two.


This brings up the importance of not only a good guide, but someone who knows the river. The 19 inch trout was in an area I've had my eye on. In fact, the other day during the epic bachelor party, we hooked a monster brown trout out of the same hole. If you want to catch some nice trout, a guided float trip is definitely the best way. If you are like me and enjoy learning on your own, then repeat trips down the river will, over many trips, teach you some of the tricks you will learn on a guide trip. A guided trip just shortens this learning curve.

By this time, Sandy made it clear that it was HER turn. Accordingly, I turned the boat so she had an equal shot at the fish since she was in the back. We were approaching another good spot that I like to hit and sure enough, her indicator dove and she was into a great brown trout. Again we had to row all over the river to chase this fish, but in the end it slid into the net just like the others and Sandy got her picture with a fantastic Caney Fork River brown trout.


Jeff followed up with a nice brown of his own before Sandy struck with a quality rainbow trout. Not long after these fish, it was time to start heading for the takeout ramp. Along the way, we stopped in one spot just long enough for them to get a nice double to end the day. Nothing better than a net full or brown and rainbow trout!





The Caney Fork River will continue to fish well on guided float trips. Weekends are NOT conducive to good fishing and I don't recommend float trips then. However, if you can get away during the week and have the right patterns, the right drift, and the right location, you too may catch a big Caney Fork River trout. I can't guarantee such incredible beginners' luck as Jeff and Sandy had, but we will always have fun and a day spent on the river is about the most fun you can have.

If you are interested in a guided float trip on this river, or a guided trip in the Smokies or anywhere else, don't hesitate to email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Hard Work Pays Off

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.

Large Caney Fork brown trout


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!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Slow Fishing but Quality Fish

The Caney Fork River has been going through its late summer and early full funk lately but is showing signs of breaking out as we get closer to November. Several floats over the last couple of weeks have produced lower than normal numbers of fish but some shots at quality trout. The numbers should improve as we head into November.

Today we started early and landed the best fish of the day within sight of the ramp. It was a solid 16 inch rainbow. Later in the float, a larger rainbow broke off the 6x tippet that is required on these fish while a very nice brown came unbuttoned right at the boat. Some browns are starting to move around and this prespawn time is a great opportunity to sight fish to some large fish. Please leave the fish on redds alone though. Look just downstream from the redds for some great fish eating everything getting stirred up by the spawners.

My first trip back from Yellowstone on the Caney produced the best fish of the fall so far, a solid 19" rainbow. The fish was caught by Gary Dowd who did everything perfectly to land this solid trout. Hooking them is only half of the battle at best, and these large fish will normally pull out all the tricks once hooked.

Caney Fork trophy rainbow trout


Conditions will continue to improve as we go into November. If things stay relatively dry, expect the river to have very good float conditions by the first week or two in November hopefully.

If you are interested in a guided fly fishing trip on the Caney Fork River or in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please contact me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884. Thanks!

-David Knapp

Thursday, August 06, 2015

A Change of Plans

Caney Fork River brown trout
Nathan's 16" Caney Fork brown trout. Photo credit, Nathan Stanaway.

Life rarely turns out as we planned. Jobs come and go and so do friendships unfortunately. Family is a bit more of a constant although even then we have no guarantees unfortunately. Many surprising twists and turns have come along for me through the years, some of which have been great while others are best forgotten. Earlier this week, a rather unusual change of plans was forced upon me that I did not particularly like, at least not initially. I never dreamed that it would lead to a great Caney Fork brown trout.

This story, like most, needs some background information. My cousin Nathan, who is one of my oldest and best fishing buddies, had made plans to bring his father-in-law Frank up to fish the Caney Fork with me for a couple of days. The trip was all about relaxing and having fun. After last summer's fishing extravaganza that saw a fantastic Caney Fork brown trout caught on a hopper, Nathan was eager to get back out on the river. This time we wouldn't follow up the float with camping in the Smokies but would make the most of our time floating.

For day one, generation was scheduled to start early so we planned on a late day trip to catch the falling water. Originally, when we checked the generation forecast on Sunday, the plan was to run from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. That would be perfect to get out on the water and float down the river with just enough extra water in the river to keep us moving. We dumped the boat in around 2:30 p.m. to try and get downstream a bit before the water cut off and then leisurely drifted and messed around with some larger flies. By the time the generation was supposed to cut off, we were right where I wanted to be. The only problem was that the water just kept on coming.

We continued to float and I tried some streamers which brought one Caney Fork brown trout to the boat and showed me some much larger fish. A bit further downstream, I finally made the decision to head for a bank and anchor up. Surely they would cut off the water soon. A quick check of the generation schedule told us that the cutoff time was pushed back to 4:00 p.m. Okay, no problem, we could wait a bit. You guessed it, four o'clock came and went with the water still rushing downstream. Finally, I apologized to the guys and said that we really needed to keep moving unfortunately. Streamers were strung up on the 5 weight Orvis Helios we had brought for dry fly and nymph presentations and we started drifting.

At one point, we switched over to some nymphs and promptly caught a couple of trout but overall things were very slow. The forced change of plans was not looking particularly great and we were already anticipating the next day's trip on lower water. Finally, late in the float, I handed Nathan the streamer rod and instructed him on exactly where and how to fish it. That's when the madness started. Within just a short distance, he soon nailed two very nice trout on my PB&J streamer. The coolest thing about both is that he saw the streamer eats very clearly which is about as much fun as you can have with a fly rod. The 17 inch rainbow and 16 inch brown trout were Nathan's first ever streamer fish so you can imagine how happy he wa

Caney Fork rainbow trout
Nathan's 17 inch Caney Fork rainbow trout

Caney Fork brown trout
Nathan's 16 inch streamer eating Caney Fork brown trout

David Knapp's PB&J streamer
David Knapp's PB&J Streamer does a fantastic job of imitating a shad

After the second nice fish, a 16 inch brown trout, Nathan asked if I wanted to give it a shot. "Of course," was my answer. He had barely settled behind the oars when a large swirl appeared downstream and to our right. "Do you want me to row over there?" Again, I responded with "of course." On the very first cast, my fly had barely hit the water when a big chunk of golden brown was all over the fly and my 5 weight Helios was immediately being pushed harder than I had imagined would happen on this float.

Before the stress levels got too high on the boat, Nathan slipped the net under the big Caney Fork brown trout, and I let out an ecstatic whoop that probably could be heard all the way downstream to the Cumberland. The fish stretched to 21 inches on the tape on the side of the boat and is an early candidate for my personal "Fish of the Year 2015."

My big Caney Fork brown trout that ate a PB&J streamer
My big Caney Fork brown trout that ate a PB&J streamer. Photo credit, Nathan Stanaway.

The fishing was so good, that I contacted my buddy David Perry about floating with me the next day after the morning low water trip with Nathan and Frank, but more on that next time. The change of plans ended up being the best thing that could have happened. This lesson is definitely more broadly applicable in life...

If I can help you with a guided Caney Fork float trip or a guided Smoky Mountain fly fishing trip, please contact me via call or text at (931) 261-1884 or email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com. I have some days open right now in the upcoming weeks so contact me soon about getting a chance at a big Caney Fork brown trout.


Releasing Nathan's fine Caney Fork brown trout
Releasing Nathan's fine Caney Fork brown trout. Photo credit, Nathan Stanaway.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Floating the Caney Fork River Before the Cold

Last week, with the cold weather on the way, I wanted to get one more day of fishing in. After checking around, I discovered that my buddy Tyler was free and we agreed on a float of the Caney Fork River. With forecast temperatures supposed to rise into the low 50s, we were excited about one last nice day on the water before the arctic air plunged into the region.

Timing our arrival to coincide with falling water, we launched shortly after the last generator was turned off. Fish were rising all across the dam pool when the wind wasn't blowing but unfortunately there was more wind than not.

We started drifting with Tyler in the front casting brace while I enjoyed some time at the oars. It wasn't until we passed the second ramp that Tyler got in the zone with his casting and mending. The water was slow to fall out, probably due to the fact that they had been running two generators for several hours. That is a lot of water to drain down the river to the Cumberland.

About the time that I felt water levels were improving, Tyler made a nice cast and mend that set up a long drift. Right at the very end of the drift his indicator dove and he set the hook. A nice big golden flash got both of us excited but the fight was over as fast as it started when the fish threw the hook. Shortly after, Tyler made a long cast to the bank and after a short drift, the indicator dove again. This time everything worked out and we had our first little brown trout of the day in the boat.


I continued rowing and it was not too long before Tyler caught some more including a nice rainbow trout.



This fish was big enough that I decided to do a quick throat sample. While I do not recommend doing this with every fish, it is a good way to find out what the fish are eating. Thankfully this one seemed to handle it pretty well. Here is what was on the menu that day.


We continued down the river with Tyler catching a trout here and there but none of any significant size. Eventually, when we were a good third of the way into the float, I decided to let Tyler row. He willingly took a turn at the oars, proving to be a quick learner as it was only his second time rowing.

I got into some fish in an unlikely spot that I will remember for future reference, as well as some spots that I usually expect to find fish. Late in the float, I finally hooked the big fish of the day. This rainbow really wasn't a large fish, but I wish you could have seen its girth in person. The pictures do not do it justice. I guarantee it weighed at least double of what other fish of equal length weighed. Either this is a female full of eggs, or it has been eating a bunch of shad lately. I'm guessing the first one is correct based on where I caught this fish, but of course the shad hypothesis is a bit more interesting.


Two Photographs above by Tyler Debord

With forecast overnight lows expected to drop below zero in the upcoming nights, the shad kill likely is on the way. I'm already planning another trip to the river, and hopefully I'll be throwing streamers again next time. Until then, I think I'll try to stay warm.

If you are in the Huntsville area, I will be speaking to the Tennessee Valley Fly Fishers this upcoming Thursday evening about fly fishing in the Smokies. I'm looking forward to meeting a bunch of new friends! Come out to learn more about the excellent fly fishing we have here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Frigid Temperatures and the Shad Kill

This week it looks like we will actually get some good winter weather. The main question right now is how much snow will we get, but overall things are looking good for some extremely cold air. That means I'm thinking about the shad kill. David Perry over at Southeasternfly saw some coming through a week or two ago, but so far the fish have not seen enough to be keying on them real well.

Besides, when it is truly on, the fish look like little footballs and the largest fish in the river start feeding on the white morsels. With at least the possibility of low temperatures below zero but Wednesday night this week, I'm expecting a full blown shad kill by next weekend if we are going to get a good one this year. That is always a big if.

Depending on whether the temperatures continue to be unusually low or not, the shad kill could go on for a couple of weeks or even into early March. The best year I remember had a good shad kill into March so things could be awesome for a while now.

Even if the shad kill does not get particularly exciting, the nymph and midge fishing has been good recently. When we can get good flows to float (0 or 1 generator), then it is worth getting out on the water. Things should get even better in March so if you are looking for a tailwater float on the Caney Fork in the next couple of months, please contact me and I would be glad to help you get a trip set up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stripping Streamers

Anyone who knows me as a fisherman knows that I love stripping streamers for hungry trout and anything else that will hit, so naturally I wasn't about to turn down an invitation to float with David Perry of Southeastern Fly this past Sunday.


With the heavy generation we have been experiencing, we decided that an early start was pointless and instead decided to enjoy a little extra sleep compared with most fishing trips. By the time we met up a little after 9:00 a.m., I was ready to hit the water hard.

Early on, we tried a lot of different tricks. I had some eats on a dry/dropper rig I've been playing with, but lost the only fish I hooked. Before long, we knew that the generation was going to be dialed back and hopefully that would put the fish in a good eating mood.

Sure enough, almost as soon as the water started to drop we started to see flashes and get a few hits. I had been on the oars for a while and by the time the water was falling out it was my turn to fish again. Somehow I got lucky and found myself in the front of the drifter. The view from the front is better than the view as the rower!


I was experimenting further with some double streamer rigs that worked well my last time out stripping streamers. On this trip, everything came together, and I was really in the zone with follows every cast it seemed. The only thing that eluded me on this trip was the big one. As far as numbers went, it was my best day on streamers in a long time.



The 3 photographs above are courtesy of David Perry of Southeastern Fly

The big one did give me a chance, I should mention. Apparently it was not meant to be though. I got a great hookset as I watched one of the coolest boat-side eats I've seen in a long time. The fish jumped a couple of times as well. Everything seemed like it was working great. It just wasn't meant to be on this trip unfortunately.

The good news is that I know where this fish lives, and even have a pretty good idea what he might like to eat. I'll be back looking for this fish and hopefully some that are much larger as well. The fish I did catch were all very healthy since virtually nobody has been out there harassing them. That means we can look for ward to a great year in 2015.


Looking ahead, we have some good flows finally on the horizon for streamer fishing. Next weekend it appears we will even have some low water to enjoy. Best of all? I currently have Sunday available for anyone wanting to get out and eliminate their cabin fever. The bad news? The weather on Sunday is calling for rain. Still, if you want to get out and fish, a half day float is not a bad idea right now if you are up for stripping streamers or maybe even some nymph fishing in the rain.

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.


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!