Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Showing posts with label Fall color. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fall color. Show all posts

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Peak of Fall Brings Great Fishing


This is my favorite season, but every year fall seems to be here and gone all at once. This past weekend featured the best fall colors we have had in a while depending on where you were. This week, a cold front passed through bringing some rain and lots of wind. The rain was fine, but I'm sure the wind was a nightmare if you were a leaf stuck on a tree. Lots of those have been spotted crashing  falling to the ground. The yard is now in desperate need of a rake and a few hours of my time.

All of this has created some tough conditions in the Smokies if you are a fisher person. Leaves in the water make for some difficult drifts. Thankfully, the worst of the 'leaves in the water' routine should be over in the next day or two and may already be. Not that the leaves have magically vanished, but they should be settling out of the current. That means to be careful of seemingly harmless leaf piles. People have been known to be swallowed up in those things.

On the brighter side, the fishing has been very good to excellent. Fish are eating dry flies of all sizes. Stick with large orange ones if you like like big bugs, while small ones of the olive variety should do well if you enjoy matching the smaller bugs of fall. The variety has been better than usual so have plenty of other patterns with you as well.

If you enjoy throwing streamers, you can even find some fish that way. In fact, just a couple of days ago I had one of my better streamer days ever in the Park in terms of fish spotted. Lots of those fish missed the hook however. Still it was a great day to be out and get some time in on the water for myself.

One of the best things about fall is the opportunity for sight fishing. Creep along the banks slowly and watch for trout. If you can see the fish without spooking it, then you have a great chance at hooking it with a good cast.

This past Monday, I had the pleasure of showing Don Armstrong some of my favorite places on Little River. He quickly picked up on the high stick techniques that are so important to success here. An orange Elk Hair Caddis in size #12 with a Mr. Sleepy (my Isonychia soft hackle pattern) underneath proved deadly with about 50% of the fish on top and the rest on the soft hackle.

The highlight of the day was when I spotted a nice fish under the current at the head of a large pool. Carefully showing Don where to cast, he maneuvered into position and made a great cast on the very first shot. The fish rose to the dry fly and we were soon admiring one of the prettiest wild rainbows you will ever see. Great fish Don!



While the end of the fall colors often signals a change to colder weather, this will not be the case this year. Next week, high temperatures are forecast to be well into the 60s and even lower 70s. This should bring the dry fly bite roaring back so plan on getting out to experience a late Indian summer this year.

If you are interested in a guided fly fishing trip, please contact me (David Knapp) at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884. Thanks!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Brook Trout in Fall Dress

Smoky Mountain brook trout in fall colors

Some days you just want to catch brook trout. For me, those days occur with frequency although not so often as others probably experience. Normally I would have spent a couple of days dedicated to fishing for brook trout in late September when the fish are on the feed as they prepare for the rigors of the spawn, the weather is still pleasant, in other words the fishing is perfect. This year, I had to suffer through a trip to Yellowstone during late September and then had to make up for it by fishing for brook trout in October during the best of the fall colors. I know, life is tough.

Originally, the day had tentatively been planned as a muskie fishing expedition but through a series of unfortunate circumstances, those plans fell through. Option two appealed to me for a short time before I quickly jumped to option three, fishing for brook trout.


The stream involved a bit of a walk as do most quality brook trout waters. Thankfully the time passed quickly talking with a friend who was able to join me for the day. We were soon walking past water that looked increasingly fishy. Before long, the pressure was too great and we jumped in to start fishing.

Smoky Mountain brook trout stream

Things started off slowly and I don't mean that in the normal sense. We were catching fish, but only small ones. In fact, I think I caught my smallest fish of the year several times over. The young of the year brook trout were voracious, but eventually persistence paid off and some of their elder brethren succumbed to our offerings.

brook trout

At least two or three spots had spawning fish doing their thing and we left them alone. Fishing to spawners is not advisable on wild or native trout streams. Those are the future of the fishery and should be left alone to do their thing. Those that weren't actively spawning kept us more than occupied.

brook trout

brook trout

The better fish were dressed up in full fall dress. I'm not sure if there is a fish more beautiful than a colored up brook trout or spec as the locals call them. Over the course of the day, we both caught good numbers of fish. I was using my favorite small stream rod, an old Orvis Superfine Tight Loop. The rod is eight feet long and throws a four weight line, flexing clear to the handle when you get a feisty fish on the end of your line.

At the beginning, I chose a Black Elk Hair Caddis and dropped a #16 caddis pupa behind. The dropper seemed to do its best work on the smaller fish while the best fish of the day mostly had a preference for the dry (but not all). I have no idea how many I caught, but I do know that two separate holes were both good for 5 fish apiece so you know the fishing was pretty good. By the end, both flies were chewed up to the point of retirement.

Smoky Mountain brook trout

The fish were not the only things dressed in their fall best. Many of the trees are reaching the fall color peak right now.

Fall color

Eventually the day drew to a close. We made the hike back down amid lengthening shadows and cooling temperatures. I was heading for Elkmont Campground for the night so I could get up and fish again the next day. As it turns out, the next day would be great as well, but that is a story for another time.

Want to fish for brook trout in the Smokies? Contact me about a guided fly fishing trip at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Here Comes Fall

Fall colors in Tennessee


Just like that, summer is over. Earlier this week, I saw a graph of the streamflow on Little River that went back several years. I noticed that, basically every year, we end up with the lowest water of the year in September. That is normal. Thankfully it looks like we are just about out of the woods.

Some rain fell across the Park yesterday and more should fall both today through Saturday. Amounts are not overly impressive, at least not yet. As low as the streams were getting though anything will help. Best of all we will see highs in the 60s and 70s and lows down well into the 50s for this next week. An early cool snap to kick off the fall season will get both fish and fishermen in the mood for the great fishing coming up over the next two months.

In the meantime, after guide trips through next Wednesday, I'm off for the land of Yellowstone. I have always dreamed of a trip taken in the autumn, and while I would love to stay all the way to the closing weekend for fishing in early November, I'll instead be heading back to Tennessee to take people fishing through our own fantastic fall fishing season. Don't worry, I'll be getting out to fish for myself a lot as well.

If you haven't booked your guide trip for fall, don't wait too much longer. Prime dates are filling fast and I'm booked solid until October 14. Call/text me at (931) 261-1884 or email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com to book. The fishing should be good through at least the end of October and quite possibly well into November depending on how soon we get the first major cold snap.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fishing Stays Steady but Conditions Are Improving

Over the last couple of weeks, I've spent time on both the Caney Fork tailwater and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fishing in the Park is anywhere from average to very good depending on where you are fishing. In fact, for those willing to put forth some effort to hike a ways, this time of year can produce some fantastic numbers of rainbow and brook trout on dry flies.

The roadside streams should be improving with the cool and cloudy weather this week. In fact, this weather is about the greatest thing we can get in the middle of August. Hopefully September will bring cooler temperatures and maybe even an early fall.

Last week, I had several trips. We had a good time on all trips but one had the added bonus of being on water that had brook trout. Here are a few shots from that trip with Charlie.

Brook Trout fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains
Prospecting a nice pocket with the dry/dropper rig.

Charlie with a nice rainbow trout in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Charlie with a nice rainbow trout.

Fall colors
Fall is coming!

Brook Trout from the Great Smoky Mountains
A Great Smoky Mountains brook trout.

A remote brook trout stream in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Remote brook trout water in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Tomorrow it is back to work with a trip in the Park. Later in the week I have some days available as well as some time the following week. If you have been waiting for empty streams and willing trout, this is a great time to book a trip. Most of the summer vacationers are gone since school is back in session. If you want to have the water to yourself, this time of year is second only to the cold of winter for solitude if you go midweek.

If you would like to book a guided fly fishing trip in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or on the Caney Fork River, please contact me (David Knapp) via call/text at (931) 261-1884 or email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Almost There

Are we there yet? If you've road tripped before you have either uttered these words or answered the query. In my case, as I mentioned a few weeks back, I'm getting antsy for autumn. Every time I see leaves with changing colors, I get a familiar surge of excitement.

Today, even with air temps in town pushing 90 degrees (shoot, even here at the house it got up to 84), there was something different. I'm sure the calendar turning the page helped at least on some vague psychological level, but the days are noticeably shorter. The sun is setting around 15 minutes earlier than the latest evenings in mid June but there are other indicators as well.

A dry frontal passage sometime this past Thursday ushered in slightly cooler temperatures, and much more importantly, at least in my book, drier air. In fact, one of the things that excites me about fall is the dry airs, crisp cool evenings, and yes, camping and fishing trips complete with cheerful campfires. And colored up trout.

It would be my favorite season even without the fishing, at least that is the story I'm sticking to. Fired up brookies and browns are hard to beat though. On some of my favorite drainages up in the Smokies, the fish are already starting to get that look and have been for the last 3-4 weeks. The signs will only grow stronger through this month and into September. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy sights like this that reminds me we are almost there.