Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth
Showing posts with label Guided fly fishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guided fly fishing. Show all posts

Friday, May 07, 2021

Fish Within Your Strengths For Success

This short article idea came from many years of observing anglers as a guide, but I was reminded about it several times this spring. Over the years, I have noticed a pattern with many anglers. They always want to do well when fishing in front of a guide, and often end up pushing beyond the limits of their skill set. Specifically, I am referring to fishing distances. What do I mean by that?

Well, first of all, people obviously will find the most success casting at a comfortable distance. Once you start casting too far, then your cast breaks down and you have fewer successful "fly in the water" moments. In other words, if you cast 60 feet of line, but 30 of that lands in a pile, you are not fishing successfully. Try to get a clean hook set with 30 feet of slack. It is not happening. 

As a guide, I often find myself saying, "cast over there to that log," or "cast to that dark spot," etc. This is where an important element of fishing with a guide comes in. If you cannot comfortably do what the guide is asking, say so. It will save time and frustration in failed cast attempts. As a guide, I would much prefer knowing that a client doesn't think they can make the cast and maneuvering them into a better position or angle, than for them to try to force a long cast that doesn't end well. 

The flip side of that is that we are here to help anglers improve their skill set. If I think it is time for an angler to push their skill set a bit, I'll tell them to go ahead and try anyway. That is how you grow as an angler. That said, don't push your abilities too far all day. You'll end up tired with far less success than you could have had. Strategically pick the moments to attempt more.

Another reason to not fish too far is to make sure you can get clean hook sets. One reason I enjoy taking new anglers fishing in the Smokies is that we are rarely fishing very far out. Getting a hook set with two feet of fly line and a leader is much easier than with 50 feet of fly line and the leader out on the water, at least for new anglers. Line management is usually the real culprit for failed hook sets at distances, but regardless of the cause, you still missed that fish. If you have been struggling with hook sets at a significant distance, then fish shorter. It is better to get fewer chances to hook up because you are closer to the boat, but to seal the deal on the majority of those chances, than it is to cast farther and get more chances to hook up but fail in most of them. In other words, you'll catch more fish even if you don't get as many bites.

One other major reason for not casting and fishing too far is the ability to mend. I'll do a future article or even a video or two on mending, but for now, just consider that you need to be able to mend all the way into your leader to the strike indicator. Most people struggle to do that more than 30 or 40 feet out. The key to a good mend is the ability to lift the line off the water before executing the actual mend. Thus, in a situation where you need to do a significant mend, don't cast farther than you are able to do that.

That is all of my words of wisdom for the day. I'm sure I'll think of some other tips that fall within the category of fishing within your strengths, but I'll keep those for another day. 


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

When You Just Need More Weight

As a fly fishing guide, there are lots of little tips and tricks I get to pass on to my clients. It would be nearly impossible to compile those into one resource unfortunately. Okay, so maybe not impossible, but it would take me a while to think about it while I'm sitting at home writing. Most of these things have a way of coming up during the natural flow of a day on the water. That is what guides should do, offer advice on how to improve, or at least on different ways to do things. A guided trip should be as much a chance to improve as an angler as it is a chance to catch lots of fish. Those two things generally go hand in hand. 

Anyway, these little tips often come up in the natural flow of a guided trip. One that comes up quite often is the idea of getting your flies down to the fish. One of my favorite guiding moments happens when teaching nymphing strategies, either for the Nymphing Class at Little River Outfitters, or just on a regular guided trip. What usually happens is something like this. 

We are fishing nymphs, either under a strike indicator or high sticking (tight lining/euro nymphing) and not catching any fish. At some point, I suggest that we add some split shot. Sometimes there is even already some shot on the line. However, it sometimes just isn't enough. The split shot needs to be heavy enough to get the flies down. Depending on stream flow, depth, flies used, and technique, you might need anywhere from one #8 split shot to a string of #1 or even heavier shot. Sometimes just one addition works. Other times it can take two or three. Either way, the best part happens when the first cast is made after the correct amount of shot is added. Almost invariably, the angler will catch a fish. That is a much more effective lesson than simply telling someone they should add more shot if they aren't catching fish. 

Of course, if you add too much shot, you'll be hanging on the bottom continually. Thus, a good rule of thumb is to add shot until you're constantly hanging the bottom. Then, take one off and you should be about right. You want to be ticking the bottom some but not losing flies.

The funny thing about tips and tricks is that sometimes you have to remind yourself about them. Yesterday, after a morning guided trip, I had a little time to kill before heading back home. Last week, on a guided trip, I had come across a couple of nice brown trout that seemed willing to eat dry flies. In fact, we missed one of them on a dry fly that day. I had been wanting to see those fish up close and had already devoted one quick stop to try and catch one to no avail. Yesterday seemed like a good opportunity. 

I got to the chosen spot and waded right in. Drifting a dry fly through the run produced exactly zero takes, so I changed tactics and tied on a nymph rig involving a small pheasant tail nymph and a small hare's ear nymph on 6x tippet. To this, I added two #4 split shot. For the depth and current, that seemed about right since I had small flies and fine tippet. A New Zealand Indicator finished the rig. 

For the next five minutes, I got many drifts through what I thought was the sweet spot. There were exactly zero strikes. Knowing how many fish this pool typically contains, I was a bit shocked. Surely something would want to eat my nymphs! I was just about to give up when it occurred to me that I might not be as deep as I had assumed. Deciding to get to the bottom of things so to speak, I added a #1 shot and now felt confident of getting down. 

On the very next cast, I had a quick hit from an eight inch rainbow that just as quickly released itself. That was enough, however, to convince me to try another five minutes of casts. In fact, it only took about three more casts before the indicator dove convincingly yet again. This time, I could tell there was some heft to the fish. In fact, it didn't want to move where I wanted it to at all!

Babying the 6x tippet, I took plenty of time fighting this beautiful brown trout. Every time I thought it was about whipped, it surged back into the depths. Finally, after a couple of downstream runs that prompted me to follow, I got it close and with the head up, quickly scooped with my net. 

Large Great Smoky Mountains National Park brown trout


This was probably one of the larger brown trout I will catch this year in the Smokies, possibly even the largest. I've had plenty of years where this would be my best Great Smoky Mountain brown trout. Not bad for fifteen minutes or so of fishing and just about as much time fiddling with my rigging. Sometimes you just need more weight. I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but for some reason this lesson always gets me. Anyway, next time you aren't finding success with nymphs, try adding some weight. You just might be surprised...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

New Big Fish of the Year

So far this year, I have seen numerous 20"+ fish come to the net on guided float and wade trips. Lots of happy smiling anglers have had their pictures taken with that fish of a lifetime or at least their fish of the year. The Double of the Year will probably not be surpassed, but the brown trout caught then has now been surpassed as guide trip fish of the year.

The story goes back a little while when my aunt contacted me about gifting her coworker with a guided float trip. We discussed the details and set up a trip for Sherian who used to fly fish a lot and has not had the time for the last few years. Eventually the day of the trip came around and Sherian and I had a great float down the river. She hooked two big rainbows and landed one of them along with all of the other usual fish between 10 and 17 inches. We finished the day discussions a possible return the following week. Thankfully I still had the following Wednesday free on the calendar and more plans were made.

Fast forward a week and she was back for another afternoon on the river. That morning, before heading out, inspiration struck, and a new pattern came out of the vise. I was wondering how it would fish. Turns out it was quite a fly. Fished tandem with a Zebra Midge, the better trout were showing a preference for the new pattern while the small to medium sized fish wanted the usual midge.

We were drifting the better sections looking for big trout. Lately the big fish have been coming higher up in the float, but when we didn't hit the jackpot early, we kept looking. Finally we were approaching a section where I've seen two big rainbows lately. I directed Sherian to cast to the left of the boat and set up her drift. Sure enough, right as the flies hit the drop-off at the back of the shoal the indicator shot under. When she set the hook I knew we had a good one.

I got the anchor down quickly while the boat was still in semi-shallow water. Then I grabbed the net and jumped overboard to make sure we got the fish in the net. Turns out the semi-shallow water was close to waist deep and shockingly refreshing for someone wearing sandals instead of waders. The effort was worth it though. When the big rainbow trout hit the net, my first estimate of 20" had to be revised upward. When the fish hit the tape, it was 23" almost on the nose and the largest fish caught on a guide trip this year so far. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing whether the angler or guide was happier, but the consensus was definitely that we were all thrilled with such a great fish.


Having an angler in the front of the boat who could cast with great accuracy certainly helped nail this trout, but I've had even first time anglers break 20" this year on float trips. This has truly been a year to remember and it looks like that will continue for the foreseeable future.

The good news for everyone else? There are still two months left in the year and as well as the fishing has been, there is still time to get your guided float trip lined up. I have some openings throughout November and December so contact me to get your spot on the boat guaranteed before it is too late. Who knows, you may even get the new largest "Big Fish of the Year."

Oh, and that new fly? I'm going to have to come up with a name for it now...

Monday, September 05, 2016

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Alexander

One of the most epic days I've had the privilege of enjoying on the water happened earlier this summer when my buddy Jayson was about to get married. Another friend and fellow groomsman, Pat  Tully, along with myself and Jayson took a day to float the Caney Fork River to celebrate his upcoming wedding. The day turned out better than I could have imagined with the groom-to-be catching two 20"+ fish, and Pat and I caught some great fish as well.

Fast forward a little and you will find me looking forward to hosting Jayson and his bride Hailey on the drifter again for another trip down the Caney Fork River. When discussing the trip, Jayson made it clear that he wanted Hailey to catch a big fish. True to his word, upon arriving at the river to start our float, he quickly jumped in the back of the boat and Hailey was in the front casting brace ready to hunt some large trout.

The water cut off right on schedule which was a pleasant change. Lately the Corps has been inconsistent with the water shutoff time. That can make for some frustrated waiting at the beginning of a float trip. Thankfully we weren't waiting at all on this day. Both rods were already rigged and ready so after parking the truck, I was back down to the water and settled in at the rower's bench in no time at all. I handed Hailey and Jayson their respective rods and we pushed off into the current. Before long, we were bringing some nice trout to the net including an early double. We had to take a picture of the double for the newlyweds. I think they were having fun!


Moving on down the river, both Jayson and Hailey were casting right where I told them and getting some great drifts. The wind was up a little which meant that both anglers and the guy rowing had to work a little harder, but the fish didn't seem to mind. If anything, I think they were feeding even better than normal.

Moving on down the river, we were approaching a spot where I had recently spotted a large brown trout. Directing both of them to get their drifts started early, I moved the oars at the right time and the boat was perfectly positioned as it came over the shoal. Suddenly, Hailey's strike indicator shot under and the battle was joined. I was already going crazy with the possibility that we had found the big brown trout. The big flash when the fished rocketed towards the surface told us that, instead of the big brown, she had found one of the great rainbow trout that are in the river right now.

The fish was hot and for a while it was touch and go if we would land it on the #20 fly and 6x tippet. Hailey did everything perfectly though and before long got her picture taken with the big trout she had come to the Caney Fork River to catch.


We made another pass over the shoal but then kept on moving down the river. As we were drifting, we started to notice a roaring sound down the river. Lately the river has been inundated with various power boats and this jet boat was no exception. A lot of these guys are polite, but several have been roaring by with no thought for the large waves they throw as well as the discord in an otherwise quiet day. Thankfully, these will not be on the river for ever. A certain element within our sport seems to show up only shortly prior to and during the spawn. I would rather catch my big fish under normal conditions but a few people seem to only show up when fish are at their most vulnerable. If you are interested in catching these fish under fair conditions, consider a float in my drift boat as I know where these fish are as well as what they are feeding on year round. If you must fish for spawners, please respect the fish and keep them in the water. Above all, do not keep any trout caught during the spawning season.

With the shoal we had been going to catch our next big fish on shot by the jet boat that took a couple of passes over it, we had to adjust our plans a little. It was getting late so I decided to do lunch and give the water a little time to rest. Loud motors have a way of spooking the better fish in the river.

We enjoyed our lunch of sandwiches, chips, and my famous Greek pasta salad. Jayson was extra excited about the chocolate chip cookies to chase everything down with, and I discovered that it was his favorite sweet. I was glad that he was happy and content because Hailey was well on her way to owning the day from a fishing perspective. Jayson was still catching fish, but Hailey was finding all of the quality fish.

After lunch, we pulled back out in the current and started drifting again. Almost immediately Hailey tied into a really great fish. I chased the fish up and down the river and she did everything correctly. Before long, we had a really nice brown trout in the net. Meanwhile, Jayson was in the back of the boat still working on catching the little guys.


We continued to enjoy our float, with the jet boat passing us at least twice, throwing a big wake and not slowing appreciably either time. Both times we continued catching fish but not the big guys. Those fish were well under cover by this time.


Late in the float, I offered Jayson the chance to enjoy a treat. The dry/dropper fishing with midges has been phenomenal in one particular stretch and I handed him the four weight ready to do business with those trout. Late in the day without the pressure of wanting Hailey to catch large trout since she had already cleaned up from the front of the boat, Jayson put on a clinic. He caught several really nice fish until it was determined that the hour was late and we needed to leave.



Thanks again for an enjoyable day Jayson and Hailey, and I hope it is the first of many fun times for you in the drifter together!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Smelling Beetles

Some guide trips are routine, while others are definitely a little out of the ordinary. This past Monday, I had a half day guided wade trip on the Caney Fork River. We had moved around trying to stay ahead of the generation that has been a challenge lately.

We found several willing fish on midges and nymphs (mostly midges) early in the day as well as a few that ate the hopper but didn't find the hook. When the water started rising, it was time to move and move we did. We found another good section with more favorable water conditions and started fishing again, knowing that we had limited time before the rising water found us. I had mentioned wanting to try a certain section and Terry who was fishing with me was all for it. Moving down the river, we were approaching our target spot when I froze.

My nose detected the definite smell of Japanese beetle. I know this sounds unbelievable, but the pungent and unmistakeable smell of beetles made me look up. Sure enough, the tree that was hanging out over the river nearby had lots of beetles eating away on the leaves. Knowing at least a little about such things, I quickly deduced that instead of a midge behind the hopper, it was time for my favorite, a black beetle.

Terry was soon maneuvering into position and made a great cast to a brown trout I had spotted. Immediately the fish nailed the fly. This scene replayed itself again and again over the next hour.  Most of the fish were brown trout, but at least one or two were rainbows.

Terry Butrum with a quality Caney Fork brown trout

Catching fish on dry flies on the Caney Fork River is always a treat and this day was no different. Before long, we had to make a beeline for the bank because the water was catching up, but we had already caught several fine trout. Next time you are out on the river during the summer, make sure to stop and smell for beetles. You might just luck into some great fishing!


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.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Solstice Bachelor Party

The best day I've ever had on the Caney Fork happened just this week. In fact, as close as possible, I had a repeat again yesterday, but the first was probably the most memorable because it was a trip that almost didn't happen. To put everything in perspective, let me go back a few months to last November.

My buddy Jayson gave me the honor of asking me to be a groomsman in his wedding, scheduled for this June. Over the past several months, us groomsmen discussed options for a bachelor party, but for various reasons, none of the plans ever worked out. With so many schedules to try and coordinate, the main problem came down to not having free time together. That and the fact that we wanted to do a trip outdoors. Jayson is another diehard angler as is Pat who is another groomsman. We discussed camping trips, backpacking trips, and of course all revolved around fishing. Eventually, we began to wonder if the bachelor party would even happen. We were all just too busy.

Then, the perfect storm of events occurred. What set off the chain of events was a cancelation/postponement that I had. A float trip on the Caney Fork had been on the calendar until about two weeks ago when the clients requested a postponement until the cooler months of fall. They were concerned about the extreme heat we have been experiencing. Naturally, I decided that I should spend the day on the water somewhere fishing for myself. It was then that I remembered the bachelor party. 

At this point, we were mere days away from the wedding day so time was short to get a trip together. I quickly called Jayson and Pat the other groomsman. Both were able to clear their schedules. Plans were discussed ranging from fishing in the Smokies, the Davidson in N.C., and the Clinch. Eventually we came back to the Caney Fork River and set up a time to meet.

Monday June 20 arrived with a couple of x-factors that were going to make the day go from good to epic. Any day on the water with friends is good. It should go without saying, but catching fish is always a bonus in a situation like this. However, we also had perfect flows with the generators pulsing from 8-9 a.m. The summer solstice happened to be on June 20. Oh, and we had a full moon. 

That last one was a little sketchy. I've had some fantastic fishing during a full moon, and I've also had some really horrible fishing during a full moon. Fantastic and horrible measured purely from a fish catching success perspective I should add. When I saw pictures from my buddy and guide Bryan Allison featuring his success this past weekend, I knew that this might be one of those good full moons. Nevertheless, I warned Jayson and Pat that the fishing could be epic or it could be horrible. Both were in on taking the trip regardless which turned out to be the right decision.

Jayson and Pat arrived at my house on Monday morning and we quickly transferred their gear over into my truck and boat and we were off. A short trip to the river had a small detour to get some air in one of my tires. That small detour almost became a long detour when the valve stem jammed, but eventually I got some air in the tire and the valve stem quit leaking. Back on the road, we finally made it to the river and got the boat launched. Rowing out into the river, I dropped the anchor for the usual time spent setting up all the rods.

Both of the guys were intrigued by the setup I use to fish the Caney Fork, but after just a few minutes of floating they had caught some trout and were believers in my fishing methods. The fish were keying on midges and that proved to be the situation for most of our trip. The night before I had stayed up late tying lots of extras and it was a good thing as we went through our fair share of flies.

A short distance down the river, we finally got a taste of what the day would be like. Appropriately, the groom was the first to strike on a good fish. Jayson set the hook and when the rod nearly doubled over, I quickly instructed Pat to get his line out of the water and clear the area for Jayson to fight the trout. When it rocketed to the surface, we saw that were were dealing with a large rainbow trout. Trying all of its tricks, the trout eventually yielded to Jayson's skill at fighting fish and slid into the net. Pictures were taken, high fives and hand shakes were passed around, and we got back down to the very serious business of catching trout.


Not too much further down the river, we pulled over and got out to wet our feet in the cool water. With air temperatures over 90 degrees, the usually frigid water actually felt good. Jayson and Pat were well ahead of me since I still needed to rig a rod for myself. Deciding on a hopper for my strike indicator, I dropped a nymph and midge underneath and started working downstream along a shaded bank. The overhanging branches seemed like a good spot for a terrestrial to fall in. That assumption was rewarded with a solid 16 inch brown trout, my first hopperized brown trout of the year. After releasing the fish, I noticed that Jayson was hooked up and stopped to take a few pictures.


Jumping back in the boat, I offered the hopper rod to Pat and pointed out a fish that exhibited a terrestrial rise. He cast once and the fish did everything but eat the fly. Throwing back a second time triggered that reactionary bite we were looking for, and soon he was enjoying his own nice brown trout caught on a hopper.


Continuing down the river, we caught fish here and there and broke off some true monsters. Pat seemed to have the corner on the "losing big fish" market unfortunately, but Jayson still had another moment of glory waiting.

We had stopped again to wade a second time. This was a stretch of river that I've been watching some large brown trout in and hoped to get the guys on one of those nice fish. Pat found one way up above where we stopped and lost it to a log. I fished slowly and eventually nailed a nice fish on the hopper.

Photo Courtesy of Pat Tully

Then Jayson struck again. He had been working a nice trout when it finally ate. His yelling got our attention and soon we had the net out and ran down to help. The tippet and knots held, the hook was strong enough, and soon we had more great memories captured with our cameras. Jayson's second 20"+ trout was a brown trout and featured some amazing colors.


Even though he was the groom and thus assumedly being treated extra nice for the day, I informed Jayson that two 20 inchers qualified him for the rowers bench. My moment of glory was literally just around the corner. After rowing around the corner, I turned the oars over to Jayson and jumped into the front of the boat for a few minutes.

Almost as soon as Jayson touched the oars, Pat's luck turned and he nailed a great brown trout right off some rocks along the bank. The fish had taken the midge, but the 6x tippet held and the hook was strong. After the obligatory pictures, Jayson slid the boat back out into the middle and we kept drifting.


Not too far down the river, I saw a large brown slide out of a deep hole and settle into a narrow slot between two rocks in shallow water. Hey guys, you see that big brown? When they asked where, I pointed and cast. Right under my hopper. My flies drifted through and as I pulled them out for another cast, Pat asked if he could take a shot. My cast was already on the way as I said sure. He started his cast and while his flies were literally hovering over the spot, I saw the fish turn sideways and set the hook. Sure enough, the fish was on my flies.

Notice I didn't say that it ate my flies. That is because I initially thought that I had somehow snagged the fish. A lot of side pressure failed to turn the fish at all. In such situations I usually assume that the fish is snagged. I was so convinced of this that I nearly broke the fish off on purpose. I'm not interested in killing a fish for a photo op and a snagged fish is usually going to be too exhausted by the time you land it, if it is big that is. Something in my brain doubted the snagged theory just enough to not break the fish off. On the next turn, I saw my tippet all the way to the large brown trout's mouth and realized that instead of being snagged, this was just a really heavy and strong fish.

I've lost a lot of nice trout through the years. Even a few of them recently. Big fish, not mediocre fish. Things had gotten bad enough that I almost assumed that this fish would eventually come unbuttoned. Somehow everything worked out though, and Pat Tully did a phenomenal job on the net. Thanks should also be mentioned for Jayson's great work on the oars. This fish, as were the other large trout on this day, was truly a team effort.

Photo Courtesy of Jayson Alexander

That fish proved to be the final high point of the day. Yes, we still caught more fish, but somewhere shortly after this fish the action slowed considerably. That may just be because we weren't trying very hard. Everyone on the boat was satisfied, but also tired and hungry. We rowed through the last stretch to get done at a reasonable time. A stop in Cookeville for some great Mexican food finished the day in style.

Three fish 20 inches or better in one day and at least two others broken off. I would like to think that I'm just getting that much better at this whole "guiding" thing. Maybe I am. After all, yesterday's guide trip was nearly as epic with several large rainbows and some nice browns caught. Then again, maybe it was just one of those unexplainably awesome days. The full moon, the summer solstice, good weather, a good barometer whatever that means. You know all the excuses we fly anglers give when the fishing is bad. For one day, at least, we didn't need any of them.

I anticipate the fishing on our tailwaters to continue to be fantastic through the summer. I'm getting some great reports from the Watauga and South Holston as well as the Hiwassee. The Clinch and Holston Rivers continue to fish well. Today I netted a 21.5 inch rainbow on the Holston and later caught some nice trout for myself. The Caney Fork will fish well on less crowded days. The right patterns and techniques are essential now with the water cleared up from the murky days of spring. 

If you want to get in on this great fishing, contact me about a guided wade or float trip on the Caney Fork River. You can reach me via email at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884. I'm booking trips well into July now with no availability until the second week of July. The fishing should stay good on this river through the summer and fall if we continue to experience low water.



Monday, June 13, 2016

June Openings for Guided Fly Fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains

Due to a cancellation and a couple of dates still open, my calendar has some options if you are looking for a guided trip in the Smokies this month. Currently, I have Friday morning June 17, all day on Monday June 20, and June 26 and 30. This is one of the busiest months of the year for good reason. Everyone is in town on summer break or heading to the mountains for a day or two to beat the heat. The fishing has been good although water levels are dropping. If you need help learning how to fish in the Great Smoky Mountains, please don't hesitate to email me (TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com) or call. July has a few more possibilities so just let me know if you are looking to get something booked then for either the tailwaters or mountains or even smallmouth bass streams.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Clinch River Float Trip

The Clinch River continues to fish well and produce quality trout. This fishing is not for everyone as it requires the ability to cast fairly well and manage your line, however those who are willing to work hard on this beautiful tailwaters will be rewarded with some large trout.

Recently, I had the good fortune to float the Clinch with Chris and Eddie and already know this will be a river I'll return to many times. Small flies, light tippet, large trout, it doesn't get any better. The majority of fish were caught on my own midge patterns although some nymphs worked as well.

Both guys caught some really nice trout but Eddie took top honors for big fish of the day. He played it well and kept his composure through several head shaking runs by the nice rainbow. Here are a few fish from out day on the water.





Saturday, April 02, 2016

Light and Trout

As you probably already know just from a quick glance at the Trout Zone, I enjoy photography almost as much as I enjoy fly fishing which happens to be quite a lot. Finding that perfect shot where light and subject combine to create magic is nearly as fun as catching a nice trout. Sometimes, though, the two combine.

That is what happened the other day and I didn't even know what I had until I got home and looked at the pictures on my computer. Most pictures end up not quite as good as you remember the scene in real life. This time, however, I was definitely pleased with the result. When I snapped this picture I was just in the middle of taking several and had no idea what I had captured.

Rainbow Trout from Tremont

I love the mix of light in this picture. The below-water portion of the little rainbow trout blends in so well with the rocks that it is no wonder we have such a difficult time spotting fish in these rocky streams of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While I would love to take full credit for the way this picture turned out, sometimes the beauty produced by the camera is largely luck and this image definitely falls into that category. Either way, I'll enjoy remembering the smile on the angler's face during our guided fly fishing trip in the Smokies as he landed this beautiful wild rainbow trout.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Turning the Corner

Cumberland Plateau snow


Just when I was starting to get at least a little tired of winter, it looks like we might be turning a corner. This weekend should feature highs in the 60's perhaps and definitely well into the 50's. Next week, we naturally should expect a cool down again, but the important thing is the trend in temperature is headed in the right direction. I wouldn't hold my breath, but it looks like we may be in store for an on time arrival with the spring hatches and at most a week or so late.

This rationale was nowhere close to being formed when I woke up this morning. It was still dark outside, or nearly so, but I listened intently. Suddenly, the sound came again, loud and arguably musical depending on your listening preferences. Sandhill cranes were flying over, quite low I should add, and their loud cries had roused me from my sleep. A glance at the alarm clock showed me I still had a few precious minutes of sleep available, but it was no use. Excitement had set in.

The cranes are usually the harbingers of spring, and of winter too for that matter. The huge flocks pour south in huge numbers just prior to and sometimes after the first strong cold fronts in late fall. Their preference for warmer weather is not particularly strong though as they are some of the first birds heading back north in the spring. I expect large flocks of robins will probably arrive this weekend with the warm weather. They'll stay too, assuming that the ground isn't buried under any more snow that is. If it snows, they'll retreat 50 or 100 miles south or to the nearest place that has clear ground available for worm hunting and other important activities.

With the robins I expect bugs. Not food for the robins but for the trout. Blue quills, quill gordons, little black caddis, not to mention the little black and early brown stoneflies. The fish of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will respond, first with caution as if they don't completely remember what food even is after a lean and cold winter. Then, when the hatches get heavier, they'll feed with abandon, and with a little luck, I'll be standing there with my fly rod ready to cast when their noses start poking out of the water.

As a guide, I might not be that lucky, to catch the fish myself that is. There is a decent chance that some lucky angler will be standing with me there on the stream, asking what kind of bugs those are. I'll smile and dig out my dry fly box, and soon the angler will be smiling too as the trout succumb to our trickery. Yes, I'm glad that spring is nearly here.

Smoky Mountain brown trout caught on a Parachute Adams

If you are interested in a guided fly fishing trip, feel free to visit my guide site at www.troutzoneanglers.com or call/text (931) 261-1884. I still have some availability during the prime early season hatch times in March as well as the peak times in April and May and would be glad to help you with a day on the water that you will enjoy.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Big Brown Trout in the Great Smoky Mountains

Catching large brown trout in the Great Smoky Mountains is never guaranteed. Far from it in fact as large brown trout are definitely around but rarely hooked. For most anglers, catching one is the highlight of their year at minimum and sometimes even for their life. Yesterday, one lucky angler was fortunate enough to land one of the highly sought after big brown trout on Little River in the Smokies.

I had some guys from up north down to fish. For their first full day on the water, they hired me as a guide to help show them around and get them oriented to how we fish here in the Great Smoky Mountains. The morning started off quickly and it was not too long before each of them had caught their first Smoky Mountain trout including one who was fly fishing for the first time. This time of year, that is about as good as you can hope for so I was already quite happy as the guide.

We took a good lunch break and after getting fueled up for an afternoon of fishing, we hit the water again heading straight for a nice long pool that has room for more than one angler to fish. I got one angler started in the bottom of the pool after pointing out a few specific features with the instructions to fish thoroughly around those areas. Then I took the other angler upstream to fish the head of the run where I hoped we would find some trout feeding in the slightly faster water.

Before we had even really gotten into a rhythm fishing, the first guy yelled, "I think I have a good one!" Indeed he did and when I saw that golden flank flash in the sun I was all out sprinting down the bank with my net at the ready. Luckily all of the knots and 5x tippet held as they were supposed to and he did a fantastic job fighting the fish on his 8' 6" 4 weight rod. Before we even really had time to process what was happening, 22 inches of buttery brown trout was in the big net. Great job Steve and congrats on a memorable wild Smoky Mountain brown trout!

Little River Big Brown Trout in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Of course, a few pictures were necessary after which I tried to impress upon him how special of a fish this was for the Smoky Mountains. These fish don't come around every day and often not even every year, especially for most anglers. Applying good techniques and the ability to read water will go a long ways though towards eventually achieving the goal of catching one of these beauties!

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Black Friday

Caney Fork River Black Friday
Tranquil Black Friday on the Caney Fork River

For as long as I can remember, I have chosen to be outside on Black Friday. Now that the #optoutside campaign from REI has gained momentum, it appears that spending the day outside is now the "cool" thing to do. I truly believe that the best deal you can get is spending extra time outside. For society at large this is probably for the best, but I must say that I hope there aren't too many extra people out on the streams. Yeah, it is selfish I know.

Anyway, my Black Friday will be spent guiding a new angler, hopefully to their first (and second and third...) trout. You never know for sure how a day of fly fishing will turn out, especially this time of year, but the conditions are definitely in our favor. The water temperature has been warming steadily for the past 2-3 days and should be as good as can be expected while we are on the water. I'm quite optimistic about our chances. Once the trip is done, I might even sneak in an hour or two of fishing for myself.

So, what are you doing for Black Friday? Are you chasing after deals or fish or something else entirely?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stream Etiquette Done Right and Then Some

Fall Colors on Little River above Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A while back I complained about a lack of stream etiquette on a local stream in the Smokies. Since I complained about poor etiquette, it is only fair that I commend exceptional stream etiquette. A week and a half ago, I experienced two examples of perfect stream etiquette in one day.

The first came after I had been fishing hard for a couple of hours and was getting hungry. I had camped the previous night at Elkmont and had got up at first light to take down camp and hit the stream. Finally my hunger caught up with me so I headed to Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area to enjoy some delicious chili and chips. A hot meal is always a treat so I fired up the camp stove and was working on breakfast.

When I had pulled in, I noticed what appeared to be 2-3 anglers gearing up further down in the picnic area. After heating up my food and starting to eat, I noticed one of the anglers walking my direction. It turned out to be guide Charity Rutter of R & R Fly Fishing (which she owns along with her husband Ian). I already knew that both were great anglers and guides and of course good people in general. What I didn't expect was the incredible generosity and politeness. She inquired whether I was planning on fishing since she didn't want to get in water I intended to fish and asked if I was planning on fishing there, with or without clients. Mind you, she and her clients were there first so in any reasonable understanding of stream etiquette, they had first dibs, the right of way, whatever you want to label it. That is what I call stream etiquette done right and then some. If you know Charity, then this won't surprise you probably as she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, but it is always a pleasure seeing and experiencing such politeness out on the stream. Of course I told her to fish the whole section. Not only was she there first, but I was just fishing for fun and she was earning a living. I hadn't intended on fishing there anyway, but even if I was, I would have found a different spot.

The second case of good stream etiquette occurred on the same day. After my delicious brunch I hit another spot before heading up to Elkmont to combine my loves of hiking and fishing. There was a section of stream I had been wanting to hit ever since returning from Yellowstone. With a beautiful sunny day, I knew that I wouldn't find a better time this year. After a good hike in, I stopped and was working on rigging up while sitting alongside a popular pool. Mainly the pool is popular due to its proximity to the trail but it does hold some nice fish and offers the chance to fish dry flies. I had yet to decide whether to fish that hole, but to all appearances I was preparing to do so.

Just as I was finishing rigging up after a minor mishap of spilling my dry fly box, I noticed two anglers coming down the trail. One was guide Rob Fightmaster (www.fightmasterflyfishing.com) and the other was apparently his client for the day. We chatted for a few minutes and Rob asked about my Yellowstone trip. I of course asked what water they had fished above me so I wasn't fishing used water. Then I asked if they were fishing their way back down the trail. Rob confirmed that they were and mentioned that they had thought about the pool at our feet but would leave it to me. Again, great stream etiquette. Rob could have justified jumping in because he was making a living or even because I was sitting at the head of the pool, but he did not. Naturally, I told them to jump in and fish it. Rob was making a living that day while I was just fishing for fun, not to mention that my real goal was the stretch upstream from there.

Probably it is a bad business idea to promote companies and people who are technically my competition, but good deeds should be rewarded. Of course, I hope if you need a guided trip in the Smokies that you will contact me, but I can honestly say that I'm very confident that you would have a great day fishing with any of the guides listed above.

Ultimately, these two cases illustrate one of the most important aspects of stream etiquette: when in doubt, ask. Talking to fellow anglers will usually make your day better. Asking where they plan to fish and then choosing other water will go a long ways towards making new friends on the stream. My reward for giving up that pool? I had one of the best days of dry fly fishing I've had in a long time.


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!

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fly Fishing Stream Etiquette in the Great Smoky Mountains

Do you ever fall into the trap of assuming that the average person is smarter than they really are? I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, but today I had an encounter that removed all doubt unfortunately. Fly fishing stream etiquette in the Great Smoky Mountains seems straightforward, but today I learned that apparently it is not or else there are some very rude people in the world (quite likely that both of those are true).

My two clients were fishing a favorite roadside stretch on Little River. So far as I saw, we were the only ones fishing in several miles of good water. We were literally still on the first hole catching the first trout of the day when a guy came walking down the bank rigged up with his fly rod and dressed to look like he knew what he was doing. 

Seriously, if you dress like a model for an Orvis catalogue, you better know what you are doing, at least in terms of stream etiquette. My optimistic side still wants to think that this guy was just clueless, but I'm also really losing faith in humanity so at this point I'll say it is a tossup. Either way, jumping directly in front of us and starting to fish upstream was beyond rude. If it was just me, I would ignore you and go find other water, but jumping in front of people who just paid a lot of money to fish with a guide for the day is unreal.

Oh yeah, that hand gesture, the lifting of my arms and hands in the universal what in the world gesture, the one that you returned? That meant get the h3!! out of the stream, and I was being polite about it.

Luckily for both of us, I decided it wasn't worth a confrontation and used it as an opportunity to teach my clients some fly fishing stream etiquette. We headed upstream and caught a lot of nice trout. Driving up river, we noticed his buddy a bit further upstream. I'm still not sure if they were really that clueless or just dumb. I took some pictures of their vehicle with the original intent of posting it widely online until I could figure out who it was. After a bit of time to cool off along with experiencing the joy brought by watching my clients catch some beautiful trout, I realize there is no need to throw someone under the bus. Well maybe there is good reason, but I'm not going to stoop to that level. Instead, I'm using this as motivation to, hopefully briefly and succinctly, summarize fly fishing stream etiquette in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fly fishing stream etiquette in the Great Smoky Mountains can vary a bit from stream to stream. The general rule of thumb is that, on larger roadside water like Little River, you should at minimum stay out of sight of other anglers but don't use that rule to cheat if the stream makes some tight turns. A fourth of a mile of water at minimum should be left for whoever is fishing below you and sometimes more if pressure is light. In other words, if you only see one other angler on the whole river, leave him a mile or better of water.

On small streams, stream etiquette is even more important. My rule of thumb is give other anglers at least a half mile of water. More is always better and preferred when possible. If pressure is light, bump that up to at least a mile. I can easily fish a mile or more of water in a day and nothing is more frustrating than having someone jump in a short distance above you when they know you are fishing up.

Of course, some situations may vary. For example, this morning, the guy walked by on the bank and asked how we were doing. I probably should have told him at that point that we were fishing the section of water upstream. My assumption that he would understand stream etiquette was clearly off base and some friendly education might have helped everyone involved. When possible, stop and ask how far someone is planning on fishing. For example, I've had conversations that go something like this: 

"Hey! Great day to be out fishing isn't it?" 

"You bet!" 

"I was planning on getting in upstream a ways but wanted to know how far you were going to fish?"

"Well, my plan was to fish up to the next bridge and end there for the day." 

"Okay, I'll go another 1/4 mile upstream from that bridge just in case you feel like going a bit further."

"Thanks, I really appreciate that."

"No problem. Have a great day and catch a bunch!" 

"You too! Just so you know I've been wearing them out on a Fire Tiger Cactus Fly."

"Thanks for the tip. I have a couple of those in my box and will give them a try."

Exchanges like this actually really help to improve the overall mood of the day, much the opposite of our encounter this morning. When in doubt, always check with other anglers about their plans if they were the first ones on the water or trail. I'm a fast hiker and often overtake other anglers hiking upstream. When I do, I generally point out that they were there ahead of me and ask where they wanted to fish so I leave that water for them. It is usually much appreciated and sometimes you even make new friends in the process.

The strangest thing about this whole thing is that I had an issue with stream etiquette last week as well and by a guide no less. I should also add that it is not any guide I know personally or whose websites I link to on this blog so you can draw your own conclusions. The "guide" had a giant Thingamabobber tied on so I really pitied them and their client. And, to be fair, they didn't jump right in front of us although they looked at us and then walked down to the stream and acted like they were going to. At minimum they spooked some fish at our next hole. In the end, they walked on upstream a bit although if we hadn't of been about to break for lunch it wouldn't have been far enough. The thing about these situations that amazes me is why someone would want to jump in front of another angler when there are hundreds of miles of untouched water available for you to choose from.

So, next time you head for the Smokies, remember your proper fly fishing stream etiquette for a freestone mountain stream is NOT the same as it might be for a large tailwater and give other anglers a wide berth.

Monday, September 14, 2015

High Fish Concentrations

Little River rainbow trout in the Great Smoky Mountains

While most people are bemoaning the low flows in the Great Smoky Mountains, I'm enjoying some of the best fishing I can remember in a while. To be clear, I did not say catching, but if you enjoy stalking trout and sight casting, this is as good a time as any. Fall is my favorite time of year as I have often said on this blog. Low water is at least a contributing factor in that for me.

You see, the mostly unmentioned benefit of low water is that it helps to concentrate the fish. Whereas in the spring the fish are spread throughout the entire river, there are now only a few places for them to hide. Finding those places, approaching them without being seen, and getting a good cast on the trout can be challenging, but who isn't up for a good challenge?

Times like this is where you push your skills to the utmost, either becoming a better angler for it or quitting until conditions get better or using whatever other excuse you can to avoid the poor conditions. Fishing and the quality thereof varies, like most things in life, in the eye of the beholder.

Not too long ago, I had purchased a Rio Euro Nymph line with the eventual goal of purchasing a longer fly rod (say 10'-11'). Just the other day I finally put it on a reel and had to try it out before leaving for Yellowstone. After finishing with the Little River Outfitters Day 2 Beginner Fly Fishing School, I headed back to the Park and soon found a convenient pull off.

Feeling pressed for time with the sun quickly descending in the western sky, I had the rod rigged in record time. With low water, I wasn't sure what to expect from the fishing. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Fish were still hungry and willing to eat my nymphs. Overall, I really liked the new line but did find that it had a learning curve. After fishing weight forward lines exclusively for a long time, it was a LOT different throwing the lightweight Euro nymph line. It offers some great benefits though and in the long run will be well worth the investment. More on that in a later post once I've spent more time getting to know the line.

Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The fish seemed willing to eat my Isonychia soft hackle although I didn't catch large numbers of trout. Slow and steady seemed to be the rule. Lots of nymphal shucks were to be found on the rocks along with Golden stoneflies. Yellow quills or some other yellow mayfly made an appearance as well as some tiny Blue-winged Olives. With cooler temperatures, we should continue to see more hatches moving into the fall. A little water wouldn't hurt, but the fish are still there and hungry as always. The main benefit of this low water is that we should have some extra good dry fly possibilities this fall.

Little River rainbow trout

Little River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For now, this will be one of my last fishing reports for a while. I'll hopefully roll a couple more out, but I'm leaving for Yellowstone National Park this Thursday and will be gone until early October. I'm booked until mid October but have some availability starting October 14, 2015. If you have been wanting to book a guided fly fishing trip this fall, don't wait too long as the calendar is filling very quickly. Both float trips on the Caney Fork River and walk/wade trips in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park should be fantastic this fall. Call/text me at (931) 261-1884 or email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com to book today.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

August 2015 Newsletter



Despite staying fairly busy, I finally found the time to finish the August 2015 Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter. Check it out, and even better pass it on to your friends. Thank you for reading.

If you wish to subscribe but have not yet done so, you can fill out the form below and you will be good to go. If you like what you see on the newsletter, then please sign up. I won't be using your email for any purpose other than for newsletters and occasional special guide trip offers and tips on great fishing when it is happening and will never sell your email to a third party.



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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Never Too Soon


Only another 2.5-3 months and my favorite season will have arrived. Yes, it is never too soon to start thinking about fall. Every year, we start seeing some leaves changing colors in the middle of the summer. In fact, last summer, I was already looking ahead to fall by late June. This year, I've been dreaming of the cool dry months of fall ever since May arrived with warm weather and the humidity of summer. Now, I'm starting to see those changing colors. Too bad the main event is still so far out.

This time of year is special too though. One can never fish too many small streams for gorgeous wild trout and what better time of year than the warm months of summer? The high elevation brook trout streams are fishing well right now, finally replenished with some much needed rainfall over the last week or so with more on the way.

The fish in those high elevation streams are happy and more or less easy to catch. Obviously, if you ask me, I'll tell you that having a fly fishing guide will help and what better way to spend a day than with someone who can help you learn more skills to take your fly fishing game to another level? Here is one of many beautiful brook trout caught on a guide trip this past week which saw several more anglers learn the skills they needed to be highly successful in the Great Smoky Mountains National park.



Those cloudy rainy days can be phenomenal if you happen to be there to enjoy them. The low hanging clouds hug the ridges and ride the air currents up and over the peaks that together form the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fish like the low light associated with those cloudy rainy days. Just be careful if there is any lightning in the area and don't get surprised like I did.  And don't get too caught up with the fishing. The scenery is worth enjoying as well.