Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout
Showing posts with label Southeastern Fly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Southeastern Fly. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Guides Guiding Guides

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy of Susan Thrasher ©2017

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy of Susan Thrasher ©2017

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Guides' Day Off: April 2016 Smallmouth Edition

When two fly fishing guides with busy schedules plan an intentional guides' day off, you never know what is going to happen. When not taking clients fishing, we are just as likely to spend a whole day experimenting to just to try some new flies or tactics or maybe mess with some fish we don't target as often as the usual trout.

The day before our planned excursion, David Perry of Southeastern Fly and I were discussing where to fish and several options came up. None were on the current "hot" sections of our favorite rivers to guide for trout, but that was intentional. Sometimes these exploratory trips turn out well and sometimes they are a bust, at least as far as catching a lot of fish goes. The one thing that is always guaranteed when you fish with friends? A good time. It is not just about catching fish after all.

We finally settled on a game plan that involved smallmouth bass, always a good choice. Arriving at the river, David decided to back his boat way out in the middle of the river, mainly because the edges were simply too shallow for the boat to float. That would be a theme for the day. If the river had been another 100-200 cfs lower we might not have made it down. The fish didn't mind though.

To launch or not launch? How about taking a test drive (or is it a test cast?) before committing...


I caught several small redeye bass in quick succession despite David P. not catching any fish from the boat trailer, so it was determined to go ahead with our game plan and off we went. Floating along, we found a few redeye and briefly hooked up with a smallmouth or two, but it was obvious that a strategy change was in order. Thankfully, David P. brought the hot fly tied by smallmouth angler extraordinaire Gary Troutman (what a great fishing name right?).

After some discussion now how to fish said fly, David P. stepped into the casting brace and started working the magic fly. As a good guide, I was incredibly oblivious gazing at the scenery so I could point out interesting things to the guy in the front of the boat. Thankfully he was focused on the task at hand and when the fish hit he was ready. After a solid fight, the first nice smallmouth came to the net and we took a much deserved picture.


Insisting that David P. keep fishing for a while, I eventually lost my reluctance to leave the oars when a great hole with lots of structure came into view. I grabbed a heavy rod rigged for musky and started flailing the water. That produced a maybe follow. A maybe follow is when the angler thinks they see a fish but it could just as easily be the product of an overactive imagination. Despite my optimism, no other fish showed so it was back to smallmouth. In due time, I found my first nice smallie.

Thanks to David Perry for the photograph

We continued the day, taking turns fishing and getting a fish here and there. The pinnacle of the day came unexpectedly. Having caught the last nice fish, I was deservedly on the oars while David P. kept looking for another good fish.

We had already drifted down several exceptionally shallow shoals, but the boat was still in one piece. As we approached another obstacle, this one a huge tree laying across the river, David P. turned around and with a completely straight face told me to go left. I looked at him in disbelief. No way was I going to try to take the boat left but I did manage to blurt out a "I would like to see you row that."

Not one to back off from a challenge, he told me to switch spots. I got into the front of the boat while he grabbed the oars. On further examination, he told me I was right made the prudent decision to not try getting over the tree. Just as I started breathing normally again in relief, David P. told me to go ahead and fish since I was in the front of the boat. Not one to argue when the option to fish presents itself, I cast the hot fly into the run we were drifting past. The fly barely hit the water before getting slammed. After just finishing a long fishless stretch as the angler, the guy at the oars was a little shocked. I was glad to have snatched what should have been his fish but also felt a little guilty.

Thanks to David Perry for the photograph

After the pictures ,which he still graciously took for me, I tentatively offered, "You want me to row so you can fish again?" His answer was an unequivocal yes and brought no argument from me. That big smallmouth made the day for me, and I was content.

The rest of the float was anticlimactic. Despite our hopes, we only saw one or two more muskie and the smallmouth seemed mostly uninterested. The scenery was nice though as was the time with a good fishing buddy. We had set out to catch a few fish and have a good time and succeeded on both counts.

Floating for smallmouth is tough now with low water, but wade fishing for them is just picking up. If I can help you with a guided fly fishing trip on the Cumberland Plateau for smallmouth bass, please contact me via call or text at 931-261-1884 or email me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com.


Monday, May 05, 2014

A Well Spent Sunday

A couple of months ago, my friend David Perry contacted me about helping out with a great cause, Casting for Recovery (CFR).  Put on locally by the Music City Fly Girls, CFR is an opportunity for breast cancer survivors to try out the sport of fly fishing while enjoying a relaxing weekend retreat with others who have experienced breast cancer.  The last day of the event was the on the water day where each of the ladies would be paired with a guide and given the chance to hopefully catch some fish.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I found myself getting up at an unearthly hour to make the drive over to the Duck River below Normandy Dam.  The drive over was mostly uneventful other than the random cop that decided to come out of nowhere and terrorize me for a minute or so by riding my bumper in McMinnville.  After my heart rate came back down to normal and he had pulled off somewhere, I was back to the races, trying to make it to the event site by 8:00 a.m.  At least I would have had a good excuse for speeding if he had pulled me over.


Once I arrived, I was surprised to find out how small this tailwater is.  I'm not sure what I was expecting but this is a small stream compared to other tailwaters I fish.  Small is good though when it comes to putting people on fish who are new to the sport.  Trout were rising to a healthy caddis hatch and the occasional Light Cahill and even a Sulfur or two.  We had a delicious breakfast prepared by the Music City Fly Girls and got a nice CFR hat.


Eventually the ladies showed up and we headed down to the stream to fish.  The lady I was assigned to was pleasant and we quickly hit it off.  Once we got on the water, we covered some basic casting to reinforce what she had learned the previous day and then started working one of my favorite patterns for stocked rainbows through a good looking run.  Only a couple of casts later, she hooked her first fish!  Okay, so it was just a chub of some sort, but we were still glad to see a fish.  Not long after, we started catching trout, and missing trout, and catching some more trout.


She did a great job and finished the morning with close to 10 trout.  Not bad for a first timer on the fly rod!


After the fishing excursion, we headed in for lunch and a short program.  There, the lady I had been working with was the lucky recipient of a CFR fly rod and reel combo! The day couldn't get much better, and by the time I headed home, I was tired, but also happy to have been a part of this great event.  Special thanks go out to David Perry for inviting me to help and the Music City Fly Girls for putting on such a fantastic weekend!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Float Down the River

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

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

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




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

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



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

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


Friday, March 01, 2013

Update on Tennessee Tailwater Closings

My buddy David Perry over at Southeastern Fly just posted an update on the Tennessee tailwater situation.  Apparently Senator Lamar Alexander has introduced legislation to block those closings.  Head over to Southeastern Fly and watch the video for more on this!