Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Showing posts with label Streamer Fishing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Streamer Fishing. Show all posts

Friday, January 15, 2021

When the Fish Are Where They Should Be

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tying and Fishing David Knapp's PB&J Streamer [VIDEO]

The Motivation Behind the PB&J Streamer

Flies usually come about as the result of either a problem that needs solved or a wild night at the tying bench. Occasionally, both reasons are responsible. When it comes to tying streamers, I've experimented a lot at the vise over the years. I went through an articulated streamer phase. More recently, I've focused on jig style streamers. However, the first killer streamer I came up with was invented quite some time ago.

Over ten years ago, I got addicted to stripers for a couple of years. My good friend Trevor got me started on them and soon we were catching enough to keep us going back. This was back in my teaching days. I would teach all day, go striper fishing at night, sometimes until midnight or after, then make the long drive back home to get up and get to work by 7:00 am. I'm mostly past the staying out late every night stage, but the memories are good ones. 

Late in that first season of striper fishing, we encountered an interesting situation. Smaller threadfin shad were swept through the turbines of the dam at one of our favorite striper spots. The big stripers would set up shop downstream and we would find them sipping shad much like a big rainbow might sip a mayfly. When I say big stripers, I mean fish in the 15-30 pound range. While we have much larger stripers around, those were huge to us. I needed a fly that was weighted and looked like those dead and dying shad. The main purpose was a fly that could be used for sight fishing when these big stripers set up just under the surface to gorge on shad. Enter the PB&J streamer.

The Design Process for the PB&J Streamer

When I got home and set out to tie a great shad streamer, I remembered that my good friend Byron Begley of Little River Outfitters preferred tying shad with EP (Enrico Puglisi) fibers. His EP shad were and still are killer. The only problem is that they were tied weightless and I wanted something with weight that could quickly get down 1-3 feet under the surface without a sinking line to target those big stripers that were sipping shad. 

At that time, I tied very few streamers without some zonker strips. The natural movement of the rabbit fur is killer in any type of streamer. Thus, I combined the best of a couple of patterns. With Byron's EP shad providing the basis for the shape of the fly, I took the wing of a Zonker or similar style fly for extra movement and added dumbbell eyes like a Clouser. Instead of tying the eyes in on top like the Clouser, I found that this fly was easier to tie with the eyes on the bottom which eliminated threading the zonker strip over the hook point. Also, for whatever reason, I found that I was getting better hookups on stripers with the hook point riding down. Add a splash of color (the jelly in PB&J) as a trigger, and the PB&J streamer was born. 

Find the recipe for the PB&J HERE.

Tying the PB&J Streamer

Learn how to tie the PB&J streamer here with this video I put together. Let me know if you have any questions about tying this fly! 




Fishing the PB&J Streamer

This fly came together fairly quickly. Once I had the design down, it was a matter of learning if the fish would like it. That part turned out to be easy. The big stripers it was designed for loved the fly! In fact, I was soon catching more and larger stripers with this streamer. When sight fishing with this fly, I would use a basic 20 lb and 12 lb leader setup. You don't want to get much lighter than 12 lb test because the stripers will really put it to work hard. The key was to locate a feeding striper, then toss this fly 3-5 feet up current from the fish and let it dead drift down. More often than not, the fish would eat. 

Over time, this fly accounted for plenty of stripers along with a lot of random bycatch. I caught sauger, walleye, drum, white bass, largemouth bass, and of course trout on this fly. As I've become more and more interested in fly fishing the shad kill on area rivers, I've focused more and more on trout over the last few years. Ultimately, while I love catching stripers and other fish, trout are my target species of choice and what I keep coming back to again and again. As it turns out, this fly is deadly during the shad kill on trout tailwaters as well. 

You can fish this fly several different ways. One way is to fish it under a large indicator dead drift. You can also tie it on a short leader on a sinking line and strip the fly back to the boat. If you are stripping a PB&J during the shad kill, I recommend focusing on swimming the fly slower, not faster. Imitating the dead and dying shad, you should remember that the natural bait in the water is generally just drifting in the current or maybe twitching a little. Either way, it isn't moving fast through the water. Another good method is to cast upstream on a sinking line and let it just sink as you drift downstream. This technique is risky as you have a good likelihood of snagging bottom. It is usually a matter of if a fish eats before it snags. However, letting it run along the bottom at nearly a dead drift is often deadly. 

When fish are mostly focused high in the water column as often happens during the shad kill, try this streamer on a floating line with a 9 or 10 foot leader ending in 1x. The floating line keeps the fly from getting too deep and under the view of feeding trout. 


Variations on the PB&J Streamer

Over the years, several variations on the original PB&J have also been successful. First and foremost, you can try straying from the original white colors. This thing works in a lot of different color schemes to match various baitfish. Another variation that I really like is to use buck tail instead of EP fibers for the bottom. This gives a much more slender fly that matches various shiners and other baitfish well. Tie the buck tail in just like you would for a Clouser. 

Perhaps the most successful small variation on the original fly is to simply alter the weight. Use smaller dumbbell eyes and maybe tie the pattern itself a bit smaller, say #4 or even #6. This makes a perfect dropper for fishing behind your favorite floating shad. 

Finally, have fun with this fly! Let me know how it works for you and also what interesting variations you come up with. 

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

2017 Year in Review

Every year has its special moments, and 2017 will always be one of my favorite years. There were some great moments both fishing and guiding, and of course I found an amazing girl who actually goes fishing with me. That last one is what makes this past year so special to me, but some other moments stood out as well.

A quality brown trout started 2017 off on the right note. I had traveled to the Smokies for the famous "Bigsur's New Year's Day Karma Tradition" to see friends and hopefully wet a line. After saying hello to everyone, I snuck off to the stream and was lucky to be first through a good hole right near the picnic area. Sure enough, a nice brown trout slammed the streamer I was working against the far bank and my year was off to a great start!

Fishing stayed hot through the winter months and into early spring. We never had any extremely cold weather so the fishing in the Smokies stayed feasible right on through the winter. The highlight for me of this winter season was catching another beautiful brown on a favorite sculpin pattern while streamer fishing.


This fish was not a monster by Smokies standards, but the colors were great. And did I mention it slammed a streamer?

The spring hatch season started in a big way and just got better from there. The Blue Quills came off starting around February 20 or thereabouts. Fish rose every day. The problem was finding the hatch and the rising trout. On any given day, I rarely found more than 2-3 pools that were worth fishing. The hatch progressed upriver in an orderly fashion. If you found the bugs, then you also found the fish.

Two early season highlights stand out for me. The first was the slightly overcast day in late February that I fished with my buddy Pat Tully. We found great numbers of Blue Quills in several pools as well as an occasional Quill Gordon or Blue-winged Olive. The sight casting possibilities were endless. Because of the overcast, the hatch lasted much longer than it normally does on sunny days. We fished dry flies for hours. When the hatch petered out, we prospected with streamers and found another fish or two. I can't think of a better day on the water.

Photo Courtesy of Pat Tully ©2017





The second early season highlight was an early March guide trip that produced a large Smoky Mountain brown trout on a dry fly. Spencer had booked a day to polish some of his mountain techniques. We worked hard on nymphing throughout the day, but wanted to get in some dry fly fishing. I had a pretty good idea on where there might be some bugs. When we arrived at the pool, we found a few risers but not as many as I had hoped. The bright day probably had fewer fish rising than if it had been cloudy. Thankfully, we got lucky with one big brown at the head of the pool that liked his Parachute Adams.


After the early season hatches, things went into high gear and I was too busy to fish much. However, each exception to that produced some memorable highlights. One of my favorites was when I fished with David Perry and Susan Thrasher. We had a day to remember as time spent with friends is always hard to beat. The highlight was when I doubled up with Susan on a nice rainbow and brown trout. David Perry graciously snapped a picture for us to remember the day by! Guides guiding guides was certainly one of the highlights of 2017!

Photo Courtesy of David Perry ©2017

Early season guiding on the Caney was mostly limited to high water streamer and shad floats. These trips consistently produced some huge trout as should happen again this year. The one low water float of the early spring produced the largest guide trip fish of the year. The story surrounding this big trout was particularly amazing as an old curse was defeated. Check out the link above for more on that.


One of my absolute favorite trips of 2017 was in June. I actually had a few favorites in June and July, but the trip to Roan Mountain State Park to see the rhododendron and azalea was certainly one of the best. The rhododendron was as amazing as advertised, but the real highlight of this trip was the moment I realized what a special catch I had made. Leah and I had been dating for close to a couple of months at this point, but we had yet to go fishing. Leah was a good sport and agreed to fish a little on this trip up to northeast Tennessee.

We hit the Doe River in Roan Mountain State Park and found a few fish before the afternoon thunderstorms drove us off the water. Right before the rain started in earnest, Leah took big fish honors by starting off her fly fishing career with a big brown trout considering the small stream we were fishing. I couldn't have been happier. I'm still not sure if she knows how big of a deal it was to catch this fish on her first ever fly fishing trip, but I'm pretty sure she has some idea based on how excited I was.



The heat of summer often produces some of the best fishing of the year if you know where to go. This past year was no different. Guide trips produced some big trout on the Caney Fork and gorgeous brook trout in the Great Smoky Mountains. Smallmouth fishing had hit a consistent stride and night time trout trips on the tailwaters were heating up.


My favorite fishing in June, July, and August is usually the beetle fishing in the Smokies and on the Caney Fork River. This year was no different. My most memorable Smokies fishing of the summer involved an afternoon off after a morning 1/2 day guide trip. After dropping off my clients, I headed back to the Park to get in a couple of hours of fishing. In that time, I caught three trout. Two of them were sight fished with the beetle while the third also ate the beetle as I blind fished it in likely places.


The pinnacle of the whole year in terms of my own fishing and catching happened in late July. My buddy and fly tier extraordinaire Brandon Bailes and I had discussed a nighttime mousing trip on the Caney Fork. We finally got our schedules together and set off for an evening of fun and hopefully large trout.

We launched with some daylight left and spent our time alternating between nymphs/midges, streamers, and some dry flies when we found late evening sippers in slack water. We were almost halfway through the float when it got dark enough to begin the main event. Heavy rods, stout leaders, and meaty rodent imitations were tied on and we kept floating into the growing darkness.

Throughout the next couple of hours, we had two big blowups but failed to connect. Each heart stopping moment served as motivation to keep slinging the meat. Finally, we were approaching the takeout ramp and it looked like the mousing portion of the evening would be just enough to wet our appetites and not much more.

I was throwing to the shallow side of the boat and had made up my mind that this was the last cast when it finally happened. Something slurped quietly out there in the dark and my line came tight. I just kept stripping into things came tight. Momentarily I thought maybe I had snagged a log. When the log started swimming upstream I knew that I was in trouble. This was one strong fish! Thankfully, everything went smoothly and Brandon made a great net job on this big fish. My new personal best Caney Fork brown trout and on a mouse no less. Much thanks to Brandon for both the picture and the winning mouse fly! Let's make sure we do it again this year and get your monster brown in the boat Brandon...

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Bailes ©2017

There were lots more guide trip highlights throughout the second half of 2017. However, my fishing began to slow down somewhat. The exception to this also produced the last two highlights of the year for me. The first was in late August. I had been discussing a smallmouth bass excursion for a while with Daniel Drake of Little River Outfitters and Mark Brown of Chota. We finally nailed down a day that would work for all of us.

The day came and went much to fast, but I was left with some great memories of time spent on the water with friends. The interesting part of this fishing trip is that we didn't get any monster smallmouth. Most of the time, these Cumberland Plateau streams are good for at least one big smallie per day, but it was not meant to be on this particularly trip. Nevertheless, we found plenty of willing fish and had a great day of exploring with friends.


The last highlight of the year for me happened on a day of fishing with friends. I began the year with a nice brown trout in the Smokies, and I ended the year with a nice brown trout in the Smokies. Talk about the perfect way to begin and end the year!

Photo Courtesy of Leah Shulley ©2017

Now, while not fishing related, the best and most exciting highlight of the year happened on November 25, 2017. On that day, I asked my best friend to marry me and she said yes!!! Leah Shulley is an amazing young lady who loves the outdoors almost as much as I do. She is beautiful, smart, kind, thoughtful, loves adventure, and most importantly loves God. I'm super excited about sharing life with her!








Saturday, February 11, 2017

On a Roll

One of my favorite things about winter is time off from work. Not that I mind guiding, of course, but it is nice to get a little fishing in for myself on occasion. Lately I've been privileged to spend more time on the water than I deserve including trips on tailwaters like the Caney Fork and South Holston as well as fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The best thing about this streak of fishing trips is that they have all been successful. Now, success can be a difficult thing to understand. Defining success becomes even harder when multiple anglers all have their input, so let me explain my idea of success when I'm the one holding the fly rod. Success is, first and foremost, spending time out in nature. Catching a fish would be nice as well. After all, I'm out fishing for more than just the scenery. That said, I don't need huge numbers these days. I don't really even need big fish although those are always nice. Secretly, most anglers hope for big fish so they can wow their friends with stories of their fishing prowess. I don't know about wowing others, but I will say once again that big fish are nice to see.

The thing about big fish, though, is that they get kind of stressful. When you have a big fish on the end of the line, all of your nerves and muscles bunch up. In the end, it can take days to unwind from a particularly hefty specimen. Needless to say, catching too many wall hangers could take its toll.

The absolute best fish to catch are those that are larger than normal, but not so large as to cause you to completely lose your mind. Larger than normal because, let's admit, they look good in the picture if you are into that sort of thing. I take pictures to help me remember the fish later. I'm starting to realize that my good memory may not last forever, but hopefully those pictures will help jog my memories if it comes to that.

Over the last two or three weeks, I've been blessed to catch four of those memorable fish. On each fishing trip, only a handful of fish were caught. On at least one, I know for sure that the memorable fish was the only fish. Somehow that helps those memories become a little clearer. The hazy memories usually come from the days where I quit counting how many 18+ inch fish I caught oddly enough.

Anyway, so as I was saying, I've been on a bit of a roll lately, and I'll gladly take it. Any serious angler knows that luck can turn suddenly, so it is usually wise to ride a winning streak hard. The first good fish came from up in the Smokies, the next two from a couple of tailwaters, and the last one was back in the Smokies again. Let me tell you about that last one.

It happened this past Thursday. A weather system had moved through Wednesday night into Thursday morning dropping snow in the higher elevations. The morning after the storm was cloudy, and I hoped it would stay that way. Fishing for brown trout is always tough, but clouds do give an angler an edge even if it is a flimsy one at best. My usual early morning responsibilities evaporated and I was suddenly free to head for the mountains earlier than I anticipated.

I was not too far down Interstate 40 when I noticed the breaks in the clouds to my east; definitely not a good sign for chasing brown trout. The openings in the clouds became more defined as I got closer to Knoxville, but mercifully started to fill back in by the time I was passing the Knoxville airport.

My intended short stop at Little River Outfitters stretched longer than I wanted but that was my own fault. They have set up a tying table to tie flies for worthy causes. When Daniel told me I could tie the first fly, it was an opportunity I could not pass up. I quickly cranked out a bead head Pheasant Tail nymph, something I'll probably do each time I visit now. This is definitely a fun idea so check it out when you are in the shop next time!

Finally, after grabbing some white tying thread (there is a hint there about my streamers, but of course not about where that color is being fished), I finally said my good byes and headed into the Park. It was a cold blustery day. The white on the hills above town told me that snow had fallen in the higher elevations and probably still was in places. The clouds were just thick enough to give me some motivation, but the cold day was giving me second thoughts. Just getting out to see the mountains was enjoyable enough. Of course, I wouldn't be writing this story if I just drove around looking at the water. By now it should be obvious that I did indeed go fishing.

My streamer rod was still rigged up from my last tailwater float. While that combo probably would have worked, I decided to change flies. At the last second, inspiration struck and I tied on a sculpin pattern to the short leader at the end of my full sinking line. That is always a good idea if brown trout are around as long as the water you are fishing also contains sculpins. The second run I fished produced two really good hard tugs, but neither fish found the hook apparently. The first hit was particularly gratifying as I watched the fish come flying out of calm water to chase the streamer.

Moving slowly down the river, I fished another couple of runs without any hits. One of those was a particularly good spot where I had caught my first fish of 2017. When it didn't produce, I decided to go looking elsewhere. Still more or less uninspired as to where I wanted to fish, I decided to just explore. That is almost always a recipe for success in my experience.

Early in my exploration I found quite a few fish. In fact, I had more brown trout chasing streamers than I can recall on just about any other fishing trip. Still, the fish either wouldn't commit or couldn't find the hook. Both problems left me searching for that one fish. There is probably a good metaphor there as well, but I don't feel like unpacking it tonight.

Finally, I remembered where I caught the nice fish that had started this whole string of good luck a couple of weeks back. The beauty of catch and release is the chance to go and see if old friends are home so that is what I did.

Remember exactly where the last fish had come from helped a lot. I worked my way into the run very cautiously, knowing that it is far too easy to blow a nice fish. A couple of drive by flashes from smaller fish got me excited. When I finally threw to that one spot, I strongly suspected I would be seeing that nice golden flash again. Sure enough, the brown charged, swirled once, then twice before knocking the streamer silly. It was all I could do to not pull the fly out with a massive hook set. Instead, I started twitching the fly like I imagined a disoriented sculpin would be doing. Miraculously, it worked. Seriously.

When it all comes together, and I should point out that this is not the norm, I'm left wondering: why can't I get myself together and do everything right all the other times? When a nice fish is in the net however, I leave the wondering until after taking pictures and generally admiring the fish. They deserve my respect which looks like a very fast picture and quick release. The fish posed beautifully and then I was left to wonder about why everything worked this time. Somehow I couldn't quite make sense of everything, but was left to realize that I'm definitely on a roll and better enjoy it while it lasts. A streak like this won't last forever. In fact, the clouds broke just after catching this fish and the streamer bite went dead in a hurry. For now, I'll be watching the forecast waiting for another cloudy day.


Monday, January 04, 2016

When in Yellowstone, Fish...the Yellowstone: Yellowstone Day 5

Yellowstone River above Tower Falls

How many times can you squeeze "Yellowstone" into a post title? Apparently at least three times. Never limit yourself when greatness awaits. If you can't tell, my creative side is getting close to being shot it seems. Nothing that reliving a trip to Yellowstone can't fix (or maybe worsen, I'm not sure which). Either way, looking back over the pictures from day five refreshed my memory fabulously and I'm excited all over again for what transpired on that day of fishing the Yellowstone River.

The discussion on where to fish had began a day earlier, well after dark when we got back to camp from a long but good day in the Lamar Valley fishing Soda Butte Creek and the Lamar Rivers. My buddy Kevin only had two full days available to fish before heading on to fly fishing guide school and we had already used one. That meant the pressure was on to select a winner for the day's fishing.

Having fished the Yellowstone River on my last several trips out there, I knew what it was capable of. In fact, one of the most memorable days I've been a part of fly fishing wise in Yellowstone happened on that river. Anyway, it always has the potential to produce a quality day of fishing, and in fact, I can't say I've ever had a bad day of fishing on the Yellowstone. Since it was Kevin's first trip, he ultimately deferred to me in the decisions on where to fish so there was a bit of pressure to say the least.

For this day, I knew my stream-side breakfast tradition was in jeopardy. There are few places where you can drive to the Yellowstone in the canyon reaches we hoped to fish. Somehow, eating breakfast in a dry parking lot with a flood of tourists surging past didn't appeal, but something was tickling my memory. That great big breakfast from my first full day in the Park had been delicious, and as we were already driving right past Canyon, why not stop in for round two? Convincing Kevin was not too hard at all and we left in time to be there right as they opened. With a good breakfast behind us, we were ready to hit the water of the mighty Yellowstone River.

Hiking down from the shortest access at Tower Falls, I carried two rods. One was rigged with the hopper/dropper rig that had done so well on the Lamar Valley waters while the other was my 7 weight complete with full sinking line. In other words, I was ready to fish streamers. Tied on the end was my favorite, the PB&J.

At the bottom of the trail is a huge boulder in the edge of the Yellowstone's flow. I just had to fish there as I do most trips down into the canyon. While normally I'm smart enough to make the long and slightly dangerous hike upstream, trudging up and down slopes along trails belonging as much to the deer, elk, bison, and bears as to humans, this time we had people fishing ahead of us and had no idea how far they had hiked. Might as well enjoy the water close at hand since no one was on it.

Yellowstone cutthroat that hit a PB&J streamer

I had a solid swipe on the first cast and shortly thereafter teased the nice cutthroat back out from under the rock and onto my fly. A quick picture and I tossed the fish back to catch again another year on another trip. We moved upstream to a long deep run just upstream and started working streamers hard. Flashes, taps, and the occasional tug kept us going for longer than I normally would fish one spot. In fact, in all honesty, I believe we could have stayed in that one spot the rest of the day, but the urge to roam was strong and we kept pushing upstream.

Only once did we need to leapfrog around other anglers. The main group of competition apparently had booked on up the river to where I normally fish, leaving us the easier to access water down low. Turns out that wasn't a bad thing. We found more fat cutthroat than is fair for two anglers to catch in one day.

Yellowstone Cutthroat trout

We soon arrived upstream at a large pool that I remembered well from past trips. The one thing lacking from my recollections were any particularly great stories about fishing there. That would change on this trip. I had been working up through some pockets and told Kevin to head on up and fish that hole. When I moved up, I found him absolutely certain that a large cutthroat had taken at least a couple of swipes at his flies. A high bank loomed over the hole and provided the perfect spot for me to spot from. When I got up there, I started to get a little giddy, because sure enough, there were large cutthroat chasing his fly on most casts.

I've been fishing long enough to know many of my shortcomings as a fishermen, and one of those is that I tend to start seeing things by the end of a long day on the water, but these shadows were too well defined to be imagination. Deep bright red along the flanks suggested that at least some of the fish could have rainbow ancestry mixed in, but I've also caught enough large cutthroat to know they can be brilliant red as well so who knows.

Fly Fishing the Yellowstone River

Yes, who knows, because while some true giants that I'm convinced were in the 25 inch range showed, the best landed was in the 18-19 inch range. That said, both of us were ecstatic at the fish that were caught. I do my best to not complain about the catching. Complaints can affect your fishing mojo negatively.

What I can say is that I'm sure both of us will fish that same pool again the next time either one of us is out in Yellowstone. Best of all, we both know what fly they seemed to really appreciate. Notice I'm not telling here, but for the record, it is a fairly common streamer pattern you should find at just about any normal fly shop.

The rest of that day was anticlimactic. There were plenty more fish to be caught after this epic pool including some nice ones on the hopper setup. A few hit the hopper, while a good number hit the nymph that was trailing underneath. Eventually I set the hopper rod down and went back to streamers because the hopper rod was almost too easy. We didn't fish as late as sometimes, probably because we were both beyond satisfied.

The memories of those big fish though kept us pondering and both of us were ready to get up early and head back to the Yellowstone if it wasn't for Kevin's need to depart the next morning. I had some vague plans to sight see and enjoy the scenery the next day. Even though the sun set early at that time of year, both of us were tired enough to enjoy a good supper and a bit of conversation before turning in to our respective tents for the night.

Just before dark, the sunset lit up the meadow that was my usual early or late day fishing spot whenever I was in camp. The rich glow painted the perfect end of day picture as the moon rose to the east until, moments later, the sunset itself was worth a shot.

Junction of the Gibbon River and Solfatara Creek at Norris Campground

Sunset along Solfatara Creek at Norris


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Yellowstone Cutthroat Love the PB&J


With my Yellowstone vacation wrapped up, I'm still deciding whether or not I'm glad to be home or not. Like all good trips this one had to end, but not until I had caught plenty of big trout and enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather. Foul weather and large numbers of lake run fish would have been nice, but not waking up to lots of snow and freezing temperatures was also nice.

One of the best parts about the trip is that I threw streamers or hoppers almost exclusively except for when I dropped some soft hackles off of the streamer or large nymph for the lake run fish. Lots of streamers were thrown including one of my favorites, the PB&J.  As it turns out, Yellowstone cutthroat love the PB&J just about as much as Tennessee tailwater trout do. This despite the fact that there are not any shad around on the Yellowstone River, but the lack of shad did not seem to make the fish shy about eating it. Apparently it is just one of those patterns that catch fish under a large variety of circumstances.

I'm still in the middle of processing the many gigabytes of pictures that I took. Starting in another couple of days, I'll be guiding pretty steadily for a while also. That means that Yellowstone reports will come along but may stretch out over the next month or even two. Thank you for your patience. In the meantime, watch the Little River Outfitters message board for an initial abbreviated report and also my Facebook pages for the Trout Zone and Trout Zone Anglers for pictures and other tidbits from the trip. Some pictures will also show up on Twitter.

If you are looking for a guided fly fishing trip this month or next, the calendar is getting close to full. Book sooner as opposed to later or else I will be out of open dates. Right now, I have October 21 and 22 available as well as some days the last week of the month. November is looking a bit more open as of right now, but the inquiries are starting to come in so don't wait too long. Contact me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com if you are interested in a guided fly fishing trip in the Smokies or on the Caney Fork River.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

First Time Streamer Fishing

Fly fishing for trout with streamers is definitely an intermediate technique at minimum and perhaps even could be considered as advanced. One of the joys of owning a drift boat is being able to introduce people to good streamer technique. When everything comes together, and they catch that first trout on a streamer, the smiles rival catching that first trout ever. Last week I had an open day and called my buddy Tyler to see if he wanted to fish. Rarely do I have to ask him twice, and we made plans on when and where to meet.

The next day, we dumped the boat and immediately anchored up for a snack. I had a full morning of errands behind me and needed some fuel to row down under the 5,000 plus CFS that were coming through the sluice gate and generator. This proved to be a good opportunity to give Tyler the verbal crash course on what we were trying to accomplish.

Before long, I pulled the anchor and we were under way. Tyler was hitting the banks and current seams like a pro and before long the follows and flashes were coming. In fact, I soon saw perhaps the largest trout I've ever seen on the Caney flash on his streamer. I glanced up and his eyes were as big as saucers, and I was back rowing like mad to try and give another shot. On this day, it was not meant to be. The big fish never showed itself again, but I guarantee that I will be back to look for that big slab of buttery brown.

Once we switched for a short distance so I could throw a few casts myself. Tyler is slowly learning to do a good job at rowing. Eventually I'll have him trained in to row me down there river the whole way.  On this day, the student would out-fish the teacher. Before long, I switched back to the oars and this time I could tell that Tyler was dialed in. The streamer was landing within a foot of the bank and he was swimming the fly like a pro.

We were entering another big fish zone where I had recently seen a large brown. Directing Tyler to cast to specific spots soon brought results. A nice fish slammed the streamer and Tyler was happy and nervous all at once. Anyone who has had a nice fish on the line knows the stress that comes at such times. Handling it like a pro, he soon had the fish in the net and posed for a couple of pictures. Like other recent quality fish, this one ate a PB&J streamer. Congrats Tyler!

Caney Fork River brown trout

Caney Fork River brown trout head shot

After watching the fish swim off strongly, we continued downstream. I fished a bit more, but other than some small stockers chasing and one nice fish that missed the hook, I could tell it just wasn't my day. Tyler went back to the front casting brace and before long had his second brown on a streamer. Not bad for his first time ever streamer fishing.

Another Caney Fork River brown trout on a streamer

Soon the ramp slid into view and before we knew it the boat was loaded. The air conditioning felt great after the hot sun on the river. Funny how catching nice fish made us forget the heat until we got to the end of the float.


Thursday, August 06, 2015

A Change of Plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, February 16, 2015

What Is a Shad Kill?

Since I keep talking about the shad kill, many of you have been wondering what I am referring to. Here is a little more information on the phenomena and why it should get you excited as a fly fisherman!


Many years ago, when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) started building dams throughout the Tennessee valley and its tributary streams, numerous warm water reservoirs were formed. Each of these lakes boasts incredible diversity when it comes to fishing and a few even offer trout fishing.

The unintended by-product of these lakes was the cold water fisheries that prevailed below each dam. Within just a few years, many of the rivers were being stocked with trout. Not all of the TVA lakes have a trout fishery downstream because some are too shallow, but in the lakes that are deep enough for stratification to occur, cold water settles to the bottom of the lake. During the summer months, the bottom draw reservoirs are dumping cold water through the generators in their respective dams and create fantastic tailwater fisheries downstream. Rivers like my local tailwater, the Caney Fork River, as well as the Clinch, South Holston, Watauga, Holston, and Hiwassee are all known as great fishing destinations.

What most anglers do not realize is that these tailwaters fish great through the winter. Most anglers prefer to come fish during spring through fall when it is warmer outside. However, the winter can produce phenomenal midge hatches, and on a few rivers, blue-winged olives and winter stoneflies. The big event each year happens in late winter, if it is going to happen.

Each summer, in the reservoirs, the various species of shad (especially threadfin) proliferate in the nutrient rich waters. The shad in turn provide a great forage base for various fish including smallmouth and largemouth bass, stripers, white bass, and many other species. However, the shad need relatively warm water to thrive. In the winter, when the surface temperature on area reservoirs drops into the low 40s, shad start dying en masse. When this occurs, the current from the generators in the dams slowly draws the dead and dying fish. Eventually they get sucked through and come out below the dams into the tailwater fisheries.


That is when the real fun begins. When shad are coming through a given dam, the fish in the river below go on a feeding binge. In fact, this phenomena is one of the secrets of the fishing I do for large stripers. Generally, you can expect the best shad kills to happen in late winter during the months of February and March. It is during these times that the lake surface temperatures normally reach their lowest points of the whole year.

Even better for us fishermen, when a shad kill is on, fish will often hit just about anything white as they eat as much as they can and then some in an effort to pack on the pounds. Fish grow fat ridiculously fast on this high protein diet.


This year, I'm forecasting a good shad kill on the Caney Fork River. If it happens, it will be in the next 1-3 weeks. We have already seen some limited numbers of shad coming through the dam at Center Hill but so far the fish have not keyed in on the shad in a big way. If you are flexible with your schedule and want to experience some incredible fishing, call me as soon as I announce the shad kill has started to book a float trip to throw streamers. You may catch the fish of a lifetime...

There is a good chance that we will also see good shad kills on the Clinch and Holston Rivers. Additionally, even though it is a warm water fishery, I have had good luck fishing the shad kill on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga below Chickamauga Dam. The white bass and hybrids seem to like the shad as well as freshwater drum and of course the stripers when they are around. If you are interested in learning how to approach this fishery as a wade angler, please contact me for more information or to book a guided trip.


Over the years, I have developed 3 flies specifically for the shad kill. Two of them are ones you have seen or heard about before, the PB&J and my recent floating shad creation. The PB&J is best when you need to dead drift your patterns.


In addition to these patterns, white Wooly Buggers work as well as just about any other white streamer. I'm partial to Kelly Galloup's Stacked Blonde in all white.

Regardless of what flies you fish, make sure that you are using a strong rod and heavy tippet. I fish the shad kill with a 7 weight rod or heavier and fish no lighter than 10 lb. tippet but preferably 12 lb. The fish can be large at this time and the worst thing you could do is to hook the fish of a lifetime on too light of a tippet.

Stay tuned here for more on the shad kill. Once it is on it may last for days or it may be over within 48 hours. In rare years it may drag on for a few weeks but don't hold your breath for that one. However, as long as it stays unseasonably cold here in Tennessee, we have a pretty good chance of an awesome shad kill!

If you have any other questions about the shad kill or want to book a guided trip, please reply here and let me know or contact me

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Missing Big Fish

Lost any big fish lately? I have, and I can tell you that they are still fresh in my memory. The last two streamer floats I've done have resulted in losing nice fish. One was two weeks ago, and the other was this past Sunday. At least I'm still getting out and catching a few fish though.

On Sunday, my buddy Dan Munger from Little River Outfitters, and I had planned on doing a float. Going back and forth between trout and musky, we finally decided to hit the Caney Fork. Putting in on low water, we stirred up a few fish with nymphs as we waited for the rising water from the power generation to catch up. Once the water hit, we drifted and threw streamers.


Overall, the fishing was slow, but I did have that one moment with a big brown trout. We were well along in our day at this point. I was in the front of the boat and was working a good fishy looking bank. Suddenly I saw the dark shadow take a swing at my fly and miss. Pausing just briefly for the fish to find the fly again, I continued my retrieve. The second time the fish nailed it, but somehow I just missed the hook set plain and simple.

On my previous trip, I had the fish on long enough for a couple of jumps before the fly shook loose. Clearly I'm in some sort of a rut, and one where the main feature is loosing or missing big browns is depressing indeed. The only solution I can think of is to get out and fish some more. So for the next two days, I'll suffer and get out some more in search of more fish. Someone's got to do it...

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Hiwassee River: A Return To An Old Favorite

Travelling northeast from Chattanooga, I was headed for the Hiwassee River. Back in college it had been my go to trout stream, partly because it was so close of course, but also, well, the mighty Hiwassee just grows on you.

Wide for a trout river anywhere, the Hiwassee is a tailwater, but a rather unusual one. Below Apalachia Dam (yes, that is spelled correctly), the streambed barely contains a trickle unless the dam is spilling as the majority of water is piped 8.3 miles downstream and released at the powerhouse where the best trout fishing on the river begins.

On low water, the Hiwassee River shows her teeth, but when the generators kick on, it becomes a rafters’ paradise with several companies running commercial trips on the river. The shoals still lurk just under the surface, which means that only the most experienced drift boat oarsmen should attempt rowing the river. I have seen it all including people floating down the river on blowup mattresses from Wally World. Thankfully, all of that nonsense takes place in warmer weather. In the winter, anglers pretty much have the river to themselves.

Driving east from Cleveland I noticed something that I had never seen before. The mountains appeared to have been frosted. Even more impressive was how distinct the apparent freezing line had been the night before. Big Frog Mountain to the east-southeast was so beautiful that I almost changed my plans for the day to go hike the mountain instead. At minimum, I was inspired to go do some winter hiking in the Smokies before things warm up. Much closer, Chilhowee Mountain just above Benton had just a little of the white stuff on its highest reaches. 


Continuing on north towards the Hiwassee River, I was counting on the fact that it was a weekday to have the river mostly to myself, but surprisingly there were almost as many fishermen out as I would normally expect on a winter’s weekend.

Driving slowly upriver with the requisite craning of the neck to look at the water, I came around a bend to find an interesting sight: the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) trout stocking truck. As they were just finishing up one stocking location, I asked if it would be all right if I followed them up and took some pictures of the stocking in action. They graciously agreed.


While we’re on the subject, for the record, I am not in the habit of following stocking trucks around. I remember reading an article once about trout warriors who follow stocking trucks around so they can do battle with trout as soon as the fish are released. Something about that strikes me as not quite sporting so I try to avoid even the appearance of evil being a trout warrior chasing rubber stockers.


I know this sounds like a lot of excuses for a couple of pictures, but you will have to trust me on this one. As soon as I got my photographs I headed upriver as far away from the stocking truck as I could get. I felt marginally better after catching a few healthy fish that looked like they had been in the river a while.

By the time I reached the turnaround, fishermen had begun to descend on the river. I passed several anglers on my way up who were working the accessible bankside water as they waited for the flow from the turbines to be shut off. My own preparations became more and more hurried as that moment loomed closer. Everyone’s goal was to be in position to fish their favorite spot before the water went off so they could fish as it fell out. After all, there is usually a flurry of feeding as the water drops.

My original hope had been to fish some shad patterns on high water. The stop to watch the stocking truck consumed enough time that I had no chance, so I rigged up for nymph fishing. A couple of standard flies under an indicator completed my setup, and I was soon slogging across a narrow side channel in the still heavy current. Right on cue the generators went off, and I started casting.

Trout were already rolling all across the river. Not seeing any winter stoneflies, I was left to assume that it must be midges. A short time later I finally saw some of the little bugs and had my suspicions confirmed. As the water level dropped, I was able to access more and more streambed. Wading aggressively, I was soon casting to feeding trout in deeper water. Strangely, the usual suspects were not appealing to the fish on this day.

Something of an “Ah ha!” moment took place, and I tied on a small white streamer that is always very effective for me during shad kills. Only a few casts later I had a solid hit and the first rainbow of the day came to hand. Apparently the trout have been seeing some shad.

After perhaps 3 trout on the white streamer, I changed over to a dry fly with a dropper. My normal winter setup on this river is a Parachute Adams. This fly does a passable job of imitating the winter stoneflies at least vaguely in shape and size, never mind the giant white wing sticking up on top. That part is to help me see the thing 60 feet away. Underneath I would normally drop a small midge, but instead I used a little bead head caddis pupa that you would recognize if you have fished with me before. The fly is the embodiment of simplicity so I do not mind losing one every now and again. In other words, a perfect guide fly.

Carefully slipping and sliding around the river bottom, I managed to scare up another trout or two before wondering how the water downstream was fishing. While I have fished a large portion of the river from well above the powerhouse downstream to Reliance and beyond, those excursions away from the upper river are the anomalies. I prefer the water from Big Bend upstream for a simple reason: that section has the highest concentration of trout in the Hiwassee River.

Accordingly, I was soon making the short drive downriver to fish a favorite area at Fox’s Cabin. This stretch of river produced some of the most epic match the hatch fishing I’ve experienced anywhere. Of course, the whole river was good on those days, I just happened to be fishing there. Still, a little nostalgia always creeps in when I fish there and remember the good old days. You know, my college years before the real world kicked in and started kicking my butt.

Anyway, so I stopped just downstream where I had seen the stocking truck earlier. There is a shoal that extends across the river there that I enjoy fishing when the winter stoneflies are out. By that time in the day I was seeing a few fluttering around and also some explosive rises.

As I waded in, I could not help but notice a large school of trout podded up near the bank. Apparently the stockers from earlier in the morning had survived their rough entry into the river. I did my part to help them disperse so an unethical angler wouldn’t come along and full up a couple of 5 gallon buckets with fresh stockers. To any onlookers, I probably looked a bit like a Labrador retriever who had not seen the water in a few months as I bounded through the water in pursuit of the terrified fish. My mission was soon accomplished though as the school scattered for safer habitat. The area duck hunters quit yelling at me to “Fetch!” and things quickly returned to normal.

Wading out across the shoal, I worked quickly towards the middle of the river to get away from those poor fresh stockers. They were still confused enough that I could have scooped them up in my net if I wanted.

I was catching brown trout, more than normal I might add, although it has been so long since I fished the Hiwassee I might just be remembering incorrectly. Lots of the fish were barely larger than fingerlings and a few could have convinced me that they were hatched in the river if I didn’t know that TWRA stocks a lot of fingerling browns in the fall. Hopefully those will grow up to be large predatory browns in the next few years.


The complete tour of the shoal was finished about the time the water came up from the afternoon pulse of generation. Heading a short distance upstream to the large pool at Fox’s Cabin, I fished a streamer rod in the heavier current for a while. My one reward was a chunky rainbow around 13 inches in length. Soon the pulse abated, and I worked my way back out on the water with the 5 weight again in hand.

Some of the prettier fish I caught on this day came after that afternoon pulse. Some of the rainbows were so pretty that it seemed a shame that they most likely would not get the chance to grow much larger. The delayed harvest season is on a bit longer, but when it ends there will be carnage on the streams that fall under this designation. This has more than a little to do with the fact that most Tennessee tailwaters do not produce as many large fish as they are capable of, but that is a topic for another time.

The pulse seemed to hang around longer than expect, but that was likely a product of the fact that I was not fishing immediately below the powerhouse this time. Water drains out fairly quickly on this river, but it still takes time for it to go somewhere. Slowly I worked my way out towards some deeper runs in the middle of the streambed, catching the odd rainbow trout or two along the way.


This set of runs has produced some fantastic fish for me over the years. On a day when I was just happy to be out, the magic struck again. A big boisterous rise got my attention across the pool I was fishing. I had just caught a rainbow from the near current. It was a pretty fish and I paused a moment to appreciate its colors. You never know when a fish will be the last one of the day, and I needed something to daydream about over the cold days ahead.

That big rise was across some dead water that was just past the current closest to me. On the other side of the dead water was a current seam along the edge of the dominant current flowing through this particular pool. Based on the rise, I assumed the fish had noticed one of the few stray winter stoneflies still fluttering around.

I made a long reach cast across, reaching upstream so my line would not drag immediately in the secondary current just beyond my rod tip. The dry drifted about three feet before I blinked. When my eyes opened again the dry fly was nowhere to be seen. There was a split second where I questioned where it could have gone before I thought, “Maybe I should set the hook, you know, just in case.” This scenario seems to be a more common ailment among fly fishermen than is generally acknowledged, but most likely more research needs to be done.

Over the years, this problem has reared its ugly head in some rather humorous ways. One time I was fishing the Caney Fork River when a drift boat with three guys came through. I have to say I was rather enjoying the scenery until one of the gentlemen yelled at me to set. At least I obey quickly. I landed that fish while guys probably thought I was the least focused fisherman they had seen all day. Now that I’ve guided a while I realize it is a universal problem. As a guide, I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve had to yell set. Of course my friends do it to me all the time when we fish together out of the boat. If you’ve found the cure, then I’m all ears.

Anyway, so as I was saying, my flies had disappeared, and when I set the hook I could tell it was better than anything else I had caught all day. The flash of buttery brown immediately had me wishing that I had brought a net. For some reason or another, my net had been left at home. Want a surefire way to hook a nice trout? Leave your net or camera at home, preferably both of course.

The dropper that the fish had eaten was dangling off of that Parachute Adams on 6x tippet. With all of the ledges and sharp rocks around I was nervous. I really wanted to see that trout up close!


To spare you the boring details, I soon guided the fish up onto a nice soft barely submerged weed bed that cradled the brown almost as well as my net. A couple of pictures later I held the trout carefully in the water. When the fish was ready to go there was no holding it back.


By this time the late day sun had moved well below the nearest hill and there was a definitely chill in the air as evening approached. The far hillside was lit with a warm glow that you can only get in winter. Reflecting off of the water, it gave the illusion of liquid gold flowing downstream below me.



Before calling it quits for the day, I decided on making one last stop at Big Bend to fish the bottom of the big shoals there. Several more browns made an appearance although none were as nice as the handsome fish I had caught further upriver. The late day sun was sinking even lower, so after a few more quick pictures, I decided to finally call it a day and head back to civilization.





These other recent posts on the Trout Zone may interest you as well.