Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Fly Fishing End of The Road..... Mongolia

For those that haven't wasted hours of their time on YouTube watching other people catch fish, this one's for you. This time of year, people's thoughts begin to drift to exotic destinations, often with a warmer climate. This video is of a trip that a group of Wyoming guides took to Mongolia...not the first place that most people think of when they start thinking "exotic locations." Anyway, these guys are after the great Taimen. For those who have not heard much about this fish, check out this video. It is a bit lengthy but a great movie. Here at the Trout Zone we are already trying to figure out a way to make the journey around the globe to Mongolia...hey, it is okay to dream!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Big News!!!

Well, it looks like it is final. The National Park Service is planning to eradicate the rainbow trout population in Lynn Camp Prong in the Great Smoky Mountains and will return the stream to native brook trout water. Anglers are having mixed reactions to the news. The largest concern seems to be that most people hate to see the stream closed for the length of time it is going to take for a brook trout population to stabilize. An excellent debate has been taking place on the subject on the Little River Outfitters message board which can be found here.


Around the country, it seems that the return of native fish species is becoming a major focus for fisheries biologists. Last year, anglers were saddened to learn that Bright Angel Creek in the Grand Canyon was being targeted for the removal of non-native brown trout. Being a trout-loving fly fisher, I have recieved news such as this with mixed feelings. I feel it is unfortunate to be losing some great fisheries around the country but at the same time, I support the return of native trout species. Obviously it would be a bit inconsistent to support the return of native trout but not other native fish species. Fortunately in the case of Lynn Camp, the fish species that will be returning is none other than the southern strain brook trout. Despite some of the concerns I have with this project, I believe that the return of the native brook trout will ultimately be worth any short-term inconveniences. I look forward to another great place to catch this special fish!!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More Fish On Dries In Winter!!!

Time for a brief report. Thankfully, I was able to fish a bit this weekend and drove up to the Hiwassee for a nice afternoon on the water. I arrived up near the powerhouse just as the generation pulse was starting so I took my time getting into my waders, and rigging up. Finally the turbines were shut off so I quickly worked my way out to a favorite run. A Copper John was good for three fish but I was really looking for some action on top. After seeing a few rises in the flat water upstream, I tied on a parachute Adams that was close in size and color to the little stoneflies I had been seeing. Under this I tied on my trusty Zebra Midge dropper and was ready to catch fish. This combination proved deadly all afternoon as fish after fish succombed to either the dry or the midge. Once again, it was awesome to be catching fish on dries in the middle of winter!!!
As I was leaving to go a bit further downriver, I saw something interesting in the river. Apparently, the sun was at just the right angle to hit the sign (warning of the dangerous water below the powerhouse) across the river to create this (at right) interesting phenomena.

Late in the day, after I had moved down the river, I was treated to an aerial display put on by a rather large Osprey. I had been really hoping to see one of these today so that was a great way to finish off the day. Of course, catching fish after fish, often on consecutive casts helped also....did I mention that it is supposed to be winter? Anyway, the misconception that winter is a time to stay inside and tie flies is being proved wrong time and again here in Tennessee lately. Check back soon as I might have to make another run up to the Hiwassee in the next few days...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Heat Wave

The weather has been strange the last several weeks to say the least. Temperatures have been almost balmy quite often and across East Tennessee, people have been wondering what happened to the good old days when we actually had winter. Despite many people's frustrations with the weather, I have not complained at all because the fishing has stayed much better than normal for this time of year. The most recent heat wave brought up the water temps in the mountains to the upper 40's to low 50's. Of course, I can never pass up such a good opportunity for an excellent day of fishing. So, yesterday I made the drive up to Townsend to get in some time on the water. Remembering his success last October, my cousin decided it was time to join me again for another day honing his developing fly fishing skills.

We arrived in Townsend shortly after Little River Outfitters opened and while my cousin got a license, I went searching through the bargain bin and picked up several packages of hooks. Once finished at the shop, we made our way to a small stream just a few miles inside the park and started hiking up the trail. My cousin was happily wearing my waders which I loaned him after he discovered I intended to wet wade. The look of joy on his face upon discovering he wouldn't have to wade wet himself was truly priceless. Yes, I really did wet wade today!

Arriving where we would begin fishing, I set my cousin up with the same nymph and strike indicator set-up I had him using last time and with ease of an old pro, he soon had fish numero uno. I picked up a fish rather quickly as well and things were looking up. As we moved up the creek, I began to notice lots of small bugs and then wonder of wonders, a few larger ones. The fish were noticing also. As the surface activity neared the boiling point, I quickly cut off my nymph and tied on a #16 Thunderhead which was the closest thing I had in color to the little winter stoneflies that were swarming all over. The only thing I hadn't counted on was being a little bit rusty... The fish were so joyful over this development that they continued rising, seemingly oblivious to each missed hook set, even after I started stinging a few. Finally, a fish managed to impale itself on my hook and after that it was easy. My cousin got bit by the dry fly bug after watching me yank a couple out of one run in all of three minutes so I handed him my three weight and went to work changing the nymph rig on his to a dry.
I decided to try something else just to see if the fish really cared about the fly. It turns out they didn't...a yellow Elk Hair Caddis did just as well and was a bit easier to see. Meanwhile, my cousin was rapidly become furious over all the fish that were hitting his dry without finding the hook. I casually mentioned that it takes a bit of skill and a lot of quickness. Unfortunately for the fish, this didn't seem to help matters and he began setting the hook hard enough to rip through the lips of a whale. The next fish that was dumb enough to hit his fly soon enjoyed a flying experience free of charge. It sailed gracefully 20 feet down the creek and landed at the feet of my now smiling cousin who quickly grabbed it for a quick picture. I promise, there really is a fish in this picture. Perhaps if you get out a magnifying glass and examine his left hand you will see it. Or maybe this closeup is better... Despite its small stature, this fish had the distinction of being my cousin's first trout on a dry.


Not to be outdone, as soon as I had the picture taken, I walked 20 feet up the creek with the newly tied on EHC and tossed it in a small pocket and caught another of my own. Notice it is larger than his...which isn't necessarily saying much but bragging rights are important sometimes.

After catching several more fish, we decided it is lunch time (it was actually a couple of hours past but hey, we were having fun) and walked back down the trail to the car. While the stream side lunch was cooking, I decided to catch a few more.



Fish on dries in January, it just doesn't get any better than this!!! Unless of course it is lots of fish on dries in January!!!




Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pure Laziness

As Christmas break approached, I had good intentions to tie flies, lots and lots of them. I also intended to fish a lot. This goal went much better than the first as I tried two tailwaters in East Tennessee that are new to me. Unfortunately, I didn't tie up my summer supply of flies like I wanted to, probably because I'm lazy. I did manage to tie up a few dozen Zebra Midges and just last night started in on parachute Adams. These two flies are my staple for Tennessee tailwaters, the dry serving as an indicator but fish take it often enough to convince me to keep it in place of a "regular" strike indicator. Now I have to hurriedly tie as many as possible before the second semester of this school year begins. Copper Johns are high on my list as Colorado trout appear to view them as candy. Sparkle duns in various sizes and color combinations to match important western hatches need to be tied as well. With a possible trip to Yellowstone in the works, I need dry flies more than ever and lots of them at that. Stillwater flies are higher on my priority list this winter as well. My next foray into the American west will hopefully be made with a new float tube along and I intend to make the most of the opportunity. There is a lake in Arizona that is very special to me where I hope to chase its big browns. A few lakes in Colorado caught my eye last summer as well and I will hopefully be returning to these to probe the depths for trophy trout. Perhaps I'll even end up casting Callibaetis immitations to cruising fish in Montana's Hebgen lake or even Yellowstone lake. Of course, I'll have to hit some smaller backcountry stillwaters as well. Anyway, enough typing...it seems that I have a lot of ambition for my summer fishing, so I'm off to the vise...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Firsts, the South Holston

The Trout Zone has officially invaded another river. After returning to the same places time after time for years, I have been spending some quality time exploring new water. The Clinch happened recently and today it was time to knock off the South Holston. This premier trout stream is known for its prolific insect activity which feeds the often trophy sized fish. So with visions of giant Browns cluttering my thoughts, I made the 3 hour drive to the northeast tip of Tennessee. I arrived at about the same time that TVA shut off the generator at the dam and the river dropped quickly to a fishable level. A very nice rainbow soon graced my fly with its presence. This turned out to be the best fish of the day. Even though I had high hopes of a good brown, it was not to be on this day. I did spook some fish that were large enough to make me a bit nervous when I afterward had to enter the water. Despite my new fears, I soon got over them enough to continue fishing and even caught some more fish. The fish were taking extremely small bugs. Here at the Trout Zone we are usually very lazy and hence did not have appropriately small bugs. Not to fear though, before another trip to this river occurs, I will put in some serious time at the vise and prepare a supply of tiny midges. Of course, all devoted readers are welcome to make donations as well. Inspite of the lack of proper flies, I caught plenty of fish and had a really nice day that was exceptionally mild for the end of December. Here's to dreaming of another day on the SoHo...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Winter Finally Arrives

Seasonally normal temperatures have finally made at least a brief visit to the great state of Tennessee. With a dark sky that produced precipitation alternating between a fine drizzle and snow flakes, I gave thought to the large fish that sometimes come out to feed under such conditions. Of course, this called for a trip to the Caney Fork for the afternoon so after a large breakfast, I was soon rolling west down I-40. Upon arriving riverside, I saw that feeding fish were periodically working a short stretch upstream aways. I rigged up with hands that were numb before I even started tying on a fly and wondered about my intelligence. The fish were still feeding though so I was soon knee deep in the Caney. After missing several fish I finally had a small rainbow on. However, I struggled to get any more action and finally decided a change of scenery was in order. After a short run farther upstream, I started fishing a much more familiar section and soon had another fish on. This turned out to be another standard stocker rainbow (at right). I continued up to where a I had missed a very large rainbow just days before. Working thoroughly, I finally found the fish or its nearest cousin only to actually lose my fly to it this time. Of course, this is completely unacceptable and I want you all to be assured that I will be back soon to find this fish and settle our differences once and for all. I'll also make sure and document said fish with a photograph. After breaking off, I seriously considered calling it a day but decided to fish a bit further downstream. I caught one or two more fish and finally called it a day. Right before I left, a guy from TWRA stopped to check my license. This definitely made my day! It was the first time I've ever been checked on this river so I'm glad to see some enforcement taking place. Anyway, I have a trip to the South Holston in the works so I may be gone for a few days. Check back soon though for pictures and stories from a stream that is new to me!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!

This past year has been a great one for fishing. Between Colorado Gold Medal streams and some of the finest waters Tennessee has to offer, I've been fortunate to put in more than my fair share of time on the stream. As we rapidly approach the new year, it is time to start thinking about goals for next year's fishing, places to go, fish to catch, techniques to master, new friends to meet, the list goes on and on. Hopefully the new year will bring in some exciting changes here at the Trout Zone as well, most important of which will be more posts and topics of interest to our readers. Please feel free to contact us at the Trout Zone by email (see profile) for any comments or suggestions or to share your own great stories. We are always looking for stories that will be of interest to the fly fishing public. I have a couple of trips coming in the near future as well so be sure and check back for reports from East Tennessee...

I hope that everyone has a great Christmas and a happy New Years. Be sure and take some time to get out on the water to experience some great fishing!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good Fish

I woke up late this morning expecting to just be lazy and tie a few flies. However, when I got online I saw that the water temp in Little River was starting off at a balmy 45 degrees. Despite my late start, I figured that today would be as good a day as any and headed towards the park. I wanted to focus on trying to get a really good fish today so after stopping at Little River Outfitters for a few things, I headed up LR and started hitting some of the big holes. I started catching fish right away but nothing over 10 or 11 inches. After hitting several different holes, I returned to one in particular that I usually do well at.

A large black stonefly nymph came out of my fly box and I started chucking it in at the head of the pool. On just the third or fourth cast, I had one of those great strikes where the line just stops and when you set the hook, something heavy is shaking its head. I was really hoping that it was a decent brown but out of the depths came a flash of rainbow. Now I was excited since I haven't got as many nice rainbows this year as in years past. Finally, I had the fish, all 15 inches of rainbow, up for a quick picture (which didn't turn out too good) and slid it back into the pool I had taken it from. Here's the best of the 3 pictures I got of the good rainbow.


The fishing today was very good, easily the best I've seen in a couple of months. Fish were feeding heavily just about everywhere I stopped. I even saw a good brown out cruising in one hole. There were good numbers of midges hatching. A Tellico, Zebra Midge, and of course the stonefly nymph all did well today. Most of the fish I saw were feeding subsurface but there were a couple of rises over the course of the afternoon.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another Day Fishing

The Caney Fork had a nice generation schedule on Monday so I went down for the afternoon. Fishing two days in a row is great but your casting arm can get kinda tired, what a rough life... Anyway, I got down to the river and drove around a little while looking over some different spots on the upper river. I finally figured out where I wanted to fish and got down to the water. I was hoping the fish would be feeding heavily but there was only sporadic activity on the surface. Probably the bright sun wasn't helping in that department. Anyway, I tied on my usual dry with a midge dropper and started exploring. The fish were not as easy to find as they are sometimes but I finally got into a few. As the afternoon wore on, the fish became a little more active and I started moving up river towards the area with the best activity. I spotted a very large fish rising upstream and slowly worked into position. By the time I was in the right spot, the fish was not longer rising so I had to guess where I thought he might be. The second cast was apparently right on the money as my dry sucked under and the battle was on. Unfortunately, the fish had somewhere else to be apparently and took off downriver like a freight train. Scared that my 6x would pop at any moment, I felt the sudden surge of the fish towards the surface. Mouth gaping, I stared in awe as my tiny midge popped out of the jaw of a very heavy rainbow and then stood grumbling to myself. Finally I realized that nothing would bring that fish back and I started moving upriver again. Because of the aforementioned sore arm, I worked a bit on casting with my left hand, probably something I should spend a considerable amount of time practicing. A few more average 12 inch footballs were gracious enough to put in an appearance but nothing could top the fish I had momentarily connected with. Late in the day I went up to just below the dam and caught a couple more before heading home. It was an amazing day to be on the water in December with the temperature in the mid to upper 60's so really I can't complain too much although I really wish I could have landed that fish. At least I know where it lives and I'll be back soon and with a net next time.