Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Monday, April 30, 2007

Make Your Voice Heard

From the Knoxville New Sentinel, we have learned of a great opportunity to make your voice heard in the states fisheries department. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
is seeking comments from fishermen about the 2008 sport fishing regulations. Fishermen can make suggestions about size limits, creel limits or any other idea or concern they have about the state's fishing regulations. Public comments are considered by fisheries managers and may be presented as proposals for regulation changes.

While I don't know if it will make a difference to send in my comments, I do know that nothing will happen if I keep quiet. I definitely have some suggestions I would like to see implemented, specifically about my "home" tailwater, the Caney Fork. It has the ability to grow very large fish if people would just leave 'em in there a little while. Even with the high pressure from the catch and keep crowd, it still produces very nice fish consistently. While enforcement would be an issue, I would love to see a slot limit on the rainbows. My idea of a good slot limit would be 12-14 or 12-16 inches. This river can support plenty of large trout and I know I would have a great time fishing over 16-20 inch fish each trip. There are already special regulations on the browns so I believe it is time to do the same for the rainbows.

Regardless of what you want to see, take the opportunity to make your voice heard. To send your comments, simply take the time to send a brief email to twra.comment@state.tn.us and be sure to include "sport fish comments" in the subject line.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hitting the Books

Finals Week has arrived. Perhaps the worst week from a fishing standpoint of the whole year. Gone are the days where I can procrastinate with "I'll just do it later." It is crunch time and as such, my fishing time will suffer for a few days. Thankfully, tomorrow is they hardest day and by Tuesday, if the weather cooperates and I feel like it, I can take a bit of time to bother the Hiwassee fish one last time (or maybe Wednesday will be the last) before I head home for the summer. Once I leave the Chattanooga area, my fishing focus will shift to the Caney Fork, the Smokies, and perhaps a trip or two to NE Tennessee and the fine tailwaters there. Still, I have a fish I need to pay a visit to on the Hiwassee so I'll probably fish it once more before I quit there for the summer...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Environmental Advocates Push TVA

Environmental groups are pushing the Tennessee Valley Authority to work towards providing more renewable energy. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel,
A group of environmental advocates used a public meeting Monday to urge TVA to meet energy demand by looking to conservation and renewable energy instead of new power plants.

Several of the people in attendance at the meeting

stressed the need for TVA to grow its renewable energy production. The federal utility gets most of its power from coal-fired plants, which emit the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.
This is a topic that should be important to east Tennessee fisherman, particularly the ones that enjoy fishing the freestone streams of the mountains. The biggest obstacle to all the trout streams is the continuing problem of acid rain. Of course, we all know that coal-fired plants are not helping the acid rain problem so we applaud the efforts to get TVA to work more on renewable energy production. Some of our favorite brook trout streams are very acidic, keeping the fish stunted. Hopefully TVA will listen to the concerned citizens and work towards more environmentally friendly solutions to the problem of providing enough electricity to the growing population in the Tennessee Valley region.

Peak Fishing

Great fishing once again looms just around the corner, or at least, it does if you believe the solunar fishing tables. Available from many different sources, we will occasionally check in with the Best Fishing Times Charts from In-Fisherman. The latest glance at the fishing charts indicates that the best fishing will be occurring this next week during the full moon. This is terrible timing because of final exams that are scheduled for the first half of the week. Thankfully, I'm done with the last one by noon on Wednesday and after that, it will be out to the stream for me!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Eyes Turn Westward

As summer approaches, the realization that my trip west is approaching has me scouring the Internet for any and all information on the Montana and Wyoming areas. I enjoy keeping track of the fishing Journal at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone just to see what they have been catching and what works at various times of the year. The Dakota Angler & Outfitter maintains a fishing report as well that I check from time to time. Western South Dakota really has some excellent fishing and is a must-fish stop for me when heading to the Yellowstone area.

The latest word from the Billings Gazette in Montana appears to indicate the the Mother's Day Caddis are starting on the Yellowstone River. Rumors have been floating around of good numbers of caddis showing on the famed Arkansas River in Colorado as well. Of course, this leaves me wondering why I chose to head west at the hottest and most crowded time of the summer. Some of my best fishing in western South Dakota has been during early May to mid June. The early season in Yellowstone National Park can be an experience as well. The Firehole is often one of the best options for early season fishing in the park and it provides reliable hatches of BWOs, PMDs and evening caddis.

The early season can be a hazardous time to plan a trip around however. Depending on runoff, most western rivers will be high and dirty at best and quite possibly downright unfishable. If you time it right however, early season fishing can be among the best of the year as the crowds are nowhere to be seen and big trout hungrily feast on the bounty of spring. This can be the best time to fish the high country lakes throughout the Rockies. The expert stillwater fisherman will generally all tell you that the time for large fish is either soon after ice-out or in the late fall just before everything freezes. Some of my best early spring memories involve high country lakes. From Apache trout in Arizona to Grayling in Yellowstone, the early season often provides non-stop action for the adventuresome angler.

That's all well and good, but this year I'm going to settle for the terrestrial action of summer. I've been dreaming about the big Cutts in Yellowstone for awhile now and this is the year to make it happen, which reminds me...I've gotta tie some flies....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Stuck a Couple Nice Ones

As promised, I went fishing yesterday afternoon for a couple of hours. The rain that was falling as I rolled east gave me high hopes for a good hatch. However, it had basically quit raining by the time I got to the river. The clouds were still thick though and I figured the bugs should pour off sometime in the middle of the afternoon. I started fishing with a parachute Adams and red Copper John as a dropper. "Assuming the hatch was about to start, the fish should be looking for nymphs drifting in the current," I reasoned. The fish were feeding occasionally on top when I arrived, providing me a good opportunity to figure out where they were. I waded slowly, watching for feeding fish and as often as I saw a rise, I got a fish to eat.

It was one of those magic days when you feel that you can do no wrong. Everything happened naturally and smoothly as fish after fish succumbed to the dropper. I would cast straight ahead only to see a fish rise at a 90 degree angle away but no problem. One back cast and then a quick change of direction and my fly was floating right over the feeding fish. Unfortunately, this couldn't go on to long as the generation pulse was rapidly approaching. I saw the water rising upriver and quickly worked my way out and back to the car. A short drive upriver put me above the pulse and back into fish.

Frustratingly, the sun was making a reappearance putting an end to any hopes of a large hatch with fish slashing everywhere. Recalling something I read by Dave Hughes where he recommends using wet flies on small streams when the sun is on the water, I figured maybe it would work on a larger river as well. This proved to be the ticket and I soon was catching lots of fish again until something big broke off my fly. I quickly retied and continued slowly down the river, swinging the softhackle through every likely spot. More often than not, a fish would hit and sometimes I would catch several out of one little pocket.

I finally worked my way to a spot that has a nice deep run with some big overhanging rocks breaking the monotony. "There's got to be fish better than these little stockers in there" I thought to myself. I cast my parachute with the softhackle dropper to the top of the undercut boulder and watched as the dry sucked under. "This better not be hung up on the rock" I grumbled. The hook set provided quick proof that it was definitely NOT stuck on a rock as something on the other end started shaking its head. I immediately started putting a lot of pressure on the fish, trying to get it out from under the rock and it came out but not towards me. It rain downstream a little ways and then back up, bulldogging hard the whole time. A glance at the red flash and I knew it was a rainbow, and a bit better than the usual 8-12 inch stockers also. After a battle that seemed unusually long, I had the nice fish in for a quick picture. It was sporting what was left of a kype jaw which was interesting. While not a huge fish, this was the best rainbow I've caught on the Hiwassee and made the day worthwhile.

"Maybe, just maybe....." was running through my head as I approached the second undercut boulder. This time, my dry was soaked through and so I highsticked the unweighted flies along the rock. The leader gave a brief twitch and I set the hook, again feeling the weight of a better than average fish. After another battle, I admired a beautiful brown that was fat and healthy.

These two fish definitely made my day. I always catch a bunch of the recent stockers and while that is okay, the larger fish provide a much better challenge to land. The softhackle was easily the fly of the day and continues to produce the best fish so far this year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday Happenings

This morning I have spent a bit of time perusing the internet, debating whether I should go fishing or not. While checking out a few online forums I frequent, I came across a new fly fishing blog based here in Tennessee. It is the Southeastern Fly blog and is brand new! It already has some well-written fishing reports so check it out!

Back to the subject of going fishing today, the weather forecast is for rain to continue for most of the day. It has started raining in the last hour or two here in Chattanooga with a few heavy showers but for the most part, it has been the slow steady rainfall which will help bring the water levels up without blowing out any streams. Oh yeah, and the lovely weather should trigger some excellent hatches. I think I'll go fishing... Check back this evening for a report!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Crowds Are Out

The time of year has arrived that I always dread. Last weekends excursion was probably one of the last times fishing the Hiwassee without the crowds for awhile now. Yesterday I made the routine trip to the river to fish the Big Bend with a new fishing buddy. We met up before sunrise and the river was socked in with fog. The fog slowly began lifting as the sun peaked over the ridge and lit up the banks with the brilliant colors of spring.

The fishing was okay but not great. Over the course of the day, I caught somewhere between 12 and 15 fish with several 'bows in the 11-13 inch range and the rest smaller browns anywhere from 5-9 inches. The fish were picky for the most part. I had the best luck when the generation pulse came through and I swung softhackles for risers in a large hole. The fish were definately looking for emergers and kept hammering the softhackle. The only thing preventing me from catching more fish was the fact that most were rising safely out of reach. No fish pictures to show, I find myself leaving the camera alone more and more except for the most notable catches, and none were worthy of this distinction. The scenery was excellent however, especially early in the morning and I found myself getting distracted from the fishing trying to capture the everchanging mood of the river....

Anyone interested in fishing this river, pick your time carefully. The river was packed by the middle of the day. I really wouldn't recommend fishing it for awhile unless you are hiking in or it is a weekday. Also, if the weather gets nasty it will provide good fishing again without the crowds. Until this happens, look for me to start spending more time in the Smokies which is where I'll be doing most of my fishing for the next 3 months.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fly Fishing the Smokies

A great new website on fly fishing the Smokies contains just about everything the angler needs to know to plan a trip to the park. One of our favorite sections of this site is the park "streams" section. This gives an overview of all major waters in the park and provides excellent information on what to expect. It is a great place to spend a few minutes or longer daydreaming and planning that next trip. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Evening Rise

The BWO action has been insane the last 2 afternoons on the Hiwassee. This short video was taken with my digital camera, hence the lack of quality. However, it gives you an excellent idea of the number of rising fish... The water was literally boiling with rising trout at times!!! See below for the rest of the report...