Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Change of Season

Despite the warm weather that remains for at least a couple more weeks, fall is lurking just around the corner. The drought has continued to worsen with several weeks passing since the last area-wide rain event. That is likely about to change though as the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay are forecast to move across East Tennessee. Moisture should begin increasing from south to north beginning tonight into tomorrow. The details are not perfectly clear yet, but according to the National Weather Service in Morristown, 2 day rainfall totals may approach 3-4 inches over parts of East Tennessee. With the bad luck we've had this year, I'll believe it when I see it but at least things are looking up.

The upcoming season is my favorite of the year. Typically our freestone streams are low and clear making the sight fishing opportunities better than average. The fall colors are always great. The browns will start becoming more aggressive in the upcoming weeks as they feed heavily before the spawn. Best of all, the warm weather crowds will start dwindling leaving me with a lot more water to myself. As winter sets in, I'll be able to sleep in and hit the water in the middle of the day and probably see no more than 1 or 2 other people out on the colder days. That's my kind of fishing...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Busy

To all of you that have been checking back daily for updates and reports from my trip to Colorado a couple of weeks ago, please be patient. I moved back down to Chattanooga late last week and started student teaching this week. Unfortunately we haven't got Internet access yet at my apartment but I promise it will happen soon. When it does, I'll be back with regular posting including stories from my trip and current fishing reports. This next weekend is looking like a possible Caney Fork trip. Chickamauga will need to be visited quite a bit again as well. So keep checking back and I should be back up and running within a few days...

Friday, August 15, 2008

First Day, Big Fish

The first day of my trip to Colorado this summer started off fairly slow. Our first destination was the Taylor River just north of Gunnison Colorado. Over the course of the first day, I only managed 2-3 fish and nothing really worth bragging about although one of the rainbows was a nice fish approaching 17 or 18 inches.



The fishing this year seemed strange with many of the areas that were stacked with fish last year appearing barren in comparison. There were still some fish but not the same numbers as last year. During our time on the Taylor, we found many more fish but they tended to be stacked up in deeper water and not up feeding in the shallow runs. When we could find fish up feeding, the fishing was not too bad. Finding the correct fly was often a tedious process but once tied on, the proper fly would immediately hook a fish.

Before ever leaving for Colorado, my buddy Trevor and I had discussed the possibility of night fishing. This year we were determined to give it a shot. As darkness set in, we each stuck some fish on small spinner patterns and other dries and then switched to nymph rigs. The reason I switched to subsurface flies was that I could fish them on a tight line and theoretically feel the strikes. This type of fishing can be frustrating and I finally switched on my head lamp to look for fish feeding along the banks. As I walked up the stream, I finally spotted what appeared to be a large rainbow feeding on the edge of the faster flow. I switched off the light and waited a couple of minutes before beginning to cast to where I thought the fish was. After what seemed an eternity and many casts, I felt a bump and quickly set the hook. The fish raced off into the blackness with me frantically running up and down the river as the large rainbow ran at will. Finally, after what probably was 15 or 20 minutes, I finally led the big fish into the shallows where Trevor netted it for me.

The first thing we noticed where the apparent wounds on top of the fish above its head and also near the tail. Large chunks of skin were missing without any apparent puncture wounds which seems to rule out a heron. I don't know if there are any otters in this area but have never seen any. If anyone has any ideas I would be glad to hear them.



After a couple of "hero" shots, I carefully let the big fish go, cradling it gently in the current until it swam off to be caught again another day (or night). The surprising thing about night fishing was that there were several other people doing it as well. The poor fish in the C&R section of the Taylor get hammered day and night all summer long and probably a good bit of the cold season as well. After this trip, I told Trevor that I had some serious doubts about fishing the "famous" Colorado streams during the summer ever again. This was brought on by another incident but that's a story for another day...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ants Revisited

Fishing in the park nearly every evening this summer was a blast. I found plenty of willing trout but often they would want a terrestrial before they were interested. You'll remember that time and again I mentioned ants as being one of my top producing flies. Normally I'll fish a sunken ant pattern tandem with a standard nymph or a Green Weenie, but I've finally found a dry that I like enough to give a shot. Ian Rutter has shared one of his killer ant patterns over on his site and it is well worth a look. Ants should continue to be effective in the park for a few more weeks. Also, when you're tying this winter, don't neglect to tie plenty of terrestrials for your boxes including some ant patterns. They'll save the day time and again...trust me...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Home is Best

Every year I enjoy fishing my home water here in Tennessee, and if I'm lucky I make a trip out west to fish somewhere. Today I wrapped up my summer fishing with a trip to the Caney Fork river to see how it was faring. The results were excellent with plenty of opportunities to sight fish to nice trout.

My first fish was a solid 14 inch brown that bulldogged for awhile. After subduing that fish I continued walking slowly up the bank looking for larger fish feeding in the shallows. Not more than 20 feet above where I landed the first fish, I saw what I was looking for. A dark shadow flashed in a depression behind a weedbed betraying a good fish. I tried casting from a couple different spots before positioning myself slightly up and across from the fish. Fifteen minutes later, everything came together and I watched my dry fly indicator dive under. Gently raising the rod tip produced a violent commotion as the fish realized that all was not well. The big brown quickly went airborn causing me to hold my breath until it was back in the water and all the knots had held. Several scorching runs and another jump later, I finally guided the large trout into the shallows where I netted it. Another fisherman was kind enough to snap a couple pictures for me and then I released the nice fish to catch again in a few months.


This was the perfect end to a great summer. I couldn't have asked for anything better...

Back Home

The last week and a half was a blur of driving, fishing, and camping every night. I was fortunate to experience some of the finest rivers that Colorado has to offer. This year's trip did not produce as many large fish as the trip we took last year but still had some great moments. I'll miss all the good times I had this summer but it will be good to get back to school to finish up and graduate.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll make reports and tell stories about the different rivers we fished in Colorado including the Taylor, Gunnison, Frying Pan, Roaring Fork, South Platte, and Arkansas rivers. So without any further rambling, here's some pictures to get things started...


Taylor River Brown



Gunnison River Brown

19" Gunnison Rainbow

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Almost Over

Incredibly the summer is almost over. I’ve had a blast working at Little River Outfitters this summer. The staff here is top notch and great to work with. Getting to fish every day (or almost) was not a bad way to spend a summer. Wapsi Hell was a recurring theme that is simply part of keeping all you fly tiers in materials (me too come to think about it). Speaking of the customers, that has been one of the greatest parts of the summer. Thanks to everyone that has stopped by to see me and to those that I was able to meet for the first time. I’ve met some great people from across the country including folks from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, and California (and others that I’m forgetting). I want to thank all the great people I’ve met who invited me to join them on their home waters in the future. If you’re one of those people be careful, very, very careful…I might actually take you up on the invitation sometime. Most of all I want to thank the great people at Little River Outfitters for giving me one of the best summers I could ask for. The opportunity to work for one of the top fly shops in the country was an honor and much appreciated.

Despite the fact that my time at Little River Outfitters is drawing to a close, the summer is not quite over yet. Yes, that’s right, West Trip 2008 has been in the works for awhile, and soon I’ll be touring the finest water that Colorado has to offer. Sadly this year’s trip will be a fast trip (fast as in one week instead of the epic trip that I took last year). I’ll literally be driving west, stopping at home just long enough to drop off all my stuff I’ve had in Townsend this summer and then continuing to Colorado. Just over one week later we’ll be back, and I will nearly drive straight to Chattanooga to begin school. At that point I should have some exciting stories and pictures to share. Until then, take a day off and go fishing instead of checking here for updates that you won‘t find. I’m taking the next week off…

Getting More Dangerous


At the rate things are going, my cabin would probably become a den for the numerous dangerous snakes in the area if I stayed much longer. Nearly every evening following a good rainstorm has produced a copperhead sighting. The entire summer I’ve been hoping to see something a little more rare and was down to the last strike in the bottom of the ninth inning. Mother nature conspired to provide the opportunity I’ve been hoping for. On the drive home last evening I rounded a bend on the road and came face to face with what had only become a shadow of a dream at this point.

In the end, I came up with not one but two rattlesnakes to wrap up the past two weeks of snake sightings. In that short time I’ve seen 5 or 6 copperheads and of course the two rattlers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Last Weekend



This summer has flown by and I can’t believe it is almost over. For my last weekend here in Townsend, my cousin and his girlfriend came up to visit. They spent Friday night backpacking above Elkmont and got pounded by the storm that came through early Saturday morning. We had agreed to meet at the trailhead to go sightseeing and/or hiking on Saturday so at the appointed time I drove up to find them soaked but in good spirits. The drenching the park received did wonders for the streams. First on the agenda for the day was a drive up to Clingman's Dome.



We stopped off at Sugarlands and left one of the vehicles there before heading on up the hill. On the way it became apparent just how much rain had fallen. The West Prong of the Little Pigeon River was rolling and the water was stained. Fog still enveloped the highest peaks providing a perfect example of how the park got its name. Shortly after passing the Chimney Tops trailhead I stopped the car and we piled out for a brief photo session.


As you can see, the stream had plenty of water to go around. All the little tributaries pouring off of Mt. Leconte were near bankfull. The clouds had been lifting steadily all morning as the atmosphere slowly warmed but the higher elevations were still socked in. At Clingman's Dome we were treated to something different than what we had come for but still provided some interesting photo opportunities.



The clouds were rolling up over the mountain sometimes cutting visibility to 100 feet or less. On the walk up we found some wildflowers that were just now reaching their peak at this high elevation. At the summit we enjoyed the cool moist air that felt more like fall than summer. After walking back down to the car we decided to drive over to Cataloochee and check out the elk.



Since I have never been through the Cosby and Big Creek area of the park we decided to take the scenic route through that corner of the park. A couple of hours later we rolled into the magnificent Cataloochee Valley and quickly found the animals we were looking for. I even caught a couple of fish and the late afternoon light provided for some interesting pictures.


Nathan Stanaway Photo




By the time we reached Cataloochee we had made half of a loop so the day would not be complete without finishing. We drove around to Maggie Valley and then towards Cherokee. When we reached the top of the ridge between the two towns we caught the Blue Ridge Parkway which took us back into the Park near the Oconaluftee visitor center.



Nathan Stanaway Photo


The drive over the ridge completed the loop and after picking up the second vehicle we headed to my cabin for the night.


Sunday morning was great, mainly because I slept in for awhile and then we had a big breakfast. After my visitors left I went fishing for what will probably be the last time in the Smokies for awhile. I just had to fish a favorite section of Lynn Camp that I still had not fished yet this summer. The fishing was appropriately spectacular with plenty of fish coming to hand in the 2 or so hours I spent on the water, a perfect end to a summer of fishing in the Park.







Thursday, July 24, 2008

Favorite Fly Line Results

Apparently everyone is fishing Scientific Anglers fly lines. I have to admit that I've fished them myself for several years. This summer I made the switch to a Rio Gold line for my 5 wt rod and so far I love it. My upcoming trip west should give me more opportunities to really give the line a workout so we'll wait and reserve judgement until the line has accounted for some monster trout. The results were split fairly evenly between the other line makers except I was surprised that there was only one vote for the Wulff lines. I've heard a lot of good things about there lines but haven't fished them myself. Anyone want to let us know why they particularly like the Wulff fly lines?