Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Photo of the Month: Ol' Gator Mouth

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New Links and The Fly Carriage

Being short on time means that I decided to combine a couple of topics I've been wanting to post about. My fishing time has been suffering as a result of student teaching as has my writing time. Hopefully that will start to change as the end of the semester approaches. Once again I plan on looking for some big fish this weekend on either the Caney or the Cumberland. Of course you'll be the first to read the fishing report.

Those that pay close attention might have noticed that I have added some new links. The first is the Fly Fish Addiction Blog by Troutdawg. Based out of Denver, Colorado, the author has access to some of the finest water in the west and also seems to make plenty of trips further abroad in the quest for great fishing. You'll find plenty of fishing reports, excellent photography, and even how-to articles on this blog.

The other new blog is the Four Corner Fly Fishing blog about fishing in the Southwest. There is a strong emphasis on Arizona which I have a soft spot for. I spent about a year in Arizona during 2004-2005 and discovered the incredible fishing opportunities that can be had in that state. My first Apache trout (and many more) were caught while I was out there along with plenty of nice rainbows, browns, cutts, and even some brookies. This blog has fishing reports along with some great pictures and even some fly tying articles. If you've ever thought about fishing in the Southwest or enjoy reading reports from other areas, this is a great blog to check out.

You've been wondering what the Fly Carriage is all about. This summer while working at Little River Outfitters, Daniel Drake offered me a sample of a new product to test. It was called The Fly Carriage and is a new way to keep used flies. Before, I used one of two options for used flies: either a fleece patch or one of the little fly cups you get when you buy flies from a fly shop. The problem with the fly cups is that it retains the moisture which speeds up the rusting process. I've never really liked the fleece patches because I smash my barbs and the hooks seem to always mysteriously fall off the patch. The Fly Carriage is an excellent alternative. Flies don't seem to have the problem of randomly falling off due to the hard foam used for this great fly holder. The Carriage is basically a zinger with a holder (kind of like the fly floatant holder) that holds a tube-shaped piece of foam that is around an inch in diameter. You simply hook the fly into the foam and it stays put. It has been the perfect compliment to my new keep it simple approach of a lanyard and a couple boxes of flies. I just hang it off the side of the lanyard and have the perfect place to store used flies. The only downside is that people who don't like gadgets hanging off their vest probably won't like it as much. The Fly Carriage is made by Simplifly Gear which is a small company started by Edward Philpot here in Tennessee. He lives not too far from my home tailwater, the Caney Fork so he fishes some great water regularly. If you've been looking for a new way to carry your used flies, definitely give this a try...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Colors of a Brookie



This weekend provided another opportunity to go fishing here in Tennessee. I'm going to be purposefully vague and mostly just show a few pictures. Several nice fish came to hand but I didn't get too many pictures. The two fish that were worthy were interesting for a couple of reasons. The first was the brookie and I believe the pictures speak for themselves. The colors are incredible and were even better there in person. I might have to do a trip to the Smokies in the near future to catch a few more brookies because I haven't fished for them enough this year. On Sunday I was reminded why I ought to pursue them more often...


The other fish was also memorable but for another reason. Despite the pictures, I really don't count this fish because it wasn't fair hooked unfortunately. I was a little slow on the hook set by which time the fish had already spit out the fly. Thankfully I was still able to slow it down so the fight didn't last too long and I didn't have to break it off...I'm hoping to go chase some big browns somewhere to the north next weekend...hopefully they'll all eat and I'll be quick on the set...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smokies Camping Trip


Each fall I try to make at least one camping trip somewhere in the mountains. Here in Tennessee that means I almost always head for the Smokies. The year I was in Arizona gave me the opportunity to visit the White Mountains where you can fish with a backdrop of golden aspen while listening to the elk bugling in the distance. No matter where I am though, the theme of visiting mountains stays the same. This year I made the trip to the Smokies for my annual trip.

The plan was to camp out Smokemont Campground which I had never stayed at before. Now that I've been there, I have to admit that I like Elkmont better but that might just be because the Little River watershed is really my home waters. The North Carolina side of the park has plenty of great water to fish including one of my park favorites, Deep Creek. Other than Little River, Deep Creek would have to be my favorite for several reasons including the excellent population of brown trout and also it receives less pressure than Little River once you get into the backcountry.

While camping at Smokemont, I enjoyed fishing Deep Creek, a small blueline that will remain nameless, and Straight Fork. The fishing at Deep Creek was a bit more crowded than usual which was surprising but I still managed to catch a nice little brown to go along with some small rainbows. While over there we also took in some of the area scenery including the Indian Creek falls.

On Saturday, we decided to do some hiking to enjoy the great fall colors. We also wanted a hike with a view so that meant a trip up to the top of the ridge where we decided to hike to Andrews Bald. I have been wanting to hike to one of the balds for some time now. This was the first time that I've visited one and the scenery was fantastic.



Straight Fork was a blast to fish. I've always enjoyed fishing it and am always surprised at how well it fishes despite the easy roadside access for several miles. By this time the rest of our group had left to head back to Chattanooga so I enjoyed a couple of hours of solo fishing. The fish rose steadily to my October Caddis pattern which I tied on after seeing some giant caddis flying around. I even managed a couple rainbows that were larger than the normal park average by a couple of inches.




Overall it was a great camping trip with the main downside being the low water that is still affecting our area. On the bright side, the continued drought has kept generation on the tailwaters to a minimum meaning that fishing opportunities there are maximized. Tomorrow I'm going to take advantage of that and go looking for some more monsters somewhere. Next weekend I'm starting to think about another trip for monster fish so stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Caney Float

First Fish of the Day (Photo by Brett Romer)


Last week during my break I had the opportunity to float with Brett (from The Trout Addiction) and Gerry Romer in Brett's sweet Hyde. It was an absolutely incredible day on the water with several very nice fish boated and a few more lost. I hooked the largest rainbow I've had on in the Caney but unfortunately lost it a few minutes into the fight. The fish would have been an easy 20 inches and possibly even a couple more. Needless to say I was pretty bummed but we found more than enough fish to make up for it.



Brett Romer Photo


Chunky Brown (Brett Romer Photo)


Brett let me have some time behind the oars since I've been wanting to give it a shot. I've gotta say that he makes it look a lot easier than it was for me. I'm sure if I have more time behind the oars it will become easier but it took a lot of thought and effort to even pretend to keep the boat pointed in the right direction.

The strange thing about the day was that fishing was best during the first half of the day. Later on things slowed down dramatically until it basically went dead up to around the last half hour or so of daylight when things picked up again.


The Caney is fishing fairly well but will be much better in another couple of months. Winter is my favorite time on the river largely because the cold weather keeps down the boat traffic. I'm thinking a wade trip might be in order for this weekend on either the Caney or the Cumberland so stay tuned for that information...




Yet Another Brown (Brett Romer Photo)

Beautifully Colored Brown (Gerry Romer Photo)

I just want to give a big shout out to the Romer's for a great day on the river! I seriously owe Brett since he did the vast majority of the rowing allowing me to fish most of the way...thanks again Brett!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cumberland River Outing: Abbreviated Report


Today I finally made the trip up to the Cumberland River for the first time. Thankfully I went ahead and got the annual license for Kentucky because I'm sure I'll be back soon. The fishing was slow at first until I figured out what was going on and then it was game on for the rest of the afternoon.



Before hitting the river I stopped by the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery to gawk at the hogs. Unfortunately they won't let you fish here but it is still a lot of fun to watch them...

While impressive, watching the pellet fed hogs soon got boring and it was time to go fishing. After wandering around the countryside for awhile I finally found a place to fish. Things started out really slow but later on I found some really nice fish and started catching a few...




All in all it was a great day and I can't wait to spend more time on this amazing river. Tomorrow I'm off to the Caney and the next day will be the beginning of my Smokies trip so stay tuned for more updates soon...




Sunday, October 05, 2008

Approach of Fall

Here in Chattanooga we are beginning to see the beginning of fall. A few trees are beginning to give us a glimpse of what is in store in another couple of weeks. The streams are extremely low as is often the case during the fall around here. Over the weekend I embarked on a hike and fish day trip with my cousin for bass and sunfish on a stream in the area. Since I'm swamped with other things right now, I'll let the pictures tell the story...

Little Smallie


Fisherman's Shadow Envelopes a Crimson Leaf


Colors of Fall


A few leaves are already falling


Tranquil Waters

Even the fish are colorful


Redeye Bass


Feisty Smallie


Yep, I caught it. All by myself...


Not much flow in the stream...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cumberland It Is

Pigs on the tailwaters and wild gems in the Smokies will be the name of the game in a couple of weeks. Based on the recent poll, it appears that many of you want to see some pigs from a tailwater. I'll do my best to indulge by fishing the Cumberland and probably the Caney Fork over the upcoming break. Also I have a potential Smokies trip in the works that will probably include car camping along with some extended day trips to the more remote sections of the park chasing big browns and native brookies. The week will undoubtedly go much faster than I would like, but at least I'll be making the most of my time.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Three Days Left

The pole will be closing in three days and I want to take a moment to remind everyone to vote if you want to see reports from a specific destination in a couple of weeks. I'll be trying to get in time on as many streams as possible but with gas prices so high I might be limited on where I can go. You have the opportunity to help me choose one of the options. I'll likely try to hit a couple of the choices and maybe even three. So far the surprise of the poll is that there are so many votes for the Smokies. The freestone streams of the Smokies will always be what I consider my home waters and also my favorite. Despite this, I didn't expect everyone to vote for the Smokies. I assumed everyone would want to see some monster fish from one of the tailwaters. The current votes just go to show that scenic beauty and feisty wild trout are often more interesting then some of our larger rivers...I'm thinking about a pack trip, perhaps before my October break so check back for more on that potential development...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gunnison Trout Part II

The Gunnison River was very good to my buddy Trevor and I on our most recent trip out west. Recall that day one involved figuring out the hot pattern and lots of good brown trout. Day two started out with a trip down to the river. While at the Gunnison, it was a guarantee that I'd be down at the river fishing at every opportunity. Great fishing will do that to me...everything else becomes unimportant including heading back to camp for the occasional snack or water break.

The real draw here was the constant possibility of a monster fish. By some point on the second morning, I had already stuck 3 fish that were easily over 20 inches and at least one of those would have cleared 24 inches. The most frustrating of these was one that towed me all over the river before throwing the hook. The other two fights were much more brief but still disappointing. During the afternoon and evening of the second day we headed back out to water. A quick trip to the fly shop in town had added to the supply and diversity of materials for the hot pattern. One hour after returning to camp I was armed with 20 new midge patterns tied up in a variety of colors to match the prevailing bugs on the water.

It took awhile to get going again and strangely the first fish took a bright orange scud. I had been creeping ever so slowly down the bank when I looked down. Nearly at my feet was a nice rainbow facing downstream into a small back eddy up against the bank. After gently backing up so the cast wouldn't spook the fish, I made a couple casts. The fourth cast was perfect but I was surprised to see the fish move towards the scud instead of my new magical midge pattern. Arguing with a fish that wants to eat your fly is useless so I set the hook and quickly played the fish to the net for a quick picture. Later on it would take much longer to land my best rainbow of the day.


I had been nymphing in my favorite run in the East Portal vicinity when the indicator dove under. Gently lifting the rod brought an explosion from the depths as the big rainbow took the the air. After gaining a bit of control I figured the fight might not be too bad. These hopes were soon dashed as the brute tore out into the main current with another spectacular leap. I gave chase and soon found myself a around 200 feet downstream from where I originally hooked the fish. With a huge midstream boulder blocking downstream progress if the fish went on the far side of it, I decided to make my stand regardless of what happened. Thankfully all the knots held and I soon released a gorgeous 19 inch Gunnison rainbow.


As evening approached we returned to the best two runs on the river and continued to slay the fish. The strange part about day two was that the frequency at which we caught brown trout was plummeting while the percentage of rainbows was up sharply. This would be the pattern for the rest of the trip. We still caught browns on the Gunny but the majority of the fish were rainbows after the first day. As darkness fell, we stumbled wearily back to camp, exhausted from catching fish in the hot canyon all afternoon. Oh what a tough life...


Headwater Streams and the Perfect Fly Store

James Marsh is at it again. In addition to many updates for his sites on fly fishing in the Smokies and Yellowstone, he has started an online store to sell the patterns that are demonstrated in his "Perfect Fly" series on tying. Those that have checked out the DVDs on tying the "Perfect" fly know that he has developed a system of tying that allows one to learn a few basic fly patterns and adapt them to any specific species by just altering the color and size. His new site will allow those that don't tie their own to purchase these patterns for the first time.

In addition to the new store, updates to the "Headwater Streams" portion of his site continue to roll out frequently. The most recent is an interesting one on Enloe Creek. I've never fished this stream but have been close while fishing Raven Fork. This is one of the most beautiful places I've been in the park and the grueling hike up and over a ridge to get there insures that you won't have huge crowds to contend with once you arrive. The hike in makes this a better overnight option although I have done it as a day trip. If you want to look for larger than average brookies, this is one of the better places to try. Beware though that the area is extremely rugged and if you run into trouble you can't count on help any time soon...


A Quiet Pool On Raven Fork