Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Photo of the Month: Backcountry Brook Trout

Monday, April 27, 2009

Instant Classic at the Underground

Tom Chandler over at the Trout Underground has a story today so wild and far-fetched yet supported with undeniable photographic evidence that it has to be true. The instant classic involves trout raining from the sky...yep, that's right...foot-long brown trout raining from the sky! Only at the Trout Underground I'm guessing although if it ever starts happening here at the Trout Zone I'll probably think that I've died and gone to Heaven. That's probably the only other place where trout fall from the sky. Regardless, I highly recommend a quick trip over to check the great story...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

West Trip 2009

Right now, as I mentioned in a previous post, I'm in the early planning stages of a possible West Trip 2009. The idea this year is to try and hit the famed Salmonfly hatch somewhere in the Rockies, and if all goes well, several somewheres. Early June it will be in Colorado, specifically the Gunnison and Colorado rivers. I'm hoping to fish Colorado for at least a week or two and maybe longer before heading north towards Yellowstone and Montana. Up there, I'm hoping to fish YNP and also the Madison outside the park and perhaps the Yellowstone. Other rivers that are under consideration to fish on this trip include the Green and Bighorn.

As I said, I'm currently searching for any useful information for this trip. I've done a lot of research online and will continue to do more. However the main problem for me is money so this trip needs to be cheap. What I want to know is, what campgrounds do you recommend staying at while fishing the Yampa in Colorado, the Green in Utah, and the Madison and Bighorn rivers in Montana? Any other advice would be appreciated and if you would be willing to answer some other questions that would be great. Feel free to reply here or you can email me.

The biggest problem with these trips is that there is so much water and only limited time to fish it all... I'm hoping to get to Yellowstone while the Firehole and Gibbon are still fishing well since it has been a few years since I've got to fish that side of the park. In Colorado, the Taylor, Gunnison, Frying Pan, Roaring Fork, Colorado, and Yampa are all on my list of rivers that I would like to hit. In Yellowstone, I would like to fish the above mentioned waters as well as doing some exploring and probably fish the Yellowstone if it is fishable while I'm there...

Back to the 'Gills

Since I wasn't in the Smokies as I originally intended, I decided that chasing some bluegill and bass late in the day would be a good idea. The small lake nearby that I like to fish had several other people out fishing on it but there were still plenty of good spots to work. My favorite area was deserted so I worked my way over.

When I got there, I tied on a swimming frog (slider style bass bug) from James Marsh and on probably the third cast, this little bass nailed it. The visual aspect of fly fishing is probably the most exciting. Watching fish sip dry flies, nail streamers, explode on popping bugs, all of these add up to make fly fishing the enjoyable sport it is. I'm really starting to enjoy fishing bigger flies and watching fish come chasing them. It all started when I floated the Caney with David Perry and he got me started on streamers. The bug just keeps getting worse. I'm currently in the very early planning stages of a trip out west and am hoping to do some streamer fishing out there as well...

After catching the bass, I started working back towards the car. There are lots of bluegill in this particular lake so I decided to try and catch a few. I tied on two flies, the second of which is one of my most deadly bluegill flies. I've mentioned this fly before but it is well worth mentioning again. It is the Simi Seal Leech and I was fishing a size #16 with a small beadhead in purple. I finally hooked one and for a second thought that maybe a bass had taken the first fly in the two fly rig. However, when I got it close, I saw it was indeed a bluegill and it had taken the small leech pattern. This was one of the fattest bluegill I've ever seen and it fought really well... That fish really made my day. I caught a few more smaller bluegill and sight fished over a bass for awhile, changing flies several times, but he was on to me and wouldn't eat.

Today I'll probably tie a bunch of flies and start planning for my potential trip out west. I've got to do some research on different rivers I hope to fish, fishing license fees, camping fees, and lots of other things. Also, I might try to get a little more time in today fishing...check back to see if I catch that big bass!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bear Trouble

For the last few weeks I've been looking forward to a backpacking trip in the Smokies. The upper Little River watershed is one of my favorite areas to fish, not so much because the fishing is great as because it is really where I learned to fly fish. My plans for this trip included 2 nights at backcountry site #24 and then up the trail to #30 for another night. I intended to hit Fish Camp Prong and upper Little River over the course of 2-3 days of fishing.

Heading up to the park Wednesday afternoon, I stopped by Little River Outfitters to pick up some tying supplies (thinking about West Trip 2009). After chatting with Byron Begley for awhile, I headed on towards Elkmont. After filling out my backcountry permit, I took off up the trail. There were only two hours of daylight left and I wanted to get into camp and have time to eat supper before dark. I made it in plenty of time and after eating supper went to bed. Sleeping right by the creek is extremely peaceful and relaxing. The sound of a rushing mountain stream is one of natures most soothing sounds and I enjoyed it to the fullest.
Thursday morning I woke up ready for a long day of fishing. As I ate breakfast, I contemplated about how much money it takes to get started backpacking. While I don't have great gear, it still represents a decent investment monetarily and I thought about how terrible it would be if someone took all my gear. I never even thought about Mother Nature destroying anything. After breakfast I was ready to go. Day one was going to be Fish Camp Prong and I hoped to get the Smoky Mountain slam of a rainbow, brook and brown.

The lowest stretch of the stream is the place to catch brown trout so I started there, working my way up slowly from Little River. Things started out a little slow, but finally I picked up a rainbow on a Tellico nymph. Little Yellow stoneflies started making an appearance and I decided to try a Neversink Caddis. This proved good for several fish including a nice brown that ghosted up out of a deeper run to inhale the fly.

After catching the brown, I got back on the trail and started walking to get into brookie territory. I've caught brook trout within a mile of Little River but they seem to be a bit scarce in the lower sections. Finally I got tired of walking and decided to try my luck. As I moved up the stream, the fishing continued to be very inconsistent. It seemed that every run, pool, and pocket required a different fly. I would catch a few fish on one fly only to have it seemingly quit working. Different sections of the stream had different bugs hatching and overall it seemed that a Parachute Adams or Neversink Caddis was a fair representation of most of the adult insects. I fished a double nymph rig as well with a Tellico and one other nymph. After several rainbows, a brookie finally took one of my "secret" soft hackle patterns fished deep as a standard nymph and the slam was complete.

I was fishing through a bit of a gorge and fished until I thought I could scale the high bank back to the trail. Back on Little River I decided to fish up from the Goshen Prong trail bridge to #24. Here the dry fly fishing really picked up. I fished a Parachute Adams for awhile and then switched to a yellow Neversink. The fish liked both equally well it seemed and I caught several nice rainbows and one more brown. After what seemed a short distance, I saw my tent and decided to call it a day.

As I approached my tent, I did a double take. Something didn't seem quite right. My tent was all lopsided and as I got closer, I saw gashes in the side. Upon closer inspection, 2 out of the three poles were broken and the third was bent. Some of the broken pools had tore through the sleeves and there was another gash in the bottom corner where the stake loop used to be attached. Dirt was on the side of the tent and I quickly realized that a bear had stopped by while I was gone. Greatly annoyed, I saw a pile of trash and a hole in the ground and realized that someone had buried trash near where I set up the tent (before I was there). The bear had come through and dug up the trash. Not finding anything to eat, it apparently decided to make my tent uninhabitable on its way through. Maybe it was angry since there wasn't any food. Regardless, I'm now in the market for a new tent. It was ironic that a bear would tear up my tent just hours after I had considered how bad it would be if something happened to my gear...

After taking in the whole situation, I decided it would be in my best interest to pack everything up and head out. I would have to really hustle because it would be dark soon. I got everything in my pack and hit the trail by 7:30 Eastern time. One hour later I had made it back to my car.

Shortly after leaving camp, probably about 300 yards below #24, I saw a fairly large bear feeding near the trail. I clapped to try and scare it away but it just stared back at my completely unconcerned. Bears without fear always make me nervous and I was glad that I was heading out for the night. On the way back down I ran into a guy from the Wildlife Division who was out hunting wild pigs. I told him what had happened and he asked for my name and phone number so he could do a bear report. He mentioned that #24 would probably be closed in the next day or two.

Overall I had a great trip. The fishing was good although I can't quite call it great. I caught a lot of fish but was working a little harder for them than I sometimes have to. There is even a blessing in disguise about my tent being ruined. I could have been in the tent or in camp when the bear decided to show up or it could have more thoroughly destroyed my tent. While the tent won't work for camping anymore, it could have been much worse. The bear could have shredded it and then got the sleeping bag and thermarest inside. That would have made things even worse for me. Replacing a tent is bad enough, but the rest would have been very hard to do anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Favorite Tippet

Our latest poll ended yesterday and it looks like the majority of you either use Orvis or Rio tippet products. Lots of others with a loyal following as as but it looks like those two are the favorites. Personally I've fished Orvis Super Strong for years but lately have switched over to Rio. I'm not really sure if I'll stick with the Rio or not though because it feels just a little stiff in my opinion. I do like the Rio Fluoroflex Plus and use it in place of my favorite but more expensive Seaguar Grand Max FX.

For those that haven't made the switch to fluoro for some of their fishing yet, give it a shot. I can honestly say that I feel I land many more fish because of the fluorocarbon tippet used. The "invisible" effect is not really the main reason I fish it. Instead, I feel much more confident that nothing is going to break when I hook that nice fish. Mono tippet seems to break so much easier, and I can pressure fish a lot more with fluoro tippet meaning it is possible to land those large fish much quicker. This is important anytime you intend to release that nice fish which I always do.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Can't Get Enough

The Cherokee catch and release section is getting addicting. On Friday afternoon, I made my third trip over there with my buddy Travis from over at The Fishing Fanatic. While driving through the Park, I started looking over the various park waters carefully and realized that it is time to fish for wild fish. However, the large stockers are a lot of fun. While the fishing was slower as compared to last time, it was still a blast.

Right before quitting for the day, I got my Palomino for the trip. Those are a lot of fun to catch but obviously get pounded since they are so easy to spot. The fish I landed wouldn't really move to eat. I had to force feed it by by drifting my nymphs almost into its mouth. The fish moved probably 2 inches to eat which helped explain why the fishing seemed slow. When they are not moving to eat, you have to fish thoroughly.

Overall, while it is a lot of fun, I'll probably be sticking to the Park for awhile now. A Tennessee tailwater or two might also be in my near future along with a smallie excursion. I can't wait to try some new stuff out and as always, you'll be the first to hear about it...

Travis Reynolds photograph....

What Fish See

Ever wonder why the fish panic right before you net them? If you stuck your head out of the water and saw what they see, you would panic also...


Finally, the water is getting warm enough that the bass are getting active. I made it out with my new Elkhorn reel and sinking line to throw streamers. After lots of follows and short strikes, a fish finally made a total commitment. After posing for a picture, the fish swam off to keep growing.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tippet Poll

There is still about a week to vote on the poll. Lots of you have voted already which is great. If you haven't voted yet, the poll is over on the right side of the page and asks which brand of tippet is your favorite. So far, it looks like the majority of you fish either Orvis or Rio tippet. I've used and am currently using a combination of both. There are some other great brands out there though...

Coming soon, I hope to have some more warm water reports. I've got some new flies to test out and still need to go back to catch the nice bass I saw cruising the banks a week ago...