Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tis the Season


Fish are starting to get fired up about streamers again. As we move into the colder months, streamers will be a great bet on tailwaters and mountain streams alike. The big browns are getting aggressive and will respond to streamers through the winter. The water temperature will determine the best method of presentation. On tailwaters, a fast retrieve is normally effective while in the mountains, the fish sometimes want the offering presented nearly dead drift...

This rainbow fell for an olive/pearl Zonker on the Caney last Friday. The fish hammered the fly and proceeded to give my 5 weight a workout. I was glad to have my big net handy. Photographing fish is much easier if you can protect the fish and keep it in the water until you are prepared to take the picture.


As far as the fishing goes, I caught a few small fish including a brookie and a brown. I also fished to a larger rising brown for a while but could never get it to eat. Overall the water clarity is marginal at best and I can't really recommend fishing the Caney for another month at least due to the clarity problems. The sluice gate will be in operation for some time until the temperatures come down and the dissolved oxygen levels from the generators improve. This, combined with the lake turning over soon, means that the clarity will continue to be an issue.

Right now, the hot place to be is the South Holston. Good numbers of nice fish are being caught, including some very nice fish to around 25 inches on streamers. The sulphurs are still hatching and the fall BWOs have started. Expect to find the BWO hatching best on cloudy days and the sulphurs will tend to be better on sunny days.

Water levels in the mountains are still low to extremely low. Until we get some substantial rain, fishing in the mountains will be tough at best. Fall hatches are coming on now in the mountains and should provide good fishing until we get consistently cold weather that brings stream temperatures down to winter time levels.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fishing For Me


After an evening of teaching, what I really wanted to do was to explore the small lake for myself, so the next day I snuck off for an hour on the water. 

When I got there, the sun was sinking fast in the western sky and the fish were on the feed.  I started with the same fly pattern that I was teaching the guys with (more on this simple strategy for bass later).  My first cast produced a bass and I was off and running.


As I progressed around the lake, I caught fish in most places where the guys had the previous evening.  Some new spots proved interesting as well when I noticed some monster bass (no joke, one was probably in the 7-9 pound range) up feeding on baitfish against the bank.  These bass know how to chase the small fish up against the bank and then pound them unmercifully. 

In one spot the previous evening, one of the guys kept hooking up only to have the fish (we never saw it to know what it was) race off into the weeds.  I was determined to catch whatever "it" was.  Dropping my fly in with anticipation, I jigged it twice and then watched the line dart towards the weeds again.  Putting as much pressure as I dared, I soon muscled a nice bluegill out of the heavy cover. 


As the evening wore on, I fished as late as I dared without a light.  The bass and bluegill just kept hitting and the big fish were making their rounds along the banks.  Finally I knew I better head back.  I'll be looking for an opportunity to go back though.  These fish are just too much fun...


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Teaching



As a teacher, I enjoy imparting knowledge and hopefully a little wisdom to young people.  Occasionally I get the pleasure of teaching more than just academic subjects.  Recently, the school I work for took our guys on an outing that included some time for them to swim, boat, or otherwise enjoy time on the lake.  Naturally I brought a fly rod along as well.  In years past, I have always had several guys that wanted to try out fly fishing.  As this small lake is private, it is the perfect place to allow them to try the sport without having to worry about such things as a fishing license. 

This year, three guys in particular wanted to try fly fishing.  By the end of the outing, it appears that I successfully did my job.  The guys were asking how much it would cost for them to buy fly fishing gear and where to go to purchase the equipment. 

I have a special pattern I tie specifically for fishing this pond although I use it anywhere I fish for bass and large sunfish.  After tying it on, I warmed up the rod for them by hooking a couple bluegills and a bass or two.  As soon as they were sufficiently enthusiastic, I passed the rod off to the first candidate. 

The first place I normally have someone try is where a culvert goes under the road, connecting a small, weed-filled section of the lake to the main body of water.  Bass will lay up in the deep cut waiting for any prey that happens to come by.  I placed the first guy close to the water and gave him just a few feet of line, showing him how to flip it out there and slowly retrieve it with small strips.  After mastering the presentation and retrieve, everything came together.  The fly slowly sank out of sight into the deep cut and suddenly the line twitched.  "Set!" I hollered, forgetting as always that a beginner normally has no clue what I mean by that.  Thankfully he got the idea and lifted the rod tip.  Soon, I lipped the best bass of the outing and we posed for a quick picture together.

 
The next guy up tried the other side of the culvert.  Almost as soon as the fly hit the water, it took off into some weeds were whatever had eaten promptly through this hook.  He was somewhat disappointed, but I assured him that, no worries, we still had plenty of good spots to hit. 

Next up we moved around to the dam.  Here, small indentations in the bank along with the proximity to deeper water give bass the sanctuary they need along with good options for feeding.  After helping him position, we moved to instruction on casting a bit further.  He picked it up like a natural and was soon casting the 15-20 feet necessary to catch fish.  Soon something slammed the fly and after a brief fight, we admired a nice chunky bluegill and posed for the required pictures.

 
The next guy took his place with the fly rod and we continued stalking bass.  Again, it only took a couple of tries for him to sufficiently master the art of fly casting to at least catch some fish.  The now standard twitch part way through his retrieve motivated a good hook set, and I soon lipped yet another bass. 


All three guys were thrilled with the experience.  Hopefully three more guys have been inspired to take up the hobby of fly fishing. 

Product Review: Canvas Print

I was contacted a couple of months ago by Brendan from Easy Canvass Prints about doing a review of one of their products in exchange for a free canvass.  After clarifying what their expectations were I agreed. 

All I had to do was go to their website and follow the normal process for purchasing a print.  The fee was waived by using a special one-time promotion code.  For full disclosure, Easy Canvass Prints has not provided any additional compensation beyond the free Canvass Print. 

First I would like to mention how quick and easy the website was to use, at least for me.  It probably only took a total of 2-3 minutes to upload my picture, choose the various options I wanted, type in my address, and complete the transaction.  They have implemented a user friendly design that just about anyone can navigate successfully. 

As far as the actual canvass, I received a free 11x14 print of one of my favorite pictures.  The picture is one my buddy Joe McGroom took on our trip to Yellowstone country back during the summer of 2009.  The fish was a gorgeous brown trout that fell for a streamer while we were fishing the Madison River in the $3 Bridge vicinity.  Below is the photograph that I uploaded to make the print from.


Next are a few pictures of the print I received.  Notice that one of the options I chose made a mirror image of the actual photograph wrap around the sides.




As you can see, the main difference between this and the original is that I cropped the original in a little closer when I uploaded it to the website.  You can choose any position you want on the canvass and are able to crop your picture during the process.  One thing I thought sounded cool when I was ordering the print was to have the reflection of my picture wrap around the side.  I'm glad I chose that option as it definitely does look great.  Of course, if it doesn't appeal to you there are plenty of other options. 

The original picture (as shone and what I uploaded) was a touched up version of the original.  The quality of this print is not demonstrated very well in the pictures I have shone above.  The actual print was much closer in color to the original than what the pictures show, and I was more than happy with the results and would recommend Easy Canvass Prints to anyone looking to print a nice memory from one of their fishing expeditions.  In addition to printing your own pictures, it would also make an awesome gift for a fishing friend or relative. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Backpacking In Search of Brookies


Plans had been made for some time to hike into #47 with my cousin this past weekend and do some brook trout fishing. At the last second he got sick and couldn't make it but I enjoy solo trips and decided to just go anyway. 

After swinging by Little River Outfitters to chat with Byron and Daniel awhile and pick up some supplies, I headed over the mountain. After a quick stop at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center for my permit, I headed on up the Straight Fork road. The plan was to head over Hyatt Ridge trail to the Enloe Creek trail down to Raven Fork and #47. I got to the trailhead later than I wanted and had to hustle to get over the ridge and into camp before dark. Thankfully I made it in time and after setting up camp, I ate a quick supper and went to bed with visions of brook trout dancing in my head.

 



The next morning was perfect. The sun was out and the air was nice and cool. Throughout breakfast, I found myself eating faster and faster in anticipation of hitting the water. You don't hike over Hyatt Ridge to catch small stream rainbows. No, you go for the brook trout. Raven Fork and its tributaries are a great place to catch brookies although there are some rainbows in Raven Fork as well...


After breakfast, I washed my dishes and got some snacks to take with me. For the morning, I decided to hit one of the smaller tribs and it proved to be a great decision. For the next three hours, I caught brook trout after brook trout. By lunch, I had already caught enough fish for three days worth of fishing and only used two flies the whole time. The first Yellow Neversink was lost in a tree after 40-some brookies had chewed on it. The second fly, also a Neversink, lasted for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. 


Throughout the morning I caught brook trout up to around 9 inches. The largest fish came from an undercut rock adjacent to a deep pocket. It ghosted out from under the rock and gently sipped the Neversink Caddis. After posing for a couple quick pictures, it swam back to its pool.


The brook trout from the tributary were beautifully colored, and obviously the spawn is fast approaching. Some of the males were even developing the closest things to a kype that these small brookies will ever get.



For the afternoon, I fished Raven Fork proper, slowly exploring my way upstream from the campsite. Here I caught a mix of healthy rainbows along with more brook trout. The brookies weren't colored as much yet compared to the ones I had caught earlier in the day. I finished my day well upstream from camp and regretfully turned back towards my tent and a hot supper, wishing instead to be continuing on upstream and explore to the farthest reaches of the headwaters.






The hike out the next morning was much better than the hike in, just under one mile uphill and then 2 downhill. After a few more pictures of the stream by the campsite I headed up the trail.  After arriving at my car, I was soon cruising back down towards Cherokee where I made a quick stop for something other than backpacking food. Lunch was spent on the Oconaluftee. The water levels were low and a few hours of fishing in the afternoon convinced me that the browns and rainbows here are nowhere near as bold as the brookies from the high mountain streams.


I managed a few rainbows and browns from the 'Luftee before heading over the ridge. A 20 minute stop on Walker Camp Prong produced a couple small brookies and a surprising large rainbow for the water I was fishing.


Another stop, this time on Little River produced the largest fish of the weekend. A nice brown of around 16 inches apparently thought my Tellico nymph looked edible. After a quick picture I sent him back to hopefully grow a bit more.


The weekend was great, but I do wish that the larger streams had a little more flow in them right now. The fishing is still good to great, especially on the smaller high gradient streams where water levels aren't as much of an inconvenience...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Killer Deals

Found some more incredible deals including some super cheap wading boots among many other things.  Save at least 50% on more than 400 markdowns. Check it out!

TWRA Changes Proposed

The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has unveiled its proposal for regulation changes for the upcoming year.  The proposed regulation changes and/or additions seem reasonable, and I can support them.  Over the past 2-3 years TWRA has made tremendous strides in implementing regulations that enhance fisheries across the state and the new changes look to continue that trend.

However, TWRA has a proposed guide license on the table which appears to be completely ridiculous.  It unfairly targets trout guides, the largest number of which are fly fishing guides.  The proposal "was made to consider a fishing guide license only for the following waters: the rivers immediately below Wilbur, Watauga, South Holston, Cherokee, Norris, Appalachian, Tim’s Ford, Center Hill, Dale Hollow, and Normandy dams."  If you fish in the great state of Tennessee, you know that the above listed waters are all of the state's trout tailwaters. 

The justification from TWRA for the proposal is "that a guide license is needed to assist in expenses at TWRA’s state fish hatcheries due to the likely reductions in trout production at federal fish hatcheries in Tennessee, Dale Hollow and Erwin National Fish Hatcheries."  I can understand that people should pay to utilize a resource, but TWRA stocks many other fish species than just trout.  Maybe they already have funding for those hatcheries, but the burden should not be limited to just fishing guides.  Any walleye guides, striper guides, musky guides, etc., should also help shoulder the burden because TWRA stocks those fish as well.  In the end, if a guide license must be introduced, I think all guides should have to purchase a guide license. 

The following is the email I sent to TWRA:


I am writing concerning the proposed fishing guide license. While I don't have a problem really with the concept of a guide license, I do have a problem with TWRA finding just another way to charge their "customers." The main proponents of a guide license do have a good point that a lot of out of state guides are making lots of money off of our state's resources. If that is the real problem, then charge the out of state guides to utilize our resources and in the process, advance local Tennessee business interests which is always a win-win situation.

If the issue really is one of finding funding for the hatcheries, then this is one of the most ridiculous proposals I have seen in a long time. Why is it that you only want to target trout guides? If you implement a guide license, you should require one for ALL fishing guides across the board, regardless of what species they primarily target. I know that TWRA stocks species other than trout, yet there is no mention of a tax on striper guides or musky guides, or any other guides. This is very pointedly directed at trout guides and should never get anywhere close to being implemented.

Additionally, if you really want to make the right people pay for the trout being dumped in our streams, charge an "urban" fishing license fee to cover all the trout that are dumped in various bodies of water throughout the winter to provide "trout fishing" to people who normally do not go to the effort of seeking out these beautiful fish in more natural environments. Every single fish that is stocked in the winter stocking program is doomed to death, either by high temperatures and low dissolved oxygen during the summer or in the frying pans of those who like to catch and keep their fish.

Also you should consider charging catch and keep fisherman a higher license fee (trout stamp, striper stamp, musky stamp, etc...) than all the catch and release anglers. Sure there is some mortality of fish with the catch and release anglers but not nearly as much as if they are killing everything they caught. If I and some of the other excellent anglers I know kept all the big fish we caught on rivers like the Caney Fork, Clinch, and South Holston, then the population of larger fish would soon be decimated.

For full disclosure, I am NOT a guide nor am I associated with any fishing or tackle shops. I do fish with guides on occasion and would hate to see yet another tax burden on them as they try to maintain their livelihood.

Thank you for your time and consideration of my opinions.


If you are interested in contributing your opinions to the decision making process, please contact TWRA at TWRA.Comment@tn.gov.  Please include "Sport Fish Comments" or "Guide License Comments" in the email subject line.  I would encourage everyone to send your comments to TWRA as they are fairly good at listening to public opinion/input. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mishap

Last week I was able to get out a little with some guys on the Caney to float in canoes.  Naturally I wanted to fish in the process so I took the streamer rod and pounded the banks here and there.  Problems started when we were nearly at the end of the float. 

I had just hooked a large striper and as it was running straight up river, somehow the canoe flipped.  Now this was during generation and anyone that has every floated the Caney knows that even one generator is pushing a lot of water.  We watched equipment floating off downstream while we swam our swamped canoe ashore.  Quickly bailing the water out, we through the few things we still had back in the boat and started downstream at top speed to catch everything. 

Thankfully we recovered all the the lost items except I had a stream thermometer disappear and my sunglasses vanished at some point in the chaos.  Now for the bad part.  Sometime during the confusion, the tip on my 7 wt broke (already have a new tip in hand, thanks to amazing customer service from TFO!!!).  Most costly though was the fact that my DSLR was in its case, lashed to a cross bar in the canoe.  When it flipped, the camera was soaked.  Most likely the camera is toasted along with the lenses.  I can't afford the expensive cleaning and can't justify the cost when I can add a couple of hundred bucks and just get a new camera.  So for the time being I'm without a good camera. 

Unfortunately, my old Pentax Optio W-20 has an extremely short battery life now.  That is being fixed as I just ordered another battery.  However, I still need to replace my DSLR.  Hopefully over the next few months I can save up enough to make the purchase.  In the meantime, please forgive me if the content (especially pictures) is not of the quality you have come to expect.  I still have some reports from Yellowstone to add, complete with good quality pictures from before the camera died...  Hopefully by sometime after the new year I can come up with the necessary cash to buy a new camera.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Brown Trout Mania

My favorite time of year is upon is, when the browns turn agressive and the temperatures start to turn chilly.  The next 4-5 months will bring some of my favorite fishing conditions of the year.  Cold weather will keep the crowds away, and I can roam my favorite waters in peace.  While most people spend the majority of the winter tying flies for spring and dreaming of hatches to come, I'm doing most of my dreaming and tying now and fishing when its colder. 

Lately I've been specializing in fall patterns, both for general trout fishing in the mountains and for chasing monster browns with larger than normal flies.  Today I tied my first articulated pattern and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The only problem with these articulated patterns is that the time required to tie them means that losing one will probably bring on a bout of depression....for a minute or two anyways.  Here is my first attempt at an articulated streamer, inspiration thanks to Kelly Galloup's SD...

Monday, September 05, 2011

One Day at a Time

Yellowstone is too vast to appreciate in one visit.  We recognized that before going by not really planning each day there.  It would be enough to just appreciate our surroundings and take what each day gave us, one day at a time.  When we woke up our second day, the Tetons seemed like a good destination for the day.  Despite the fact that we drove past them on our way in, we never had enough time to really enjoy and explore them, much less take plenty of pictures while we were there. 

Before breakfast, I drove up the Firehole and took lots of pictures of the steam rising from the numerous geothermal features along with some more pictures of the falls in the canyon.  In one large field, a pair of sandhill cranes were just far enough away to present a challenge for my camera.  I didn't stay gone long.  The food was in the trunk of the car, and I knew that the others were probably waking up and getting hungry. 

Heading south towards Old Faithful after breakfast, the sky at first seemed promising.  By the time we reached Lewis Falls though, clouds were building off to the south indicating that a forecasted increase in monsoon moisture was indeed approaching.  By the time we were passing the South Entrance Station, it was obvious that the nice clear skies were not going to happen.  At that point though we had invested enough in getting to the Tetons so we just kept driving. 

In the past, I've taken lots of different pictures of the Tetons but this was the first day with a dreary sky.  Despite its foreboding appearance, the sky never really dropped its load of moisture on us.  Up the valley towards Yellowstone it was a different story however as sheets of rain hid the horizon from our view. 

Despite the somewhat challenging light conditions, it was still fun to play with the camera and take some pictures.  While in the Teton area, we spotted two separate moose (both cows), although at distances too great for good pictures even with my new zoom lens.

The following are all pictures from the day, mostly in chronological order.