Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Photo of the Month: Autumn Slab of Gold

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Boat!!!

Yes, you read that correctly.  I have a new boat! Well, new to me at least.  While not a brand new boat, this beauty is in extremely good shape and will bring many pleasant days on the water for both myself and any lucky anglers who choose to fish with me.  If you are interested in a day of drift boat fishing, please head over to Trout Zone Anglers to explore your options.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Breaking News!!!

More as things continue to develop, but big things are looming on the immediate horizon.  I'll have a lot more on this either tomorrow or Friday, but I'll give a pretty good clue: I have an appointment first thing in the morning to get a hitch installed on my car, the Moose Magnet. Just to clarify, I am not getting a trailer to haul all those moose around in.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Where Are You Fishing?

Fishing around middle and east Tennessee continues to be phenomenal.  The Smokies are really fishing well and the tailwaters are doing great also.  The Caney is fishing about as consistently as you can ever see.  However, I'm not fishing this weekend.  Yes, you read that correctly.  While everyone else is out enjoying the long weekend, I'm not getting out to fish.

That is because I hate crowds.  Fortunately, all of the reports I'm getting from people still indicate great fishing so I guess no one is suffering out there.

So, my question is "where are you fishing this weekend?" Since I'm not fishing I need some good fishing stories.  Help me out!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Carp Afterthought

Have you ever gone fishing and had a fantastic day of catching your intended species only to come across a fish that is quite different and decide to try for it as well?  That is one of the amazing things about tailwaters, the variety that is.  You can fish hard for trout all day and then find that one 4 pound bass or 15 pound carp and fish for that as well.  Maybe you even get a shot at a striper later on as well.  When I'm striper fishing, I sometimes have lucked into trout and even some walleye.  In other words, on a tailwater you just never know what you will find.

Yesterday I headed down yet again to the Caney Fork yet again to get some trout fishing in and check several different spots on the river.  Scouting the water is about as important as actually fishing and this trip was intended to include both.  After all, when heading out on a guide trip, it is essential to be in touch with what is happening on the river.  My basic research was just locating fish and the best places to land both numbers of fish and quality fish.

The morning's highlight occurred when I saw a big brown charge into a pool full of small stockers and eat one or two while I was fishing for them.  Yes, my heart rate is still a bit elevated, but that is the beautiful thing about fishing trips; you just never know what is going to happen.  After calming down enough to actually fish, I worked a favorite section pretty hard and found a lot of chunky rainbows.  These fish are super healthy right now and providing great nonstop action if you have the right flies, the right depth, and a knowledge of where to use them at.


A little after noon, my buddy Tyler and I headed back to the car for some lunch as well as some air conditioning on the ride down to our next spot.  When we got to the next spot, things continued about the same as before.  In other words, we were both catching a lot of fish.  The insects were varied on this day and the occasional caddis and cranefly kept the fish looking up.  Our dry flies were getting enough action that we never switched over to an indicator nymph rig, preferring the dry/dropper method instead to cover our bases.


Eventually the heat and sun took its toll, and I was ready to call it a day.  Heading back to the car, I stopped at a spot where there are usually some carp and buffalo hanging out.  While this was definitely a trout trip, I had no problem at least looking at other fish.  Of course, you can guess where this eventually took me.  Upon seeing all those carp, I naturally had to at least cast a couple of times.

I've fished this spot and a couple of others nearby many times over the years.  In fact, given the opportunity, I would rather catch at least one or two carp on each trout trip.  Not that I'm ready to turn my back completely on trout.  Its just that carp are some of the toughest fish you will ever fish for.  Being a carp fisherman automatically makes you better at catching other species as well, trust me.  The crazy thing about this particular spot is that while I've put in my time to attempting to catch these fish, I've never really had any success.  Oh, I've caught carp other places on at least a couple of different rivers, but these particular fish had always outsmarted me.

So here I was casting to fish that I could see just fine but really didn't expect to catch when lo and behold one of the fish ate!  Seriously, it was all so easy that I pondered momentarily why I hadn't caught one before.  Then the fish realized it was hooked.  If you've ever hooked a carp, even a small one, on 5x, you know how I felt as this fish started running directly away from me for a underwater log.  I really had no chance, or at least that's how it felt.  By some miracle, the fish always came out on the right side of those logs.  All the pressure I thought the tippet could handle was brought to bear. Once the fish ran under another log and only came back out when I kept muscled it back.  I know, it's hard to believe all of this happened on 5x, but in the end, the best moment of the day came when my buddy slipped the net under the finally tired fish.  A couple of pictures later and the fish tore off back to its pool to rest up for our next meeting.



If I lived close by, I would chase these fish all the time.  Seriously.  They are that much fun.  Every one I've caught has been memorable.  Oh, sure, the trout fishing was awesome too, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but as an afterthought, those carp sure provide a lot of fun!

If I can help you with a guide trip to the Smokies or the Caney Fork tailwater, please contact me.  I'm not booking trips through July.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Smokies Adventure

Adventure is a huge part of fly fishing for me.  During a conversation on our camping trip, I was telling my buddy Joe how I enjoy exploring almost as much as the actual fishing.  Thankfully I was able to enjoy both on this trip.

On Sunday, I arrived a bit later than Joe.  Coming from Central time into Eastern time always makes it hard to get up and on the river as early as my friends.  Getting there at first light means being up to leave around 3 or 3:30 a.m.  No thanks...  Anyway, so eventually I did make it over there and when if found Joe he was already hard at work fishing a likely run.  He reported good early morning action on the usual nymphs and we decided to continue fishing up through a nice mix of pools and pocket water.


Not too far upstream, I came across Mountain Laurel and stopped to play with the camera a bit.



Just above the blooms, Joe worked a really nice run.  When he finished and headed down to the truck for some lunch, I noticed a few rises and moved up into the run.  Tying on dry flies, I worked the fish hard but in the end was humbled.  If I had known how spooky those fish would be I probably would have brought a 3 weight and also used a longer leader.  Dry fly fishing is excellent on Little River right now, but the long still flats on the roadside stretches may produce some challenging conditions.  It was every bit as tough if not more so than chasing a picky riser on a tailwater.


Anyway, eventually we had lunch, set up camp, and headed back out for an afternoon of catching fish.  We both caught a lot of nice trout on nymphs and eventually made it back to camp to rest up for the next day's action.

We fished on both sides of the mountain and hit up some stretches that were new to both of us.  One of my favorite parts of the trip was exploring a stream known as having the ability to produce the Smoky Mountain Hat Trick.  After a fairly early start, we made it over to the stream on day 2 and started fishing by looking for nice browns in the larger holes.

While Joe worked the pools, I fished the pocket water.  A double nymph rig seemed appropriate early in the day.  Wet wading was a little chilly with the temperature hovering right around 50 degrees in the early morning shade.  Hatches were pretty much nonexistent but the rainbows were feeding well subsurface.  This is where I picked up my better rainbows on this stream.  Strangely, neither of us caught a brown trout in this stretch.  By the time things had warmed and the sun was triggering some hatch activity, we decided to head upstream and look for the slam.


Both of us had fished just a little bit of this section before but we had no idea of the challenges awaiting us.  Huge piles of debris from a semi recent flash flood made stream navigation a challenge to say the least.  The fish population seemed to be on the low side but we both caught trout.  The pools were beautiful flat runs that were mostly shallow to medium depth, perfect dry fly water if you ask me.  Of course on water that pretty we both fished dry flies.  I choose a new Yellow Sally imitation I've started tying and Joe went with the standard for brookies, a Yellow Stimulator.  Betchya can't guess what color of bugs were hatching...


I found the brookie before I found the brown.  Both came out of fairly fast but large pockets.  The nice dry fly runs were not producing for the most part.



After a ton of effort to fish maybe 1/4 or 1/3 of a mile of water, we got tired at the lack of fish and decided to head out and hit up another brook trout stream.  That was a good choice as we caught a lot of trout although the number of rainbows was a concern.

That evening, we had a good fire as it was our last night.  Staying up late, talking about trips from past years, we reminisced about our Yellowstone Trip (here and here also) as well as the epic one day fishing trip in Colorado last year.  Good days fishing the Smokies, large fish caught, and lots of other topics kept us up late but not too late to be up early the next morning.


Joe didn't have long to fish the next morning, so after fishing just a little together, he took off, and I decided to hit up a favorite stretch of Little River.  The water here is a nice mix of pools and pocket water, classic Little River water if you know what I mean.  In the first pool, I caught 4-5 trout and probably could have caught more if I had chosen to.  Best of all, most of them were browns.


I continued fishing until around 2 in the afternoon when hunger started to gain the upper hand over my desire to fish.  On the way out, I found a hat hung on a rock in Little River.  If you happen to have lost one while fishing, it is now over at Little River Outfitters in Townsend.  For this last day, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.






Tips and hints: The best action was in the faster deep pockets...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Little River Blooms

Today I returned from a quick camping trip with my buddy Joe to Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains.  We fished a wide variety of water and caught a lot of nice trout.  I'll get a full report up in the next day or so but just know that the fishing is great right now.

The first Mountain Laurel blooms of the year are making an appearance now, and I found some nice ones along Little River while fishing on Sunday morning.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Tailwater Update


Finally, the high flows are abating on my nearest tailwater.  The fishing should be good now although with the low flows and nice weather expect to see a lot more people out on the water.  Thankfully there are lots of options including smallmouth bass streams and the wild trout streams of the Great Smoky Mountains and the rest of east Tennessee.


On the tailwater scene, the usual flies are getting the job done.  Midge fishing is coming on really strong and we will begin to see some dry fly opportunities as we head into summer.  Sow bugs and other nymphs will pick up some fish in addition the the usual midge patterns.  The lower Caney Fork is seeing a few bugs hatching including some Light Cahills and Sulfurs.  These are generally only sporadic hatches but they can get the fish interested sometimes.

The other day I stopped by the Caney Fork on my way home from Nashville.  The fishing was excellent during the 3 or so hours I fished.  Fish were feeding on a variety of flies and were in great shape.  There was a good range of sizes from about 8 inches up to 14 inches so we have a good mix of fish.  The majority of the fish were rainbows but I did manage a few browns as well.


If you need any help or advice or would like to set up a guide trip, please feel free to contact me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Canoeing with Dad



One of my favorite summer time trips is over to a little lake set deep in the woods perhaps 15 minutes from my house.  The lake is deep and unusually cool for this area and contains panfish and bass as well as a few carp.  Occasionally I'll take my float tube over there and just kick around for a few hours, but the best way to really fish this lake is to take a canoe.  Gas powered engines are prohibited so this lake sees very little traffic.


My dad enjoys canoeing so I planned a short excursion to take him over there and paddle.  Naturally, anytime I'm canoeing the fly rod should come along and my dad was gracious enough to let me fish a bit.  We spent the majority of the trip paddling but when good shoreline structure would appear, we would both drop the paddles, and I would give it a few casts.

Normally I can catch a lot of bluegill on this lake if I want to but this trip I was after bass.  I'm not sure why but I've been after the bass more than usual lately.  Anyway, on the return trip, drifting along the north shore, I cast the Clouser right onto the bank and began a slow retrieve that would swim the fly into deeper water.  When the line hesitated, I thought I had snagged the bottom or perhaps a submerged log.  Just in case, though, I set the hook.  Pleasantly surprised when the line started to move, I found myself playing a nice little bass.  One fish is better than no fish and I was pretty happy with this one.


The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful, but I expect this lake to get much better as the weather continues to warm.  The fish will be more aggressive with the increasing water temperatures.  I'll be back soon, probably with my float tube, and will spend a few relaxing hours drifting around and maybe even catching some more bass!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Current Happenings

Perhaps you have noticed that I haven't been posting for the past few days.  I have been spending the last few days with my  girlfriend and have not been doing any fishing.  I do still have some warm water reports to get caught up on and will have a ton more coming later this week and next as I have guided trips, a short camping trip with my cousin, and another camping trip with my buddy Joe.  In between all of the excitement, I do still have some availability if you are wanting to set up a guided trip.  Next week I have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday available if you want to get in on the excellent spring fishing that we are now experiencing.  The Caney Fork is starting to give us some wading options again so if you want to learn how to fish and approach this excellent tailwater contact me to check out the trip options.

Finally, happy Mothers' Day to all the great moms out there and especially my own! Thanks for all you have done for me!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Golden Ribbon

Walking around a small lake on a farm just to try and discover something that will give me an edge as a fisherman is standard practice.  Thus it was not unusual when I met my friend Tyler at the lake that I asked if he wanted to head down the shoreline "at least a ways."  The sun was high, the sky clear, and the fish seemed to have headed out to deeper water.  Still, you never know when you might find a bass right up on the bank, and based on the boils and wakes we saw every once in a while, there were some decent ones.  If only they were less spooky...

By the time we had nearly circled the lake, stared down a few menacing bulls, and incidentally chased some cows off, the sun was getting low in the western sky and panfish were beginning to rise to the midge hatch that really gets cranking near sunset each day.  Here and there, the dimple of a rise form would break the surface.  I had caught two fish up to this point, one small bass and one crappie, but was hoping for that evening magic to set in.  Little did I know.

Just as the sun was sitting on top of the horizon, I noticed a swirl or two.  The gentle breeze had ended with the setting sun and the water looked like glass.  Sky and cow pasture met the water in one continuous scene as the reflections were now almost perfect.  Then I saw it, nervous water.

To a bass fisherman, there may be nothing as exciting as schooling baitfish.  The boils appeared slowly here and there, until I had probably six or seven good balls of baitfish in front of me with at least three within casting range.  Then it happened.  The nearest ball had an eruption as something attacked from below.  By the size of the splash it was a large bass.  Before long, bass were attacking each of the bait schools.  The incredible part is that these baitfish were bluegill and crappie.  Those were some big bass.  Of course, this is the same pond where I saw a bass come nail a 9 inch crappie off of a bed so there are some nice fish around.

Without knowing what else to do, I just tossed the same Clouser out that I had been using the whole afternoon.  My plan of attack was to cast either into or just beyond the bait balls and let the fly sink below it before beginning the retrieve.  In theory, any bass cruising a little deeper would notice my fly first.  And it worked.

Two quick bass in a row suggested I had picked a good technique.  I started feeling just a little selfish because my buddy was still fishing a little cove that has great potential, but I knew that the action in front of me was the best we would see that evening.  I whistled until I had his attention and waved him over.  Back to fishing, now with a clear conscience, I caught some more.

By the time he had arrived, the bait had moved off towards deeper water, probably following the hatch.  Huge midges were coming off and the bluegill were responding like it was their last meal.  For some it was.  By now the largest bass in the pond had moved in.  Some of the explosions were so big I wondered if my 5 weight would even have a chance. Promising myself to bring the 7 weight next time, I did what I could which was to keep fishing.

As darkness approached, we finally each took that last cast and headed out.  Walking through a pasture full of snakes and fresh cow pies in the dark sounds like the makings of a horror movie and we wanted enough light to make the short walk up the highway without getting hit.

That night, I lay awake going over the scenario again and again.  What else could I do to hook those big bass?  The next day I tied up a couple of different flies.  One was a Diamond Hair Minnow that I had done well on for bass recently on another lake.  The other was my PB&J but with lighter hourglass eyes.  I didn't want it sinking too deep.

By the time the next evening rolled around, I was armed and ready.  Bring on the big fish!  I got to the small lake and everything seemed ready for a repeat performance.  The only difference being that the wind didn't completely lay down this evening, but the baitfish were there chasing the midges.  Larger bluegill and crappie were cruising leaving their dimpled rises around the lake.  Occasionally, a boil would suggest some bass were out hunting, but where were the big ones?  

Like most big fish, it appeared that this was a one shot deal.  The first day was the day to catch a monster, and I had blown it.  Of course, it was early and the trip could still go either way.  I walked down the shoreline and spooked some nice bass.  One of them was big, but it wasn't out cruising, just laying up waiting to see what developed.  The slight chop made it a bit more tricky to decide where the nervous water was, but enough larger bluegill and crappie were mixed in that I could usually locate the schools by their rises.

Walking along the shore to the magic spot from the previous day, I decided if there was not a repeat performance, I could at least enjoy the evening.  Everything was exactly the same as the day before except for that chop on the surface.  Since the fishing wasn't as hot, I took time to look around.  Right in front of me was a golden ribbon thrown down by the sun, stretching out across the lake.  Absentmindedly I wondered where it might lead.


Maybe it led to fish.  Not having any other theories to work off of I started casting.  Once or twice I snagged some cow patties behind me, but other than that everything was going well.  I made sure my casts were laying out perfectly in that golden ribbon, just in case.  Then it happened.  After several casts, I felt the hit and set the hook.  A nice little bass with most of the emphasis on the little had eaten the PB&J.  Little bass are better than no bass.



Getting back to my fishing, I noticed with dismay that my golden ribbon was almost gone.  Did that mean the end of the catching?


As the sun disappeared and I prepared to navigate the cow pies in the waning light, the wind suddenly died down.  Sure enough, there was very little nervous water left.  Occasionally a bass would explode on something, but nothing was happening within casting range.  I didn't have long to ponder that, because the sky was going through the beauty of a spring sunset.  Maybe I didn't really come to catch fish after all.  Glad that I had a good camera, I paused to soak it all in.



The colors faded quickly, so I had to hustle to get out before dark.  The big bass are all still out there, and of course I still think about how to catch them.  We probably have a few more weeks at best before the pond becomes too nasty to fish as the summer heats things up and algae blooms.  I'll go back again of course.  One of these days I'll probably hook a big one, finally I might add, but if not I'll be happy with finding another golden ribbon.