Sunday, September 27, 2015

Brent and Matt on Nymphs, Terrestrials and Dry Flies

As the season passes, mornings on the river can be very similar. The sun rises over the trees, the fog lays on the water sometimes just lingering, while sometimes rolling in and rolling out with the slight breeze. On most mornings, I drive downstream to meet the shuttle. After arriving there is an opportunity to watch the water and check the clarity to make the plan for the day. Lately, I have seen an osprey as well as the usual birds checking things out as the sun begins to rise.
We drifted slowly away from the ramp and cut through the fog. It wasn't long before the guys were stinking up the net with small rainbows. The fresh stockers have the look of a usual hatchery brat, while some fish appear to have been in the system for a while and look healthier with nice color and full bellies. Brent and Matt began getting good drifts almost right away and we began working the structure along the bank. We tried deeper water and that produced fish as well. The deep water wasn't quite as productive as the bank structure and as we floated throughout the morning our best fish were coming around the shoals. Shoals with structure were just a bonus.
Brent and Matt didn't only enjoy good fishing. There was good discussion, a little work on technique and some relaxing moments on the slow moving river. In between the good discussion and relaxation the guys were nymphing up some good fish here and there. The browns are getting nice color, even the smaller browns are are "a bit buttery color". Buttery browns apparently like nymphs as we would soon confirm.
Just as we thought we had gotten the best of one stretch of river and I was thinking of our next move, Brent missed what might have been the last fish. But another cast and another mend, with another fly seeking out fish, the indicator took a dive. Brent raised the rod tip and the line came tight. The fish began making a solid run and added some headshakes to let us all know Brent had a nice one on the line. Brent was able to stay ahead of the fish and after a short while we caught sight of a nice brown trout with good color. Brent played the fish to the net and reminded us all to fish the shoal to the last possible moment.
Some fiberglass fills an afternoon- We found a pod of rising fish eating bugs off the slow moving surface. These fish were sheltered by overhanging trees above and sitting over a gravel bar that stretched only half way across the river. Every year we take some fish from this area, so it wasn't surprising to find them on this late summer day. I brought along the Superfine Glass stick and we knotted up a dry, then began working on clean presentations. 

Brent is no stranger to the dry and promptly was coming tight to a fish with the little glass rod. It was a short and decisive fight and he soon brought a fish to the net. We passed the little glass rod to the front of the boat and it was time for Matt to take his turn. This was Matt's first time fishing dries. After quickly learning the particulars of a good dry fly presentation he stripped off some line. A few passes later the fly slipped into a good seam with no drag. The fish rose and quickly snatched the fly from the surface. Matt came tight and the fish was hooked on the dry. The glass rod immediately had a nice bend. There were smiles all-around as the fish made its way to the net. It appears Matt may be hooked on the dry at that very moment too.
We kept moving and enjoying the relaxed float. Nymphs took the nicer fish while dries and small terrestrials brought new excitement and a new experience for Matt. The drifter moved toward the takeout as a long day on the river came to a close. When we were close to the ramp the osprey came out of the trees and welcomed us to the end of the float. Brent and Matt thanks again for another fun day on the river.
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dan and Brent the Fly Fishing Substitute

On this trip Dan was going to spend a day on the river with his son. But, something came up and his son didn't make the trip. As any good son would do, he insisted his Dad go fishing and who better to take than Uncle Brent. Brent, never one to disappoint a youngster, rearranged his plans to make the float. So with Dan in the front brace and Brent playing substitute in the rear brace we went in search of wabbit...err, we went in search of fish.
On this morning there was fog and that fog kept the sun at bay as we floated along. The coolness of the morning held the temperatures to a fall-like feel. The water from the dam has been holding in the mid 50's and our angler's were commenting on the changing weather patterns. Our early morning "well trained" nymphs knew nothing about temperatures of changing of seasons. The nymphs were there for one reason and one reason lure fish and get them to the net. It wasn't long before our "well trained" nymphs were doing their job.
Water splashed from the lines coming tight as the guys began setting hooks from the front and rear braces. The guys were getting good mends and the fish were eating with some regularity. The fog began to lift and sun began to heat the surface of the water. We searched out some rising fish, but they were not interested in dries. As usual though, just drop a nymph in their face and they make a decisive decision to eat almost immediately. 
We all want to believe the "big brown trout" is the wisest trout in the river. The big brown trout, the fish that only eats early or late and sometimes only after dark. The big brown trout, the fish that is difficult to catch because this fish knows all the tricks and uses those tricks on a regular basis. The big brown trout is not the only fish in the river that knows and uses all their tricks to get away from a firmly lodged hook of the Dan would soon find out.

We rowed to one of my favorite Fall pools.  In an attempt to describe the pool here we go. An overall description is this...the water comes off a shoal and drops into a nice pool. But, there's more to this pool than that description. There is a "sucker blow-down" that just gets pounded by everyone, but the closest good current seam to that blow-down is several feet away. So the blow-down is just that for the suckers. Many angler's have thrown a line across the leading edge of the pool and feeding fish to find out they have been suckered into the wood that has been laying there for years. Just past the blow-down, what most folks think of as the heart of the pool begins and so do the rises of the trash fish. The rising trash fish can fool even some of the most seasoned anglers. The trout are several feet downstream making their own rises. Those trout have a front row seat for all the angler's casting at the blow-down and those trout, if they could, they would laugh.  Those trout are out of reach until the boat, which is the only way to fish the pool effectively, reaches a slight turn in the current. The inside of the pool has no current, but it is in an angler's sight and looks likely for a take. The inside looks likely, that is, until the cast is made and the fly lands in zero flow. The feeding lane is really narrow but productive.

Keeping an angler's focus on the feeding lane can be tough, but Dan had no problem dropping his fly on exactly the right line. There was no blow-down, there were no misconceptions about the heart of the pool, no shot into the dead hole at the inside of the bend. Dan had the fly on track for the subtle rise that can almost go unnoticed. He threw in a mend and the fly began to make a clean pass down the feeding lane. Dan looked down to perform some line management and that's when the big rainbow decided to eat. The eat made the guy on the oars go a little crazy which snapped Dan to attention and he lifted the rod. The fish was on and began doing its best to dislodge the hook from its upper lip and to relieve itself of the pressure that was now trying to turn its head. The fish flashed and a big pink stripe came into mine and Brent's sight. We knew it was a good one, a fish anyone reading this would like to have on the end of their tippet sometime. The fish completed the turn and dove, then simply spit the fly. The rod went limp and the air seemed to leave the boat. It was a little quiet for a short time. Dan recovered quickly but this fish was truly the one that got away. 
We followed the river to the final bend. A number of fish had been tricked by the anglers in the front and rear casting braces. The "well-trained" flies had lured the fish to eat and then held on tight until the fish slid into the net. Some nice fish were caught while others and one rainbow in particular got away. The fog began to come back to the river as we loaded the drifter on the trailer and again we were all commenting on the changing weather patterns.

If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Austin & Craig In and Out of the Fog

Austin and his dad Craig came into Nashville from Nebraska and climbed aboard the drifter for a day on the water. We would see a lot of different things on this day. Craig had the best seat in the boat, possibly have the most fun and certainly be on the receiving end of a most relaxing day...but we are getting ahead of ourselves. 
The float started in a slight drizzle, just enough moisture to bring out the wading jackets for a short time.  Early in the float the nymphs had no choice but to stay wet as Austin kept them ticking off the bottom and in the front of the fish on every drift. The fish responded well, off and on. There were periods of action and periods of working on casting, drifts, then finally hooksets. Austin was put through a day in the life in the casting braces as his guide and his dad encouraged him along...
The river miles and hands on the clock continued to move as we tried hopper-droppers, straight terrestrials, and nymphs. Nymphs brought the numbers and the size on this day, so we really just migrated toward the flies that brought us results. Craig had the best seat in the drifter and observed all the actions of an angler and his gillie. Although Craig is no stranger to the fly rod, when offered an opportunity to fish he would say time and time again "if I decide to fish, I will let you know".  So with dad watching, Austin dialed in all the right techniques until Craig and I would witness the lessons of the day all came together.
The nymph landed with a nice plop. It is important to drop a small amount of "reach" when making the final cast. When executed correctly the indicator will follow the path of the fly and land in the middle of the the rise-ring. The rise-ring actually masks the indicators contact with the surface and the fish is none the wiser. Austin wound up a cast with a little "reach" and the plan began to come together. A small correction in the mend would send the fly right down the current seam. The seam was so slight it was almost unnoticeable.  The fly was perfectly trained (OK I made that up), anyway the fly drifted a short distance. The bottom of the river is full of small potholes in this section and the fly must have been drifting just above the highest portions of the bottom of the river...
The indicator had already turned over and then, Austin caught sight of the bump. He set the hook and as most healthy rainbows will do, this fish began reaching in its own bag of tricks and began to put our angler through his toughest test of the day. The fish made a lap or two around the boat while Austin stayed ahead of each trick. The fight was entertaining, dad seemed to enjoy each run and each of the angler's response, Austin was busy wearing down his sparring partner and the net was waiting. The fog was lifting as Austin brought the fish to the net. 

The last fish of the day was a feisty rainbow and the fight was a good one. Just as important we were able to see Austin make the most of the lessons learned throughout the day. The plan just sort of came together and at just the right time. It's a long way from Nashville but these two made it an enjoyable day on the drifter by taking two very different approaches. I think we all learned a little on this float. Next time, hopefully, Craig will decide to fish. But if he doesn't fish we all know he will occupy the best seat in the drifter.
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Clint and Eric on a Cold Clear River

Anglers who show up early at the ramp are normally ready to get the day started and this helps us to get out ahead of other watercraft. That makes for a better morning as we get on fresh fish before anyone else. Eric was the first to roll into the parking area as I was preparing rods. We had a quick discussion and Clint arrived a few minutes later. With the shuttle complete and the fish waiting, we climbed into the drifter. The guys then settled into the braces for a day of fly fishing.
The weather on this day was going to be warm but not overbearing. We shoved the boat away from the ramp and made haste to get downstream before the fish were passed over by multiple canoes and kayaks. We started picking our way down the banks and the fish were laying close to the structure. When we dialed in the depth and the mend, the guys began to pick off fish one by one. Other boats have been getting most of their fish on midges lately, but we have been staying with nymphs. The fish would not disappoint especially early in the float. 
We floated along on the hot day and soon Eric decided to test the water. He quickly found out the clear water was also quite cool. The coolness and early start time didn't stop the fish from rising by mid-morning. We knotted a small terrestrial to Clint's tippet and he made quick work of several browns. Eric was bringing the body count up in the rear of the boat with a nymph and we ended our morning drowning nymphs and bringing fish to the safety of the net. Lunch was quick and in no-time we loaded up the drift boat and went right back to work. 
The fish were not rising on the lower part of the float, so we kept working on good drifts. Clean drifts are critical as the lower water gives the fish plenty of inspection time. These guys did their work and the fishing kept getting better.
The skies would occasionally send us some clouds, so instead of jumping in we could enjoy the overcast along with the slight breeze. The rods continued to bend and the fish kept coming to the net. We adjusted leaders from time to time too. Why adjust the leaders? As the guys casting improved we would lengthen the tippet little by little. It isn't easy to turnover flies on long leader so as they became more comfortable we would lengthen the leader to move the fly line away from the fly. Also, the longer the leader and tippet the cleaner we can get the drift.The cleaner the drift the better the presentation...and the better presentation soon leads to a better the catch rate.
Clint and Eric kept up with the fishing the entire float. Finally we rounded the bend and brought our last fish to the net. Another good day on the river with a couple good anglers. Weather has been cooperative and the cold water has been clear. Good conditions helped these two settle in for a good day for fly fishing.
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Six Anglers, Three boats, Three Guides and a High Body Count

What would six anglers from several states do when they want to get together? They head to one river and find three guides to push them along in drift boats. Those boats would hopefully put the anglers in position to catch a good number of fish. Taylor called and set up a trip to do just that. But, on the first date, the water level was too high and we would have to reschedule the group for another day. The new date would prove to be a hot August day.
The weather was clear on the full moon and with the temperatures in the 90's we began the float. The boats spread out along the river and the fish began to come out. The guides had nymphs and midges ticking off the bottom and the guys were bringing the fish to the top and then into the waiting nets. Our favorite nymphs were the hot ticket for the morning. Brian, Craig, Chris, Ryan, Scott and Taylor were on a pretty good morning overall and floated into the gravel bar where a quick lunch was waiting. Plans were already being made to come out swinging in the afternoon. 
The afternoon would see one boat begin a race to the take out to get one of our anglers to an evening appointment on time. That boat would make it, but not before stopping along the way putting a good number of fish on the flies. The other boats slowly made their way downriver and during that time there were some fly changes as anglers went after the nicer fish. The "body count" went up as the angler's began to get comfortable in the casting braces.
The boats arrived at the takeout one by one and the boats were loaded on trailers. Tired anglers and guides pulled the boats out of the river and stored the rods. The day was topped off with many fish stories exchanged between the anglers while the guides exchanged notes for burn-around trips the next day. On this hot August day six anglers from several states loaded themselves into three drift boats and brought a good number of fish to the waiting nets. The  stories of those fish will grow over time as the guys will have a chances to recount their fish stories. Those discussions will soon turn to next year when we hope to see them all on the river again.
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bill and Charles Get Time in the Casting Braces

We slipped off the gravel bar under clear skies with high hopes. Charles and Bill were in the casting braces and The rods were rigged and the guys began tossing flies at all the likely places. The fish seemed to be lurking behind every break in the current. 
Bill has a blog where he writes about his trips to the river and lake around northern Alabama. He is no stranger to the drifter and has fished in the braces on several occasions. Bill dialed himself in quickly, bringing fish to the net on a regular basis. He hooked and lost his share as well, but kept focused. The best was yet to come for Bill.
This was Charles' first time on the drifter, but it sure didn't take him long to get a read on our process and then begin bringing fish to the net. Between Bill and Charles, and the fish, the guy on the oars was busy with net duty as well. The nymphs were doing their job with much regularity...
It seems the browns are getting an early start with their Fall colors. Maybe they are getting ready to begin going through the motions of spawning, I'm not sure. Whatever the case the dark brown on the back, the butter color of the belly and the red spots make for some nice photos.  Even the smaller fish are getting good color. 
Charles was getting good drifts through some productive water and it seemed we had everything tuned just right. The right length of tippet, just the right depth where the fly would gently tick the bottom every so often. Charles was getting clean drifts through the right lines. I just knew he was going to bring a nice fish to the net in an area that has been fishing well throughout the hot weather months. But the fish weren't there on this day. 

We kept floating through the long pool until we were almost to the end. The bottom began an incline and as I began to think about the upcoming run, Charles set the hook on another fish. This fish was not just another fish and the tip of the rod as well as the midsection told us so. Charles had set the hook on a healthy brown that was more interested in the green vegetation on the bottom of the river than the white and green of the Hyde drift boat. Charles countered every move and as the fish finally slowed, Charles gently brought the fish to the waiting net. We were all smiles on the F/V Southeastern Fly.
It was getting late in the day and the shade was moving over the river. The shade and cooler air was a welcomed relief. Bill was still dialed-in and still focused. The river bottom began to fall into the deepest and darkest part of the pool. Bill had a good drift running down the bubble line and he set the hook just as the fly bottomed out on the longer tippet. The fish began rummaging through its bag of tricks. The brown made several runs as Bill battled back with his 5 weight. Finally, after some good jousting, the fish began coming to the net. At the last minute the fish turned for that last run, but Bill was ready. We snapped a photo and settled the fish back in the net to prepare for the release.  The net was titled and the brown gave a hard tail kick, then it was gone. A short time later we were back on the gravel bar, this time at the ramp where we would load the drifter and have memories of tossing flies in all the likely places.
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tim and Ryan With Nice Rainbows

With a lot of recreational traffic on the water we would wait to get on the water on this day. So, we pushed the drifter off the trailer in the midst of a hot afternoon. The guys would catch some fish early and then we would get a dry spell as the fish waited until after the recreation folks passed over their heads. Then it became more quiet and the hits began.
Tim is a believer in the nymph and after a short time on the terrestrials we went back to an old friend, the nymph. Tim learned nymph fishing early this year on his first float this year. Where there is confidence, there is opportunity. A confident angler at the very least is more focused. Tim was focused and that focus soon paid dividends.
Because Tim has fished on the drifter before he dialed himself in real quick. He put the first fish couple fish in the boat and was already comfortable with me telling him how and when to mend. We had the bugs set deep and were bouncing them off the bottom. Cast and wait a bit, then as the fly bounces along the bottom and stops, pick up the rod and if there is not a fish on cast again....right away. This routine soon turns into sort of a game of; cast and wait a bit, then as the fly bounces along the bottom and stops, pick up the rod. But every once in a while there will be a fish on the line and that is a game changer. Basically we were putting the fly in the face of the fish and trying to force a decision. 
Tim was dropping the fly on the bottom and recasting, then one time, one cast, wait for it, a big rainbow was forced to make a decision and that rainbow chose correctly. The fish ate and the fight was on. Tim was soon well into his biggest fish on the fly.  Tim was doing a nice job of getting the fish to the net and his face showed maximum concentration during the fight. The rainbow took us for a Nantucket sleigh ride around the river and we eventually ended-up beaching the drifter to get the fish to the net. It took a while but soon we had gone from the bounce to the release with some good memories made in between.
We had our slow time then it started picking up more. Ryan and Tim were both picking-off fish. So by this time in our float we had come off a few fish, a slow period, and a bigger rainbow. Ryan was getting those good drifts as we entered a particularly productive stretch. The fishing had just began to pick up when Ryan's hook-set produced another nice rainbow on the fly. Ryan had the fish from the beginning but no one told the fish. That rainbow was trying to get to the rocks, to the grass and in general just get away from the net. But, Ryan was ahead of every trick that rainbow had and soon he had the rod tip up and was sliding that fish into the net. This would be his largest rainbow of the trip and as the oar blades pushed us toward the takeout the guys would get some more action. Eventually dusk would turn to dark and we would race that darkness to the gravel bar where we loaded the boat on the trailer. There would be no more recreational traffic, to speak of, and the guys would go home with tales of fish, dry spells and big-time comebacks...    
If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river e-mail or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water. For additional booking information see our Homepage and to see the latest fishing report click here.