Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hank - the Latest Addition to the 20+ Club

Sometimes life just takes over. Life isn't all about fly fishing and sometimes competing priorities take the place of our time on the water. Hank had some other priorities and wasn't able to get on the water for a long period of time. So we were going to spend the day knocking the rust off the cast, brushing up on the presentation and he was just going to enjoy an afternoon on the water...and perhaps catch a few fish.

The day started with some casting work as the other boats pushed downstream. Hank was fighting a strong headwind, but casting well. It wasn't long before the the cast turned to the mend, the mend turned presentation and the presentation turned into to a fish in the net. Then not long after that one fish turned into two and then we had a few nice rainbows added to a few brown trout. Hank was getting back to the basics of fly fishing and we were doing well early in the float. Then we went for a dry spell. Other boats were reporting similar results which made us all feel better. This has happened before and sometimes changing every fly in the box doesn't even help. Then we caught another fish or two and the mojo came back. The mojo brought along with it, a nice tailwater brook trout. This was the first brookie in a couple years or maybe even longer. Then Hank hooked a real big fish and after a short fight the fish broke off. So right there the decision was made, we went headhunting.
After losing that first nice fish we gathered ourselves up and started down the river. All the other boats were now ahead of us and we were picking the best water to match Hank's best presentation. Then a big fish came up and inspected an ant, the fish stopped short then ate. Hank saw it all unfold and he came tight to the fish. The fish immediately started across the river. Hank was doing a nice job on this one, then it jumped and the fly came to the boat... without the fish. The big fish score was- fish 2 and the good guys 0. Soon that would all change.

We were now beginning to race daylight just a little. The shadows were getting long and the temperature was starting to fall. With a long way to go we were looking for water moving at just the right speed. Hank found some of that water. This time the fish came to the sinking ant, gave it "the once over" and opened it's mouth then inhaled that it. The Orvis H2 bent double right away. Hank sure did have his hands full with this one. The fish was doing its best to get back to the bottom. All the coaching throughout the day, all the stuff we worked on with the other fish and all Hank's previous experience was being tested on this fish. The fish fought all the way to the boat three different times. Each time the fish would make another run. A short time later Hank was getting the fish closer and bringing this fish to the net. After the one last short run that all the bigger fish seem to make. It then came quietly to the net. This would be the last fish of the day for Hank. We stowed the rods and made the long row to the ramp. Nice work Hank and welcome to the Southeastern Fly 20+ Club.

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 18, 2016

M.E. Makes the Most of Her Time in the Casting Brace

Zero generation. That release, or lack of release, leaves the float plan wide open. So after we made our plan we shoved the drifter off the gravel bar and began to float. M.E. was quick to bring a few fish to the net. She brought Ronnie and her own flies. Her flies were working good early. These fish have seen most of the flies in a 10 county radius so a good presentation was critical.
M.E had a good morning and the fish were responding in all the usual places. We were searching the more shallow water and fishing the slopes of the shoals. That would work well throughout the morning, but by the middle of the day we would need to change the water type we were fishing.
When the anchor dropped and the boat came to a rest beside some downed timber M.E. went to work. We found some feeding fish that were hanging in a distinct feeding lane. It was clear these fish had found the conveyor belt and were tuned into something small. A nymph fished too deep wouldn't even seek a look. A hopper fished over their head would get a long inspection but no strike. We reached into our bag of tricks to try one more thing and one of the bigger fish ate. The rod came up and the line came tight, then the fish reached in it's bag of tricks and went straight for the structure. M.E. did a nice job keeping the fish going in the right direction and as the anchor came up to move the boat into open water she brought the fish right along.  The fish kept trying to get back to the downed timber but she kept it in the open water and finally the fish had no where else to go but to the waiting net.
We left the conveyor belt and that nice fish was soon followed by another nicer fish. The afternoon wore on and this lady was catching fish when most people on the river were really struggling. The presentation was key to her success. We worked on casting some but worked on presentation mostly. I know the presentation is "preached" in these fishing reports but it really is the key. Slight mends mean everything on some days. This day was the type of day where it meant everything.
The weather?  The day went from partly cloudy to clear and hot. The fishing went from good to almost great and then simply back to good. And so it went. As other watercraft passed and people would ask "how's the fishin?" we would respond "not bad". But it was hard for M.E. to keep from that big smile. 

When the drifter finally touched the take out and enough fishing gear for a day on the water was stowed, we cranked the F/V Southeastern Fly onto the trailer. Then we pulled to the top of the ramp for a quick recollection of the events for the day. There was only one thing left to make the day complete. That's right open that Yeti cooler and pull out those Snickers! Ronnie also had a Snickers. Nice work M.E. this was a good day and a good trip. We will chase those musky soon. 
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 13, 2016

Clay and John Target Rainbow Trout in Middle Tennessee

I wondered in the early morning hours before this float if it would be a good day? Clay and John would climb aboard the drifter early and we would do our best to beat the recreational traffic. Clay said he had fished the river several years prior and had a good understanding of fly fishing and the river. His son John might need a little help. Before this early morning float was over John would prove he also had a good understanding of fly fishing.
Knocking off the skunk took a short time. The guys were throwing nymphs against the backdrop of a clear morning. The temperature wasn't cold but it was cool, the water was still and clear. The guys were quickly getting good drifts as we hopped from the more productive areas of the float. At each stop the guys had a fish on the line. This made for a more enjoyable morning. We stopped the drifter at one point to rig some different offerings when we spotted a big fish...this was truly a big brown. We threw most of the fly box at this one but it was weary and spooked from the start. So, I marked this one in my mind as a place to hit at another time. The guys kept at it as we continued our float and talking about the fish we just saw several more times. With John in the front brace and Dad in the rear brace we moved on and stopped at the next productive area.
John makes the 20+ Club- As I was rigging Clay's rod for a different pass at some feeding fish, John was messing around with a nymph. The next thing we knew he was standing up straight with the fly rod practically doubled over. The big rainbow was making runs and then stopping. With Clay and me coaching and John staying on top of the situation we knew one more run was coming. John was way ahead of the fish and we began to move it toward the waiting net. After a couple misses with the net John raised the head and the fish made a last ditch effort. When the big rainbow got it's head going toward the bottom it found the waiting net. Game over. The rainbow was in the net and John was in the Southeastern Fly 20+ Club. Nice work Clay and nice work John. Looking forward to the next float and hopefully another good 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.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Greg and Brad Fly Fishing Middle Tennessee

Another good day on the water! That sums up the day and may even be a bit of an understatement. OK, let's start at the beginning or really before the beginning of the day. The last time Greg came to fish on the F/V Southeastern Fly he brought his daughter Brooke. These two are always fun to fish with and we usually bring our share of Middle Tennessee's fish to the net. On this day Greg brought his son Brad to fish and although he had never fly fished before, he was a quick study. Brad's ability to grasp the concepts and execute on instruction, well, it made for a very nice first day of fly fishing. Greg would once again come through with some larger fish, just as he has done in the past.
We started Brad out with some basic casting lessons. This isn't a River Runs Through It and we don't keep a metronome as a casting tool. Nope we have a reasonable amount of time to get folks up to speed and then add instruction throughout the day, after all this a day of fly fishing and not just a casting lesson. Once Brad was fairly comfortable with his casting we moved into presentation. After he achieved a good presentation we put him on fish. The first three fish were long-distance releases. But Brad was ready on the next try, and with his proud father looking-on, we slipped Brad's first fish caught on a fly rod into the waiting net. 
That was one of several firsts for Brad, which included the first fish caught completely on his own with no instruction and his first brown trout on the fly. At one point Brad had a count of fish in the double digits while Greg was still well inside single digits. But, Greg has never liked to be too far out of the game and soon we would slip into a highly productive area where Greg would begin a run and begin adding to his score. It wasn't long before the guys were bringing fish to the net a rapid pace and before the day was over they would have their share of doubles.
The conditions on this day were near perfect. The temperature was hot but not unbearable and the water temps were cold. The river could use additional generation to push some grass and algae out but the fish didn't seemed to mind until later in the float. Nymphs were the choice on this day. We went with terrestrials for a long period of time but then just settled on getting just the right presentation with nymphs. 
After lunch the guys were soon into fish again, seemingly picking up where they left off. However, as the day wore on and the shadows grew longer the fishing slowed to a crawl. An outstanding morning and early afternoon with a high count and some nice ones would sustain us for the slower evening. 
After the last fish was netted and the rods were hung in the truck we loaded the drifter on the trailer and I got a chance to meet the rest of Greg's family. There aren't a lot of pastimes, jobs, or hobbies where a person gets the chance to meet so many cool people. So to say I am lucky to get to do this is really an understatement. But, I really am lucky to get to take people fishing. Not only that, but we also because we had another good day on the water!
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 3, 2016

Laura, Logan and Mary an Afternoon of Good Times

Mary set up the date to float on the drifter to spend the day with friends and perhaps to catch a few fish. Mary, Logan and Laura rolled into the parking lot a few minutes ahead of schedule, yes these women were serious, and we went straight to the ramp to launch the drifter. We were on the water with a number of other boats and we were floating in each open spot we could find.  It sure didn't take long to get some fish in the net...but soon Mother Nature would push us to the waiting safety of the bank.
Once the storms and the traffic finally passed we were floating on peaceful waters and that's when these girls went to work on the fish. We tucked into a likely spot and Laura broke the dry spell with a healthy brown. That fish was celebrated with high-fives and chocolate. Logan wasn't far behind with a nice rainbow and then Mary, who had been patiently waiting, brought another rainbow to the waiting net.
Mary and Laura brought back some of the skills they had learned on their prior trips. But, this was Logans first trip on the F/V Southeastern Fly and she was getting into the action nicely. It was cool to see Mary and Laura transfer their knowledge to their friend and then see Logan come into her own. And it was fun to watch them all set the hook and bring fish to the net.
Interestingly enough they brought nice to the net on this trip in practically the same places they caught them on their Spring trip. The fish weren't jumping in the net but when they would eat the girls would bring a nice fish to the boat. We didn't catch every fish on this day. Nope, but toward the end of the float we slipped into a good section where the fish have been hungry this year and when Laura asked "where are the fish", well she found found the answer...

The answer came as Laura set the hook on a big rainbow. That rainbow, with a fly in its upper lip, went a little crazy. Actually this fish went a lot crazy and was running at the boat, then it turned and went to the middle of the pool and sat on the top with its dorsal just out of the water. Apparently this fish was simply planning the next move. That next move? The next move was to start a blistering run toward some logs. Laura never had a chance to turn the fish and it broke the tippet cleanly. The line was then just floating on the water. We said the appropriate words, mostly under our breath, and then tied on another fly then went back to work.  Mary, who had been patiently waiting, brought another rainbow to the waiting net...
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, August 28, 2016

Josh...Another 20+ Club Member

The bag in the bow of the boat looked innocent enough. Most angler's bring something along with them on a trip and although I should ask, I usually just trust they wouldn't bring a bag of "stuff" that might hurt the fishing. Sometimes that "stuff" just slips under the radar...and sometimes, even though there might be "stuff" in the bag that might hurt the fishing, it turns out to be OK anyway.

This day was another hot August day. Temperatures would be in the mid 90's and the heat index well over 100 degrees. Josh had already been fishing when I pulled into the parking lot and it had been a slow morning. The mission was to convert all that slowness and the sad faces, into a good afternoon of floating and catching for the guy from Mississippi.
It took only a short time to knock the skunk off the day and our now happy angler was soon setting the hook with some regularity, as the bag with the"stuff" sat quietly in the front of the boat. 

Josh had the best place on the river. That place? That place is front casting brace and Josh would make the most of his fortunate circumstances. He stuck the first quality brown trout of the float which would only prepare him for things that might come later in the day. 
There isn't a lot trout water in Mississippi unless you count the water where sea trout are found off the Mississippi Gulf Coast. So Josh was trying to learn all the techniques he could to be used on future trips to Tennessee trout waters. The water has been clear which makes the need to be stealthy all the more critical. Less false casts, reach casts and slight mends have been the ticket for more and better fish. 
The temperature continued to climb and clouds, although few, were welcomed. Hydration was key and as it has been all summer, necessary to have the body ready when the opportunity comes. Opportunity came many times on this day and soon it came in a big way.

Josh was getting a good presentation right down a line of logs. The bottom dropped from 2' to 4' just along the line of blowdowns. A quick mend and the presentation was dead drifting along with the current. Josh lifted the rod tip and the fish made a big lunge to the top. The rod was bent and bouncing as the fish started head shakes, trying to spit the fly that looked so tasty just a few seconds earlier. Josh was trying to remain calm as the fish took him for the Nantucket Sleighride, Tennessee style. We anchored the boat and with some coaxing the fish finally made its to the waiting net. After what seemed like an eternity to Josh and probably the brown, this fight was over. The fish was released to be caught again and hopefully many times to come. Just like that, after all the instruction and all the learning, Josh is the newest member of the Southeastern Fly 20+ Club.

The remainder of the day was spent discussing the finer points of angling and well a lot of other topics. The bag, with the stuff? That bag rested calmly in the front of the boat until I just happened to ask, "hey what's in the bag?" To which the reply came some Gatorade and, you guessed it, a banana on a fishing boat. Maybe the superstition is wrong or maybe even more and better fish  may have been caught without the "stuff" in the bag...

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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Donnie Makes the 20+ Club

This one has been a long time coming. Donnie has been on the F/V Southeastern Fly several times over the past few years and each time he mentions the 20+ Club and how this might be the day. We were on the river and in the flow before we knew it. The drift boat was floating along and Donnie was producing some excellent presentations. 

He picked up a nice rainbow in the first several minutes and several other fish. Then we got into a fair number of good brown trout, some of which were very nice fish, but not the exact size we were looking for on this day. His Orvis Clearwater (which used to be mine) was bent more often than I thought it was going to be...and I offered to give him the money back for the rod. He declined.
Then Donnie dropped the fly right in the feeding lane. Feeding lanes are important for sure and he was hitting them a high percentage of the day. It wasn't long before Donnie connected with a strong hookset. The fish started to the bottom and began head shakes. When the fish flashed it made the guy on the bench (me) get up and start helping in the fight. As I moved the boat around the river, Donnie kept up the "good fight". It seemed to last well into the evening but in reality it was just a few minutes. At the end of the fight the fish was in the net. Mission accomplished.

All fish are measured if the angler is going to enter the 20+ Club and this one made the cut. Donnie did absolutely everything right on this fish. Fly in the feeding lane, check. Proper mend, check. Hookset at exactly the right time, check. Fight the fish and keep the rod tip at the correct angle, yep! So with all that, Donnie, nice work and welcome to the 20+ Club! Oh and I want my darn rod back.
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 22, 2016

Fly Fishing Middle Tennessee

The Elk River- This river is fishing well and especially within the first couple miles. The flows are low & slow. Nymphs and dry-droppers continue to work well on this river. Be patient with the drift and get all you can out of each presentation. 

The farther down stream you go the more thick the grass becomes. Finding pockets that are void of grass is difficult. The fish are laying along the edge of the grass and they can be somewhat picky to say the least. Each presentation really counts on these flows. The results can be very good though.

First fish on the fly can be extremely exciting. Zach (see photo above) worked on his presentation for about 30 minutes and had a couple misses before this healthy rainbow ate. Zach brought it to the net and had his first fish on the fly and another first was made on the F/V Southeastern Fly. It has been a good year and I have been very lucky to help a good number of new anglers get their first fish on the fly. 
The Caney Fork- this river is getting some heavy use right now. The flows are nice for some good floats. We are boating healthy fish most every day. There have been some quality fish coming to our flies which include some midges, nymphs fished deep and terrestrials. 

The large sluice is now running when the the USACoE runs a generator. My recommendation is to stay out of the dam pool while the large sluice is running. Over the years I have seen more than one boat get sent to the bottom and some have been torn to pieces. It's not a good place to be while the generator and sluice are running.

Also, the small sluice (250 CFS) is running most of the day. The 250 CFS is another reason the water drops out slow. Wading can be limited for a period of time after the generation is turned off. Be careful because the water release has changed the conditions just a little.

TWRA has also been on the river with regularity. It's good to see these folks on the river and they are "catching their share" as well. We have been stopped several times over the past few weeks and we appreciate these folks.
So there is the report for the Middle TN area. It doesn't matter if you are a beginning angler like Zach or a seasoned veteran we are working hard to make each angler's experience one to remember. The dates are booking into September and the fishing has been good. If you want to get a day in the casting brace please contact  us using the information below. Thanks and see you 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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Weekend

"Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.™ is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings."
This weekend was the annual Tennessee Valley Region Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Outing. I've been lucky to be a part of this event for several years and each year I enjoy the time I spend guiding the veterans who fish out of the F/V Southeastern Fly. They are "my vets" for the day and we have fun.
So on the morning of the event I towed the drifter to the campground and asked who would be my anglers for the day? The coordinator pointed me to Clarence and Gary. Each had practiced their casting and turned out to be pretty good for their limited experience. Neither had fished with a fly rod.

Clarence and Gary loaded up and we hit the river. This would be a short float as we needed to keep the guys close to the campground. However, that didn't keep us from catching our share of the Caney Fork trout. Clarence was the first to get a solid hit, but the fish spit the fly before the the line came tight. Gary was quick to learn and stuck the fish shortly thereafter. Gary would be the first to catch a fish on this day. This was one for the good guys in the boat.

Clarence learned from his first bout with the trout of the Caney and when he got his next chance his line came tight and Clarence boated his trout on a fly rod as well. We spent the next hours hitting all the likely spots. We ended the day in a good run that produced its share of good fish. The finale was all Clarence. Clarence hooked and fought a larger rainbow before the fish let go of the hook and was deemed "the one that got away". We ended the day on that note and headed to the ramp.
I could talk for hours about how this event affects the participants and the guides. The written words just don't seem to do the Tennessee Valley Region Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Outing justice. So let me leave you with this invitation. If you want to help with the event next year please let me know and I will get you in touch with the folks who put it together. If you are on the fence about supporting this event, my suggestion would be to volunteer just one year. Let that experience help you decide if it is worth your time the next year... My bet would be that you would want to come back the following year just like me.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Stephanie and Blake Fishing Hot Flies

Last year Stephanie and Blake took to the braces of the F/V Southeastern Fly and had a nice day on the river. And last year Stephanie was really just getting started and learning. Fast forward to this year she was ready to build on the things she learned last year and of course get some bigger fish on the fly. 

Blake is a very good angler and extremely competent on the small streams. He was ready for a good day and ready for the chance to spend the day with his wife doing something both love. Eventually we would get Blake into some good water and the fishing skills he has built throughout his years of fly fishing would come in handy.

The black lab? Well that was a wading angler's dog. The dog waited stream side while "his angler" searched out fish. As with most labs this one didn't meet a stranger and assumed everyone should be provided the opportunity to give it some petting...and that's just what we did.
This day would be the tale of two floats. We got on the water pretty early and our couple went to work with nymphs. The water was stained from the heavy rains the night before. It took some time to get dialed in but finally we were into the fish and they picked up some nice ones. Nymphs would be the breakfast of champions for the fish on this day and perfect presentations were key. Midges would come later. The morning warm-up was just that and as the generation release hit us we loaded the drifter, then went for some lunch...
After we pushed the drifter off the trailer the second time it wasn't long before we had some more action. Indicators and hoppers were each getting their turn to go under the surface. The action wasn't on fire, but the fish they were getting to the net were of some better quality.
The coolest take of the day? That has to go to Stephanie. The decision was made to fish the high-value areas. We floated into a normally productive spot and Stephanie dropped her nymph against a log. After a short float she lifted the fly to get past some more structure. As the fly came to the top a fish chased. Stephanie stopped the fly and then continued to raise it to the top. The fish kept coming and just as the fly came up over the log that fish ate. All this was in clear view and we all celebrated a nice take as well as a good fish. Nice work Stephanie.
The biggest heartbreak? No not that kind of heartbreak, we are talking about fishing heartbreak. Anyway that one has to go to Blake. As this report stated earlier, Blake is extremely competent small stream angler. So we tried to get Blake into as much structure as possible. The strategy was to get him close and let him place his hopper with a nymph and midge rig in all the likely places, while Stephanie fished along the outside of the structure from the front of the boat. Blake was picking some really nice spots and then a big rainbow ate one of the bottom flies. Blake set the hook then it was a battle. The fish went back to the structure and Blake kept good pressure. I've seen some big fish in the river and this rainbow was as big as I have seen. Blake brought the fish out of the first bit of structure and the fish was coming out toward the boat. Then the line went limp and it was over. The big rainbow ghost back into the structure and we were done. Blake had a good hook set and good pressure, but this one just didn't work out. He handled the lost fish well though and it wasn't long before he was back in the brace and fishing more structure. Then picking up more fish.
We continued to build technique into their presentation and had a lot, OK a whole lot, of laughs throughout the day. But the float was coming to an end and the afternoon heat pushed the fish into cooler water. So we all counted this day was a good one. 

The day started with a cool morning,  stained water and some fish, An early lunch was next and the friendly lab helped lighten the day even more. After that we were on more clear water and some fishing skills came more into play as presentations became more critical. There were also some good takes, long fights, short fights with lost fish, then Stephanie threw fish poop at me....The End
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.