Monday, December 1, 2014

Streamer Report

The weather is turning in Middle TN but we have a few warmer days here and there. I hooked up the drifter the other day and met David at ramp to do a streamer float. We decided to fish on high water to do some "research". The water started out on two generators and mid-way through the float reduced to one. Two generators release a lot of water and even when the Army Corps dialed the release back to one generator the water was still higher than just one running 24/7. But heck if it was easy everyone would be doing it.
Reports have been sketchy from the river and with the info from the latest trips there were hopes this had possibilities of a good day. The water had a bit of that "tea stained" color. We started the float with some unproductive deep water nymphing. This was disappointing because I brought back some techniques from the Great White North. The techniques didn't work on the trout, but hey if the salmon ever make it this far South we will be ready. (insert smiley face)
So we went to light flies on heavy sinking lines. Nothing new here other than the amount of fish responding to the light colors.  I won't say it was super exciting the first part of the float but when a couple larger fish crush a streamer or take a shot, it can get busy in a hurry. We turned up the casting throttle and dialed in the retrieves and the fish responded.
The day wore on with our fair share of hits, a drive-by or two...or three, and some hard hook-ups. I would like to have two shots back and I'd be willing to bet a Galloup pattern David would say the same. If you didn't want a couple shots back everyone would be doing it.
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our Homepage.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Watauga River Fishing Report

After day one was over and we had relaxed by the fire for a bit, a plan was made for for day two. The forecast for day two was slightly windy, cold with clear skies. For our day two float we decided to do a different section and arrived at the ramp where we shoved off under those clear skies. 
We followed the plan from the previous day and Brent was pushing the oars for the first leg of the float. We had a couple flashes and a fish on, but it was a bit slow when compared to the previous morning.We found a deep rock ledge and the fish found our flies. Deep water nymphing along structure was the way to go.
A single weighted nymph fished 5' - 7' under an indicator was the just the ticket. Brent put us right on the right line, while Barry and myself caught our share of fish. We lost some flies to the sticks and hang-ups that could not be seen but the results made the extra tying worth it.
Brent didn't stay on the oars too long and took up his familiar position in the rear brace. He was drifting a nymph along a short wall and picked up a solid hit, then set the hook. A fish began a fast run to deep water and right away it was under the boat. We got the fish under control and even took a couple pictures of the fight. Just as Brent got ahead of the fish and made a lift on the rod, the fish decided a head-shake might work and promptly spit the hook. We were all disappointed...
The Fall colors were out, both on the trees and on the fish. The browns were especially showing off their colors and generally making even my photo skills look somewhat colorful. 
Trips like these are a good getaway and enjoying the trip with friends is another bonus for an already great year. This day we all caught fish. It was tough at times and other times the fishing was very good. It is hard to tell which bend of the river holds a better fish and we sure didn't leave many bends unfished on this section of river. At the end of the day we found a spot and loaded the drifter, then made it back just in time for a trip to Ridgewood BBQ. Yes the BBQ was also part of our day two plan.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fly Fish the Watauga River

Several months ago Calvary Outfitters, a local faith based fly fishing group, decided to take a few days off and go fish the Watauga River in Upper East TN. I was lucky enough to tag along to enjoy some fine Fall fishing. Our hope was that this year's results would be very similar to the results of last years trip.
On the first day we dumped the drift boat off a grassy area of the river bank. No real ramp was needed and after running a quick shuttle we pushed off. Brent was along and graciously let me have the front casting brace while he rowed me and Barry. Brent put us both on fish practically right away as I tried to take full advantage of the fresh water at the front of the boat.
Some of the sections that produced nice trout last year were awfully slow this year. But, some sections that weren't so good last year were hot this trip. There were very few rising fish, so we went to deep water nymph rigs to dredge up the fish. The rainbows and browns did not disappoint us as they came to the usual offerings 
We stuck our share of fish and toward the end of the day, Barry had made his way to the front casting brace while Brent made his nest in the rear brace. Our trip last year revealed several good spots on the river and I eased the drifter into good area of rocks that were laying against a steep bank. Barry laid a good cast into a narrow feeding lane and was soon hooked up. He was on a good brown that was down in the water-column and not giving up. Barry fought the brown for a bit and finally got ahead of the fish. Soon the fish was in the net and then released to be caught another day.

After that fish we kept drowning the nymphs and sticking some lips working at bringing fish to the net. The river was starting to crowd a little with other anglers and we were getting hungry. So we rowed to the ramp and loaded the boat. Then we went to Pals because when we are in the area it is hard to pass up that local favorite. We ended the evening with the Calvary Outfitters by the fire as everyone made plans for the next day of fishing...
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our Homepage.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mitigation

When dams in the southeast were built a decision was made to mitigate the rivers with trout. This decision was made because the cold water, which is drawn from the lower depths of the lake, was too cold to support native fish species. Funding for the mitigation of the mitigation program is now in jeopardy. The final decision from US Fish and Wildlife is pending. To understand this issue take a few moments and watch this video.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Squidly MacNerd on the River

The other day Squidly MacNerd went streamer fishing and after several hours of casting Squidly finally hooked up. Here are a few shots from his day on the drifter....and Happy Halloween everybody


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Brent Makes Another Appearance in the 20+ Club

With the recent rains we didn't want to battle the heavy flows of the tailwaters and decided to get on musky water to pass some time. Brent and Alain were on the boat and we started a little on the early side or so I thought. 
We were just minutes into the float when Brent got the first follow for the day. The fish came in pretty hot but then split when the fly arrived boat side. Maybe it wasn't too early after all. We tried a couple different patterns, some bigger and some smaller. The big flies were fun to watch, as long as someone else had to throw them for hours, but the smaller flies seemed to win this day.
Brent dropped his fly in some soft water and brought it through a run, several pulls into the retrieve the fish flared and sucked the fly down. This fish was certainly not the largest fish we've caught but it sure was a fighter. The fish made several long runs as Brent kept the rod tip ahead of the fish. The fish made several jumps and as usual a gator roll, or two, or three. Brent played the toothy critter perfectly throughout the entire fight and brought the fish to the waiting net. 

We took a few photos between keeping the fish in the water. Brent had the honors of making sure the fish was revived and then with a swipe of the tail the this fish disappeared back into the river to be caught again in the future. Brent was solidly in the 20 + Club once again.
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our Homepage.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Craig and Walter on the River

Walter came back to enjoy the southern waters. This trip he would bring Craig to enjoy the day and some fish. Craig had fly fished before this trip but we still worked on a few things to get his distance. Naturally we worked on mending as well. Walter was dialed-in right away and picked up where we left off last year.
Craig worked hard on his technique and it paid off with several fish in the upper stretches of the river. Walter was casting better than I have seen him cast and we worked a little on the mend. As soon as he would get a good mend the fish would respond. Both guys got their slam in the upper reaches of the river. As the fishing got hotter so did the air temperatures.
It is that time of year when the Fall spawners are in full color. The brookies fit that description right now for sure. We caught multiple brook trout and all but just a few were in "full bloom". 
The day was heating up, but just over the ridge was the biggest storm of Fall. Then minutes later high-winds came over that ridge and blew down the slope. A cold front moved in and we were in the middle of it. With the leaves beginning to turn the wind blew large amounts off the leaves into the river. Then the rains came. Further upstream hail was falling in the dam pool. We hunkered down in the boat and waited for the back side of the storm.
Walter and Craig were troopers and were back in the casting braces after the worst of the storms had past. The fishing was tough after the leaves got into the water column.  We still caught some nice fish including some rainbows that were in full color, apparently from eating something that was agreeing with them.  

So we floated the river while dodging storms and fishing between the leaves. Craig improved his fishing drastically over the float. Walter was casting so well I swear he is the only person who could cast all the way to Kentucky when he turned the last false cast loose. We had a good time throughout the day and I can't for Walter to come back and do it all over again.
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our Homepage.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fly Fish Michigan

The Pain is Worth It- After day one, with sore shoulders and arm pain lingering from day one, we got a later start on day two because we had decided to fish a different float. This float would mean less angler pressure and the chase for different species. On this day the boat was loaded with some small streamer rods and the 10 wt indie rigs. The small streamer rods would be 6 and 8 weights with floating line. Streamers would be stripped around LOTS of structure on the second day...and we mean lots of structure.
Wood is Good...or something like that- Trees lining the river are nice and all, but those trees eventually fall in the river. This makes fish habitat plentiful on smaller tree lined rivers. We would spend the morning fishing deep runs, but eventually if there is a streamer rod on the boat, I can't help but work the structure and the banks for resting fish. Within the first few casts with the streamer rod the fish began to respond. Although the steelhead wouldn't respond to the streamer the browns had no problem moving several feet for a couple different patterns.
Floating Through Deep Runs- The river had some very deep runs. Some of the runs we 10' wide and well over 10' deep. Dan knew where all the snags were located and did his best to keep us out of the worst snags. Just like my last trip to Michigan downed trees would claim many of our flies. 
 
Fun With Streamers- On the Middle Tennessee tailwaters we fish a lot of sinking lines. On musky waters we fish heavy sinking lines with light 6" - 10" flies. With the number of snags in Michigan rivers we fished floating lines with weight applied until just the right depth was achieved. One other item was added to the streamer as well. With all the salmon in the river fish were tuned into egg patterns. We would run an egg just above the knot for added effect. The first fish of the day was a small brown that tried to intercept the egg before our streamer could get it. It was a lesson we will use in the coming months.
Steel Craziness- It has been said on many occasions that anglers who chase steelhead are a different breed. Anthony was in the front of the boat and fishing a deep indicator rig. The indicator took a bump and he set the hook. The water exploded and boiled.  While Anthony was getting the fish on the reel the fish was making its next move. The fight was quick and decisive. The fight was also won, this time, by the fish. When Anthony turned around he had an unfamiliar look in his eye. We would learn a few minutes later that Anthony was well on his way to becoming hooked on steelies. 
A Day is Made- The front casting brace is the place to be on these waters. There is an advantage to being the first fly to the fish. After his steelhead experience Anthony ushered me to the front of the boat. We fished several deep runs with indie rigs and ended up fishing a long run just below some deep snags. I had a good float going and took the opportunity to look at everything but the indicator. When I finally decided to look back at the indicator it was gone and Dan was looking at me and apparently wondering if I was going to set the hook. Well, finally I did and fortunately the fish turned to help me get a good hookset. Our initial thoughts were of more steel, but the fish was a runner and jumper. Soon a nice brown would show itself. This brown was a lot of fun and the fight was memorable. After the "hero shot" my day was done. This fish was a good way to end a fantastic trip. So, I buttoned up the indicator rod, stowed both of the rods.  Even though there were a couple miles of fishing left, my decision was made and I gave the front of the boat back to Anthony. Sage watched me as if to say "are you done?" It was a good trip and a trip that ended on a good note. I can't wait for the next time we head North!
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our Homepage.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fly Fishing Michigan

The Plans Are Made- In June, while we were in Florida, I got my kitchen pass the decision was made to book a trip for the Fall salmon run in Michigan.  So I called Anthony, and the guide, then booked a couple cabins. Our trip was set for October. Last week we headed North for Michigan with fly rods and high hopes. On the drive up we ran into the first snow flurries of the year around the Kokomo area. But in the long run we picked the perfect driving day, which saved two fantastic weather days for fishing.
The Salmon Whisperer- My plan was to just keep guiding here in Tennessee and not worry too much about the trip until a couple days before we left. Anthony is a bit more thorough and learned as much as he could about salmon fishing prior to the trip.  We stopped in the fly shop for our Michigan license and Anthony asked about the water level. With the heavy rain throughout our travel day the river was on the rise. I have to say Anthony was dead-on when he predicted the rain would raise the river level and get the fish moving. The next day fish were moving and with his prediction Anthony became the Salmon Whisperer, at least for this trip anyway. To top off his prediction he also brought the first salmon to the net.
Fishing Dogs- It has been said there is no such thing as a fishing dog. I have never thought much about a fishing dog until this trip. Dan, our guide, brought along his dog Sage. Or maybe I should say Sage brought along the guide. Either way Sage was a welcomed addition to the boat on both days of our trip. When the boat would stop Sage was out and on the bank to chase squirrels and do whatever dogs do in the north woods on a Fall day. When it was time to make a move Sage would show up just before the anchor was raised and would take her post on the downstream side of the boat.
That First Salmon- The river is crowded during salmon season so we left the cabins at 5:00 a.m. EST. That's 4:00 a.m. CST, which isn't too bad for me, but for some it was early. We launched Dan's Hyde on zero daylight. Then headed straight to the best part of the river and arrived to claim our stretch before most anglers even thought about their alarms. This move paid off and Dan's plan came together early.

So we were up early which gave us the best spot on the river and within a few casts Anthony had a fish in the net, then a few minutes later I was motioning for Dan to bring the net. The first fish was pretty easy to fight because the adrenaline was flowing and weeks of anticipation built up for a great fight. But, later in the day after a good number for fish, several doubles and seeing the backing a fair number of times the same fight was a bit of struggle because of a sore forearm and shoulder...and that was a good problem to have.  
Salmon Weren't the Only Fish-  After the several salmon it was a welcomed change to find a nice brown or two on the line. The browns, salmon and some small steelies were occupying the hole I was fishing, so the variety was a bonus and to tell the truth it was nice to get something different on the line even if salmon was the initial reason we came to Michigan. 
Fall Color- The Fall colors were out along the river. The next couple weeks may be better but we hit the colors just about right. Maples, Oaks and Birch trees were bringing the color on this trip and were fortunate to be able to make "Leaf Peeping" part of our trip. 
Good Guides- In Michigan, on this river at least, anglers don't float and fish. Anglers will find a spot in the river and tie it up for most of the day if it is a worthy beat. Guides can't always have the perfect plan, but I have to say Dan had about as good a plan as anyone could have hoped.  We beat the rest of guides and anglers to the best spot. When the sun came up we claimed our beat and began catching fish. There were a couple more groups who had a good day, but there were also some long faces in some of the other boats. One boat floated into our beat while Anthony and I had one of our many doubles. It is hard to conceal your spot and frankly the grin, when both fly rods are bent double and 25" + fish are rolling and jumping, but we did our best.
  
Lunchtime- Seeing smoke from the grill was a welcomed sight. Pork chops and all the accoutrements really hit the right spot and at just the right time. After a short rest and good discussion, soon we were lobbing those indicator rigs at salmon with the same positive results.
Equipment- So what does it take for these fish? I took along a couple of our musky rods. The primary set up was an Orvis Access 10 weight with floating line. The leader was about 12' down to a heavy weight and then another 4'-6' of heavy tippet. The rig was difficult at first to roll cast, but as the first day wore on and once our timing dialed-in it wasn't as hard. 
Next Year- It has been said confirmation of a good trip is planning the next trip on the ride home.  Our confirmation began at the end of the first day when we stopped by a local eatery for some fresh walleye. Next year it looks like another trip to Michigan is in the works. The trip will be limited to 6 anglers and will include two days guided fishing as well as lodging. For anyone interested just give me a call or send an email and we will can discuss the preliminary details. So that was day one and over dinner we began to discuss our day two plans which would move us off the salmon and on some different water with a slightly different prey. Check back for the recap of day two.
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our Homepage.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.