Sunday, July 27, 2014

Al and Jake on the River

It is always a good sign when I am supposed to meet someone at the ramp at 6:00 a.m. and they call at 5:45 a.m. to confirm they are sitting at the right ramp.  That was the conversation with Al and me at 5:45 in the morning. I was 5 minutes away and when I arrived they were almost ready to load their stuff in the boat. 
Al and his son Jake were floating with me and we shoved the drifter from the bank at 6:00 a.m. on falling water. Al had fly fished before and was a good caster as well as a good angler. Jake had fished before and was a good angler, but Jake was more into fishing gear than the long rod. My job was to give Jake some pointers on fly fishing and get his fly fishing skills up to speed so he could fish on his own when needed. 
It was obvious Jake had been in the outdoors and had a fly rod in his hand before we moved the drifter in a position to tune up his cast. So after a few small pointers on the cast we moved on to the mend. Jake was getting good casts and mends and Al was putting casts in likely positions too. We moved the drifter downstream and Jake laid a cast into a good feeding lane.
It wasn't long before Jake hooked up and landed his first trout on the fly. Al was understandably proud and soon they were both bringing fish to the net fish. It was early in the morning but there were still several folks fishing on the river. Most of the anglers were wading and we saw some mutual friends along this casual float.
After fishing a terrestrial for a while we went to dries. We slid the drifter alongside a seam of feeding fish.   Jake learned the art of dialing in a dry fly presentation while searching for just the right fly. We found the biggest fish in the pod and began calculate how the seams would dictate the mends. Jake dialed in the mends and casts and I worked on the flies. Finally we hit the right combo and Jake picked up his first fish on the dry fly too.

There were a lot of folks floating the river by the time the afternoon came along so we moved on to some deeper pools. After fishing the dry to feeding fish Jake seemed to really get dialed in on nymphing. He went on a catching-spree that would make a seasoned angler proud. I could tell his Dad was the proudest guy in the boat. After several more fish we decided we wanted to get off the water before the sun got the best of us. So with the traffic picking up we slid into the gravel bar with a high fish count and some nice ones along the way.
It wasn't all about Jake on the float and Al caught his share of fish too.  OK, this trip was mostly about Jake getting comfortable and catching the amount of fish he caught was an added bonus. As I've said many time times Father-Son trips are a real pleasure and when someone learns to fly fish it makes the day that much better.  Al thanks for coming out to fish and Jake the next time we are on the river, well let's see if we can turn it up a notch.
To see the latest fishing report  and for more booking information click here.  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, July 21, 2014

Curtis and Jonas On The River

Lately there have been several father-son trips. Folks who read this report have read in previous posts I enjoy these trips, because fly fishing is something that can be shared for many years to come. Curtis has fished with us several times and brought along family on most days. This time he would bring his son Jonas who had not caught a trout on the fly. 
With rain coming down for about 8 hours prior to the float, and sometimes a hard rain, we knew the day would be challenging. We decided to get on the water behind the generation in search of clearer water. That plan worked well, sort of, for the first 30 minutes and then the water began to get more stained by the minute. Jonas was on one of my favorite nymph patterns while Curtis had his favorite and trusted light streamer pattern.

Jonas is an athlete and was following coaching well. With very little instruction he was soon laying out some good casts.  His mends got better and better so we moved on to hooksets. After we missed a couple fish, Jonas set the hook on and caught his first trout "on the fly". From then on Jonas was ready for the next fish and Curtis was soon on my favorite bug as well. The further downstream we went the muddier the river became. So a little more than halfway through the day, I got on the oars and rowed out so we could go higher in the river in search of cleaner water.
We unloaded drifter for the second time and found some water that was in a little better shape. We saw our first consistently rising fish and the guys made a bet, with a side bet, then we were off. Jonas struck early in Float 2.0 and Curtis came right back. Jonas increased his numbers as the time passed quickly. We were running a clock and with just minutes to go Jonas put the game away with a final fish before we had to get off the water to the beat generation.
It was a tough day on the river with all the rain and muddy water. But some days we take the good with the bad. This day I got to see a young man catch his first trout on the fly and hopefully learn enough to lay out good casts with his dad for many years. 

To see the latest fishing report  and for more booking information click here.  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, July 13, 2014

Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report

The Elk River- Some fish are looking up but most of the residents of this river are munching subsurface. Some of the recent stocker browns are eating on top and a small dry will get their attention. Even a little drag on the dry is OK when they can't make up their mind.
The release  from Toms Ford Dam, as this is written, is the normal summertime schedule of 240 CFS. This release is real nice for wading or floating. Due to the recent releases of 2000ish CFS the bottom is relatively clean so anglers can see what they are stepping on. 
The water temps on the Elk are running in the low to mid 50's depending on where the temp is taken. So there is plenty of cold water as we roll through July. Those temps are helping the fish to active on their hunt for food. The good flow and cool temps make a trip on the Elk a good place to spend the day.

The Caney Fork: The best releases have been on the weekends. Fishing terrestrials on high water can be fun although that action isn't as good as terrestrials on the lower flows. Lower water means other watercraft. For those who don't like crowds there are ways to get around the number of canoes and yaks that are in the upper part of the river. 
Most of the parking lots are full by 9:00 am and stay pretty much full until around 6:00 pm. We have been going early and fishing late to get around the crowds. We have been able to get on less crowded waters on most days. There are a couple other ways to get around the crowds too. 
It seems there has been more bug activity this year. There are more mayflies and certainly more caddis, along with more birds for those bugs that get off the water without being consumed by a trout.  The terrestrials, as usual, don't show themselves too much, but they sure must taste good because the fish eat hard when they decide to take one down. 
Finding a fish eating subsurface (i.e down in the water column)  is a lot of fun. Fish eating along the bottom seem to be oblivious to a drift boat, well sometimes anyway. Anglers who have been able to get the fly in the right spot do not have to depend on the indicator. Nope, when the fish are eating like this and we can get the boat in the right spot it is all tight-line nymphing. When we find a fish eating this way it gets the guy in the rowers seat pretty dang excited. 
To see the latest fishing report  and for more booking information click here.  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.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ben and Mike on the River

It's not April or early May, nope it's July. The night before this float we were sitting at the airport watching a spectacular fireworks display while wearing long sleeves. On the way to the river the morning of this trip the heater was running in the truck and the weather-guesser on the radio said the temperature was 57 degrees. Stepping into cold a tailwater to push the boat off the gravel bar was going to be interesting.
Ben had called and set up a trip to fish with his dad Mike. Ben had fly fished before but Mike had never fished with the long rod. Mike is obviously enjoys the outdoors and is an avid grappler. He learned our way of catching trout while we discussed grappling for huge catfish. Before the day was over Mike would know both ways of fishing.
Mike learned to cast as quick as anyone I have ever taught. With his experience Ben was casting and fishing from the rear brace and doing a fine job early in the float. Mike stuck his first fish off a blow-down with a small gravel bar that formed a nice pocket. The fight was quick and we had the skunk off early. Ben was working the far bank and a short time later brought his first fish to the net. Over the morning hours the guys brought a good number of fish to the boat while we worked on casting, mending and how the water pushes the food into certain currents, which is why the fish lay in certain parts of the river. Both guys managed to get their slam early.
Sight Fishing With Nymphs- The water in Middle TN is clear right now. Spotting fish that are eating on top or taking emergers just below the surface film is relatively easy. While Mike was fishing the deep troughs Ben and I were sight-fishing to feeding fish with nymphs. The fish were aggressive when more than one would see a nymph hit the water and this was usually an easy catch. I can't say how many times a fish would eat and the indicator would never move. What would happen is this, the fish would see the fly come into the water, race over below the fly and eat the fly in an upward motion. The indicator would float along without even a twitch. But, I would be yelling calmly encouraging set,set,set, Ben would get a good hookset and the fly would lodge in the upper lip of the fish.  Then it was just a matter of Ben getting the fish in the net.
We stopped for lunch and recounted the events of the morning. The guys ate and then slowed down even more with good discussion around the table. I grabbed a rod and caught a few fish including some very healthy brookies. Ben was quick to get a photo of a couple brook trout that were heavy in color for this time of the year. After a bit of time we packed up the drifter after lunch and slipped back into the current.
The afternoon found us really concentrating on the hi-value areas of the river. We were fishing drop-offs, and ledges pretty hard. Ben hit the end of a good ledge, threw in a mend and set the hook on a nice rainbow. He played the fish perfectly. Just like most better rainbows this fish tried all the tricks a rainbow knows. Ben went toe-to-toe with the fish and after working the fish boatside he got the head up, then slipped the fish into the net.

As we fished our way to the takeout we negotiated a fair amount of holiday traffic. Everyone was cordial including a dog that was swimming along with its owner who was in a canoe. Speaking of canoes I have noticed several nice wooden canoes on the rivers this year. This trip was no exception. We spoke to the gentleman who was paddling a really nice longer wooden canoe, who said he and his father hand-built 16 years earlier.  We all agreed fine craftsmanship is something that should be admired and put to use when possible.
We were close to the ramp and decided to end the float after Mike and Ben each caught "one more fish". Ben struck a fish early which left  Mike trying to get his "one more fish". He was floating his fly among feeding fish but none wanted to eat. Ben caught another one, so we switched flies on Mike's rod. We used the same pattern, same size and he fished it using the same technique. After a short drift the indicator took a dive and Mike set the hook on a brown trout and the last fish of the day. The boat came to a stop at the take-out and the ramp where there were a few people enjoying the afternoon. But I have to say ramp was a lot slower than I expected. Unlike the ramp being slower than expected the fishing on this day a even better than expected. The guys caught a good number of fish and some nice fish were brought to the net while they worked on their angling skills. Even though the air temperature heated up, stepping into cold a tailwater to get the boat on the trailer was interesting.

To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our rates page.  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, July 6, 2014

Michael on the River

Whew it's been busy around here and anglers are bringing a lot of fish to the net. Michael and I hit the water to help him learn some additional fly fishing techniques and with hopes of catching some nice fish. The river did not disappoint.  
We started real early in hopes of missing the traffic and the plan worked. The traffic can be a problem but Michael caught the better fish late in the day among many canoes...go figure. Anyway it was early when we started and to get things going we dropped a nymph into feeding fish and the fish ate. He picked up several fresh stockers with some nicer fish thrown into the mix to keep us both motivated.
We fished those nymphs until the air got a little heat built up and then we switched to a terrestrial with a dropper combo. The fish were looking up, hitting the terrestrial but the majority of the time the fish would take the #18 midge we had trailing off the top fly.
The fish were hanging mostly just off the slopes of the gravel bars and naturally in the pockets on the shoals for the most part. The depth of the flies were critical and an adjustment to the depth of the fly would often pick the catch rate up. I guess the best thing to say is be mindful of the depth and where the fish are holding. It's easy to get complacent as the day goes along.
I had been jockeying the boat through the string of canoes as we floated closer to the takeout, blocking out sections of water with some boat positioning and Michael's backcast. Over the past few floats it was easy to notice there are couple really nice places to be positioned when the release hits. On this day we timed it just about right and Michael was laying out some good casts. He was fishing just off the front of the drifter with a pretty short mend. We missed a couple fish and then he hooked up with a good one. After strong hookset and a short fight in faster water he brought a good brown to the net. We had just a short distance to the takeout do we fished out the rest of the float hitting soft water and picking up more fish. Then we loaded the boat and called it another good day on the river.
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our rates page.  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, June 30, 2014

TN Valley Project Healing Waters Event

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be a small part of a Project Healing Waters event. The event skipped a year or two and then Bill C. called to invite me to guide for the Project Healing Waters weekend again. That year I had to tell him I was already booked for the weekend, therefore I couldn't make the event. The following year Bill called again and I had to tell him I already had a family vacation planned and a rental house booked, so again I couldn't make it. This year he called early, but we already had a beach trip planned for the same weekend, however this time there was an opportunity to get back to Tennessee in time to guide a couple veterans on Sunday for this years event. 

So on Saturday we loaded the truck, left the beach and headed North back to Murfreesboro. There was enough time to unload the beach stuff, trade the 10 wts. for a couple 5 and 6 wts. grab a few hours sleep, then load the boat and head for the Caney Fork. On Sunday morning I rolled in just in time for breakfast...and who is surprised at that? The first person I met was Bill who would be one of my anglers for the day and a short time later I met Jim who would occupy the front seat in the drifter. Jim had to be back early to make his way back to Alabama, but Bill was ready to be on the water all day. We enlisted Scott's help to move the truck and trailer from one ramp to the other and then we launched the drifter before most of the the other boats made it to the river. 
I know a little bit about PHW and heard stories of how fly fishing and PHW literally saved the lives of some of our veterans. Being a part of the event is an honor for sure and as with most events like this one I got a lot more out of it than I could have asked for.

We were on a limited time frame, so we dialed up the nymph patterns and Bill was the first one to set the hook on a nice little rainbow.  Bill had a nice cast and caught on to our style of fishing real quick. Mending came pretty easy to Bill and the only thing we had to work on was a solid hook set. He would catch on to that and eventually boated some nice bows on his way to the morning slam.
Jim, a newcomer to fly fishing for trout,  had waded the day before and by his admission was struggling to catch fish. We agreed early-on it just wouldn't be good to leave the river if he didn't bring some fish to the net. So Jim and I worked on casting, mending and eventually he would also work on the hook set to bring his fish to the net. We missed a real nice fish in one of the high-value areas of the float, but that fish will be there next year when Jim returns.
We were about halfway through a short float when the storms began in the distance. We fished to the last possible minute and then made our run to the takeout and safety of the truck. Jim was back at the campground only 4 minutes late, which is a record for me being off the water and somewhat "on time". We all said our good-bys and Jim went with his group back toward home. 

Round II- After being off the water for over a week I wanted to get back out there. So, when it seemed the storms had missed us I told Bill, I wanted to get back out there. He agreed and we rounded up Bill C then headed for the ramp. The rains came and went several times over the remainder of the afternoon but the guys kept the flies in the water and picked up fish on both nymphs and terrestrials. Bill and Bill C. both got their slam early in the afternoon as we concentrated on a solid section of the river. Finally they pulled me off the river we had to load the drifter on the trailer and get the guys back to the campground. 
If you want to get involved with PHW here is the contact information for Healing Waters of the Tennessee Valley. From what I saw the event was a success for pretty much everyone involved and a real asset to the local fly fishing community. If you get a chance to be a part of one of the PHW events around the country don't miss the opportunity.