Monday, July 22, 2019

The Hog Trough

I had some friends who I would eat lunch once a month or so. There were plenty of places to eat from which we could choose. Generally, someone would ask the group where we should eat. The group would casually start running down the list of choices and eventually someone would get tired of listening to no one making a decision, then that someone would say those words we all really wanted to hear, “let’s go to The Hog Trough”.

As all good restaurants go, The Hog Trough wasn’t the real name for this fine southern dining establishment. It was local joint named Wanda’s or Julie’s or something like that and it had a giant buffet. We called that place The Hog Trough because everyone would move down the buffet line with their plate and pile it high with a variety of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, breads, greens and mashed potatoes and the list of delicious Southern cooking went on and on. 

Naturally this was a while back and during my younger years, when I could eat whatever I wanted, without weight gain and I still had hair that was dark and there was still a lot of it. So it’s been a while.
I went by The Hog Trough several months ago and the building was still there, but the name had changed to something else I can’t remember. I imagined the buffet was still there and the food on that buffet would still be great southern cooking. You know southern like food all lined up, piled high and just waiting to be tested by some very hungry patrons.

Fast forward to last Thursday. Vince and Alex were on the boat and taking advantage of a father - son day on the river. We were floating across a long flat where there were plenty of rising fish. Just past the midway point of this flat a trough starts. 
The trough begins as just slope that’s about 2’ wide and it drops less than a foot. It’s against the bank and there are a few trees hanging over it. Great cover. That foot-deep portion runs about two boat lengths (we measure just about everything in boat lengths and sometimes boat widths if we really want to be precise). This gives way to deeper and deeper water and eventually it’s about a boat width wide...precisely a boat-width. 
The trees along that bank continue to hang over the trough and there are some downed trees that are sunk here and there. Even more cover.

After Alex tossed that nymph in the feeding lane of the trough, he threw a mend in and we watched as the indicator slowed, then it began to drift along with the bubbles in the water. The perfect speed. The perfect dead drift.

This particular piece of water is similar to the buffet at The Hog Trough. The trout’s food (although it’s not fried chicken) is funneled down the line. The fish will line up and pick through everything that’s presented correctly. If it looks like a bug, they will take a bite.

Anyway, Alex had a nice presentation with a good mend. Remember the perfect dead drift. The fly was floating at a good speed and then the indicator stopped. Alex lifted the rod tip and the fish came out of the trough right onto the flat. It was fast and the rod bent double. Alex commented on how different this fight was from the 12” and 13” browns we were bringing to the net most of the morning. This fish was quick but we had a good hookset with the fly lodged in the upper lip. Alex was doing a nice job staying with the brown as his Dad, Vince, looked on from the rear casting brace. It was a clean fight with some give and take by the angler and the brown.

We were looking at a quick fight with this fish because when it came onto the flat and made a couple passes it found a waiting net. See before it could get another head of steam for another run, Alex pulled the fish up to the top. The net was scooped and we scored a nice brown for the 20 + Club. The fight was enjoyable but in a record time. It was over before it really even started.
We grabbed some photos for the memories and revived the fish. It didn’t take long before the fish was kicking. The fish came out of the net and slipped under the boat. It was completely out of sight in just a few seconds. What a fish though. 

With thunder and lightning looming we grabbed lunch and waited out a rain under some cover. The water conditions changed late in the day and we changed tactics as well as flies. The fishing picked up and we ended the day with a tally of decent numbers of healthy fish.

A visit to The Hog Trough was worth the few minutes we spared on that Thursday. I can imagine food all lined up with Alex’s nymph floating along just waiting to be tested. Then that brown slipping up and making the right decision to test Alex’s nymph. 

I can imagine that great tasting fried chicken, mashed potatoes, breads, greens and, mashed potatoes (I know mashed potatoes was listed twice and it was listed twice in the second paragraph too. I did that on purpose because I really like mashed potatoes) anyway, mashed potatoes and the list of delicious Southern cooking went on and on...
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, July 9, 2019

Huntsville Fly Fishing

Some days on the river are absolutely the best days. Sometimes because the fish are cooperating, sometimes because the bigger fish are eating, and sometimes because the folks in the casting braces are old friends who make the day enjoyable. Greg and Brooke have fished with me for several years now and when we get together, we tend to get good results. Brooke seems to catch the big ones and sometimes the most. Greg, being a dad, seems to enjoy it as much almost as much as if he had caught’em all himself. Greg is no stranger to big fish or the 20+ Club so maybe it is healthy to see your kid catch the big fish every once in a while.

On this day we chose to leave the ramp a little early and try to stay in front of the recreational folks. It wasn’t long before Brooke was bringing her first fish to the net and Greg brought his first a short time later. 
We were sticking close to structure on this day. Structure can mean rocks, pockets in the gravel on the river bottom, and of course the blowdowns. Brooke was catching most her fish close to the different structures. Greg was batting clean-up with his usual accuracy. Blowdowns and pockets along the bank were running up the numbers.
Depth- We kept going after the fish, moving along with the slower currents and picking out the best places. One other thing we focused on was depth. There are blowdowns that look fishy and get the most attention from practically every angler who has a fly and some even toss their favorite lure. One thing I notice when folks are fishing these structures is a high percentage are not adjusting their depth. Most anglers leave their nymph at the same depth and pretty much fish it all day, streamer anglers don’t always let the streamer sink, with timing, or fly weight, or sinking lines. The blowdown is fished hard by angler after angler, but often the flies are not in the fish’s field of vision. 
After a morning of good fishing we stopped at one of my favorite spots for lunch. As Brooke and Greg ate and caught up on their lives, I adjusted the rigs and dropped a few flies in front of a few fish, just to make sure the flies were “well trained and ready for some serious afternoon catching”. 
We loaded the boat, Brooke and Greg slipped into the casting braces and we got the boat into some slack water. We backed up the bank to take another shot at some water that was productive just before we ate. It was the right choice as Brooke and Greg had a few more takes and they added a couple more fish to the count.
One more depth adjustment and we entered one of my favorite stretches of river. It’s heavy with structure and ledges and it’s just super-fishy. Brooke was fishing particularly well and getting real good drifts. Greg had his fly right behind Brooke’s fly. But Brooke’s fly got to the rainbow first and the fish ate. Brooke came tight with a solid hookset and the rainbow started the fight with a quick run to the bottom and into deeper water. Although Brooke had hooked and landed big fish before, this rainbow was a bit on the active side. She stayed with the fish and countered every move. The fish made a blistering run across the river and tried to get to some structure, but Brooke kept just the right amount of pressure on the fish and was able to get the head to turn back toward the boat. After a couple shorter runs the fish finally gave up. Brooke got the head of the fish up and slid the rainbow into the net. Score another one for the green boat and the happy anglers in the casting braces. We snapped some photos and made sure the fish was ready for a good release. We dipped the front of the net and rainbow slid out, then back to the depths.

We were letting our lunch settle and pretty much catching fish in all the likely places with just a few slow spots throughout the afternoon.  Greg and Brooke kept throwing the flies and for the most part the fish responded. Both anglers got their slams and both caught some nice fish.
Brooke and Greg proved again that some days on the river are absolutely the best days. Sometimes because the fish are cooperating, sometimes because the bigger fish are eating, and sometimes because the folks in the casting braces are old friends who just make the day enjoyable.
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, July 4, 2019

Summer Fly Fishing Tennessee

 Christmas is the time for giving. We offered gift certificates over Christmas season last year and Matt took advantage of giving a day on the water to Larry. Being that these two guys both fly fish it was only fitting that when Larry decided to book his day on the water that he brings along the guy that was thoughtful enough to give a day on the water as the gift.
Matt and Larry made use of a good forecast with favorable generation and we were floating before the recreational crowd even got out of bed. Larry is experienced and Matt is proficient as well. Both are good casters and both are willing listeners. We moved slowly down the river on this day, picking apart all the likely places and pulling fish off blowdowns, mud banks and ledges. Ledges: I’m a fan of the ledge. Here is the definition of a ledge from of all places the 

Ledge- n
1.    a narrow horizontal surface projecting from a wall, cliff, or other surface.

There is something about a ledge that gets my attention. See, most times a rock wall looks pretty much the same underwater as what we see above the water. Not exact but similar. But as a general rule of thumb if a rock wall has ledges you can see, it probably has ledges that are below the water’s surface that you can’t see.

The ledges are an excellent place for a fish to lay. If there is a current, even the slightest current flowing by a ledge there is a high percentage chance that current is going to carry a little more oxygen and possibly even a little food. And if that isn’t enough there’s a high percentage chance a fish is going to be laying next the that wall, along one of those ledges. If everything goes just right such as the correct presentation, with the right fly drifted or stripped at just the right speed you will get a hit. So if everything goes just right and the fish makes the right decision for us and the wrong decision, looking at it from the fish’s point of view, a fish will be picked-off the ledge.

Not only is a ledge a good place for a fish to lay but with all the possibilities the ledges bring it’s a good idea fish it thoroughly at different depths. Allowing a streamer to sink for different periods of time works and, on this day, we fished the ledges at different depths.  

The guys were hard at work most of the day. We fished nymphs at various depths. As always, we concentrated on the speed of the drift against the speed of the water. Larry was dialed-in and crushing-it from the front of the boat. He is at a place in life where he gets to fish on a regular basis and it shows from his approach, the cast and his presentation. Larry was in the front brace and making the most of it.

We stopped for lunch after a good morning. The guys slowed down their pace even more and I put new leaders and tippet as well as new bullets (flies) at the end of their rigs. 

So, with new flies tied and the guys fresh we started down the river again. Sometimes after lunch the fishing slows but the guys kept bringing fish to the net and the day kept going. 

Matt added some quality to the quantity with some respectable rainbows as the summer heat kept us hunting for shade when possible. 

We lost count of the fish and the places the guys pulled them from throughout the day. But it was a good day all around. Plenty of action and plenty of relaxation with good conversation. And it all started with a Christmas gift.

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.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Fly Fishing in Middle Tennessee

The last time Marc and Lawson were aboard the drifter we were on the Caney Fork. We caught some nice fish including Marc’s really nice brownThis time we shoved off and we caught up with the life changes that happen over the course of two or three years. It didn’t take long before Lawson was on the board with his first rainbow of the day. Marc didn't waste too much time to get on that same board himself.

Fishing the shelves and drop-offs: Lawson was well into a drift across a drop off when he set the hook on a nice rainbow. But it all started with knowing where the drop off starts, its depth and naturally setting up for a clean drift. 

Knowing where the drop off begins is as easy as knowing the contour of the riverbed you are fishing. That comes with time but the closer you can pay attention to the currents and how those currents and color changes reveal the underwater structures, the more accurate you can set up for the drift of your fly. 
Start the drift before the drop off. Casting and then achieving the right mend will set the pace for the fly. Depth is extremely important when fishing drop offs. Set your nymph too deep and the nymph will drag the bottom, many times wrecking your chances of getting the fly in the face of the fish. Setting the nymph too shallow and the fish will likely never know the fly has even been presented.
We set Lawson up for a good drift over the drop off. The color change was obvious and Lawson dropped the fly right at the leading edge (upstream) of the drop off. The fly hit the water first and was followed by the indicator. This technique sends the fly to the strike zone quickly. When Lawson’s fly began the descent it settled after the mend and we had a good drift going. The fly pattern is a good pattern but the presentation was as good as they come and the rainbow couldn’t help itself. The fish ate and Lawson set the hook.

The rainbow came out of the hole and into shallow water. Rainbows are quite active fish and they fight the same way. The rainbows on this day were jumping and running each time they were hooked. Lawson was in good form and keeping the fish in front of him with the rod at a 45 degree angle. The fish didn’t come to the net without a fight but it came to the net and Lawson scored a good sized rainbow.

We grabbed a stream-side lunch and rested. The river was fishing good and we even caught some fish while relaxing on the gravel bar. The rest of the river has been fishing slower so I prepped the guys with a rundown of past trips. We wrapped up lunch and Marc and Lawson slipped back into the casting braces.
Lawson was again in the front brace and Marc in the back. The fishing was still good as we entered a new stretch of water. We fished a small and indiscreet pool which gave up a couple more rainbows. We moved across a small gravel bar and Lawson dropped his fly on a rock pile. The fly settled and it didn’t float long before Lawson was setting the hook. The brown trout came off the rock pile and headed toward the bank and several blowdowns. Lawson pulled on the rod and applied some side pressure. The fish came to the net a short time later. It was a healthy brown, not the biggest in he river, but the water flowing across the rock pile was giving up oxygen, food and cover and keeping the brown in good shape.
Marc needed a better fish to complete his day and to take away some of Lawson’s bragging rights. We entered a bend with lots of downed-timber and Marc laid his fly along a parallel log. It was a lengthy drift but Marc was able to stay with the mend and keep the presentation going. He set the hook and a feisty rainbow came away from the log but tried its best to get back. Marc kept the pressure on and gained line pretty quick. We didn’t let the fish pull for long and short time later Marc had a good rainbow and took away just a little bit of Lawson’s bragging rights.

We kept fishing and adding fish to the count. Overall it was a good day with a couple fine fellows. I always enjoy their company and the discussions we have along the way. Those discussions along with fishing the drop-offs, rock piles, runs and bends make a day on the water extremely enjoyable.

The rivers are fishing well and we have some open dates. If you have read this far and are thinking it might be time to call to get your date on the books, there’s not a better time than the next several weeks.
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, June 23, 2019

***New Episode*** Southeastern Fly- The Angler's Influence

On this episode of the Southeastern Fly- The Angler's Influence we go back to the Panhandle of Florida to talk Cleve Evans who is the owner of Forgotten Coast on the Fly. This time we talk species and locations for trout to tarpon. We talk all things fly fishing from why we practice casting to how we explore new areas to how we explore new areas and why exploration is important.
Our first stop are the mountains of North GA where Cleve learned to catch freshwater trout with his Grandmother in and around Suches GA. As Cleve grew and learned more about fishing, he picked up the fly rod and eventually went to Calloway Gardens where Kent Edmonds taught him the basics of casting and fishing on the fly. 

From there Cleve joins friends and begins to explore the areas he spent in his youth. Finally, Cleve landed on Panama City Beach and began to explore the Florida Panhandle. He was bit by the saltwater bug and bought a skiff to further explore the area for redfish, jacks and tarpon. 

You are invited to come along as we get to know Cleve Evans, Owner of Forgotten Coast on the Fly.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Middle TN Fly Fishing

Nymphs on falling tailwaters- People often ask this question: Is fishing better on low water, rising water, full generation, or falling water? The answer to the water level question is more complicated than it sounds and the variables are too numerous to recite in quick conversation. Everyone has their preference and like everyone else I have mine. Falling water – Check.

We try to plan trips weeks in advance and it can be a crapshoot when it comes to generation schedules on the three different tailwaters. We take we are given and make the most of the hand we are dealt. 

Josh has fished from the casting braces of the Southeastern Fly on many occasions and when his text arrived with some dates, we set the trip for a couple weeks out. I had a tailwater in mind and was looking forward to floating it, only to find out a couple days in advance that the release was not great for fly fishing. We had a plan B which wasn’t a bad alternative. So, we agreed to meet and then off we went to enjoy a near perfect weather pattern and perhaps to also catch a few fish.

We pushed the drifter off the trailer on high water and soon Josh was fishing streamers, then when the water shut off, then we went to nymphs. Super-secret patterns were used and fish responded. After a few warmup rainbows and browns, we moved to the feeding lane in the middle of the river. Feeding lanes are important in this world we call trout fishing on the fly. Finding feeding lanes that carry oxygen and food are essential and if you add a little cover into the mix, well it’s almost a gimme. Almost.

Josh dropped the fly in the feeding lane and right at the edge of a pothole. That fly floated a few yards and the fish ate. It’s best if you are watching your fly or looking in the general direction and if you aren’t it helps to have someone behind the oars who is somewhat paying attention. I’ve been on both ends of watching the indicator and this time when the fish ate I just happened to be watching. First a grunt and then a quick calling of the angler’s name and Josh set the hook. It was a good fight and a clean fight and the fish put Josh’s H3 through its paces. We netted the fish and snapped a quick photo. We released the rainbow to grow and hopefully be caught us. 

We tried an entire stretch of the river using dries but didn’t get a look. Consistent topwater season is around the corner. Just around the corner. We were back on nymphs and Josh was fishing well. We waited for a plastic hatch to develop and pass, then we moved into some particularly fishy water. 

Dropping the fly in the right place at the right time to achieve just the right presentation is another critical piece to successful nymph fishing. Too early and the fish has time to inspect it from top to bottom. Too late and the fly doesn’t get in front of the fish. Dropping it at just the right time will essentially trick the fish into making the right decision. How many times has a super-long drift worked better than a somewhat shorter drift? Think about it.

Anyway Josh dropped the fly in that definitive feeding lane. The fly sank and the indicator rolled over. It floated a short distance before the rainbow ate. When it did Josh paused and then came tight to the fish. The rainbow jumped and made a run, then jumped several more times and made a couple attempts to throw the fly. Josh did a nice job keeping the rainbow where it needed to be, away from the blowdown, and then guided it toward the waiting net. We snapped a couple photos and revived the fish. When the fish was ready it left the comfort of the net and swam back to the blowdown from which it came.

Just like that, Josh made another appearance in the Southeastern Fly 20+ Club. A place where he is no stranger. The rest of the day brought us more fish. The numbers weren’t huge but in the double digits. A double-digit day with a bit of quality thrown in wasn’t bad for Plan B.
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, June 3, 2019

Alex and Marshall and a Day of High Numbers

We've been fishing together for several years. Marshall and Alex understand the program and we can get down to business pretty quick on a trip. Alex takes the front seat, me in the middle with oars and Marshall makes himself comfortable in the back of the boat. It's a good system that often yields favorable results. 
Today's trip would be nymphs and terrestrials. Nymphs fished with precise casts and nice drifts would be the ask from the anglers. Also there were donuts and fish and Snickers and soft drinks as well as Kings Hawaiian for the finest of bread aficionados. But mostly it was fish. The first twenty minutes or so were slow with only a few fish coming to the net. Then we started picking up the pace and the catch-rate came with it. 

We discovered a pod of browns with some rainbows mixed in to keep the techniques on-point. Just before lunch the catch-rate was getting pretty crazy and there were fish coming to the net before I could get the last one unbuttoned and revived. Our system was working...
After a stop on the gravel for a bite to eat, I think we were all eager to get the guys back into the casting braces and drown some more trained flies. It was mere minutes before the guys picked up where they left off. The flies kept working and we kept trying three of my favorite patterns. 

The Drift- It doesn't always have to be perfect. There are times we can get fish on the lift but the better fish come from a dead-drift that floats seamlessly over an obstruction such as a gravel bar, a blow-down or a rock bed. The pattern doesn't matter as much as the depth and quality of the drift. The right drift at the right angle with the right depth filled the Brodin all day least until Alex and Marshall's arms got a little tired. 

So far the trips this year have been fun. We've caught some nice fish and had good numbers. It seems most trips are with repeat anglers which people say is a good thing. I just feel good that we always seem to have a good times with laughs and a chance to catch up with each others life. The fishing? Yes the fishing is important too and that why we focus to make angler's day on the water the best we possibly can. 

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, May 27, 2019

Streamer Fishing Tennessee

We caught a heavy release of cold and clear water. Clear water, that's my favorite. Clear water gives me the best chance of seeing the most of the river bottom. With good glasses an angler can see the contours of the gravel bars and shoals as well as the large rocks and blowdowns that litter the river bottom. Good glasses are a must. With a cloudy sky the amber lenses were the choice for the day. 

When the shuttle was complete we started lessons with the roll cast. Ayham had been fly fishing one time prior to this trip, so we started with the basics and would work all the way to catching from there. He started out a little nervous with his cast, but he gained confidence and then came the distance cast. 

When the casts were long enough we started down the river on a swift flow. Our first choice of fly was the nymph with plenty of lead. The lead delivered the fly to the deepest depths of the river. Hunting.  But the fish weren’t interested. What is normally the hot ticket turned out to be a zero on this day.

We switched tactics. Even though this was his first time fly fishing from a drift boat and his second time fly fishing, Ayham was eager to try a different approach. 

The Echo saltwwater 6 wt. rod. It’s been a long time favorite of mine. This rod is probably 10 years old. It has been used as a streamer rod all that time and has taken everything from bluegill to stripers to musky with various types of streamers. It’s a good all-around stick and as with most trips the Echo was strung with the heaviest sinking line.
We rigged up the rod with heavy line and a short leader. Then Ayham began to fish. We stopped to swing it and that’s where the first bite came. It was a simple hit and run it but gave us hope. Not long after with another good cast, the line began to swing. The fly caught up and the current began to push the fly sideways toward the swinging line. The line twitched and the fish came tight. Score one for the good guys in the green and white boat. 

We fished the area thoroughly and picked up a couple more there. The rope that was attached to the anchor was pulling tight, seemingly eager to move. The rope was pulled and the anchor came off the bottom. We were on our way again. Ayham fished the streamer slowly which brought the most fish to the net. We were feeling pretty good about the day. Just before lunch we came into a part of the river that has been producing good numbers. This turn has also been producing some fat fish, mostly rainbows, throughout spring. 

We were on a good flow and Ayham cast into some current that was flowing over a gravel bar.  This particular bar had been pushed up during the heavy rains and larger releases of the year.

The fly lazily floated across the bar in the swift water. A large butter belly rolled on the small white fly. Ayham came tight like all the other times that day. The large brown felt the prick of the hook and immediately came across the bar and then into the middle of the river. Our new angler never stood a chance. There wasn’t any time at all to get the big brown trout under control. The fish spun the drag as it headed to the middle of the river in search of deeper water and the safety of the darkness. Ayham tried to turn the fish but the damage had been done and the 12lb tippet broke.

The rod was no longer bent and the line was swaying in the breeze. A few strips on the line and it was to the boat. Upon inspection the tippet was cut clean. Yes this brown had enough years to have a full set of teeth and apparently used them to assist with its escape.

Another fly was tied on right away and we continued fishing our way downriver. We had lunch a short time later and then we visited all the likely places before the take out. We boated a good number of fish especially considering this was his first time to fish streamers with heavy sinking line. It was a good day on the river with no other boats in sight.

With the rods hung in the truck and the F/V Southeastern Fly on the trailer, we said our goodbyes. Ayham was on his way back to Houston on a morning flight and I was headed back to the tying bench getting ready for the next shot at that big brown on clear-cold water. Yep, I want my fly 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.