Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cold Weather Fly Fishing

Ice and snow met Steve, Mark and myself on our trip to the river. We launched on partly cloudy skies and a whopping 24 degrees. Hoping the weather guessers were correct we kept an eye toward the sky for breaks in the clouds. The sun was peaking before we hooked up with the first Tennessee Tarpon. The US Army Corps was running two generators when we got on the water and turned them back to one shortly after. They also changed the generator as well, so the favorite boat position didn't work as well and we began a search for just the right spot. It didn't take long before Steve and Mark were into the fish and the action got pretty darn good.

Colors of the TN Tarpon

TN Tarpon are a lot of fun to chase. Since we support catch and release these fish are a great way to warm up the casting shoulder, before moving onto the main course of the river. These fish have some high flying acrobatics that are at times just short of spectacular. They make blistering runs and it is easy to tell one of them has been fooled by your offering when the headshakes are seen in the rod tip. We could have spent more time fishing for these fish,but it was time to move on for the browns and rainbows.

The browns are making a comeback in the river. With plenty of food to chase they were more active on this trip than any trip this year. We tried a few different colors and several patterns throughout the day. We tried to keep the fish looking and sometimes just experimenting with different flies. The key is to be persistent and continue throwing the flies at every chance. I expect to catch a fish on every cast, not that it happens on every cast, but it does keep me ready when they the fish do turn on.

The rainbows have been active on each trip this year. They have been gorging and it is showing. If we could get more calcium at the hatchery, when these fish are fingerlings, they might have a bigger skeleton to fill and when the periods of high food volume come to the river they would have something to grow into. We discussed this on the way home and Mark said this sounds like some good bucket biology. It does make an angler wonder, what if...
The day wore on with a slight wind. In the early part of the day and the evening the guides on the rods began the familiar freeze, then the sand paper sound would come as lines began running through the ice cubes. The final phase is shorter and shorter casts, before a dip in the water and at times having to break the ice away from the guides. Then back to casting only to do it all again a few minutes later. Sure it was cold and when the wind would pick up it turn quickly to almost miserable. But, then a fish would flash, follow or get on and fight and we would quickly warm up. While for some it was just too cold to get out, we are making 2011 the year of get out there...
Caught & Release

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