Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tennessee Musky Fishing

These Fish Can Be Anywhere
Brent and Mark joined me for a day on the river. This was supposed to be my last day before getting back on the tailwaters for a while, or at least until the next big rain event comes. This trip started with almost immediate action. Mark was first up and still within site of the ramp when a large toothy musky took his fly. The fish came from structure, took the fly, turned hard and bit right through Mark's bite tippet. It was over before it stated but left Mark shaking and saying the same thing over and over... "that was the biggest fresh water fish I have ever had on the line". That is a pretty common response.
Fly Fishing is Like a Balancing Act Sometimes
The stick balancing on the end of this blow-down has been there for several weeks. The water, rain and wind have not knocked it off. No one has come along in a boat and taken it off and it has not dried out unevenly, then fallen off. Apparently, the stick was in the right place at the right time, with the right current and seems to be somewhat lucky. Fly fishing can be like that stick on the end of that log just looking for the right current while hoping luck will be there in the end. 
We all know about currents, especially on the tailwaters. Center Hill was pushing over 10,000 CFS for over a month (seems like a million months). This week the US Army Corps dialed the generator back to one, with a release of 3600 CFS. Relief is finally here for most floating anglers and the wading folks see the water levels heading down, down ,down as their day also draws near. While I am typing this report it is snowing and it rained some last night as well. The weather forecast calls for rain 3 out of the next 7 days, but it does not appear to include any significant rain events for the Center Hill Lake area. We need to some more cold weather to get a good shad kill and wake those trout up!
Fish Tails
Tims Ford is releasing water during the week, which makes for some interesting floats on falling water. The fish have been taking the usual stuff with little surface activity. Soft hackles swung in the low current on the weekend are still producing and don't be afraid to tie a soft hackle on as a dropper below a nymph. This technique can produce fish from the end of the drift just as the line begins to tighten, which puts the soft hackle into action.
This Fish Bloodied Some Knuckles 
So, back to the musky action. Mark followed up his first fish on the day with a follow from a smaller fish. Brent was next up with action. He hooked up on a section of river that looked good, but has never produced. We saw the fish sitting in the middle of the river, in the current on a shoal and the next thing we knew Brent was saying fish-on. This fish was on long enough to get the net and position the boat, then we stood there as the fish moved upstream and toward the bank. I just knew Brent was going to boat his second musky, but the fish made a turn and then came unbuttoned.  The fire tiger color was working. Next it was my turn and luck was on my side this time. The musky hit and the 10 weight BVK did the rest. The musky came to the boat and even bent the rod in butt section, where all good fish bend a rod. After some bloody knuckles and cut fingers the fish was released back into the hole from which it came. 
The day continued with additional sight fishing and some big follows. We found some fish that would follow and then sulk and refuse to follow again. Everyone saw some action and at least had a fish on the line. Musky are not easy to catch, the days are long and action can come at anytime. It's a good way to pass the time when the tailwaters are not at their best. And it is cool to hear someone say  "that was the biggest fresh water fish I have ever had on the line"...


  1. Awesome!!! You even have the battle scars to make you a seasoned veteran musky fisherman. Glad no one lost a finger or anything and congrats again!

  2. HA! I am not so sure about that whole seasoned veteran thing Between me and Mark, who handled the fish, we certainly had more cuts and scars than the fish had cuts and scars. We thought the fish was bleeding, but after it was over we found out differently.

  3. Good stuff man! I tried musky on the fly for the first time last fall here in Missouri (unsuccessfully I might add) and now it's a goal of mine to get one this year.
    First time here but I'll be following along from now on.

  4. Highplains, MO is not a very productive musky state. Trophies or otherwise.even Pomme de terre
    Shows little fruit from stocking and management efforts for whatever reason. I'd either come down this way or head to Kinkaid in SI. Its a lake but has a ridiculous population.

    I didnt want anyone to thinking im jumping on their case but boating a musky is one thing, but as the waters begin to warm, proper handling tools is imperative to a quick release.

  5. Wow..! Nice blog with fabulous pictures collection. Nice place for vacation and musky fishing.
    Musky Fishing