After exchanging emails with Brent we set a trip up for him and his friend Doug. Brent decided to go above and beyond and picked up a fly fishing trip as a gift any angler friend could appreciate. This isn't the first time Brent has been in the drifter, no, when we last left Brent we were discussing how he can cast left or right handed. As Doug and Brent were talking on the way to the river Brent explained the work we did on his double haul paid off on a recent tarpon trip. Naturally he can double haul with either hand...We will just leave it at, some folks would be jealous.
Doug had already picked up several fish before we shoved the drifter away from the gravel bar. So with Doug in the front casting brace and Brent in the rear casting brace we were off with high hopes. The fish did not disappoint. Even after skipping the first part of the river the guys were quickly in double digits as the fish responded to the offerings. At one point the guys were catching on every cast, making me work hard with the net. Then the fish would not respond to anything. Then they would turn on and we would be the hero again.
What can cause the fish to turn on then off? At the start of the float fog covered the river. The fog seemed to give confidence to the fish and they would come a long way to the flies from their best hiding places. Then the sun popped and they turned off for a bit. Then after a while they turned back on and responded. But the fly had to be placed close to cover. The recent heavy generation has scoured the bottom, so the fish wouldn't come a long way if they had to cross a large patch of clean river bottom.
What is that old saying? "all we have is time." It was fun to be on the drifter with Doug and Brent. The guys put their flies where I asked and read the water themselves as well. We floated down the river catching fish most of the way. Time can sometimes be an adversary. On this day the adversary was to be back in time for dinner. We plugged along throwing hoppers, but the fish didn't respond in the way we wanted. It was a good way to cover water as we made up time, but not productive to the fish count. We mostly finished the day catching fish on hopper/droppers
...and the story would have ended that way until we were just yards from the takeout. It was there were we spotted fish eating tiny midges on top. Most of the time on the Middle Tennessee tailwaters the fish are actually eating tiny emergers just as they try to break through the surface film. On this day the fish were eating bugs on top, they were tiny bugs on top but they were on top. We stopped the drifter and pulled out the dry flies. Some of the fish were turning on every bug they saw, but even those fish were selective. We finally found a caddis spinner pattern that worked.