Several times every year I have the pleasure of hosting a father and son on the drifter. When their trip to Colorado didn't go off as planned, Jeff and his son Hanes still had the chance fish but it would be in Tennessee. Now we all know Colorado has many more fish per river mile than most Tennessee rivers, but Tennessee can be fun too.
The plan was to rip some lips with nymphs and then when the fish began to rise we would transition to dry/droppers. Before the first oar hit the water it was apparent the fish were hugging the bottom or at the very least not rising. The water was a bit stained and no rise rings were visible. But we still had high hopes and a secret weapon.
What was the secret weapon? Hanes was the weapon. Although Jeff boated the first fish, Hanes was in the front of the drifter and soon bringing fish to the net with regularity. He was catching his share of rainbows and Jeff's share too...at the beginning of the day. Then Hanes started picking up brookies from time to time.
Jeff was soon dialed in and bringing his share of fish to the net. On this day it took an absolute drag-free drift. Most of the anglers we passed spoke of low numbers or worse. We continued to grind out the middle part of the river and Hanes continued bringing the boat numbers up. Soon he added browns and both anglers had their slam.
Jeff was dialed in on a short rock wall. There are some blowdowns throughout this stretch and we were working them pretty hard. Jeff dropped the Tutto on the upstream side, adjusted the line and the fly released into a good drift. About halfway down the blowdown the indicator took a familiar dive. Jeff raised the rod tip and the line came tight. The fish ran back for the wood but Jeff brought it into open water and then he got the head up. The fish, a nice brookie, was soon in the net.
The fish were really tight to structure again on this trip. They were either close to wood or hugging the bottom, it was rare that we saw a fish just cruising and eating. The water felt a little warmer than usual, but that could be from the cooler air temperatures of Fall. Did the temperatures have anything to do with the tight lips?
I read in a Jimmy Buffett book that no one should ever get on a boat that doesn't have enough food onboard for the trip at hand and then some. As you can see from the photo above we had just enough Golden Oreos to get through the day and some other snacks for the "then some" part of the equation.
The sun sets early this time of year but we were making the most of this day. Hanes was fishing when the urge hit him and Jeff was getting good drifts. When Hanes would decide he had the urge to fish he would strip some line off the reel and drop his nymph in the water...and usually catch a fish. Some days, as I have said many times, it is just your day.
Jeff and Hanes were a lot of fun and this trip, although the water was stained, was a good trip in fantastic weather. The guiding season is winding down for the most part, but there are still a couple dates left on the calendar to get on the water. The next phase will be streamers for big trout and musky as Winter is just around the corner. If you want to set up a trip just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to get a day on the water.