Sunday, March 30, 2008

Elk River, Saturday March 29th, 2008

The forecast on Saturday called for rain and approximately 60 degrees. I met Jim Allen from Ohio and we discussed lunch. Because the float at the Elk takes all the light of day, this time of year, we settled for lunch of bologna and pimento cheese. Jim told me he had never had pimento cheese. A person with a passion for fly fishing needs to appreciate the finer points of pimento cheese like the pimentos; the mayo, the different cheeses, the list goes on and on. Besides pimento cheese is one of the necessities of a quality float trip as well as quality southern living.

We arrived at the river at 8:00 a.m. and headed out among moderate fishing pressure on the upper part of the river. Before we got to the bend pool we had removed the skunk with a brown on a Tutto. At the bend pool we boated the second fish with light rain coming down. We headed down river and brought out the streamers. Immediately Jim was open for business with several strikes and some misses to keep him honest. We stopped at my favorite run and pulled out a black Bugger. This fly caught the fish quality brown of the day. I tied on a U-Tube Streamer and on one cast we had a brown hit the U-Tube, come up out of the water and then come back for a second shot. The fish missed the point of the hook, but it was an exciting thing to witness.

Further down the river the rain became heavier, the thunder became louder and the lightning became brighter. We pulled over and anchored up to wait out the storm. After the storm passed we moved down to a nice long pool which produced a healthy rainbow. We parked at a run where Jim caught another nice rainbow on a Tutto with a miracle Midge dropper. The water was becoming a little more clouded due to the creeks after the rains.

Lunch time we downed a couple sandwiches with pimento cheese, added some chips and then we moved into the middle portion of the river. We boated two of the nicest fish of the day within 100 yards of each other. The first was caught on the U-Tube and the second was on the BHPT.

As the light began to dwindle we headed for the ramp at Ferris Creek Bridge. We had to wait out one more thunderstorm on the way out and it was almost dark when we arrived at Ferris Creek. We were packed up and off the water by about 8:00 p.m.

The Elk is in good shape. The light pressure down stream is giving fish a chance to recover from the drought last year and a chance to grow a little more. The middle portion of the river is still a great place to spend a large part of the day, but an angler needs to keep an eye toward the sun and not get caught upstream after dark. If you get caught on the river after dark make sure you have some of these to curb that appetite.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Elk River- Scouting Report

Today Anthony Williams from Calvary Outfitters took me out for our second scouting trip of the year to the Elk River. I plan on doing some trips down there this year and wanted to try out a few patterns as well as to take a look at some of the better spots we’ve found over the last 6 years.

When we arrived at the river we were surprised at the lack of people on the river. There were exactly….no people within eyesight and only one vehicle in the parking lot. As we were suiting up a gentleman from North Carolina and his daughter arrived. He was teaching her to fly fish and I can’t think of a better river to teach the mechanics of fly fishing than the upper portion of the Elk. We exchanged pleasantries and while they went back to their car to get suited up, we backed the canoe into the water.

As I said before this was more of a scouting trip, so my job was to sit in the front of the canoe, look for fish and watch the bobicator. The usual suspects were in the usual holes along the river and before we arrived at the bend pool we had a couple strikes. A quick stop in the bend pool and we picked up a couple rainbows on the Tutto. Moving downstream from there we were under crystal clear skies and on crystal clear water. The river is in very good shape particularly when we consider last years summer drought.

I have a favorite run on the the upper portion of the Elk. This run produces fish most every time and Saturday was no exception. The run yielded two very nice holdover browns with outstanding color on a small Clouser. Then I moved onto a long run and caught another brown. This opportunistic brown was a little larger, but the color was more memorable than its size. The fish had the butter color belly and golden sides. The spots were vivid black with bright red mixed among them, but the most distinct features were the white at the tips of the fins. This fish was in great shape.

While Anthony fished downstream, I took a lunch break and sat down next to the water. Between bites I turned over a few rocks and found………..sow bugs. The largest sow bug I found was approximately a #18, which explains why the Tutto worked out so well. Anthony continued working a run and came up with a nice rainbow of his own on a Clouser.

We did see some younger folks turn over a canoe, which yielded some colorful language and shouts of “this water is cold, this water is cold” and “this water is cold!”. After that we fished downstream a little longer and then decided to call it a day.

Anthony’s canoe gets a lot of attention while it is on the river. There were some long looks on the way back to the ramp and several people stopped to discuss the distinct lines of his River Ridge Custom Canoe.

My seat in front of the canoe, over the past couple weeks, revealed there are not as many fish in the upper river as in previous springs. However, it is still a little early for the TWRA to stock the upper part of the river to its normal capacity. Down river the fish seem to be as plentiful as previous years. The holes further downstream should hold the bigger fish that we know are there just waiting to be caught.