Saturday, May 24, 2008

James and Larry on the Caney Fork

Thursday night was spent tying flies, mostly Clousers for high water and Dan-O-Magic’s for low water, while listening to to pass the time. This weekend is the Memorial Day Buffett Parade of Concert series including the 4:00 a.m. Nashville show from the 1970’s.

Friday morning at 4:30 a.m. I was warming baked potatoes for the shore lunch. The coolers packed… (check), rods hung neatly in the truck (check) and the boat tied down….. (check). A stop for ice to cool the goodies and a fill up with gas to empty the wallet…. (check), then onto McDonalds where every successful fishing trip should begin.

Today I was fishing with James who is from Murfreesboro, TN and his father-in-law Larry who came in from Phoenix, AZ. Both are very pleasant gentlemen who have a definite appreciation for the outdoors. On the way to the river we had good conversation about kayaks as well as snakes in trees on the sound side of the Outer Banks.

We launched the boat, did a few adjustments to casting forms, which of course included a discussion of mending…...Then we were off.

The first fish to the boat was a healthy Caney brown trout, which was followed by a healthy Caney rainbow. By the time we floated into Where Cows Walk on Water their casting was in rhythm & we had boated several fish. We couldn’t count the number of flashes and missed a few quick hits.

The sun was up, the clouds had burned off and we added the smell of sun block to remind us spring is here with summer just around the corner. That was us rolling right along with the current and stopping at the places that looked fishy.

By lunch we had a Grand Slam + one 16” carp thrown in the mix. The water was slowing after the generators stopped, when we cruised into the regular lunch spot and fired up the grille. Lunch today was cedar planked grilled salmon, baked potatoes, with butter & sour cream, and fresh fruit.

After lunch and talk of siesta, I rowed us back up stream a couple times to hit a shoal that always seems to produce. The water was low enough that we got a good look at some nice fish. We picked up a couple there and floated into the crossover drifting nymphs under bobicator.

The guys were getting into their element now and detecting subtle strikes. They began to hook up on a regular basis with Tutto’s and if they were paying attention to something other than the bobicator they got the slap on the arm “set the hook”. James and Larry picked up some very nice fish after lunch. We had several doubles on and doubles in the boat.

With the water starting to pick up a little from the second round of generation, I gave them the option of waiting until high water and rigging the streamers or floating in with the current and continue the nymphing. The question was posed and the unanimous decision was to keep doing what we are doing, so we kept drowning nymphs and giving fish sore lips.

Larry and James worked very well together. They seemed to instinctively understand when to cast and how to work together while in the boat, which is key to a good day on the river. We've already began discussions of their return to the river and I am looking forward to fishing with them again.

Radio Margaitaville is playing one of Buffett's Indy shows now. I am getting ready to start tying flies, mostly Clousers for high water and Dan-O-Magic’s for low water.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A High Water Grand Slam- May 17th, 2008

I took my brother-in-law Mark for a day on the CaneyFork. It was a planned trip that was called off and then at the last minute we decided to call it “back on”. We were on the water at 7:15 a.m. and started the float on a one generator release of 3400 CFS. We stopped at the usual wide spot so Mark could pick up his first fish of the day. We always stop at the same wide spot in the river and every time Mark goes he picks up a fish there. Today was a little different. While I was chatting with a couple of guys fishing on the bank, Mark picked up a couple 14” rainbows. It was time for him to sit behind the oars, while I caught up. We boated several more rainbows before we made it to the curve where cows walk on water. We picked up a couple more there.

Then we turned the corner and drifted off toward Lancaster. I told Mark we were coming up on the usual lunch spot and he cast right at it. His rod gave a big bend and the fight was on. Before it was over the fish had run us a couple hundred yards downstream when he got into the current. Mark boated a nice, healthy 17 & ½” rainbow. Mark got to sit down again…

We were downstream of Lancaster when we caught a brook trout fresh from the TWRA rearing pool at Dale Hollow, which measured 11”. This was our first brook trout for the year and it was a nice looking fish. The brook also completed the Caney Fork Grand Slam, which today included a couple of acrobatic shad, as well as the usual trout trifecta. Hopefully the TWRA will continue their stocking of the brook trout; because it is my understanding they grow pretty quick, as long as they can outrun the larger browns, rainbows, stripers and stringers.

We noticed after lunch the water seemed to pick up a little and when we were in the Chute it was rolling pretty good. We picked up a couple more nice bows and browns down the home stretch. When we made it to the ramp at Happy Hollow there were several boats waiting to take out. It wasn’t a traffic jamb, but it isn’t Memorial Day weekend….yet.

Dan’s dog Maggie was greeting everyone at the ramp and checking each boat for unused sandwiches and general doggy treats. She wasn’t disappointed with our boat. When I stopped by Dan’s house on the way out Maggie was back home and sunning herself on the back porch, while we sat watching the river and talking about past fishing days.

The fish were a little more cooperative in the morning than in the afternoon hours. I suspect with the high sun, high water and boat traffic, some fish decided to lie down until the pressure let up.

It was a good day and we were able to get a few hero shots to prove we did make it out to the water. The hero shots went well with our sore elbows and low back pain from casting streamers all day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Calvary Outfitters and The Elk River

I went along with the guys from Calvary Outfitters for their first outing as a group. My job was to work the net and help wherever needed. I was truly amazed at how quickly these guys picked up on fly fishing. All together we took eight people. We had six fishing or should I say 6 anglers catching. Two guys who fish regularly. The others were; one newbie who I believe just bought his stuff the night before, two just starting and one just starting back after a long absence.

Mark Joines, who fishes regularly on the Elk, was kind enough to assist Anthony Williams and myself with guiding this group. Mark practiced his guiding skills and was able to bring a few fish to hand before the day was complete.

We put the group on Black Zebras, Dan-O-Magic’s, and a sparse BHPT pattern. We topped those patterns off with a soft hackle, which was big and bulky. All the patterns produced fish for the guys.

The group caught over thirty fish for approximately four hours of fishing. Most of the fish the guys caught were the standard issue rainbows, however while I was fishing with Blake, who was one of the last off the water, we spotted a couple of bigger fish feeding, which was encouraging.

TVA has been “spilling” the dam at 100 CFS for the past couple weeks. The water level was slightly down and there was a little more algae than usual for this time of the year. The river could use a cold water flushing for a few consecutive hours and with the rain in the forecast we hope TVA will be able to turn loose of some water.

This group of fly fishermen has been meeting once a month since about October at Calvary Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN. They are a very enthusiastic and seem to enjoy each others company. Their enthusiasm was infectious on Saturday and a couple of them asked my favorite question: “it isn’t time to leave the river yet…….is it?”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Holston River May 2nd- May 5th, 2008

We took a few days off from work and play to fish the Holston River in East Tennessee. This year our annual trip consisted of four people, two boats and one very technical river. We decided to camp at Panther Creek State Park, which was a little bit of a drive, but as with most TN State Parks it was kept in very good condition. The drive quickly became secondary.

Friday evening was spent scouting the ramps and looking for additional access to the river. After spending some time in the water and chasing a few rainbows and a carp, the group stopped at Breeding’s Restaurant in Blaine, TN for a cheeseburger. Then back to Panther Creek to plan Saturday’s float and listen to the coyotes throughout the night.

Every good day of fishing starts with breakfast of a sausage biscuit and coffee. We found the local Mc Donalds and loaded up for our morning meal on the road.

Dropping off the boats at the ramp at the Indian Cave access was somewhat exciting. Backing down the long, two rutted ramp was a challenge, but with fishing ahead the ramp was easily put behind us. On the water and with the ramp still in sight we began picking up fish on Zebra Midges.

We ran into local guide Tim Doyle who offered up sound advice on how to navigate the shoals and falls in the river. As we floated the river Tim’s advice was taken into account and helped us to get through the rivers many challenging obstacles as well as preparing us for the long flat water ahead.

Thanks to Anthony Williams we can bring you this photo of a couple of us “middle aged daredevils” navigating the second set of falls. Although they are not Class II the falls did offer an adrenaline rush that we don’t get in Middle Tennessee.

We did not experience the spectacular Caddis hatch, the Holston has become known for over the past years, we did see Caddis as well as Sulphers come off the water throughout the weekend. We picked up fish both days on Zebra Midges, Stimulators, Hares Ears, and Partridge & Orange soft hackles. The most productive fly for my boat over the weekend was a #10 Bead Head Pheasant Tail.

According to several local guides the Holston is becoming a much better tailwater than in years past. The trout are healthy and with the opportunity to catch a smallmouth I would recommend stopping by for a shot. Overall the trip was a nice relaxing weekend which tested everyone’s boat handling and angling skills. Now the only question left unresolved is….where do we go in the fall?