Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fly Fishing the Obey River With Streamers

Here in Middle TN. weather has been the big story on the news, with our friends and certainly within the fly fishing community over the past week. The Army Corps has been releasing water into the Caney Fork at levels we saw in early spring of 2008. It seems that TVA was trying not to release large amounts of water at the Elk River until later in the week, but it appears they too have given into the rains and begun releases of just under 3900 CFS.

The Weather Guess

On Saturday there would be neither fly fishing the Caney Fork River nor would there be fishing the bend pool at the Elk River. This time of year there are not as many folks booking trips as spring, summer and fall. So, I had the choice of fishing steamers for larger trout at the Obey, or working on an upcoming presentation at the Hendersonville Fly Fishing Club meeting this Tuesday night? It quickly became obvious that some “field work” would be the only way to discuss the latest tactics for the upcoming presentation with the Hendersonville group. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it. I hooked up the drifter and off Dan and I went to the Obey.

Light rain and warmer, that was the weather guess. Falling water for the morning and mud lines entering the river at the various creeks would be the water conditions or so we wanted to think. Everything looked good as we hit I-40 and then got onto Highway 56. We hit Highway 53 and got our first glimpse at the Cumberland River just North of Gainesboro, TN. There were whole trees, large logs and brush floating in the Cumby. That river would dangerous at best to navigate today. We continued to listen to Kelly Galloup and drive toward the Obey.

How does the Cumby affect a day of fly fishing on the Obey? Well the Obey is a short tailwater that flows from the Dale Hollow Dam into the Cumberland River at Celina. Wolf Creek Dam was releasing over 21,000 CFS into the Cumberland to keep pressure off the dam, which is under repair. Also, water from the creeks between Wolf Creek and the confluence of the Obey at the Cumberland, would add water to the Cumby. The Cumberland River would be high and actually back up into the Obey. The backed up water of the Cumberland would bring stained water into the lower section of the usually clear Obey.

We unloaded the drifter at Moody Boat Ramp just above Celina. The boat ramp beavers had been doing a very nice job of working on the trees at the ramp and they had a couple trees about halfway ready to fall. Little we realize significance of falling trees until late in the float.

I met the shuttle at the lower ramp in Celina and got a good look at the lower portion of the Obey. Already there was debris floating in the Obey even with one generator pushing water from Dale Hollow into the Cumberland. This was going to be an interesting day of fishing.

Dale Hollow Releases

Date Time (Central) Generators

1/10/2009 6am - 7am 0

7am - 8am 1

8am - midnight 0

We shoved off from Moody about 30 minutes post generation and started our float. We started throwing large steamers, because we wanted to see just how big the trout are in the Obey and what better way to see than throwing the meat? Within an hour the flow slowed to a crawl and the water became slightly stained. But, we trudged along picking up smaller rainbows here and then there. We tried some nymphs and midges to rest our/my arm from the streamer rod. As usual the BHPT # 14 came through for us, first in the middle of the river then against some large rocks along a bluff. It stopped raining long enough to down a couple chicken tenders Dan picked up the night before, then it rained some more.

But, the real reason we were there was to see the bigger fish and how they reacted to larger flies. We had many flashes and some hook ups, but didn’t connect with the really large fish, which were following our presentations many times as we stripped them back from the bank. We tried several different streamers such as Clousers (I am a big fan of this fly), the Chicken Fly, Deceivers, Wooly Buggers and a couple home made recipes. We hit on several different colors as well, but the colors seemed to change depending on how hard it was raining if nothing else. There are some bigger browns in the Obey and they will pursue bigger flies if not for food, it was daytime, then to feed their territorial instinct. It continued to rain…

As we rounded the bend at the halfway point and picked our way through the debris in the water, the flow stopped. With no release from Dale Hollow Dam and the Cumberland backing up, the Obey River virtually came to a complete standstill. We were halfway to the lower ramp with no push from a release. What should we do? Fish of course! We continued throwing streamers against the bank as the water was just starting to creep up into the trees. It appeared the Cumby was making its way further and further up the Obey and the clouds continued to dump rain…

At dark we decided to continue fishing as much as we could until we got to the ramp. We were hugging the left downstream bank and were about a ½ mile from the ramp. That’s when a large tree gave way from the pressure of the water and fell into the river about 50 yards in front of us. The small waves from the tree rocked the boat. The tree reached out into the river a little less than half way and was about two feet in diameter. I was at the oars and made a quick scissor stroke, which put us out into the middle of the river and away from the banks that we had fished to all day and now into the night. We made our way around the tree and both thanked God we hadn’t been a minute earlier. The smell of fresh wood filled the air along with the smell of the rain that had come down all day…

At the ramp we loaded the drifter and got into some drier clothes. I put the flies we used throughout the day in the front of the truck to begin to dry out for next week. Oh and the weather guess? The weather guess was pretty accurate for the day… it did rain, but it sure beat not getting out and enjoying a day on the river.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you guys were able to catch some fish and stay safe! Hopefully the rain will slow down enough that the Caney will be fishable again in a few weeks...