Monday, November 30, 2009

November Caney Fork Fishing Report

Anyone who has been reading the internet, and even some of these fishing reports, will see the Caney Fork has not been fishing as good this year as it was fishing last year. With the sluice finally trimmed to the “more normal” 250 CFS it was time to find out what the fish were thinking. David and I have fished together and we have been at some of the same fly fishing meetings. We have also spent some time at Little River Outfitters discussing the finer points of the Caney. So, after a few emails back and forth we set the time and place and hit the river.

Although nothing was said between us, it must have been understood that this was to be more of an experimental float. We both said we wanted to try some different things and see if we can crack the latest code on the Caney, as we launched the drifter.

The First Hatchery Brat

We headed to the base of the dam and I mean to the base of the dam, between the walls where the generators release. With streamers flying we had one middle-of-the-road strike, but no fish. We backed out of there and decided we wanted to fish the sluice. So we went to the sluice wall (I would not recommend this) and fished directly into the sluice discharge. We both made several passes, but the fish were not interested. The water was brown and foamy coming from the sluice. After a short time of fishing the sluice, the side of the boat had significant scum lines. That concluded the “Adventure Portion” of the trip. The fish began to rise in the dam pool so we pulled out and started down the river.

An After Hours Brown

Both David and I tried several different patterns and had a few hatchery brats in the boat by the time we made it to the steps. We were not the only people catching fish, which was a good sign. The anglers wading at the steps were catching fish too. One or two folks were catching fish on a pretty regular basis. We hooked up with a few fish here and there on nymphs and small midge attractor patterns.

The wind came and went several times throughout the upper portion of the float. When the wind would die down, the fish would start rising and I would put on a dry/dropper. The wind would pick up, the fish would stop rising and I would switch back to nymphs. It was pretty brutal and David was having a good time at my expense. My new plan was to forgo the wind, be lazy and just fish nymphs to rising fish when I could. This worked out pretty well for me throughout the rest of the day.

David With A Nice Brown

We hit the usual places and although it was not a record setting day, this day was better than expected. David caught the larger fish from the front of the drifter, on several different patterns, using different techniques and drifts. The only fish we wish would give us another shot was at one of my favorite stretches. (No I am not going to tell you where it is). But, the stretch is very unassuming and as most anglers look away at the more inviting water, this stretch is quickly dismissed without a second glance. Anyway, David placed his fly in just the right spot, got a good drift. The fish came to the top and took the indicator, on the way down it must have grabbed the fly as it raced to structure. It was a head shaking, reel screaming event that lasted two seconds….tops. The fish broke free and then only thing left was the rig, which was now in mid-air and flying toward our heads.

We continued on picking up a fish here and a fish there. Later the sun, which was behind the clouds most of the day, went down behind the ridge. David went back to the front of the boat, streamer rod in hand. We began to pound the banks on a slow steady drift. He had a couple hits and a fish-on then lost pretty quick and we were both feeling good overall. Then the rod bent and it was game on. David boated the last nice brown of the evening. After getting the fish in the net and snapping the appropriate hero shots we bounced along the river hitting only the high points.

A Fat Brown

The coyotes came out in the hills around the Caney. They were barking on both sides of the river just after the sun went down and continued on, from time to time, throughout the remainder of the float. The owls were out, as were a flock of ducks and one angry heron that we decided was being eaten by a fox, or Sasquatch. We cruised into the take-out an hour after generation started and loaded the boat before the generation hit.

Brookies in the Fall

Thinking back about the day, it was really pretty good. There were a few nice fish, we caught fish on most of the methods we tried and we caught the slam. Not a great day in regards to high numbers of fish, but a day of quality fish and healthy fish, rising again in most parts of the river. There were some missed opportunities, some all out misses and some good laughs. David is an exceptional angler who loves to be on the water. He listens and offers tips as well. We will do this again, especially with streamer season just around the corner.

Caught & Released

Monday, November 23, 2009

Elk River TN Fishing Report

Sunday afternoon I could not help myself and slipped off to the Elk. I waded, yep, I really did wade. I know that's hard for some to believe, but a good wading adventure never hurts and besides I can't remember the last time I waded in Middle TN. Anyway, I need to get back to the story. So, I decided to go through Shelbyville (pronounced- Shevil) and to the young girl, with the ponytail, who stops her car in the middle of the intersection, to talk on the cell phone, because she is obviously lost, in many and the other 10 vehicles that were also trying to get through the intersection, really hope you find where you were going...

Anyway, I made it through Shevil and onto Lynchburg without further incident. Then on Highway 50 I saw a deer run in front of a new white pick-up. I am not sure if the pick-up hit the deer or the deer hit the pick-up, but I am sure it was the deer's fault.

The Hatchery Brats are Everywhere

Then I got to the parking area at the Highway 50 bridge with a slight drizzle. On with the waders and rigged up the 5 weight. I picked the Orvis, Clearwater Flex Tip because it has a soft tip for throwing soft hackles, like the Bust-A-Brown and has a good enough backbone to handle a Wooley Bugger/bait (that should stir some people's emotions) or a couple nymphs. But, mainly I wanted to strip a Bust-A-Brown. I bought this rod after speaking with Leo at Cumberland Transit about a good back-up rod. After I bought it and let people use it I figured out the flex is just right for stripping soft hackles and as a bonus it helps to slow some folks cast.

Stained From The Creek Run-Off

When I walked down to the river, the river bottom reminded me of UT, because it was orange. It is that time of year on the Elk when the bottom turns this color. The good news? The smell that usually accompanies the orange bottom was not there. That was a win. The river water was stained from the creek that flows beside the parking lot, but I had driven for an hour so I was going to fish.

Notice the Orange Bottom and the SJW/Bait

The first fly I tried was a BHPT, but after a few drifts without a strike the San Juan Worm/bait came out of the fly box. This fly/bait picked up several fish and then I moved downstream. About halfway down to the Bend Pool I stopped and fished the small pool below the first riffle. I picked up a couple there before I took my turn at the Bend Pool.

Fish were rising everywhere. Usually on a day like this, with overcast skies and lots of rising fish in the Bend Pool, it can be tough to hook up. The beginning was no different. The first thing I noticed was the pool had again moved downstream from where I remembered it last. The shoal is even longer than before. The SJW/bait worked well as did the Bust-A-Brown and Elk Hair Caddis.

The Only Tools for the Evening

I even went back to my Smoky Mountian roots and tied on a Haystack. This fly produced the most fish, although I have never fished the Haystack on the Elk. I fished until dark or should I say almost dark before I realized it was a pretty good walk back to the truck.

On the way back I snapped a couple different photos and met Ken, who was up from Alabama. It was a good evening on the Elk and I had the entire Bend Pool to myself, which is a rarity. Ken it was nice to meet you and hope to see you down there again.

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Caught & Released

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November Caney Fishing Report

We Do Like Our SEC Football

Rachel's First Brown

Lately just because generation stops on the Caney Fork doesn't mean we are going to fish low water. The Army Corps has been sluicing non-stop for over a month, which has produced a lot of high water and tough fishing. But, after I returned home from the Calvary Outfitters meeting on Thursday night, a quick generation and release check revealed, the release after generation Thursday at 5:00 was 250 CFS. We were finally going to see some low water.

The Hatchery Brats Came Out Early Again

This trip had been planned for a while, but unexpected circumstances postponed the trip for a few days. I picked up Jamie and Rachel from their motel early and we hit the water just after the generation stopped. We backed the drifter out into the current and soon Jamie and Rachel were hooked up. Jamie, who can cast with seemingly no effort, boated the trips first rainbow within sight of the ramp. Rachel tagged her first brown on the Caney, followed that up with some by-catch and then just for kicks she popped another brown.


The day was made up of almost perfect temps and blue bird skies. The water was a little stained at the beginning of the float, but cleared as the water settled and the water level decreased. We saw some large browns jumping, however there were few fish spotted. This is somewhat concerning, but November can be slow on the Caney, so all is not lost yet.

I Thought You Left The Drifter in the Water? And, I Thought You Left it in the Water?

We stopped for lunch at the lunch rock, which has been underwater most of the year. The water fell through lunch and continued to fall out the rest of the day. I had forgotten how low the river gets between long periods of no generation.

We Were Not the Only Ones Enjoying the River

We headed into a good stretch of water, which if fished correctly can produce a nice fish here and there. But, the nicer fish are particular and if the presentation is not correct those fish do not come out and play. Rachel threw the right cast and got a good drift, technically it was perfect, and she hooked up with a nice rainbow. The fish started for cover, but Rachel coaxed the bow out into the middle of the river. My memories of Rachel losing a large fish, last year in this same area, came to my mind but she played the rainbow perfectly and quickly brought it to the net.

Rachel With A Nice Rainbow

Jamie was itching to get on the streamer rod. At first I thought he was joking, because I tend to like to fish that way and "sometimes" I can try to "influence" others to do the same, Jamie was ready though and we put him on the six weight. Within a few casts Jamie got into a rhythm and was pounding the banks. He boated a small bass before it just got too dark. We did confirm that after dark, every cast feels like the perfect cast.

Jamie With A Nice Bend In His TFO

So, we pulled into the ramp and slid the drift boat onto the trailer. Jamie and Rachel have both come a long way from the first time we fished together last year. Their casting, hook sets and their ability to play fish, all of their skills have improved and it shows when they get on the water.

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Caught & Released

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Little Red River Report (part III)

Making this trip was touch and go because of all the rain. When we arrived at the White River, just outside of Bald Knob Arkansas, the White looked to be about 4-5 miles wide. With the collection of water in the fields and smaller tributaries overflowing their banks, the White actually looked more like the Mississippi River. But, the water levels of the White were also going to give us opportunity to fish the Little Red on lower water.

Flooding Along the Way

The Water is a Little Off-Color

Over the several day trip we made a couple different floats including from JFK Park to Winkley Shoals, which is a ten mile back buster. And, we did a float from Winkley to Lobo Landing. The Winkley to Lobo trip we made twice in one afternoon.

The Cut-Thru at Our Own Private Wading Access

Dan and Mark in the Background at the Head of the Island

It was an outstanding weekend to fish, catch and relax. I am taking this formula and introducing it on our Spring trip to Tri-Cities, with the hope that others can have as much fun traveling as our group has traveling. Hope you enjoy this report and the last couple reports from the Little Red River.

Jim Caught This Shot of Gary Fishing Some High Water

Caught & Released

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Little Red River Fall Fishing Report (part II)

I received some photos from the others, who visited the Little Red River with our group. Looking back through the photos we have some pretty cool pics. Some of the pics I can show on the fishing report and some of the pics I am better off leaving on the disk. But for now we will take a quick walk through some of the other photos.

There Are a Lot of Geese in Arkansas

Yes, I Do Wade On Low Water- Sometimes

We Caught Several Leaves on a Windy Saturday With High Water

Stopped Below a Shoal Hooking Lots of Rainbows

OK you made it this far through the photos and may be wondering what flies we used to catch our fish. So, here goes. We caught the majority of our fish on BHPT's with a dropper. Most of the time we have a sow bug dropped off the bottom of the pheasant tail, but sometimes it was just the pheasant tail. Two sow bugs worked as well and if the fish stopped biting on one color sow bug we could switch to another color, fish the same area, and pick up more fish. The Tutto worked very well one morning and the next morning we couldn't buy a bite on a Tutto. The conclusion? Change flies as conditions and especially the fish dictate.
Rainbow on Pheasant Tail

Caught & Released

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Fall Little Red River Fishing Report (Part I)

We are back from our second trip to Arkansas and the World Famous Little Red River for this year. We caught lots of fish; some more than others and some larger than others. It was good to get away for a long weekend and experience one of the more scenic rivers in the South. I could write a lot of stories, most of them would contain inside jokes and maybe some that I shouldn't repeat. So, I will just give a couple reports in photos to help get our readers through their day at work, surfing the internet (yes, we understand a fly fisher needs a break from time to time). The photos don't really do our trip justice, but, hopefully everyone enjoys viewing them half as much as we enjoyed taking them.

Sneaking Across the Border

A High Flow on the Mighty Mississippi

Read the Signs Carefully

Our First Fish was a Hatchery Brat


A Little Red River Brown

Caught & Released

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Caney Fork Regulations

I have had several folks ask me my opinion on the new regulations for the Caney Fork. First off I was surprised anyone would ask. But hey, it's good conversation and when we can't be out there fishing, we might as well be talking about fishing. Let's take a look at the new regulations, specifically for the Caney Fork and hopefully this will spur something for the Elk as well. Yep, I said it hopefully this will spur something for the Elk as well!

Here they are as I see them....or might I say copied and paste from some other website:

Rainbow and brook trout-14-20 inches PLR with 1 fish of each species over 20 inches.
Well, I guess this one is OK. But only if you like to fish for larger fish and don't mind getting away from the Hatchery Brats that have been in the upper part of the river most of the Summer. We will give this one 3 out of 5 stars. (non-scientific rating)

Brown Trout-24 inches Minimum Length Limit (MLL) with 1 fish over, (changed from 18-inches MLL with two over)
There go all the 17 &1/2" brown trout. Now those fish will make their way up to 23 & 1/2". Gosh just when we thought we had these fish figured out, TWRA goes and increases the size of the browns. I am going to have to spend even more time on the water trying to figure out these even bigger browns...It's crazy, just crazy, I know my wife is gonna love that! We will give this one 4 out of 5 stars (non-scientific rating)

The daily creel limit has been changed from sev
en to five trout per day, per person
This sounds like a good thing to most. There is talk of decreasing the stocking rate for the river, but at this point it is just talk. But, just in case I am going to continue to eat only fresh salmon that I catch at the Kroger River just down the street. We will give this one 2 out of 5 stars and see how this shakes out. (non-scientific rating) The fish in the Kroger River will still fear me!

Alright, there's my take on the new regs for the Caney Fork River. Hopefully you can tell I have put a bit of humor in there to ease the pain of hearing the same old take on a good change that has been a long time coming. Until we see March 1st, which is supposed to be when the new regs go into effect, I am going to spend as much time on the water as I can. Hope to see you there as well!

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fly Fishing the Caney Fork with a Sluice

Mark Shows the First Brown

Mark and I just returned from a quick afternoon float with the sluice running. The river was dingy, dirty, and muddy. We turned a nice striper, then caught browns and rainbows. The brook trout were absent again and I am not sure if it was the water clarity or we just didn't get the flies in front of the right fish.

Preparing for an Upcoming Trip

The Rainbows Came Out Today...

We threw streamers and nymphs today and had luck on both. In spite of the prolific midge hatches coming off we saw very few rises. We did see some large fish hitting the surface, but I doubt they were after a tiny midge.

...and So Did the Browns

The sluice was running at 1800 CFS and again the river was rough coming away from the ramp, but once we got into the river it smoothed out and we had a steady pace to fish. We caught them on the usual stuff today and if the water would clear up the river could be fishing good. Tomorrow appears to be more of the same and we will see what the month of November has to offer.

Caught and Released

We are off to the Little Red River (weather and generation permitting) later this week to get some more value from the Arkansas Trout Stamp we purchased earlier in the year.

Caught and Released

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