Sunday, July 25, 2010

Evening Float on the Caney Fork

Anthony Working On the Far Bank

Anthony, Mark and I took a float on the Caney Fork to try some top-water action. We lasted a good way into the float, before the float became a concerted effort to find more fish. We did find fish in some of the usual places, however it was a little slow. The float confirmed some of my assumptions. The biggest fish came later in the float with nymphs and the water is still cold a long way from the dam.

We saw several canoes and yaks. We did not see kids in floaties, but, we did see adults in inflatable rafts. which is pretty darn close to kids in floaties. Inflatable rafters beg a few comments....such as- Who's idea was that? And who said, "yes Junior that's a great idea, I'll get the air pump..."

This month has been a good one at Southeastern Fly for many reasons. This was a relaxing float and a good way to spend an afternoon, and we brought several fish to the drifter. We will just finish this report with pictures.

There Was a Healthy Brown or Two

A Caney Fork Side-Channel

Finally Caught the Train on the Bridge!

Healthy Bows

Low Rolling Fog
Just to cool things off this report brought to you by Winter Floats!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Anglers Not Welcome....

We are not sure why, but some places just don't welcome anglers.
Who Knew!

Try to beat the heat and we hope you have an awesome weekend on the water.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fishing the Caney Fork River (with Curtis & Robert)

Robert, Curtis and Mark from Our Point of View
The drifter was booked on Saturday when I received a call from Curtis. He wanted to do a half-day float on the Caney Fork too. So, I called Mark and he was there Saturday morning to take Curtis and Robert, both experienced anglers, for trip on the Caney Fork. Mark took care of Curtis and Robert while I focused on my float. Below is Mark's account of the day. Curtis, I am looking forward to the float in August.

A Behind the Back Hatchery Brat
Guiding Curtis and Robert was pretty simple and enjoyable any way you look at it - just get them somewhere near the river and they would start hauling fish out. Both were excellent casters and great company on the water - the conversation kept pace with the relaxed Saturday mood and the trout seemed none too concerned at the rate Curtis an Robert were pulling them out of the Caney. No amount of canoes, kayaks and waders seemed to phase them. They each just looked for openings and started crossing trout eyes. Curtis and Robert were visiting from Alabama but they really seemed to know their way around pretty good already. Curtis is a native of Cookeville and had waded stretches of the Caney. But, he wanted to see some stretches that are best viewed from the casting brace of a drift boat.

We tried nymph rigs and shad-patterned streamers (the schools of gizzard shad seemed to stretch the length of the river) but still kept coming back to a simple Bob Clouser pattern on clear, intermediate sinking lines that just put the hammer down over and over. We didn't land the big one but Robert had a really nice brown on the line briefly that took a Lefty pattern- and he got some looks from a few other browns that would have made it one heckuva half-day trip. As it was, we landed a boat slam in about 15-20 minutes - the first fish was a brookie that was overly camera shy, then the rainbows and recently stocked browns came to hand soon enough.
A Nice Caney Rainbow
After sizing up the cattle Where Cows Walk On Water (Curtis is in the cattle business....), we had to pick our shots between the more frequent flotillas of paddlers, but we did so throughout the float and when we needed a break, there were RC Colas and Moon Pies waiting.... Robert especially appreciated the southern touch to the snacks. We kept up the pace all the way to Happy Hollow, plucking trout from one end of the float to the other.

The action slowed down some as the sun finally got up and the heat cranked up, but that is to be expected this time of year and the trout are still there under the Caney's cold flow. It was true quality time with two quality fly fishermen.

Busy at the Take-Out

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report with Mark & Dustin

Mark and Dustin on the Caney Fork

Mark had planned a fly fishing birthday float for his son Dustin and they were waiting for the fishing to pick upon the Caney. This was Mark's first time using a fly rod and Dustin had fished a few times, but they were quick to listen to some advice and put me to work on the net shortly after we headed down the river.

Mark's First Fish on the Fly Rod

After a bit of instruction Mark was the first to hook up. He brought his first rainbow to the net and after a quick picture, to document the moment, we were picking up fish as we worked on technique. The guys worked on the finer points of cast, mending, hook set and when a fish would hit they working on strip, STrip, STRIP...
Dustin With One of Many

Mark started out strong early on, but Dustin came back with a vengeance. He focused on his casting and soon began busting fish on most casts. Then he waited for just the right moment to announce "I believe I am one ahead"... It was all in good fun.

Sharing the River with the Locals

On the Caney Fork in the summer anglers should expect to work around cows, canoes, kayaks, rubber rafts, boats, kids in floaties, and just about any other possible form of watercraft. I was just joking about the kids in floaties, but it's still early in the summer. The cows are the easiest to work with because they don't say much, generally hold their ground and let you pass or they retreat back to shallow water. But, if you look close at the cows standing further out into the river it is easy to see the fish continue feeding between and around the cows. I have never bothered to try to catch these fish because I wouldn't want to have an incident with a large animal, but it does show the fish are pretty adaptive to their surroundings.
Dustin Hooked Up on the Dry Fly

We put Dustin on the dry/dropper rig and fished to rising fish. He got the hang of the cast and began picking spots pretty well. He put the casts where he needed and was rewarded with his first brown of the day on a dry fly. Later we discussed what the guys had done throughout the day and what else they wanted to get from their trip. Dustin's reply was he wanted to learn how to fish the dropper and that it was easier than he thought. Mission accomplished. Now onto bigger and better things. Well, onto bigger and better things between the flotillas.

A Nicely Colored Brown

Practice Pays Off for Mark

All the work we do early in the float helps to prepare anglers for what we hope are bigger fish when the anglers get more comfortable. As the morning went along their casts became better and longer, which is key on days with heavy boat traffic.

As the casts got better and we found open spots in the conga line, the quality of fish began to increase. First little by little then Mark popped a nice brown. He played the fish by hand-lining it perfectly. We had the fish between the boat and the bank for the entire fight and Mark got the fish to the net quickly. The fish was healthy and after the documentation it was revived and release. With a swish of the tail the fish went back to the bottom of the river.

Dustin's Holdover Rainbow
After watching his Dad catch a nice brown it was time for Justin to get into a more quality fish too. Both the dry/dropper and nymphs produced fish most of the day. As the day had worn on the traffic picked up. We found a place on the river to "box-out" the pleasure boaters. Dustin quickly went to work both spotting fish and fishing to them.
After an excellent cast, he stripped hard on the line hand and pulled the rod at the right angle, the fish did the rest. The rainbow was hooked and began to use all its tricks. It ran at the boat and Dustin stripped, it jumped and Dustin played the jump, the fish ran and Dustin gave it line. Dustin got the head up on the fish and scooted it into the net. The fight was over. Dustin came through on the final leg of the float. We revived the fish and he did the honors of the release.

Some Fine Catch and Release Fishing
It was a pleasure to spend the day on the river with a couple fun guys. Father and son trips can be some of the best floats we do throughout the year. The low water helps to make the action hot and it is always fun to help someone fly fish for the first time. At the end of the day I don't think any of us knew who was ahead in the count.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Low Water on the Caney Fork River

There is one thing about living close to the Home of Country Music and that is the opportunity to hear some talented artists. This morning my family and I were invited to attend church with a good friend and his family. It was a bluegrass service and there were a couple young ladies performing, as they do most Sundays. Anna Grace and Sarah make up the duo High Road. Today they were performing with a small bluegrass band, in a small southern church and they did an amazing job.

Saturday, David and Nathan came along for a trip on the Caney Fork. Nathan came up from the Atlanta area and spent the day casting to tailwater trout. It was just us in the drifter, with a hundred canoes and splashing paddles. Today it was combat fishing at it's finest. Stopping to fish a shoal only to have boats come within inches of a good drift. People diving into the water to shake off the heat. The fish in the river also came out to play. The low water was the ticket for us today. Well, the water and finding a place in the line of watercraft were tickets for us today.

One of the First Fish of the Day

We started the day early with dry flies and droppers. Nathan hooked up first and was also the first to catch a fish on the dry and David followed. David brought a new stick that was perfect for casting a small dry/dropper rig and I got a chance to test my reflexes. David rigged up my Hydros and introduced me (by mistake) the world of casting a 12 foot leader. So, I made him cast it a while just for punishment...

Nathan Sight Casting for Cows

One of the Fighting Browns
Another Hatchery Brat
We spent the morning trying some different dry/dropper combos. I tried some midges that have been on my mind as of late and most worked on the hatchery brats. Some of the new creations worked well and I will be working more on some of the patterns as the week goes along.
A Fighting Brown
After lunch we put David in the front of the boat, me behind the oars and Nathan in the back to keep an eye on us. We had the usual life jacket and fishing license conversation with our friends from the TWRA. Then we put my usual single nymph rig in David's hands and started picking spots that looked likely. First we landed a decent rainbow and then the browns came out to play. David hooked a nice brown and that's when Nathan and I went to work. First we began the heckling... "adjust the drag", "Side Pressure!", "that brown is going to kick your tail", and my personal favorite "don't let it get away, I'll get the net and Nathan get the camera". David played the brown into the net just as another couple boats came into the picture. It was a very slow day for most, but ours was just picking up.
David with a Solid Brown
The Balancing Act
Another Product of the Single Nymph Rig
David's brown earned him the opportunity to sit behind the oars and row us a while. Some of the other anglers on the river slowed and let us go ahead and we found a nice place in among the canoes and other watercraft. It was my turn with the nymph stick and when we found some open water Nathan and I boated a few fish. Included in those fish was a nice brown that came when I was turned around having a conversation with a guy, about drift boats. It was a good thing David was watching my indicator, while as usual, I wasn't paying attention to my own rig...
"I didn't get a good look at him officer, he was wearing a mask and kept asking about my big brother."*
After my second brown it was Nathan's turn on the nymph stick. We put him in the front of the boat and with very little coaching he began working on the perfect drift. Soon it was Nathan's turn to pick up his brown and the fish did not disappoint. Nathan came through with a well played fight and with a little heckling he brought the brown to the net.
Nathan With His Nice Brown

The dry dropper worked early in the morning. Color was more critical than style of dropper. Casting to feeding fish was a lot of fun. The highlight of the morning was watching a huge 24"+ brown kill a shad. The fish was so big I discounted it as a beaver for the first minute or so. It was only after we caught a glimpse of some yellow that we backed the drifter up and watched the show. Yes, we will be fishing that area hard from now forward.
Nathan and David were a pleasure to fish with today. We caught a lot of hatchery brats early, caught some nice browns, then finished up the day with more hatchery brats. Low water was the key to locating the fish and the key to concentrating the fish into the smaller pockets and pools. For now I am back on the tying bench to work on some new patterns and to stock up on nymphs for the "hot stick".
*Caption With permission from Mark Smith

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Caney Fork Fly Fishing/Rowing/Eagle Report

Our First Customer of the Day
Last year I attended the Nabours and Friends for Project Healing Waters benefit. I met John and Brett while there and we had a good conversation about fishing. John has a drift boat and wanted someone to help him learn how to row it. Brent likes to fish and wanted to fish a different part of the river. I just like to be on the river, so we made a deal to go fishing in the future. The future arrived this week and we made plans to float the river, fish a little and give John some time behind the oars.

There Were Some Others on the Water Too

John Fishing While the Drifter Rests

Although we had plans to fish, we also wanted to enjoy the river. We hooked some on streamers, but not any real big fish. We took time out to rest, wade in the water and cool off while we took time to catch up. It was just a real nice float and a calm day.

A Healthy Rainbow

While we did fish, we also enjoyed the sights. The highlight of the day was when one of the eagles came out from it's perch in a tree down river. It took flight and came up-river toward us, then right over our head while we were drifting downstream. All three of us completely lost focus. A world record brown trout could have been on the line and none of us would have cared much. Well we would have cared, but the eagle was awesome! The eagle flew right over our head and then disappeared into the trees. The camera was in rowers bench and I couldn't think clearly enough to take it out for the shot. But, that's OK because the shot is vivid in my memory.

The day wound down with John at the oars while Brent and I fished a little. The water never did fall out completely and we missed our shots on low water. The company was good, John got some seat time, Brett got some time on some different water and the eagle sighting is burned in my memory...

Another Sight on the Caney Fork River

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 4th Weekend Float

Brent and his brother Todd wanted to float the Caney. Todd came in from West Palm and was visiting. Although it was the 4th of July weekend it was the best time for the brothers to get together and enjoy a half day on the river together. So, we left Murfreesboro and headed for the what we felt would be the least traffic on the river, to search out some of the fish in the Caney Fork.

Brent Hooked-Up on Falling Water

We got to the river and launched the drifter before too many people arrived. We launched on water that was still a little high, but we also used this water to get away from most of the crowds. Todd hooked up early and then we stopped at some of the usual places to work on nymphing techniques.

Brent with One of the Rainbows

Brent spent the morning working on nymphing and quickly got into a groove picking up a few rainbows from the run he was fishing. He continued drifting the nymph rig, while I took time to talk to some local folks who were trying out some new patterns. Everyone on the river was having a nice day and we didn't meet a stranger. We continued downstream stopping at some of the likely holes, runs and riffles.

The Guys Discussing the Fine Points of Polarization

Todd in Action on the Long Rod

The first fish of the day came on Todd's nymph. Then we arrived at a hole that usually produces a fish or two on most days. Both the guys were fishing from the drifter and it was on anchor. Brent hooked up in the hole and into the picture came Todd's fly. Todd drifted the nymph into the hole, from the back of the boat, and the guys had their first double of the day. It was classic brothers in action...stealing the hole and the next fish! We stayed around a while and continued to pick fish from that spot. Then we pushed on downstream toward the takeout.

The Usual Hatchery Brat

We were getting close to the takeout when they got onto the streamer rods. We started down the bank and with a little coaching the brothers picked up on streamer fishing. The big fish didn't come out to play, Brent and Todd did get a small taste of the action that streamer fishing can produce. Both agreed that fishing streamers is quite intense and I added it is also addictive...

Brent Blasting the Six Weight
It was a pleasure spending the day on the river with Brent and Todd. Their attitude and willingness to learn made the day enjoyable. Hopefully they can take the information and become even better anglers in the years to come.