Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Caney Fork River Fishing Report

Fall is in the Air and the Water
Calvary Outfitters had their annual outing on the Caney Fork and I went along to fish.....and for the burgers. Brent and I rode up to the river together and had good discussions of various topics. One such discussion was of Fall and the leaves on the ground and more importantly in the water. The heavy leaf days are ahead of us, but there are already leaves in the water, especially when the wind picks up. Just pick your spots and cast between them...for the next few weeks it will be fine.

Pushing Water

After we arrived at the river it took me a little longer to get my stuff together. We were all wading and my stuff was thrown in the back of the truck, so getting the wading stuff together took a little longer. The extra time also allowed for the opportunity to pick out the most productive"looking" spots, while I watched what appeared to be a nice fish rising right beside the trail that other anglers were walking along.

While living in Knoxville, I learned people sometimes overlook the most obvious fish and other times they walk right through some of the best holes and runs to get to the their favorite spot. I watched as a few people walked right past this rising fish that was feeding within inches of the bank and a couple feet from the foot path.

After getting my waders and other garb on, I was finally ready. I tied on a top water fly and slid down the hill, walked through the weeds (thinking no snakes, no snakes, no snakes) then got into position. Still haven't gotten the boots wet, dropped the fly in some moving water and bam. A swing and a miss. The fish moved out into the middle of the run, another cast and the fly was hooked up with a nice medium sized brown.

Brown Trout Was the Flavor of the Day

Then it was time to hit a shoal with some nymphs. After much searching and a few canoes, I finally found a pocket of browns and picked several out of one hole. It was good to get out and wade through an area we usually float over. Brent commented on the water clarity and how the water was so clear it was deceivingly deep in some places. Clear water is a good sign and a change from earlier this year when the clarity, in the Caney Fork, was less than a foot.

Brown on a Nymph
It was hard to resist and I finally made my way upstream to a nice pool, that holds some nice fish. The wading reminded me of some more tips I learned way back, well not way back, I am not that old....anyway, the wading reminded me to move slow, don't make waves. When an angler moves too quickly, makes waves and then stops and casts, the fly lands on the water and starts bobbing up from the waves the angler makes. One thing we have noticed on windy days is, when fishing a nymph/indicator on a windy day, the fish seem to hit the fly more often when the wind dies and the indicator stays more constant. Flies don't look as natural when they are bobbing up and down like a yo-yo.
Another thing about wading is, if given the choice (and most of the time you have a choice) wade on the softer surfaces: i.e. the softer mud, vegetation on the river bottom or even solid rocks vs. the gravel bottom. Crunching gravel can be felt in a fish's lateral line and many times they will not hang within casting distance if they feel your presence. How often has someone said "I moved closer and the fish were just out of casting range." So, they move closer and the fish are still just outside of casting range. The more stealth the better. Watching where you step, moving slower and not making as many waves are just a few tips. Tips that were tried yesterday and seemed to help me get into a rhythm...
So, the Calvary Outfitters spent the dinner part of the day at Long Hollow for some burgers on the grill. We had discussions about types of flies, both productive and not productive. We discussed tips and stories. Then I walked up to the rocks to look at the Dam Pool. There were fish rising everywhere! Some were shad, but some were trout. I hopped down the rocks, got into position and cast a nymph above the risers. The nymph settled and went under. I thought the fly was hung on the bottom, but when the rod tip came up, the line came tight and a hatchery brat rewarded my trekking efforts... Another good day on the river and good discussion with a good group of men.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rachel and Jamie on the Caney Fork

Align Left

The Predator

Rachel and Jamie started coming to fish on the Caney Fork two years ago. The first float yielded way too many trout to count, but no browns. We have fished together several times over the past couple years and each of those times the goal has been to catch a large brown....for Rachel.

The First Fish, Just to Prove We Were There
We Caught Several of These

We started the day on nymphs and caught some rainbows early. We saw the first paddle fish of the year. This beast was about four feet long and hanging above the Stocker Hole. The fish was swimming lazily between boats, kayaks and canoes. The paddle fish looked a bit beat up with scars and slashes, but otherwise it appeared healthy. We stayed on nymphs, then we began sight fishing with dries and droppers. We continued the early part of the float fishing on top and stopped for a while to fish for feeding-fish. Jamie focused on a nice section with some cruising fish, while Rachel cast to feeding fish among some structure.

The Predator on the Move

When the fish had seen several of the flies Rachel was throwing, I asked Jamie to throw his offering into the mix. Jamie's first cast delivered the fly into the small pool and a rainbow annihilated the fly. Slowly Jamie was becoming the bad guy....well not really, but... So, we moved on.

Rainbows and More Rainbows

We continued fishing on top water with some nymphs mixed in. Jamie and Rachel continued to pick up fish here and there, but no sizable browns. Then Jamie's indicator went under and the four weight took on a nice bend. The fish ran him in circles and generally saw most of the section of the river that we were trying to pull the fish from. Finally, we got the fish to the net and began to take photos. The photo below explains the celebration....well it explains Jamie's celebration, not necessarily Rachel's celebration.

Fifteen Yard Penalty! Taunting Another Angler, Still First Down
We continued down the Caney Fork River as Jamie and Rachel took turns catching a fish here and another fish there. The sun was up high all day, not a cloud in the sky, the scene could have been just like a host of a bad fishing show might describe a high pressure day. After a quick floating dinner, we entered the final leg of the evening. The sun was setting, there midges coming off the water and the fish were just starting their evening snack as well. We went back to nymphs after some evening top water action and Jamie picked up another brown under the indicator. It looked like Rachel might go home empty handed... But, there is one thing I hate to do and that is give up on big fish.

Jamie Scores His Second Brown of the Day

We had caught our share of rainbows, some smaller browns and a couple pretty good browns. It was getting late in the evening and the fish were starting lay down for the evening. The smaller fish were starting to lay down for the evening, the bigger fish, specifically the larger browns were just getting cranked up.

We continued a slow float toward the takeout. Rachel was still on the six weight throwing to rising fish and even caught a small brown. We put a lot of time into the preparation, the right water, at the right time, the right fly and the hot stick. The rod that has caught more large browns this year than the streamer rods. All we needed was the right fish to show itself.

The Sun Has Set and Fog Rolling Up the River
Just when everyone thought it was time to stow the rods and head for fast food snack, we decided to keep at it and load the boat in the dark if needed. The last cast was called shortly after that decision. I had one more place on the river in mind. So we started down toward a little pocket of fishy water that holds some really nice: browns.
We didn't make it to the water that holds those browns, because the right fish hit the surface within Rachel's casting distance and she turned on the fish. The bug hit the water, the fish turned on the bug. The fish ate and Rachel was setting the hook, just as the oar dipped in the water to slow the boat. The fight was on, but after such a trying day and trying so hard over the past few trips, she was convinced it was a small trout. Being there were low light conditions we couldn't confirm it right away. However, she was casting the six weight with a good backbone. The next thing we knew the fish was in the net and we all realized, Rachel had caught a large brown.....for Rachel.
The Brown
Caught & Released

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report

Jim and I floated the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam this week. Jim flew into Nashville (BNS) from Ohio, stepped into a rental car and drove to the river, then climbed aboard the drifter and we shoved off. We caught up with the usual 'how is everyone' and then decided to go stick some hooks in the upper lip of a trout or two.

The First Fish.....Just to Prove We Were on the River

We started out on nymphs and picked up the usual hatchery brats. We launched within minutes of the water turning off and one tip for starting that early is to go deep. The water in the upper part of the river is deeper that most people think and although the fish will come up to the top, for the most part they are hugging the bottom. When Jim scored a hatchery brat, that kicked off the day on a positive note. No we didn't didn't set up shop in the Stocker Hole, but it looked like an aquarium when we drifted across it.

Picked Up on Top Water...Notice How Clear the Water Is

The nymph rod went back into the holder and we launched the top water high protein flies. The water clarity was excellent in one respect and the fish could see anything that came into their line of sight. On the other hand the water clarity was excellent and the fish could see anything that came into their line of sight. Long casts were the ticket for the day and rarely did we pick up anything close to the boat. This reminds me of a set of four casting principles in a video of Lefty casting at a show. It is worth watching and pay close attention to the tips when practicing casting.

This Guy Followed Us for Most of the Upper Float

..and Another and Another and Another

We had shots at some nice fish most of the day and had some nice ones come to the net. Jim began picking his water and fishing his own float. We lined the boat up and Jim nailed this brown across a shoal. The funny thing about the brown in the photo below, is the fish passed by two other boats that were on the fish just a few minutes before we came along. Jim had an excellent drift and the fish took the fly, then posed for it's own photo-op.

When This Fish Grows Into That Tail, It Could Be Trophy

We pulled into Happy at a relatively decent time. Jim headed back to Nashville and I headed home. It is always good to fish with Jim as he brings a healthy perspective and a good cast to the day. It doesn't hurt that we boated some decent fish, spotted some wildlife and generally enjoyed the day like we were supposed to do...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Obey River Report

Steve and I went up to the Obey to check out the action. It has been a few months since I was up that way and this was Steve's first time on the river. On the way we discussed a bunch of topics. As we drove along the Cumberland River I commented on how the Cumberland can be the color of chocolate milk, while the Obey will run clear. It appears I should have Considered the storm that rolled through Celina and then onto East Tennessee the night before. The Obey was as stained as I have ever seen it stained. But, we were there and the drifter was sitting in the river waiting to get out and chase some fish. So, we did what we were supposed to do and.....we fished!

Always Take a Picture of That "First Fish"
We started with top water in spite of seeing very few rises. We tried some streamers, including the new Monster Shark Prototype streamer fly. We were getting our hat handed to us early as the generation caught us quickly. We continued on downstream trying a variety of flies.

Blue Skies, High Pressure & Stained Water

We drifted along spotting a few fish and some local bank fishermen (that's another story for another time). Then when the generation smoothed out, or the high pressure leveled off, or the trout got hungry, or the flies looked like they might taste good, who really knows- but the trout began to open their mouths and we picked up some fish on nymphs. We had the indicators set about six to eight feet above the fly and the fish seemed to like that pretty well.

A Healthy Obey Holdover Brown Trout

The Obey is a river with plenty of cover including downed trees along the entire float. We eventually started banging the banks and as we moved down river toward the takeout, we were rewarded with a nice brown trout. Fishing nymphs in the stick-ups and downed timber can be rewarding, but it can frustrating too. We hooked up on enough trees to clear out a couple rows in the fly box before the day was over. That will put me on the vise for some upcoming trips.
I just came in from a float on the Caney this afternoon. The day was a nice day and the fish were cooperative. Look for that report later in the week. Until then here is a picture of the ramp at Betty's Island, which is supposed to be poured in the next day or two.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fishing Report, Along with Just Some Ideas and Such

Some days, I do wade. Most of the time I just sneak off and don't let anyone know, except my family. The fall fishing season is just around the corner and some say it started on Monday. This week I spent a little time on the river trying new things as well as brushing up on old skills for tailwaters.

A Rainbow Puts a Bend in the Hydros

The rainbows came for a greeting within minutes of getting in the water. The release from Center Hill Dam was over and falling water was the flavor of the moment. There were a few fish to be caught on the regular nymphs and then when the water fell out, a little more, I began to experiment with some dry flies on a shoal. Dries didn't work as well as I hoped, but there was a little action. Then I began to try some random flies that produced more action, but no big fish came to hand.

A Chunky Rainbow on Nymph Pattern

This trip not only reminded me of how I started fishing tailwaters a few years back, it also reminded me of some techniques I have put in the back of my mind. For instance- soft hackles. Swinging soft hackles is a good way to pick up fish. For me, the soft hackles work best in swifter moving water. Perhaps over the shoals or swinging them off the end of the shoals into the pools.

Last year we did some fishing with soft hackles on a few occasions. It was the usual one soft hackle and most times a Bust-a-Brown. Then I did a little on-line research about Davy Wotton and multiple fly rigs, specifically multiple soft hackles. This technique requires a dry fly closest to the rod, an anchor fly in the middle and a unweighted soft hackle (or two) as the tailing flies. This technique takes some smooth casting skills, but can be rewarding.

As the day wound down and the canoe traffic began to fade, the bigger fish came out and started showing themselves. There were a couple of close calls, but I couldn't get them to play and finished up the evening on a healthy hatchery brat brown trout.

The midge hatch was coming on strong just before dark and there were a few other varieties of bugs as well. Next time I will be working those shoals with a soft hackle, or two or five...

Cory it was nice to meet you, it was a good evening on the river.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

(another) Caney Fork Fishing Report

Deweese, Charlie and I met-up at Happy Hollow and made our way to launch the drifter at Center Hill Dam. Deweese has been on float trips before and Charlie had fished with the fly rod several years back. We backed the drifter out into the current and dropped the anchor. After some refreshers in casting, mending and hookset, as well as a quick rainbow, I pulled up the anchor and we started the 1/2 day trip on the Caney.

We Found an Empty River Late in the Day

Traffic was medium early in the trip. The canoe companies turned loose several canoes and everyone was in a good mood as we floated on clear falling water. We were fishing nymphs early, but the winds picked up and made nymphing pretty tough for everyone. The wind was blowing upstream, which made a good drift next to impossible. Also, the ripples on the water made the nymph dance up and down under the indicator. We had a few hits early on nymphs, but with the nymphs dancing the fish seemed to be turned off for the most part.

Deweese Hooked Up with a Nice Brown
After the nymphs did not produce to my liking we went to the top. Deweese hooked up pretty quick with a real nice brown. The fish made several attempts to release itself and then made a run. With a headshake and a flip of the tail, the brown freed itself. This left us all with a groan and Deweese a lingering memory to overcome.

Charlie Got into Some Action as Well
The top water high protein offerings continued to produce strikes, but we were having trouble with the hook-ups. We worked on the hookset and then the wind died down. We went back to nymphs and Charlie got on a rainbow pretty quick. We continued the float with the nymph rigs, fished in all the likely places. The fish gave some action to finish out the float and the guys continued to brush up on their skills as we floated into Happy Hollow.

Deweese with one of His Rainbows

Charlie and Deweese continually got better over the course of the float. The fishing was off early, which I believe was mostly due to the wind, but after it died down the guys got on their game and hooked up. The traffic was down somewhat and with the holiday weekend over, the canoe and kayak traffic should die down even more in the coming weeks.
Check back later this week for another report from the Caney Fork River.