Monday, April 25, 2011

Wamwater Fly Fishing Report & Your "Go-To"Fly

Entering One of the Fun Runs of the Day

The water levels are still high everywhere we turn. The guide trips have been postponed until we get some relief from the rains. By the time the rain slows and the trips get rescheduled it looks like the cicadas will be here and hopefully the fish will be on the gorging themselves. That's right we are hoping to fish more than just hoppers for trout and warmwater species this year.


Throughout the week we checked water levels that read 2000 CFS releases, 10,000 CFS releases and lake levels at 641 feet,. River levels recorded well above the mean. Streams at 4.5 ft and running 1500 CFS. Three generators here, two generators there, blah, blah, blah. Same old story same old song and friend (name that tune)


David and Anthony were lined up to go for an outing and I had my own motives to get a fly rod in my hands. So we met on a local warm water stream and went looking for smallmouth or whatever else we could catch.

Caught on a Favorite Streamer

David and I dropped the truck and trailer at the takeout and met Anthony back at the launch. Anthony took the front brace and David slid into the back brace. Then we shoved off and when the drifter broke free from the ramp, I realized all the planning for a new water run (we will call it River Y) was coming together.


I was first on the oars as we maneuvered though some pretty tight places, dodged some downed trees and played tag with some big rocks. We boated some fish with the largest fish being the one you just saw up above. The water was high, the fishing slow, the water was stained and the sun was out. I think those were the excuses we came up with and used throughout the day. But the company was good and the boating was fun. On the way home Anthony and I talked about fly selection and how we experiment with patterns, which lead me to thinking about the last several years of fly fishing...

A Riverside Cave/Spring
Over the past several years I have certainly had my "go to" flies. Whether it is fishing nymphs, terrestrials, or streamers on tailwaters or on warmwater streams. Or fishing dry flies in the Smokies and Upper East TN tailwaters. My friends sometimes make fun of my willingness to stay on what I know works and truth be told, I make fun of myself too.
What is about someone loading up the boat, pulling it for hours to the stream or river, unloading the boat and getting out on the water to chase fish? Is it a mental thing? Is it a sport or a pass time or some wacky combination of both? There are a lot of questions that are posed and discussed. The answers to those questions are debated over time. But, one that keeps coming back to me is, why get stuck on just one pattern?
Here are my two cents on that last question. Some say it is confidence in the fly and to a certain extent I agree. A "go to" fly, whatever that fly might be, has proven itself day in-day out on the water. When the angler ties that knot and cinches it down, they instinctively know there is a greater chance of success. It could just be a gut feeling. However it is usually a gut feeling built on past success. Think about your "go-to" fly for just a few minutes...
A couple weeks back I tied on my favorite streamer. My intent was just to go out and fish. I wasn't going to be clever (that sure isn't going to happen) and I wasn't going to get worked up about catching a bunch of fish. The plan was to fish one of my go-to flies, I mean really concentrate on fishing that one pattern. There weren't any worries about the size or color, just fishing that one fly. I don't mean just throwing it out there and stripping it back either.
By fishing that go-to fly I mean concentration on several different things such as casting. Making sure that fly is stuck tight to the bank, close to the downfalls, or is just in the right spot to drop off the ledge a few feet into the retrieve. Which leads us to an additional part of casting. Different flies cast/fly differently. Changing flies often can lead to poor casting, if the angler is not careful and aware of the differences in weight or aerodynamic tendencies, the casts can eventually be off by inches and then feet. Sometimes not landing close to the zone. They may not be stuck tight to the bank, close to the dead fall or even too far past that ledge to be effective. That can be the difference between an OK day or an outstanding day...well that and the other 1000's of variables.
So now the fly is out there and it is your "go-to" fly. You don't have that wonder of-will it catch fish- remember the fly has proven itself many times prior to this day. "Fishing" that fly is the only thing the angler has to worry about. Concentration on swimming the streamer around the dead falls. Keeping that perfect drift going so that nymph slips into the strike zone unnoticed but but noticed. Sometimes that means dropping that dry fly into a small back eddy the size of a coffee cup and keeping that fly in that spot for a minute or more before a small brook trout can't stand temptation any longer. It can mean swinging that soft hackle through the current and into the face of a feeding fish. But, one thing the angler already knows is the fly can catch fish. Past success is a key factor here.
So what is it about that "go-to" fly? The fly may not be the same fly for everyone. Someones "go-to" fly can vary due to the circumstances and conditions. The point is, once the angler has enough success with a fly, it becomes a fly that can simply be fished based on past success.
Take just a minute and read back through the questions above. Think about your Go-To fly. Is the reason we have that go-to fly because of past success? Could it be a comfort level, or just a concentration on fishing that fly with a confidence built on past success? Whatever "it" is never underestimate the power of just knowing how to "fish" that fly.

What? A Machine Gun Beside the Road...

So after the day was done Anthony and I took the long way home. We were carrying on many different discussions when we came upon a machine gun mounted on a pole beside the road. Just another day of fishing in Middle Tennessee, while we make 2011 the year of getting out there...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is It Raining Where You Are?

Rain Again This Evening

It has been a wet Spring here in Middle Tennessee. The boat is washed, the rods have been cast, flies have been tied for the tailwaters when the rain stops, and I have even restocked the boat. With all that complete I started tying some real big flies. and added another new BVK to sling the big new creations. The patterns that work will get a name and the patterns that do not work will go in the the garbage. Let's hope they all get names...

Articulated, Fur, Marabou, Flash and Eyeballs

Single Hook, Fur, Flashabou and Rams Wool

Rams Wool, Eyeballs, Feathers, Bucktail and Marabou

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Racing the Weather on the Elk River

Glenn needed some time off from his restaurant in Brooklyn and came back for a float on the Elk. A couple years ago Glenn floated the Caney Fork with us and when he left we decided we would float the Elk next time. This was next time and we shoved off from below the Highway 50 bridge on 2000 + CFS.
The Bend Pool on High Water

Glenn brought along a 6 wt St Croix Bank Robber, loaded with Streamer Express line. What better way to spend the day than chunking big marabou and ducking flying hooks? The early part of the float was uneventful with no looks, bumps or hook ups throughout the first section of the river. We stopped and the spotlight was on the guide. So, I took a play from my Obey River High Water Playbook and we went to nymphs to pick up some fish. ***\

We fished the banks and concentrated on fishing the slowest seams against the banks. Within the first 20' of nymphing the new rig produced a rainbow, which was a good start to the remainder of the day. The Elk on this generation is a lot like the Obey on one generator. Everything inside you says throw the big nasty Monsters of Marabou, but the fish respond more on the nymphs- fished in the slow seams. ***

I will also say this- the Elk, on this flow, is no place to be unless you have the right boat and are experienced on faster moving water. Staying closed to the banks takes concentration and boat control. I wouldn't do this float in just any boat and certainly it would not be recommended in a boat that is easily tipped over.

An Elk River High Water Rainbow

Glenn Hooked Up on the Hydros Deep-water Nymph Rig

We continued on fishing nymphs. Glenn was quick on the draw and was clearly comfortable with the nymph rig. We stopped a couple times to re-rig as we worked the inside of the bends and the dead falls along the way. Later in the day we were ready to enter the fastest section of the river. This section has a significant amount of downed trees, the width of the river is much more narrow and can be generally scary as crap. ***

We went back to the Bank Robber with a size #2 Bush Pilot. I explained this is where we want to chunk streamers to the bank. You get three strips after a cast, then it is time to re-group and throw again. The object is to get as many bank shots as possible, while the oarsman tries to dodge the dead falls and rocks, and tries to keep the boat at the slowest speed possible. Also, there are only a few good places to stop if needed and if the angler catches a fish they are on their own until the boat can get into position to net the fish. ***

Glenn had the streamer rod in hand, the oars were my job and we entered the tunnel. The fastest part of the tunnel is the entry. There are a couple nice stumps just inside the entry point that keep the game interesting. Just about the time the stumps came into the picture, Glenn hooked up with the biggest fish of the day. We slowed down even more as he fought the brown in the fastest water. The brown finally began to tire and we were ready to net the fish. The fish made another run when I reached for the net and the boat went for the stump. Several strokes later we were past the stump and ready for the net again. I picked the landing point, we netted the fish, rowed the boat into some slack water and dumped the anchor on the bank.

Another Healthy Elk River Brown One of the Few Structures Along the Trip

Mr. No-shoulders Made His Appearance

The day started off cloudy and windy. As the afternoon went along the clouds were building and the winds increased as well. At the end of the float we were in a big blow and rowing was getting more and more difficult. The wind was blowing "crazy hard" and we were beginning to race the storm. Glenn and I knew we were going to be trying to beat the weather when the day started and that was where we were. The ramp was a welcome sight when we cruised into the takeout. The weather was starting to get interesting. But, after what turned out to be a mostly sunny day we were lucky to get the boat on the ramp before the weather got "bad".***

The day was a good one. The fishing was on the tough side but the fish were rewarding. Glenn, who is an excellent angler, adapted well to the changing conditions and as he proved on our previous trip, he can get the best of the fish. We have another trip set for later in the Summer as we make 2011 The Year if Getting Out There...

Racing the Storms

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Stones River- Fishing for Those Other Fish

The water level reports are more like broken records. You know broken records, like the old days, the vinyl kind of recordings that scratched and some of the older records that you could her the dirt in the recording? For those who are too young to remember what happens when a record is broken, here's what is meant by this common saying.


The needle is placed on the vinyl, the turntable starts rotating and the record begins to play music. The when the needle comes to the crack in the vinyl the needle jumps out of the groove and it needle picks up the sound again. Only the needle plays the same notes it just played, because the needle cannot move forward on the disk. The needle can only go back to the prior grooves. The needle hits crack again and the process is repeated until the listener physically takes the needle off the vinyl.***

The water level in the lakes is still high from the rains last week, the week before and two weeks before that. The Obey River is running two generators....still. The Caney Fork is running three and the Elk is running 2000 CFS. We will be on the Elk this week fishing streamers and I will get a report out to let everyone, who stops by here, know what the Elk looks like. Tomorrow we will try to beat the rain, wind and certainly the lightening. But, for now let's talk warm water fly fishing...

He's going to show up with a coffee can full of worms.

(A River Runs Through It)

A Guides Day Off- There were no trips on the books, the drifter was in the garage (and dirty) and I just wanted to fish. So, I talked with Mark late in the week and he said he and Donnie were going to a float the Stones. I managed to work my way into the back seat of the skiff and promised to row a little for the opportunity to wake up late, row a little and fish a lot. ***

I met Mark the Southeastern Fly Satellite Office (the local Kroger parking lot) and we went across town to the "ramp". We dumped the drifter and I stayed behind while Mark went to meet the shuttle. I pulled out the streamer rod and immediately went to work from the bank...A Bank Maggot, if you will.

The Second Cast- My First Crappie of the Year

The TFO-BVK with a full sinking line was my weapon of choice. The fly- it was a left- over from a recent trip to the Elk and when I realized it would take a short time to change the fly, well I decided the fly was the right color, the size and it stayed on the end of the 12 lb test until I hung it high in a tree after lunch. I tried two flies of the same pattern, size and color. We would tell you exactly what the fly was, but that might ruin your fun. I can tell you this- warm water fish will hit most any color, as long as it is yellow...

A Redeye-Called a Redeye because of the...

Donnie Fought This One for Several Minutes Before It Gave Up

One of Several Bass We Caught Several White Bass Just Like This One
This Would Make A Great Natural Trout Stream

The Big Fish of the Day

So, we fished most of the day. Mark tried several patterns and spinning gear and Donnie stayed on spinning gear all day. I stayed on the same pattern, same color, same rod and reel combo all day. It was a good day for me. Not only because I didn't have to worry with my boat and the logistics. But, because I was able to just be lazy, stay with the basics of swimming the fly, the hookset and taking in a new river. Donnie it was nice to fish with you and Mark, thanks again for letting me tag along on a good day out.

What Did You Think Was in the Can? Worms? Really?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Filling Those Fly Boxes

The skies opened on Monday, filled up our water table and then some! What is an angler to do when he river is blown out? Fill the fly boxes, just a little more. We are a while from hopper season, although we have been trying some already this year. Most of the fish are not looking up...yet. I say yet because it will be time to use the hoppers before we know i. Also, rumors of the cicadas have been floating around the fly shops and the net too. This Summer could be interesting

Quickly Becoming My Favorite Pattern

The Trout's View

The Cicadas are Coming

More of the "Trout's View"

Lots of Buoyancy

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Middle TN Fly Fishing

Just Another Fish Tail

Waiting for Patrick & Mark at the Jack Daniels Distillery

This week has been another week of big water releases. The Obey River was flowing at two generators and sometimes one generator. Still the water, for the most part, has been too swift for wading and probably not the best for floating. But a few checks with the future generation reveals some lower water windows coming.


Center Hill Dam releases have been relentless. We've had a few days of rain the past week and Army Corps has been running 'big water' 24/7. The future schedule shows even more water for several days this week. So, we will be running trips on the Elk, at least for a week or so.

The Elk Gives Up a Brown or Two Each Trip

Mark Strikes First...Actually the Fish Struck, Then Mark..

The Elk has been fishing well for us over the past month. The fish coming to the boat appear to be very healthy. Nymphs have been the fly of choice and when the fish take the fly they flight like a fish twice their size. Some anglers have been complaining about the catching. There are some sections of the river that fish better than others, but overall the fishing and catching have been above average.

Patrick With His First Rainbow

I met Patrick and Mark at the distillery and then we headed to the river. Mark has been on the boat a few times, but this would be Patrick's first time. I wasn't sure if Patrick had ever fished the fly rod, but on his first cast I knew it would be a good day. He picked up the Hydros and lobed a nice cast downstream of the boat. The only problem with the cast was I expected these cast for 9 more miles of river. He was a trooper and did a great job the entire float.

Mark and I Making a Pass Through a Fishy Section of the River

This day on the Elk was another good day. The guys brought nice fish to the boat and other than the wind it was a relaxing float. They also learned the finer points of a good mend and when to wait for the wind to die down before executing a cast. The run-off from the tributaries was not as stained as expected but it will take a few more days of non-rain to clear the river back to a premium.

If you want to get out and learn more about nymphing just give us a call. We also have the ability to book three drifters for larger groups. Give me a call for pricing. If you are going down to the Elk make sure to bring your stealth. The fish are line shy, but don't seem to be put off by a little heavier leader and tippet. Working with depth is critical right now and the fish aren't making big moves to get their food. The fish are thereand it is up to everyone else to Make 2011 the Year of Getting Out There.