Monday, July 25, 2011

Fishing Report from Middle Tennessee

An After Dark Shot
First off let's start at the Obey. The river is fishing best on low water and there are some decent fish being caught & released on one generator. The water has been clear and cold, which is always good. Take nymphs but fish dries too.
The Elk is running 350 CFS over the spillgates. Wading in some of the usual places is a bit technical and so is the fishing this time of year. Nymphs will work, but soft hackles while midges are emerging are, as usual, very productive. If the Summer showers allow, try sight fishing as the fish feed just below the surface. Watch for the backs of the fish breaking the surface and then swing your favorite s0ft hackle or even small streamer across their nose. Raise the rod tip only after the fish has hit and you have applied a strip-set.
The Caney Fork continues to fish pretty good considering the heavy traffic on the weekends. We have been trying more topwater stuff than usual and having some luck. The terrestrials have been producing pretty well and the takes have been, well explosive. Terrestrials are not just about the hoppers either. We've found some other patterns that have been producing just a little better than the usual stuff everyone else wants to use. Don't forget nymphs drifted close to structure though, it can produce an above average fish as long the drift is totally drag free. Midges fished in the film, to feeding fish in the evening, can be productive too. Get into the right position, wait for the waves to settle from your movement, when the fish begin feeding again just be very picky with the casts.
An Evening on the River
David K and I went to the river in the evening to get out of the heat. We stopped several times, which ran us out of daylight. But, even in the dark there was pretty good fishing and a different look at a familiar river. We launched and while David rigged his rods I got a shot at some rising fish. I was surprised when a decent little brown came up to the top and busted the fly.
A Top Secret Location
We fished to rising fish off and on. David couldn't wait to fish big streamers on the falling sun. I could not wait to fish a big ole top water bug as we headed slowly toward the take out on no sun or moon for that matter. We fished top water even in the complete darkness, but it was unproductive this time. I am having some carryover from the recent Michigan trip and know it, but just can't resist doing things a little differently than everyone else. In the past we have bagged some nice browns on top and after dark. So my method, although can be maddening, is not completely without merit. Anyway before the evening was over I was slinging big nasty streamers on full sinking lines while David was at the oars of the drifter. The bats were out in full force, and you guessed it, a bat got caught up in the line and landed in the front of the boat. I thought it was a leaf and couldn't really see it, so I left it there. FYI- leaves don't flop around in the bow of a boat. I dug out the light and was surprised to see the leaf was really a bat. So the Summer of 2011 produces one snake on a cicada and one bat on a big streamer. Not the usual catch and not what I wanted, but exciting.
David warmed up his casting arm for his trip to Yellowstone and popped a nice brown on a big ugly single hook streamer. He is ready for his trip now and we finished the float on a decent fish. No after dark float is complete without an angry beaver slapping the water beside the boat. In total darkness the slap can be more scary than, say, even a bat!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Anthony & David on the River

Just a Few Hundred of Our Closest Friends
Anthony and I started out for one river and then we had an unforeseen change of plans. Later, we ended up on another river. We arrived about an hour later than we really wanted to arrive and were in the midst of a "flash-mob" of watercraft. Everyone was enjoying the river, but it made fishing pretty darned tough. Anthony was hooked up fairly quick and it seemed like his luck far outweighed my own. The only reason it seemed that way is because he out-fished me throughout the day.
The First Fish of the Day
Anthony Up Front & Hooked Up
Deep Water Nymphing
So how does an angler catch fish in the midst of hundreds of other watercraft? First off it certainly isn't easy. The best way to get the biggest numbers is to have two people fishing and one managing the drifter. Wading can be effective if you have the patience to wait as the watercraft keep coming through. Sooner or later there is a break in the boats and the fish ill start eating again. Either way the day is not nearly as good as a day when the other boats are not there. However, although it is tough, keeping in mind that those other people are just out to have fun, like the anglers. One thing we noticed was the families who enjoying their day, which is a good thing to see.
The fish are on the shoals but only during the breaks in watercraft. The holes are not always full of fish, but they are certainly seeking structure and they will find it. Also the trout will get in the middle of the schools of shad and when the shad go, so go the trout. Trout aren't brave and will flee when they are alarmed. Patience is key.
One More For Anthony
It was my turn again and with only one decent fish on my line Anthony was nice enough to give me clean shots on a good stretch of the river. After a few hits and some more misses this colorful brown made the trip for me. We found a spot in the midst of the canoes and kayaks and the fish came out to eat. This fish was laying in cover and ready to eat. After the fish was released back to his holding spot we continued on to the ramp. Which was full of people enjoying the day. I was asked a couple different times if I had ever seen the river with this many people. I have seen it this way a couple different times. Once was three years ago and it was a lot like this, however there were more boats than canoes. And, last year I saw it like this on two different days. We still caught fish but it certainly wasn't easy. What are we going to do about running trips this Summer? I have plans already made to take anglers out for good days on the rivers.
It's Summertime and Everyone is Getting Out There

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bob and David on Day II

Looking for Food

The Best Angler on the River

After eating breakfast at Sharp Lodge, not to mention a good night's rest, we headed to the river for an early float. David and Bob seemed to be prepared and maybe a little sunburnt from the float the day before. We launched the drifter early, before most of the other boats and immediately picked up some fish on nymphs. The water level was about as low as it gets and it was important to get a near perfect drift. When the guys would get that drift the fish would respond. If the guys didn't get that drift, it was a long time between strikes.

This Was the First Fish of the Day

...Then We Popped Some of These

We went through a bit of a dry spell. After we got the casting and mending to come back, David was the first to hook up. We got into a long run against a rock wall. David gave the indicator a little slack and when the indicator was floating the same speed as the current, the rainbow took the fly. David is an excellent angler and was on the hookset as soon as the indicator moved. That was it, the bow was on and the fight was too. David played the fish and got the bow into shallow water. Before we knew it the bow was in the net. It was a classic nymph take and the hook was lodged nicely in the upper lip of the healthy rainbow.

The Results of a Good Drift and Skilled Hookset

A Frisky Brown Trout

David continued to concetrated on the good drift and then we arrived at a nice hole for sight fishing. While we sight fished David with the nymphs, we also gave Bob chances at good fish with dries. David hooked up several times, while both anglers brought fish to the net.

Rainbows Were the Fish of the Day...and Weekend

While David was having a good day, Bob seemed to be enjoying seeing his son bring some fish to the boat. After lunch and a nice pulse of water, We put the guys on big flies. Bob eventually ended up a streamer and we went to banging the banks with light flies and sinking line. It was hot and after a couple of days on the river the guys were getting tired. Bob was a trooper and continued giving the steamer rod a workout, while David and I gave him "pointers". As we approached the ramp the rod bent and the fight was on. Bob fought that fish while I got the boat into shallow water. The fish came to the net and after the appropriate photos were taken we released the fish and a short timelater we loaded the boat on the trailer.

Another Rainbow for Bob

It was good to fish with David and Bob again. The river in Middle Tennessee are producing well right now and when they are paired with the Afternoon Terrestrial Floats there is potential for some great afternooons on the river.

Monday, July 11, 2011

David and Bob Back in Tennessee

David Popped This Brookie to Complete His Slam
Bob and David came back up to TN to fish the Caney Fork after fishing the Elk with us a couple years ago. We planned this trip as a couple days on the water and in the drifter. Last week the rain did not help the generation schedule and we had to change our first day to another tailwater. I met them at Sharp Lodge and after Treva and Roger fixed us an outstanding breakfast we towed the boat North for day one of a two day trip.

The Guys Caught a Bunch of These
We launched the drifter on falling water and soon we were into fish. Bob is an outstanding fly tier with talent most people would trade...well you know. David is one of the nicest kids, now young men, I have had the pleasure of fishing with. So, we took off and I was happy when we got into fish almost with the first cast.
David struck early and Bob wasn't far behind. Both the guys were sticking fish on nymphs as the midges popped off the water with some regularity. We stayed on nymphs, but I couldn't resist the occasional hopper and even added a dropper a time or two. The fish were keyed into the nymph offering and stuck mostly to the bottom of the river.

That Is a Healthy Rainbow

Bob is Hooked Up on a Nice Fish

Like I Said it was a Nice Fish
Bob was on a roll while David was bringing the numbers to the boat. David has such an impressive cast and when he is on, he is on. Bob, has more years on the long rod than David and soon Bob had a big bend in that 5 weight. He was playing a big fish, however we did not know just how big until the fish rolled and we saw a side view. Are there really fish that are this nice in this river? We soon found out when we netted a 22" rainbow. Just to prove we were there we decided to snap a few pictures.

David Catching Some While Waiting on the Grilled Salmon for Lunch

Bob Didn't Wait Long to Stick This Brown

After the grilled salmon for lunch, it was tough not to nap, but we managed to continue downstream on one generator, which was a totally different flow to work with. We extended the nymph rigs and went back to the bottom were we picked up a few more bows. We tried hoppers again but we didn't get the response we wanted. After the float loaded the drifter and called back to Sharp Lodge and told Roger we were on the way in. He put on the pork tenderloin, potatos, corn on the cob, rolls, tomatos and sweet tea. When we arrived we had another meal waiting. We made our arrangements to hit another river in the early morning and I began rigging the rods for an early morning start.

Friday, July 8, 2011

So Much Water in Michigan

Pointed North

We Took the Airstream and Headed to Michigan. There really was so much water and so little time. We will go back, but until then we snapped some pictures to remind me to get back up there and search all that water.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Floating with Mark and Pete

Backed In & Watching the River Go By

Early Morning at the Bend Pool
Mark called last week to book a trip himself and his younger brother Pete. Mark and I fished together a couple weeks back and had a rainy day. The first time Mark was on the boat, we fished the Caney Fork River and had a pretty good day. According to Mark this time it was Pete's trip. Pete was ready for the day and when we met to go to the river Pete had his gear ready for action.
We launched the boat and went to work on the nymph rigs. The fishing was OK but not what we were looking for. Most of the fish were smallish, but they also looked healthy. The bugs started popping and the fish began to rise. Finally, the fish began the big splashes and we were on dries and going after the splashiest of rises.

Pete with a Nice Brown Picked Off With the Dry
Pete had the front of the boat and both guys were working the banks. We got into a particularly good section of river. We were working the fish and then it happened. Pete hit the exact spot he needed to hit and the brown responded. The fly was stuck right in the roof of the brown's mouth. The fish came quickly but not quietly to the boat. Before we knew it we were taking pictures to remember the day and the fish. After we took the appropriate shots I think we saw Floady, Broady and Jody Boatwood in a group of canoes again. Dang it was a scary sight.
The fishing was beginning to turn. Mark was proud of his brother and Pete was a happy guy. Lunch was just around the corner and the storms weren't far behind. Just so everyone knows, anytime Mark gets on the drifter it seems to rain and most times, heck every time we have fished it has rained hard.

Pete and Mark Waiting on the Cedar Planked Grilled Salmon
Caught and Released

Pete Hard at Work

After lunch the guys went to work on the top water. Pete continued to work on the fish and Mark put some in the boat as well. The fishing was slower than I like but we brought some quality fish to the net. When the storms came we pulled to the side of the river and waited, discussed life, music and of course fishing. Then we pulled back into the flow and continued the search for fish.

Which Way? There Was No a Good Way Around

There is one spot in the river that holds blowdowns. I have been watching the trees stack up on the best flow around the island. The last round of generation moved the trees. The heavy generation pushed whole trees into the bridge. The way through is now blocked except for one small spot on the right side. That spot had a log across it, so we pushed the boat over the log and through the only spot that would allow any progress. With some pushing, shoving and lots of tugging we got the drifter to the other side and went back to the nymphs. Those nymphs produced some fish for the rest of the trip.

Results of Nymph Action

Fins Up

It was a pretty good trip for the guys. One of the cool things about guiding in the drifter is you get to know the people and watch people interact. Mark seemed to genuinely happy for his brother Pete's success. Pete had what he said was his biggest brown on the fly rod, while we all survived thunderstorms and bridge crossings. We missed some completely, lost some after a short fight and caught some fair & square. I can't wait for next year when Mark and Pete come back for their next trip in the drifter.

Sunset on the Way Home

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fishing the Hex Hatch- Spinner Fall

Pre-Hatch Action
We made a 2206 mile "roaming" trip to Michigan and wouldn't you know it, we landed right in the middle of the Hexaginia hatch. With only one day to fish I reached out to Thom, for the name of a good guide. Thom said call The Northern Angler and minutes later I was on the phone with Brian. Brian is the owner of The Northern Angler and when I told him I wanted some time in the front casting brace, he hooked me up with Evan.

Evan Hard at Work

The Launch on the Manistee
A Good Place for the Hatching Hexagenia

Evan was a great guide and easy to talk with. He was confident that the hatch would come. However, we had plenty of time and what better way to pass the time than a couple good hours on the streamer rod. We started out on the big stuff and the fish did not disappoint. The Manistee is an old logging river with many, many bends. After the first thirty minutes the river began looking the same, a long shoal here and a sharp turn there. There were so many blowdowns and old logs, I determined the fish could be anywhere. The fish were anywhere and particularly in the heaviest of downed timber. The streamer hooked up and we deskunked the boat early. The best fishing was yet to come.

A Bit of Streamer Action

Evan Retrieving a Fly Left from the Backcast

The Manistee is a tight river and I stuck the backcast in the trees behind us plenty of times. Evan was a great host and even got out to retrieve the flies when needed, which was often at times during the float. The hatches were on throughout the afternoon and we saw the ever present midges, stoneflies, isonychias and sulphurs. We were still waiting on the big stuff to pop.

This Would Be Useful on Most Rivers

We Set Up Right Here

We went back to a dry as the sun began to fall. We started the float at 5:00 p.m. with the promise of being off the water by midnight. It all sounded good to me and with no worries I was perfectly content. Evan stopped us on a point and we had a bite to eat from a local deli. We watched the rising fish and then the birds came. The birds started showing up in the trees at the edge of the river. We are not talking about a big flock of birds that just happened to show up in the area at the same time, no we are talking about random birds that just began showing up. Evan said "it's going to happen" and shortly after that we started hearing the fish go. The bugs were popping and the fish were going and it was our turn. We pulled out the TFO and put the big dries on the water. After a few attempts to a feeding brown we determined the fish weren't eating duns, they had already been on the emergers, so the only thing left were the big bugs that had come back to the water to lay the eggs and were spent. Evan had the right bug for the job and soon I was fishing spinners. It didn't take long before the fish found the fly and the bite was on. A fish would go, we would wait the appropriate amount of time and toss the spinner into the feeding lane. The fly would drift across the fish and the fish would eat. This would last until just after dark.

It Was Cold Up There

The cold front came down from Canada and the start of Summer was delayed by a week or so. This meant the bugs were delayed for a bit, but more importantly they had arrived just about the time we did. The cold weather made the bugs come off earlier in the evening, which meant we would be back from the river an hour or so earlier. But, until then Evan and I were in the middle of feeding fish. Evan pulled up the anchor and we went on the hunt. We worked our way downstream and fished for feeding fish in the dark. When a fish would go, Evan would point it out, I would cast and the fish did the rest. It was almost easy as long as I had a younger set of eyes to put me on the feeding fish.

One of the Natural Browns

Cigars and Flies All-Around

One of Several

The evening came to an end and we had brought several fish in the net. It was nice to be in the casting brace with someone else doing all the work. Although it felt a little strange it wasn't bad. Evan and I fished pretty well together and I would recommend him to anyone wanting to fish around the Traverse City area. Tomorrow I will be back behind the oars of the drifter and we have more trips booked over the next week. It was nice to take a road trip and locked into a casting brace, but it also feels good to be at home and behind the oars of the drifter.