Sunday, September 25, 2011

Caney Fork River and Elk River Fishing Guide Report

Some Brown Trout Goodness
Obey River- We did not get up to the Obey. so there is not a real time report for the Obey other than, one generator 24-7 and cold water coming out of Dale Hollow Lake. One generator on the Obey is good for deep water nymphing from a boat and it is easier to get away with larger bugs, that are heavy and sometimes even difficult to throw. A large-fluffy indicator or a Thingamabobber help to keep those weighted nymphs off the bottom.  8'-10' between the indicator and fly is not uncommon after passing the shoal at the drainage, on the right downstream, below the 2nd boat ramp. Fish around the logs and blowdowns and expect to lose some flies. If you are doing it right expect to lose a lot of flies.
A Lone Angler Working a Bend
The Elk- has been fishing pretty good on nymphs. There are some nice fish and some are making their way into the wading sections of the river. These sections get some heavy pressure at times, but also anglers can find some room to themselves at non-traditional hours of the day. Fish nymphs close to the bottom and often. A dropper, i.e. a soft hackle under a nymph and the old stand by of a Zebra Midge dangling below a nymph will produce a few more fish, when they come to inspect a nymph and change their mind for the smaller morsel.  The terrestrials on top are not producing like they did earlier in the year, possibly because of the off-color water coming from the lake and the lazy release from the generator. On the plus side visibility is still about 2'-3' and the water temperature is a steady 57-58 degrees, measured at 4 feet deep.

A Caney Fork Brookie in Fall Colors

The Caney- The river is running 62 degrees about 2 miles from the dam and a 4' depth. It seems the lake is running low on cold water, but we should see the temps begin to cool and the fish get happier. Hopefully the sluice is providing the much needed oxygen the fish need. The big sluice is doing what the sluice does every year. The water is off-green color with about 3' visibility right now and after the big sluice is turned off for the year we are hoping the fish will be hungrier than a kid on the second day of Summer camp. We did find a 25" brown trout that was almost dead at Lancaster. The water was falling out at the time and the fish was swimming upside down in the weeds. The fish looked relatively healthy and there was no blood or hook marks in the mouth area. After 20 minutes of trying we still couldn't revive the massive brown. I would like to believe this fish died of old age...
Jane in the Front of the Drifter
After the high water events out West this year, we are getting reports of anglers who are ready to hit the local rivers. After spending her Summer in Jackson Hole, Jane called before she left the the Cowboy State. We agreed to hit the river when she returned and after a couple phone calls we were meeting at the ramp. Jane has been fishing with us for several years and usually multiple times each year. When Jane comes to the river I try hard to get her to fish nymphs when it is appropriate. But she is not too fond of that plan and we are on dries pretty quick. This trip was no different. We tried several patterns and ended up with a size #18 Adams early in the float. Jane is an excellent dry fly angler and soon was hooking up on top water. Nymphs would catch fish on this day, but dries are much more entertaining.
Jane and I continued on down the river seeing and talking with several anglers and friends of the river. The fish got lock jaw for a bit, then a nice brown rose to the top and snapped its jaws on a big hopper. The fight was not swift, but it was decisive. Jane wasn't going to let this prize come unbuttoned and the brown was in the net.  The fish continued to rise and we had other fish and other shots at pretty nice fish. As is usual and customary we arrived at the ramp just after dark. We agreed to fish again in the coming months and hopefully we can  get out for the shad kill dry fly float in the late Winter months.

Late Summer on the River

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jimmy, Bo and Jud and a Good Bet

Bo and Jud decided a good birthday present, for their Dad Jimmy, would be a day on the river. Neither Bo nor Jud had fly fished before, but wanted to give their Dad a trip to do something Jimmy loves to do. Mark and I met them at the ramp for an early morning start. I have been in the middle of several different bets while in the drifter. Usually it is something tangible, sometimes it funny and at times it is purely for the money. The guys filled us in on their bet for the day. Their Bet, on this day? The losers have to pay for the fiberglass replica of the winning fish. It was a simple and straight forward. And, as with all good bets, I wouldn't have to pay into it at all. But, the pressure was on for the guides and I quickly clarified the rules, as best I could without showing my hand. Length would win, so pretty much anything goes as far as species was concerned.  With that we were off to our respective boats.
A Different Look at the Sluice
 We had a limited amount of time before the two hour pulse began, so we made the most of the low water. Jimmy and Bo went with Mark and Jud took his spot in the front casting brace of my drifter. Two rods in this case are better than one, but Jud and I weren't worried. We started Jud on the basics of casting and then mending. We worked on mending some more and then back to casting. When we felt like it was time to go, the anchor came off the bottom and we started the drift into Hatchery Bratville for some real life practice of catching. Jimmy and Bo already had fish on before we got into a rhythm. But, Jud was quick to learn and soon he was setting the hook on a diving indicator. Then the sluice came and Jimmy popped a nice rainbow to take the lead.  
Jud and I stayed on course and probed the creeks and back eddy's, looking for feeding carp and gar. Nothing in the creeks, except bluegill, were interested in the offerings. We worked on close quarters casting, then the sluice shut down and the water settled. We backed out into the current and started hunting. The plan was to hit the likely spots for large fish and win the bet. Simple and straight- forward. We floated and spotted some large fish. We saw one extremely large brown feeding, but couldn't get the monster to eat.
Then it happened for Jud. We were hunting a likely spot when a fish came to the fly for a look. Jud was just pulling the fly for the next cast when he saw the fish come for the moving fly. His excitement level elevated and we moved back, into a better position.  Jud used the skills he had worked on earlier and dropped the fly into a pocket. The fly didn't have time to settle and the fish came back, then it ate hard. Casting to a pocket can be like a good serve in tennis, but when the fish eats, the game changes to more like a fullback crashing the line. Jud worked hard not to come apart at the seams while he was fighting his first nice brown trout. The fish didn't come willingly, but eventually the fish made its way to the waiting net. Jud was on the board in a big way. 
Looking Back At You

A Nice Brown on Falling Water
We continued on toward the designated lunch spot. The phone rang from the other boat and we announced the latest find, which confirmed the brown would take the lead by an inch. As usual I got to lunch about an hour late, but hey we were fishing. Mark prepared an excellent steak fajita lunch, while I re-rigged some rods. After lunch Jud and Bo switched boats and Jimmy continued his float at the head of the group. Bo was rested and ready to go. While the other guys shoved off and headed down river, we backed up and hit some more likely water.
Raccoons Have Been Numerous Along the River
Bo quickly proved he could launch a bug too and we went to the banks looking for moving water that might hold a large hungry trout. Bo picked up a few fish here and there, but the fish had settled in and apparently were waiting on the late evening hatch.  The midges didn't come off like we sometimes see. However, there were several different spots of black caddis dancing on the way to the ramp. We went to some dries but the fish were mostly unresponsive to the caddis hatch. We had one more shot at a good hold. If the fish was there, if the fish was looking up, if the bug was the right selection and if all the other things lined up, Bo still had a chance to take the bet. We eased the drifter into the right spot, Bo made the right cast, the fish apparently liked the bug and came up for the take. The take was half-hearted and when Bo set the hook the fish was on for a few seconds and then did the sportsman's release. We went back to the spot, but the fish had been stuck and wasn't coming back for a second try. 
The multi boat floats are a good way of Getting Out There. Larger groups fishing from drift boats, with a good lunch and lots of fun can be an excellent way of spending the day. Bo, Jimmy and Jud were a pleasure to fish with on this day and I look forward to seeing them again on the river.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Howard Fly Fishing the Elk River

Elk River Rainbow
The road between Shelbyville and the Boro is a scenic drive. There are walking horse farms on both sides of the road, which are something worth seeing anytime of the day. The morning may be the best time to make the drive. The folks who work at the barns were just getting to work as the sun was coming up. There was a fog on the fields that the sun had not burned off. This was a good morning to be out. I was making the drive to Lynchburg to meet Howard.  

Howard and I have been planning his return trip for a couple weeks. The Elk has been fishing pretty good, with mostly nymphs, we wanted to catch fish on top. Terrestrials were supposed punch our fun ticket but the river had other plans. We launched the boat and dug out the nymph rod to bring some fish to the boat. The hatchery brats were out and about in the upper section of the river. After boating a few fish we turned to terrestrials. They didn't produce so we were back on  nymphs.
Browns on Nymphs
The Elk was still running a cool 58 degrees and the water was the usual off green color, which has pretty much become normal since the the change in water release a few years ago. The fish seem to be happy and healthy for the most part. Visibility is about two feet, so putting the bug in front of the fish is critical or just use small streamers and soft hackles if nymphs are not the fishes preferred method.

Howard and I didn't leave much in the box as we moved down the river. We tried several different terrestrials but the fish didn't seem to look up as the bugs passed over their head. So we would switch back to nymphs and pick up fish. The numbers were pretty much there, but we both realized "those pesky fish weren't eating the way we wanted" although we all know they should have eaten the way we wanted. We quickly agreed they should be eat our way and then as any angler would do we went back to nymphs because that was working. 

We stopped for lunch and had good discussion. We talked about things that were interesting and insightful. Lunch is a good time to learn about things other than angling. As all good conversations should it ended at the right time. Soon Howard was laying out good casts with the proper mends, and we were watching the bobber indicator. The indicator dove several times throughout the afternoon and many more times than not I was netting a fish. The afternoon saw several good fish and a couple browns.
The day was winding down and the evening hatch began. First it was a #20 gray midge here and then there. Then the hatch became more steady. Fish finally started midging and this brought out the light dry fly rod with a small dropper. Th fish were still picky even with the dropper rig. Top water was not the way to go but a soft hackle did gain some attention.  The sun went behind the hill as we entered the home stretch and a few larger sulphurs began popping. They weren't large in numbers but the size was worth a second look as they flew among the midges. The hatches weren't like those of western rivers, they were what is normally found down low on the river though and nice to see. If nothing else the bugs added to the good conversation that comes with gettin out there on a long float like the Elk.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elk River, Caney Fork River Fishing

This Rainbow Just Has Nice Color & It Ain't Small
First things first. We have been back out on the water and have several trips going in the next few days, so this report may be more basic and to the point, with pictures of course.... Here we go.
Dan in His Usual Pose, With Fish On
The Obey- The Army Corps is dialing back the generation and there should be some windows of opportunity in the near future, but be on your toes and ready to leave at a moments notice if you are traveling any distance to the river at all. Try nymphs, small midges and watch for generation. Also, stop by the hatchery and take a look at all those future catches! I will be ready to get up there in the next few weeks if everything goes according to plan.
Some of the Tools Needed for Trout Fishing

The Elk River- The area around the Elk River received some much needed rain, therefore so did the Elk. The water is just starting to clear and if there isn't too much rain in the next few days,  the water should clear by the weekend. The river is running a cool 58 degrees, in the flow, for most of the upper section. The fish are taking nymphs and there are a good number of hatchery brats in the upper section. Better get there quick though because they don't seem to last long in that area. The river could use a few hours of generation to clean the gravel bottom and knock out some of the weeds.  So if you TVA folks are reading this, well a nice 3 hours of flushing, preferably at night, would be of great benefit.
That's Dan Again, This Time With a Rainbow That Ate Topside
The Caney Fork River- The river is coming back to life after a Summer of canoe rentals and tourons seeking thrills and adventures. OK, seriously, the river is fishing pretty good. The hatchery brats are enjoying their lives just steps from the ramp where they were dumped.  The holdovers that we all know and love are holding, well not right by the ramps but in the usual spots. We measured the water temperatures 30 minutes after the generation stopped, while we were at the dam, rigging rods the other day. The thermometer was 4 feet down and laying on the bottom and it measured 60 degrees.  
Another Rainbow

I tried my best to remember to take the temps farther down river, but we were busy rowing the boat, catching fish and smoking cigars and I just plain forgot. Let's just say it was cool enough for trout to eat and I will try to remember to get a downstream reading in a couple days, when we are back on the Caney again. 
Oh Deer

We had a lot of shots at nice fish and hooked up with a bunch on the Caney the last time out there.  I get in trouble when I start getting bored, so I have really been into some new dry fly techniques that are just starting to work. The flies are small, hard to see, hard to keep a fish on, but when the fish eat it is a great thing. Don't forget to try beetles too. Yes, the cat is out of the bag and the beetles (not the Let It Be guys from across the pond) the terrestrial type, are getting some attention. Keep the nymphs close as well because most of the action takes place down low in the water column.
The Rainbows Are Hungry Right Now
The One That Got Away- this a true fish story, if there is such a thing.  And let's face it, anyone who has read this report to right here deserves a good fish story. Dan and I were fishing the other day. We were fishing to feeding fish and daylight was limited. We were fishing water that another boat had just pounded for about 45 minutes or so and surprisingly we were getting some eats. The new dry fly technique worked so I was happy and it was Dan's turn to row, so I was happy again. Anyway, daylight was fading and sometimes it just didn't seem like a great idea to row 3 miles in the dark. So, we left the "spot of the feeding fish" and it was my turn to stand in the front casting brace and wave the stick.

We went downstream a bit and somehow I hooked up, don't ask me how it just happens some times. The fish was big enough to put a major bend in the BVK and we both got a look at a nice fat trout! I should have horsed the fish when I had the chance but the reel screaming overtook me and the straight down dives of the fish really did not give me the right opportunities to get it in the net. So the fish fought on and took one of my best trained flies to the bottom and tried to drown it! After a few minutes of grouper like diving the fish got me in a snag and broke off 12 lb leader. After closer inspection the fish also bent two guides on the rod and broke one of the other guides at the base of the foot. In short, the fish won, but at least we were Gettin Out There.
Clear Skies, Good Light and a Talented Photographer

Life is Good Waiving the Stick

Monday, September 5, 2011

James and Matt

A Great Father Son Trip
James has been booking me for a few years now. Everytime he calls and we get out  there, the day is memorable. With Tropical Storm/Depression/Former Hurricane Lee approaching, James and I were in contact via email late into the night before we were to launch.

James, it looks like the rain could be in a little earlier than mid afternoon. If that is a problem we can reschedule if needed, if not I am ready to go for tomorrow. Thanks David

I'm ok with a little rain if you are.   See you in the morning.  - James
With that the trip was set and on this day the goal was to teach his son Matt to fly fish. So we loaded up rods, flies, rain gear and Doritos, then headed to the river. Father son trips are some cool trips and it is always fun to watch how families interact. James is an accomplished angler, who is calm and consistent. Matt is a polite young man who brought enthusiasm and an ability to listen. We launched the drifter among the canoes, kayaks, anglers and other assorted watercraft, then we hit the river.
The Only Sunlight of the Day
James hooked up real early in the trip and we began to work with Matt. Matt was quick to learn and soon he was launching the 3 weight a far enough distance to help calm even the spooky fish.  We worked on mending and after a few tips Matt moved from beginner to experienced mender as quick as anyone I have seen on the drifter. We weaved in and out of traffic and when we found a clear stretch of river Matt hooked up.
We Like These....
Like I said "Matt Hooked Up"
 Matt set the hook and before we knew it he was learning to fight a fresh stocker rainbow. He played the fish under the watchful eye of his Dad and me. Soon the fish was in the net and the high-fives followed, along with the usual hero shots. After that we were back to fishing and Matt hooked up again and then again and again. He was on his game and the trip was going pretty much as planned.
Matt's First Fish
A Nice Brown for James
We kept fishing nymphs and trying just a few patterns that we thought might work. The action was pretty good but everything had to be just right. The fish were not just jumping in the boat, however the right fly, with the right drift would produce a strike.  We entered a pool that has been known to produce nice fish in years past. James sent a nymph right down a seam and the indicator went under. We both thought it was a snag, until the snag started swimming across the river. (just in case someone might be wondering or asks you in the future- snags don't usually swim across a river they usually swim upstream). As the fish crossed the river, James began gaining control of some line and we  soon had the first brown of the day in the boat. The score? Drifter 1 - Browns 0.
That is Matt.....again

Settin on G - Waitin on O
Usually we have shore lunches such as fillet mignon, cedar plank grilled salmon or Asian chops. On this day lunch was burgers, yep grilled burgers, cooked just right with all the accoutrement's. We were racing the weather and we knew it,. So burgers fit right in with the Weather Channel predictions and the race against the storms. We were back in the drifter for the second leg of the trip.
Getting Comfortable
Scenes From Summertime
Earlier I said James is an accomplished angler. He is no stranger to our style of nymph fishing and has the patience it takes for those long, sometimes mind numbing drifts. We entered a good stretch of water and James was fishing long a shelf. We were ducking under the over hanging trees as we settled the drifter in behind the nymph. And that is when the indicator took a big dive. There was no question it was a fish, and as soon as it took the fly, the fish headed to the bottom. When James put the pressure on the fish it went for the snags. Then  the fish came out to the boat for cover. We were trying to keep it from one snag when we floated over another. The fish went for that snag and that is where the 5x came in handy. The fish eventually decided the boat was a good place to be and came up to the top. It was a beautiful brown trout. James got the head up and the fish was in the net. He did a great job controlling the fish's head and moving the fish in and out of structure with a nudge here and pull there. The reward? The largest brown James has ever caught...
Now That is a Brown!
So as the afternoon wore on we started shoal hopping. The ramp was still miles away and the storm was pushing. Matt had several rainbows under his belt but hadn't caught a brown. We went through the usual after lunch doldrums when everyone is hoping for a nap, but knows there are still fish to be caught. Matt was still working on his cast and went to the Lefty Kreh
An Angler and his Ghillie
Matt began getting accurate casts and great mends. He also began to read the water. He was putting the fly in the right spot, making the right mends, then he would settle in and wait for the fly to do the rest. We missed a couple fish, had a fish or two on the line which escaped and then it happened. The brown took off with the fly and the indicator followed and with subtle encouragement and with shouts of set, set-set, Matt, who had already set the hook, was soon into a good fight. The fish ran through some vegetation and quickly doubled the bend in the rod. Using some skills he learned earlier in the day, Matt played the fish to the net. Matt had another "first" to add to his list. With that we finished our run to the takeout as the rain began to get heavier and the clouds darker. We made the right call and beat the storm. The decision was tough the night before, trip was touch and go a couple times ,but sometimes Getting Out There is more important than what might happen.
Angler Hooked, Fish Released...