Sunday, January 29, 2012

There's High Water Everywhere

Suspicious Activity? We Didn't See Any...
Looks Like 3 Generators and a Sluice or Big Water
Want the water pretty much to yourself? Want a challenge? Well fish when no one else fishes or just go for a boat ride. Last week I started thinking it would be cool just to get on the water and see what fishing on 10,000 + CFS is like. Talk about new water? The side channels, islands and main channels are all different on this flow. I wouldn't really suggest getting out on these flows, but it's fun to try just once....and maybe a few more times.
Brent and I took off for a morning and early afternoon float. My shuttle wasn't answering so I gave Brent a choice, drive his vehicle or run from Happy Hollow to Center Hill Dam after dropping the truck. Brent is a triathlon competitor and he showed up that morning with running shoes. His time for the shuttle was 24 minutes...  
The Heron Was Just Hanging Around
While Brent was running the shuttle, I rigged the rods and surveyed the water. The herons seem to be growing in numbers and are becoming more colorful every trip. While I was rigging rods I kept one eye on a heron that decided he wanted to get closer than usual. The streamer rod was rigged and the gulls were flying. Before anyone gets worked up over a shad kill, we didn't see any gulls diving and no shad floating. It's tough not to wonder if the gulls aren't preparing for something. 
The Shoals at Lancaster

A Balloon Indicator Almost Ready to Use
Balloon indicators are good for fishing high water and they hold up heavy nymphs with extra weight. Also, they are inexpensive and easily adjusted. The wind was strong for most of the day and they cast pretty good, so we may use more of these this year. We used these in the side channels and parts of the main channel were we float the heavy stuff when we wanted a break from the streamers.
Fish Tails
The Caney Fork River
Waiting for a Passing Meal
So on the Caney fish are being caught on this flow. It isn't easy, but it's a change of pace. There are literally only a few spots to wade and those are at the ramps. Wading anglers should keep on tying flies until the water drops to a more normal flow. For the boaters out there, the water is moving real fast and getting in the trees and across the islands is dangerous. Drifters have an upper hand navigating the trees but it can get serious in a hurry. The ramp at Happy is clear and there were a couple boats there drifting down and running up a few hundred yards. No one was trying anything too out of the norm, except for us and that was only after thinking things through first.
The River Gauge
A Midge Among Streamers
The Elk River- The Elk is pushing water throughout the week and we are getting a window here and there on the weekends. The hatchery brats are doing pretty well surviving on midges and scavenging for other meals below the surface. The windows of opportunity are small but TVA is giving us small windows for our fix, in spite of the lake levels and continuous weekly rains. So thank you TVA.
If you are going to fish the Elk, keep an eye on the water level and get out if you think it might be rising. You can always get back in if things check out OK. Also be on the side of the river your vehicle is on when the water turns on. This river is not a river that anyone can cross when the generator begins to push. 

Elk River Operating Guide (the blue line)
TVA works the releases based on this guide. This is today's snapshot. The red line is the line that matters to us right now. The red line clearly shows the weather events so far this year. The blue line is the operating guide and when the red line and the blue line meet, we get to fish. That may be an over simplification of the operating guide, but why muddy the waters with extra theory...
Musky Waters- The musky waters have been up,up and up. The visibility has been low and we don't even get out when the water is pushing like it has been this week. Hopefully we will have a musky report in the coming days. There it is the report from Middle Tennessee. With all this water anglers are preparing for the upcoming Spring. Trips are already getting booked for the Spring and if the water gets to a more manageable level the streamer trips are just around the corner. For anyone thinking about booking just give me a call, text or send an email. This is a good time to start planning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fishing Report...

A Colorful Elk River Hatchery Brat
Here we go with the same old song and dance...Mother Nature just isn't seeing things our way and continues to fill the lakes while the folks in charge of the water release try their best to keep our lakes at winter pool.
The Caney Fork- water releases have been 24-7 at 10,000+ CFS. It becomes more and more tempting to get out there and just see what, if anything, is happening. So I still suggest not getting on the river while continuing to fight the urge.
The Obey had some windows of  1600+ CFS, which is a decent flow for floating. It isn't the best but it is doable. Wading has been non-existent so far on the Obey this Winter. Hopefully the weather and generation will cooperate in the very near future.
Fish Tails
The Elk River- continues to see some windows for wading on the weekends. On weekdays, well check generation schedules but don't expect great things. We made a trip to the Elk to wade after a huge storm came through a couple days back. Surprisingly the water was somewhat clear and the fish were hungry. There was minimal surface activity and we went with nymphs above midge droppers. The nymphs produced several hatchery brats in a short window. The tug was good to feel and we even had a visit from a muskrat. If there is a window and the opportunity is there, I would suggest your favorite nymph. Adjust the indicator as needed and don 't get lazy with the adjustments, because the fish seem to hunker down in off-color water. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Elk River Report

2012 Fish Tails
The Elk-is finally showing some good windows of opportunity. The water level in the lake is falling, in-spite of all the rain we've had this Winter. The fish of the Elk River have responded well to the generation and  are hungry when the generators shut down. When the generators are off there is zero release. The only water entering the river is from the feeder creeks. The feeder creeks have been clearing up pretty quick after rain and the generation is flushing the muddy water, unlike the Summer months when it takes a while for the river to settle after a rain event. 
Several anglers have been commenting on the healthy rainbows in the river right now. The stocking trucks have been gone since November and the fish are holding their own. Fish nymphs! Nymphs under indicators are working well, so are buggers swinging in the current. Remember the water is lower and adjusting the indicator is a must. The next time I go down and the water is this low a soft hackle under a dry fly will be on the tippet, at least for a while.

On the Caney Fork we have water, water and water. The lake level at Center Hill is still well above winter pool. Great Falls continues to release water as fast as Center Hill, the Caney Fork and the Cumberland can take it.  We are still not floating on these high flows, but if the air temps get low enough.....who knows we might go for a quick float. 
The flows on the Musky streams have been a bit high this week as well and more rain is in the forecast. Look for some more reports from those waters, but for now we are going to chase trout in the coming weeks.

This week I have spent some time reading a book by local angler and author Bob Shanks. Around the Next Bend is a book about fishing from Tennessee to Montana. The chapter "Remembering the Little T" is a first hand account of a great river, the Little T,  that by many  angler's memories, including Bob's, had prolific hatches and the bugs of those famed hatches produced some fat trout and fine angling.  If you want an autographed copy of the book for only $16.00 (shipping included) contact Bob at The book would an excellent addition to any anglers bookshelf.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fly Pattern Report

Rubber Skirt Fire Tiger
The water around Middle Tennessee is receding. There have been some windows of opportunity on the Elk and it looks like we may be getting on the river in the coming week. The Musky waters are lower and the fish are easier to see when they follow. Center Hill Dam is still releasing large amounts of water but there is relief in sight. The release forecast shows the US Army Corps dialing back some flow and that may be the opening of streamer season on the Caney Fork. 
I haven't gotten out this week because of some things that came up. But, in the downtime I have been working on some Winter patterns and dug through some files for some river photos of things we have seen over the past few trips.
Someone Bought This Boat New at One Time
Some Patterns Simply Need a Name
Articulated Fire Tiger 

Albert Einstien

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Tennessee Fly Fishing Report

Feathers, Fur and One Eyeball
The Holiday Season is over. Time to get back to work and back to play. Center Hill Dam continues to run three generators around the clock. We find other alternatives when the Army Corp turns loose of that much water. Dale Hollow Dam is releasing two generators and it is OK to float, but that float is quick. Tims Ford Dam is starting to show some windows of wading opportunity. Floating the Elk River hopefully isn't far behind.
We have been out chasin some toothy critters while the tailwaters get back to some sense of normal.  We have floated a local freestone for musky three different times. On those three floats we've had 4 anglers, 3 follows, 3 fish on then lost and one fish in the boat. There is a lot to learn about this species and time is short. It is fun to pass the time on the water when a lot of folks are just sitting at home watching others on TV. Stay tuned for updates...