Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wintertime Tailwater Report

The Drifter at Rest
The Caney Fork- There were some windows of no generation this week, but the sluice was open. Now the US Army Corps is running two on for several hours and then one on for several hours. The lake level is falling and then leveling out. The river doesn't fall completely to a one generator level, which leaves some different pockets and back eddy opportunities. Streamers are working pretty good with all three species of trout coming to the meaty stuff. 
Healthy Tailwater Holdovers
This week Anthony and Dan joined me for a float. The fishing was good when the wind was low and we found a fish here and there as the wind howled. We found low water and fished the shoals, drifted through the pools as we discussed the happenings of the Winter. Sometimes the trip to the river is almost as adventurous as the day of fishing. This morning started out like many other mornings. It was cold with frost as I pulled the drifter out of the garage. I stopped by Anthony's and we hooked the boat to his truck then took off to meet Dan. We picked up Dan and sped off to the river. Sped to the river, those seem like a harmless words. Dan was telling of his 10 Day Southern Most Amish Furniture Tarpon Islamorada Trip to the Keys, when the words Sped to the River were added to passing an officer who was driving too darn slow in the fast lane. The words Sped to the River then took on a new life jut a few minutes later. Those words would also delay our trip to the river. Soon we were discussing the finer points of small town traffic court with the officer, while all I could think about was being late to the river. I didn't mention that to the officer as he explained how much Anthony's ticket "would have cost, $290 something" if he decided to write a ticket vs. just a warning. Thank you's from all of us and we were gone, leaving the officer in the rear view mirror, probably wondering 'what the hell kind of boat is that?'. 
Low, Clear Water
The Obey- This river had some nice windows of zero generation this week and continues as I type this report. If you make the trip to Celina, the flow on no generation will be low and slow after the water falls out. Use the small stuff as the fish get a good look at whatever food they are deciding to eat and matching the food they eat daily is no secret to catching nice fish. Dark colors, although color on nymphs seems to be secondary to size and shape, which really seems to make color third in line, anyway dark colors this time of year seem to turn a fish's a bit quicker than a light color. Slow painful, eat a sandwich while it floats, are the type of drifts you will find on this tailwater. ***
The Elk River- this river is fishing very good right now and if someone is thinking about booking a wintertime trip to dust off those early season cobwebs, this would be the float I would recommend. The action is good and there are many different types of water to help re-engage those angling skills. There are shots at nice fish and the hatchery brats keep anglers entertained as well. Presentation is a key to this river right now. The water is that early-year clear so the fish get some inspection time before making their decision. The wintertime float is discounted so give me a call if you want to get out.
Fish Tails

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Musky in Tennessee?

..the answer- Yep

Tennessee Musky from Bend Pool Media on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tennessee Musky Fishing

These Fish Can Be Anywhere
Brent and Mark joined me for a day on the river. This was supposed to be my last day before getting back on the tailwaters for a while, or at least until the next big rain event comes. This trip started with almost immediate action. Mark was first up and still within site of the ramp when a large toothy musky took his fly. The fish came from structure, took the fly, turned hard and bit right through Mark's bite tippet. It was over before it stated but left Mark shaking and saying the same thing over and over... "that was the biggest fresh water fish I have ever had on the line". That is a pretty common response.
Fly Fishing is Like a Balancing Act Sometimes
The stick balancing on the end of this blow-down has been there for several weeks. The water, rain and wind have not knocked it off. No one has come along in a boat and taken it off and it has not dried out unevenly, then fallen off. Apparently, the stick was in the right place at the right time, with the right current and seems to be somewhat lucky. Fly fishing can be like that stick on the end of that log just looking for the right current while hoping luck will be there in the end. 
We all know about currents, especially on the tailwaters. Center Hill was pushing over 10,000 CFS for over a month (seems like a million months). This week the US Army Corps dialed the generator back to one, with a release of 3600 CFS. Relief is finally here for most floating anglers and the wading folks see the water levels heading down, down ,down as their day also draws near. While I am typing this report it is snowing and it rained some last night as well. The weather forecast calls for rain 3 out of the next 7 days, but it does not appear to include any significant rain events for the Center Hill Lake area. We need to some more cold weather to get a good shad kill and wake those trout up!
Fish Tails
Tims Ford is releasing water during the week, which makes for some interesting floats on falling water. The fish have been taking the usual stuff with little surface activity. Soft hackles swung in the low current on the weekend are still producing and don't be afraid to tie a soft hackle on as a dropper below a nymph. This technique can produce fish from the end of the drift just as the line begins to tighten, which puts the soft hackle into action.
This Fish Bloodied Some Knuckles 
So, back to the musky action. Mark followed up his first fish on the day with a follow from a smaller fish. Brent was next up with action. He hooked up on a section of river that looked good, but has never produced. We saw the fish sitting in the middle of the river, in the current on a shoal and the next thing we knew Brent was saying fish-on. This fish was on long enough to get the net and position the boat, then we stood there as the fish moved upstream and toward the bank. I just knew Brent was going to boat his second musky, but the fish made a turn and then came unbuttoned.  The fire tiger color was working. Next it was my turn and luck was on my side this time. The musky hit and the 10 weight BVK did the rest. The musky came to the boat and even bent the rod in butt section, where all good fish bend a rod. After some bloody knuckles and cut fingers the fish was released back into the hole from which it came. 
The day continued with additional sight fishing and some big follows. We found some fish that would follow and then sulk and refuse to follow again. Everyone saw some action and at least had a fish on the line. Musky are not easy to catch, the days are long and action can come at anytime. It's a good way to pass the time when the tailwaters are not at their best. And it is cool to hear someone say  "that was the biggest fresh water fish I have ever had on the line"...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Day on the River

The Weapons of Choice
"If I can just get a follow". That quote was from fellow angler Steve H. who went to chase some musky with me. Before the day was over he would have his follow and then some with one nipping musky. We would also have the"one that got away story". Here are some of the photos from the day...

Steve Delivering the Groceries

Some Musky Munchies
Musky Tricks

40" of Musky vs. several inches of  Musky Munchies
The Kick of the Tail
Throwing the Fly Right Back at Us - But a Good Action Shot

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is There Relief Around the Corner?

Quite Calming
A check on future generation and future weather is showing a possibility of getting on the water under some semi-regular wintertime conditions. The future generation on the Caney Fork is predicting a shut down of a couple generators, which gets us back to a one generator release and maybe a sluice to go with it. That will be a welcomed change for anglers. Hopefully the fish will realize what is going on and get into the main river channel before the water falls out. The trout may have an IQ of 6 but their instincts make up for other shortcomings. We are hopeful on all counts...
They Never Stop Hunting
The Obey is keeping with the usual release and the predictions are unchanged. Expect the same release this coming week as last week.and possibly in the next few weeks. The initial  Obey stocking is not far away and the shad that come through (during regular years) brings those big trout up the dam. Two events that are worth the trip up there. We will see hat happens in this unusual year.

Fish Tails...
The Elk River- is slowing down the release and this weekend saw a window of no generation. The trout are hitting the usual nymphs and smaller streamers. For the coming weekdays the forecast predicts several hours of zero generation during the middle of the day this week. Beware of the unexpected releases though. 
The release guidelines that were put into place a few years back are helping the trout, in my opinion. Several years ago it was tough to catch a trout near the dam during the first few months of the year. Sure there were some fish in the river, but now the fish appear to be holding over with a more healthy look. 
Below is the operating guide and the red line reflects the rain we received over the past 48 hours. We really dodged a bullet on this latest rain event, thankfully, and that appears to be opening up some windows of angling opportunity!

The Elk River Operating Guide