Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chris and Jason

A Healthy Brook Trout

A few years ago Jason and Chris floated with us and had a pretty good day. That was a few years ago, but the guys both remembered a lot of the things we worked on that day. On this day we floated nymphs to feeding fish and the guys picked up some nice fish again. Chris began fishing right away, while Jason watched and just enjoyed the morning on the river. When Jason did step up to the casting brace, he produced. The first fish he caught was the largest fish boated, so far that morning. Chris however was working on his cast and concentrating on good drifts.
Rock'n Ledges
We stopped for a lunch of subs and fix'ins, while trying to entice some more rising fish. We boated a rainbow at lunch and then shoved off for the second part of the float. Jason fished off and on after lunch, but Chris was in the game all day. The only time he wasn't fishing was when we were pulling up anchor and making a move. The size of the fish began to decrease as we came closer to the takeout.  
Chris With a Prize of Brown Trout
Jason Perfecting a Nymph Drift
Fish Tales
As we entered last part of the trip, a big rise came to the top with a splash to get our attention. Chris turned on the rise and after two false casts he dropped the nymph just above the rise-ring. The fly barely had time to settle when the indicator dove. Chris set the hook and the rod got a big bend going. Early in the fight the fish stayed down and then the trademark head shakes came. Those head shakes are the mark of a truly healthy fish and usually these fish have big shoulders. This one was no exception. Chris did a great job bringing the fish to the net and all the fish he had caught earlier in the day provided the warm-up for this one. He played the fish quickly and efficiently. Moments later the brown was in the net and posing for photos...
So we rowed on and fished off and on for the rest of the trip. Chris fishing at every stop and Jason taking in the day and enjoying it, like a day on the river is supposed to be enjoyed. On their first trip the guys worked on all the fundamentals, with specific attention paid to no drag drifts. This time they put their talents to use and concentrated on dropping the fly upstream of feeding fish. The new theory? Fish where they are, not where they ain't.
Winding Down a Good Day

Monday, June 25, 2012

Paul, Tucker and the Brookies

Father-Son Trips Have Been Some of the Best Trips
Paul came in from Virginia to visit his son Tucker and crossed the river five times on the way. The father and son booked a half day trip to catch some fish and spend some quality time together. Before we pushed the drifter away from the gravel bar the guys tuned up on some recent hatchery brats. Paul stuck the fish, with a Bust-a-Brown, early and with regularity, while Tucker and I concentrated on the brookies downstream at the boat. When we shoved off the guys were tuned up. The skies were bluebird clear and the water was about 60 degrees. 
One of Several Brookies
The tailwaters in Middle Tennessee have been running extra clear since TVA and the Army Corps dialed back the generators. This means the fish see boats and anglers coming much sooner than previous years. Long casts and quality mends will pick up more fish. Every time the fly passes, the fish have an extended inspection time and this makes refusals routine. 
Paul Hooked-Up Early

Paul and Tucker
Another Brook Trout
Now the guys didn't just catch all brookies, but they were the most colorful fish of the trip. Nope both guys got their slam. The recent stockings from TWRA have been full of smaller fish. The browns are small, but several years ago TWRA stocked small browns and some of them adapted to the river pretty well, then grew up to be healthy holdovers. 
Spending the afternoon with Paul and Tucker was a lot of fun. Paul is an accomplished angler who adapted to fishing out the drifter, by picking his spots, setting up his drifts and then picking up fish. Tucker worked on his casting, then mending and then, he started picking his spots as well. The fish came to the fly an would eat on the best drifts.  It was cool to see these two guys picking up fish while just hanging out together on the river. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Elk River Update

Update- from the last report until now there have been some developments. TVA is turning loose additional water. There is a valve that allows the water to get to the sluice. That valve is damaged and is in the closed position. TVA is working to open the valve and allow water to pass through the sluice. TVA is releasing additional water over the spillway to help protect the trout. The water temperature at Farris Creek Bridge is 70.9 degrees. TWRA is aware of what is going on and they are in contact with TVA. Hopefully the valve will be fixed or at least opened enough to let some cold water through of the sluice.
The Operating Guide below is from the TVA website. The red line is the current observed elevations (the current lake level). The yellow line is the minimum recreational level (the lowest level that TVA wants to keep the lake level for boaters, above the dam). The graph shows the lake level is extremely low. We were at the lake on Sunday and there is about 4' of shoreline showing. It is interesting on the Elk right now...
Update to the Update- The water temps at the Elk are back 58 degrees which is the summertime normal. The temperature was taken at the gravel bar below the Highway 50 bridge. The flow is going up and down, but the temps are remaining pretty consistent. The temps at Farris Creek, according to TVA, is running at 67 degrees. SO, it appears the valve on the dam is fixed in the open position. Good news for the trout and good news for the angler.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Howard on the Elk

Howard has been on the drifter several times over the last year and is a member of the 20 + Club as well. I enjoy fishing with Howard and we have had several successes. This day was much different than those days. We started the day with a quick measurement of the water temps, which were 65 degrees at the gravel bar. TVA had switched from releasing 100 CFS out of the sluice to 90 CFS over the spillway.The 65 degree temperature slow the trouts metabolism and eating begins to slip downward on a trout's to do list. 65 degrees and we were still at the gravel bar, further downstream the temps were even higher.  The river itself was as low, as I have ever seen it. More gravel bars were exposed and the channels we are accustom to using for passage through the chutes were more narrow and more times than not we had to float and drag the boat.  
Howard likes to fish dries and for the first part of the float we fished dries to freshly planted hatchery brats. We tried several patterns, all dries, and landed fish on a small terrestrial and a pheasant tail dry. It is amazing how small adjustment in pattern will turn feeding fish into a fish on the end of the line. Howard was on with the hook set, but we missed some fish. We made a small adjustment to the hook gap and that was the ticket. We were back in the game. We fished to feeding fish for a while and caught our share, then we moved on to a low and warm river.

As we moved downstream the water continued to warm. As the water warmed the warmwater species came to life. The darters, some of the trash fish and other types of fish, that like the warmer temps began to come to the top. We got out the hopper rod and began to bang the banks of the Elk. Howard had been on the hopper rod for a while, when we saw a strong terrestrial rise just off the bank. So we did what all anglers would do, we moved that way. Howard tossed a big hopper where the rise rings had just began and finally after a long dry spell Howard boated another fish. This time it was a bass, but it was a small victory. 
We ended the day throwing dries to small feeding browns and as the sun dropped behind the hills we called it a day. It was a tough day, the toughest day we had experienced. Every angler has those days and guides are no different. There was nothing either of us could do about the water conditions at the time we were on the river. We rode it out and made the best of it. It looks like Howard and I will be on the Caney Fork for our next trip, unless the changes to the water conditions improve the Elk. TWRA is apparently already on the situation and since multiple people contacting them after our float, TVA has began to release water from the sluice again and the water temps are down to 58 degrees. So hopefully no permanent damage was done to the fish in the lower stretches of the river. Time will tell.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A "Different" Caney Fork Fishing Report and Other Observations

Catch'em & Throw'em Back...
Don't let the title fool ya, we will get to the fishing report in a bit. Here is part of a discussion that Brent and I had several months back and it was wrapped around a question. Do fish always look down toward the water when they are out of the water? It has probably been pondered, discussed and debated by others on many different occasions. Some of those discussions, ponderings and debates, I may or may not have been privy to and if I was, I may or may not have remembered. But Brent brought it up and I remember at least part of the conversation, so lets just go with that for now. I went back and looked at several photos and most of the photos show the fish apparently deciding their next move and how a quick wiggle is going to get them back in the water from where they came. 
Before this gets a whole other discussion going about the ethical treatment of fish, it is best to let the fish sit, in the net after the fight, while the net is in the water. That gives the fish time to get its breath back and to do all those scientific things that fish do while they are reviving themselves. Use that time to get the camera ready and if needed to give the angler time to stop shaking. So, I guess I am saying we treat the fish as best we can and if you are getting a photo, we hope you treat them as best you can. We hope so because, we want to catch it again, especially if it is a big one. That's a long way around the barn to figure out whether or not a fish always looks down toward the water when it is out of the water. Come to think of it there is probably a government grant to figure all this out...we, however are doing it for free.
The Usual Suspects
Caney Fork River- A lot has been said about the Caney Fork. There are a whole bunch of canoes on the water, especially on the weekends and especially on the upper float. So, try to fish before the rental companies begin to release the canoes or after they release the last batch of the day. Anyone who has spent any time on the Caney knows that the people at the rental companies like to go home at night and they stop releasing canoes sometime after 3:00 p.m. (or there about). You can fish the evening hatch on most weekdays and if it is threatening rain and terrible weather, well even better. The fish are still eating, however not in the middle of 50 screaming kids beating their paddles in on the side of an aluminum canoe. That sound tends to send fish into the bottom of the holes and tends to send anglers to therapy. Anglers who fish the upper section need to decide whether it is worth the heartache before leaving the house.
An Unusual Suspect
There are still some good fish in the Caney. The hatches are quite interesting. Everything from the usual midge hatches, to caddis and even some of those softer bodied mayflies, which are easier to eat and apparently better tasting, if you get my drift. So branch out and try some different stuff. Nymphs are still the way to go, if you are going for numbers. We fished some terrestrials recently with no luck, but I remain optimistic, especially when a trout ate an indicator. With any luck hoppers will start falling in the river soon and that bite will be on. Streamers are still working, but there is a point that a streamer is actually too large, which we found this week. Dang that was tough to say, but it is true. White and yellow are the colors of choice. If the water gets stained then go darker and work to the other end of the color chart. And here is something else to consider. Find a pattern that you are comfortable fishing and just change colors and size as needed. Fishing the same pattern seems counter-productive, but it can teach line and fly control.  
The US Army Corps has decided to release water from 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. That is cooling the Cumberland River downstream at the power plant at about the right time and as a byproduct the trout in the Caney Fork get to cool off too. The water temps we took on the last float were 58 degrees. Some folks have asked how we generally take the reading. Usually I will drop a thermometer over the side of the boat, on 3' piece of tippet, for about 3 or 4 minutes and then see what it says. Highly scientific and sometimes accurate. The last reading, however, was a bit different. I dropped the thermometer over the side of the boat, then began rigging rods. We pushed off from the gravel bar and began the float. Naturally we started searching for fish and watching flies. About 45 minutes into the float and after passing over several gravel bars a line got tangled. When the line was pulled up there was a thermometer on a piece of tippet that looked just like mine and it read 58 degrees. As I said highly scientific.  There it is, a "different" look into the Caney Fork and hopefully a tip or two that will with someone's angling.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Calvary Outfitters Roadtrip

It's been a month since we traveled to Townsend with Calvary Outfitters. The guys took some photos and there was also some video. Finally all that has been put together and loaded to Vimeo. 

Calvary Outfitters Roadtrip to Townsend, Tennessee from Bend Pool Media on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Non-Fishing- Fishing Report

Over the past couple weeks or so, we have been out of town. We went to the Gulf and stayed on the Apalachicola Bay. It was good to get away with family and spend some time on the beach. I took about 20 minutes chasing a 3' hammerhead shark that was cruising the beach, but it would not eat the Clouser I was throwing. So, I stomped at it and it ran off. After thinking about stomping in the water, after a shark....well you know it could have ended badly, but it didn't. 
Anyway, a few days later we went into Apalachicola and I spotted a dock to fish. The next day I loaded up the 10 weight BVK and the camera, then headed across the bridges to fish off that dock. When I got there the road was blocked. Naturally, I assumed the City was reserving the dock for me and I jumped the barrier. A nice young man stopped me and asked what I was doing. I explained that there was a dock that needed to be fished. He advised there was a helicopter landing in about 10 minutes, in the middle of the road and it would be best if I didn't fish the dock, which was about 20 feet from the make-shift landing pad.  We decided the fish probably would spook when the helicopter landed anyway and I went off on my next adventure. Below are some photos from the rest of that morning's adventure. The town of Apalach is amazing with lots of history. If you can't go there, it is certainly worthy of a good Google search. I hope you enjoy this Southeastern Fly Non-Fishing- Fishing Report from Apalachicola and St. George Island.