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.

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