Sunday, August 26, 2012

Caney Fork River and Elk River Fly Fishing Report

Healthy Bows
Caney Fork Report- The Caney continues to run cool and clear. Only when heavy rains blow out the feeder creeks and larger feeder streams does the river get stained. The upper river usually clears pretty quick and fishing returns to normal, whatever that is... Dries and nymphs are both producing fish. Feeding fish are not exactly everywhere, but they are not to hard to find lately. The canoe hatch is slowing somewhat and there are some gaps in between the rentals. The gaps allow us to float and fish a little easier now. Timing the float in between the rental brigades seems to be the best way to fish the river. Making adjustments and timing help make what can be a miserable day somewhat pleasant. 

The lower portion of the river continues to produce a variety of hatches. I was able to find this photo that David took one evening while we were fishing to rising fish. The Caddis are also hatching as well as the mega midge hatches. Black flies are also coming on too so keep those small black midge patterns handy. 
Yes That is a Hay-Bale and it Appears Someone (or a troll) Rolled into the River 
Rip'in De-Lips
The Elk River- The river is running a little stained but not terrible. The water temps at the dam are running about 50 degrees right now and at or just below 70 at Farris Creek. The slight stain in the water is nothing to the amount of crud that gets kicked up when wading. On the other hand fishing a crawfish pattern and bouncing it along the bottom (i.e. through the muck) will give the fish a clue, where their next meal may be located. The fish are still rising to midges and eating nymphs fished deep. As has been over the last several years during the Summer, nymphs will produce the most  fish on most days.
Dan Picked This Guy Off a Blow-down Stuck on a Point
Fishing structure on the Elk will produce fish. The bass in the photo above was caught on another river this week. But the practice of fishing points will work well on the Elk. There are a bunch of points on the Elk. We are not talking about the bends in the river here either. The easiest way to find a point to is to first, Look Up. Looking up the bank will reveal the contours in hills around this little tailwater. Follow the contours down the hill and where the high part of the land meets the water....Fish There. Drifting a nymph and dragging a streamer across the points will pick up fish.
Brookies are Still Growing
Those are reports from the rivers. One more thing to keep in mind, it is still hot out on the river. Take plenty to drink and make sure you drink it. I suffered a bit of heat exhaustion this week while floating. We had plenty of cold water in the cooler, but I was concentrating on fishing and where the fish were located. The next thing I knew I had a headache and was tired, Then I felt a bit dizzy. Soon it was too late to get myself hydrated. I had to tough it out several miles from the ramp. Thankfully Dan was there to get us out. Drink lots of water and if you can drink sports drinks too. Get hydrated before leaving your vehicle and keep drinking fluids throughout the day. 
Never Watch For Rise Rings Behind You

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weekly Elk River and Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report

Brook Trout Are Showing Growth on Both Rivers
The Elk River- The water is clear and cool. The water at the dam is running about 50 degrees and downstream it is hovering just below 70 degrees. It is amazing there is a 20 degree swing in water temps from Tims Ford Dam to Farris Creek Bridge.  The fish have been responding to nymphs and some dry flies as well. Afternoon is the best time to fish dries but we have luck early in the floats too. Find a feeding fish then pull out the dries. When prospecting it is better to use a nymph or even a small streamer. We are doing full day trips on the Elk with good results.
Donnie Hooked Up Again
The Caney Fork River- The Caney is running clear right now. The fish are taking streamers fished on high water. The short generation schedule brings out some more quality fish and the falling water that follows extends the high water opportunity a little more. Nymphs on low water are producing fish through the longer pools and through the runs. The water that settles out just below the runs has brought us some fish and mostly on nymphs. Soft hackles can bring the Hatchery Brats to hand and expect some short strikes along the way. The half day trips allow us to fish the various evening hatches, but expect to get in after dark.
One of Donnies Fat Rainbows Ate the Nymph
This is Just a Cool Photo
One of Many Brookies
Donnie and Brent joined me on a Guide's Day recently. Donnie has been fly fishing for just a few short months and has taken to the fly rod quite nicely. Brent has fished with me for a few years and he is a member of the 20" Club a two different times. He came close to adding another notch in the belt on this trip. 
Brent in His Normal Pose
Brent stayed hooked up for what seemed like most of the day. He wore out the brook trout through a couple sections on the river. We found some feeding bows and went to work with dry flies. Parachutes patterns were working best and received the most looks. We took turns trying to trick the hungry bows. Brent dropped the fly in the feeding lane and a large bow raised up then sucked in the dry. The fight was on. The rainbow made a couple runs and then a jump followed by a deep dive. The rod was bent double and then the line popped. The fight was over with a broken tippet, we took a hero shot anyway. Brent handled it well.
Just seconds After a Broken Tippet
We won't spend too much time discussing the rainbow the came up and tried to eat a dry on the end of my line, only to be "refused" as I set the hook too early and missed the fish entirely. After Brent's fish broke off we waited until fish began rising again. Then Brent went back to throwing the dry. At one point he offered me the rod and asked if I wanted to try? I did and we set up on another active fish. After several drifts, I decided the fish wasn't going to eat. At that moment the fish rose to the dry and the white mouth came open. The rainbow took the fly and the fight was on. Donnie manned the anchor and oars while Brent handled the net and video camera. The fish came to the net after a couple runs, three jumps and some deep diving. We snapped some photos and released the fish. It had been a while since there has been a quality fish like this in the boat and it sure felt good. I am looking forward to the next trip out to fish dries for feeding fish.
21" of Rainbow Goodness

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ellington and Glenn

Plump Bows
When the phone rang the other day and the number had a New York area code, I had a feeling Glenn was coming into town and wanted to fish. The first time he was on the boat was a great day with multiple browns tricked by hopper patterns and since then Glenn has called when he is in town. This time he brought his son Ellington to fish. We met last week and made our way to the ramp, launched the drifter then backed out into the current
Ellington Pre-Hookset
We spent some time with Ellington's casting and mending. We discussed the general instructions of effective nymph fishing. The traffic was light and Ellington had a hit right off the bat. Things appeared to be going our way. Then the anchor was up, flies were in the water and we were fishing. We stayed on nymphs for most of the upper part of the float and the fish came, but it was slower than we expected.
Catch and Release
Ellington hooked up and Glenn also brought fish to the net. It wasn't easy but the guys hung in there as we made multiple fly changes looking for an advantage. We found some likely places for hoppers. The fish did not respond. Then it was back to nymphs under indicators, which was the best bet for this day.
The Brookies are Growing

Glenn Hooked Up
After we missed a few fish then Glenn came through with some more fish in the net. We set up on some fish that were feeding on top. We went through the dry fly boxes and these fish just didn't want to see things our way. We went from dries with emergers to spinners and the cycles in between. We ended the day on hoppers as the anchor came up and we raced to the takeout to try and meet a deadline. We caught fish although not in the numbers or size we wanted. The river however was pleasant and we were able to find some open spaces in the light traffic. Glenn and Ellington were a pleasure to guide and we are looking forward to the next time the phone rings with a New York area code.
Not Too Much Traffic

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cades Cove and Little River Fishing Report

Riding around Cades Cove with the A/C on low is nothing like a ride around the Cove in the "old days" when this mountain community was in full swing. What makes people climb the mountains, dragging their belongings, and kids and livestock, look around and say "this is home"? Then clear some trees to make some fields, grow crops and hunt game. Did they think about the Winter? The hardships of building a cabin by sawing down trees, making logs fit each other to keep out most of the breeze and splitting shingles to keep out the rain? These were a special breed of people who apparently weren't afraid of anything. 
Church Steeples Made by Tough People
They turned their cattle and pigs loose and took them up to the balds for the Summer to fatten up before slaughter. And what about the game they hunted and the fish the caught? Catch and release wasn't in their vocabulary, although they were reported to be deadly with a cane pole (insert Tenkara 1G) and the worm. They bartered for what was needed with the things they had in excess, if there was such a thing. Making a meal was not as tough in the Summer when one could go out and harvest the things needed. For flavor; salt, wild spices and ramps were added. There were no restaurants to go to in the evening before retiring to their rental cabin and no tours on horseback to see how people lived "back in the day". They couldn't stop at the burger joint, at the entrance to the park, for an ice cream after fishing all day. 
The Loop Road
Nope their life wasn't about stopping to talk to the volunteers before riding the loop on bicycle and they probably couldn't make it around the entire cove in an hour or two either. It is doubtful the people of the Cove had the opportunity to see a Touron try to get a close up photo of a bear cub only to see the mother chase the guy all the way back to the car with a few well placed snorts. It would be interesting to hear what the pioneers of the Cove had to say about that guy though. 
The Best Darned Sign in the Park
Early transportation was by foot, horse or a crude sled like box pulled behind the family horse.  Sundays were a day of worship for most, or at least that's what we like to think, as people traveled to one of the churches by the means they had. From what we can tell times were tough. If anyone is not convinced, take some time to explore the local cemeteries. There were some that lived as long as 90 years, but there are also a number of gravestones that the dash only totals a day or so.  
A View From Above Cades Cove
What does this have to do with a fishing report? Not much other than the cane pole comment. As you can tell by now we spent some time in the Park a week or so ago. Although I did not spend a bunch of time fishing, I did float dry flies over likely looking water for rainbows and managed to trick some fish on my newest second favorite dry fly. While headed to the Cove and up toward Elkmont it is obvious the July 6, 2012 storms did significant damage to the Park. Large paths of downed trees were cleared up and down Little River Road and toward Cades Cove as well. It was a nasty sight and it is difficult to understand what it looks like (and smells like) by reading a report and seeing a photo. Anyone who has been up these roads understands what I am talking about.
What Remains of a Blow Down on Little River Road
Another One of the Park's Residents
Back to that second favorite dry fly... Anyone who has fished with me or discussed fishing the Park probably knows that a #10 Thunderhead is my favorite fly, ever. First, it is big enough to see, the eye on the hook is easy to slip the tippet through and it floats high. Did I mention it is really easy to see and the fly catches fish. As of late and the last few times I have been to the Park I have added a large #10 and sometimes a #12 Parachute Adams to the end of my tippet.  The fish responded with some hard-scrabble takes. It's the kind of take that leaves no doubt in an angler's mind the fish meant to kill it and eat it! The fish were not in the deep holes this time and the slow pools were not the hot spot either. The fish were sitting in the runs. The best runs did not have to be the fastest moving run on the river, but the water did have to be moving at a good pace. Keeping the line off the water, while trying to balance the fly on the tail and hackle, as much as possible, is the ticket for the least drag. I am not as good at it as I was when I lived close and got into the Park at least once and sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. But, it is a fun game while I am back there now.  Anyway a good drift seemed to be even more critical than usual. 
The Slow Pool
Push the Button I Dare You!
One morning I got up early and drank some coffee while loading the truck, then started toward Little River. The guard shack cat was daring anyone who was leaving to press the button that opens the gate. He was somewhat intimidating but there were fish to catch and the cat obviously did not know, if you pull up close enough that gate will open automatically. Score one for the angler and zero for the cat. I made it up to a likely spot on Little River and tied on the trusty Adams that worked the day before. Laced up the wading boots for the morning's wet wade and hit the river. The fish were responding and the water felt good. After fishing a while I came to what looked like a good run. There was a caddis hatch coming off on the bank. Those little bugs were jumping up and down like all good caddis do. If they were depositing eggs they were missing the water by several feet.  I watched them for a while and even took some photos. The photos look like all the other river photos I took and the bugs did not show up, but I know they were there. I fished that run and then the fishing was complete. A short climb up the bank followed by a quick walk down the road to the truck and then a quiet drive back down the mountain and the fishing was over for this trip.  I stopped in to see the folks at LRO and was back at the cabin before the family was ready to go search for bears (from the comfort of the air conditioned truck).
What's a Fishing Report Without Dessert?
Mountain Made Music
This trip was a success in many ways. Fish were caught and sights were seen. There was also some killer blackberry cobbler but that story is best told on another day. All in all the Park fished good even on the low water. Since we have been home there have been several heavy rains and the water level is up a bit at the moment. The fish are responding to dry flies even in the early morning. Anglers don't have to be deadly with a cane pole (insert Tenkara 1G) and the fly. Just keep the line off the water, while trying to balance it on the tail and hackle, as much as possible. It is the ticket for the least drag. Don't forget to take a look around while you are there, just not while the fly is on the water because "if the fly is on the water - you are fishing".

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tig, Howard and the Dry Fly

Tig Hooked Up Almost Immediately
Howard came back again to fish and this time he brought his granddaughter Tig. Howard is the dry fly aficionado  and after a few minutes it was obvious Tig just likes to catch fish. We launched under cloudy skies which were a result of a quick moving front The wind came and went throughout the day as the duo drifted down the river. 
Recently Stocked Hatchery Brats
The water was cool and clear, which is what trout like. The fog on the river only added to a great afternoon float. While Howard fished a dry dropper, Tig started with nymphs. She was hooked almost immediately and had the slam real early in the float. The nymph just kept attracting fish and Tig was setting the hook on a regular basis. The fish weren't quite as interested in the dry so we switched Howard to a big stone fly pattern that he picked up down South. The stone fly hooked up with some fish as we moved along to some dry fly water. 
Next Year These Will Have Some Size
Foggy Evening on the River
I slipped the drifter into a position where some fish eat on top. While I was rigging Howard's dry fly, Tig dropped a nymph at the end of the riffle and produced a nice brown. OK Howard was ready for action with an Adams, that I had picked out the week before, just for this occasion. The spot has several different currents and a dead spot between the good water and the boat. Howard figured out the currents pretty quick and dropped the small Adams in the right seam. The brown rose and slurped the fly, Howard set the hook and the line came tight. The fight was decisive and over quick. That's what it is all about.
One of Many
I am not sure why we like the dry fly so much. The take on top is something we look forward too on each trip, specially this time of the year. A fishing trip isn't always about catching fish or so they say. Sometimes it is about that fish that we see rise and position itself just in the right spot and take the fly. Just like we read about in the books, see on TV and on some Summer days just like we see it in real life.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jim and Alex

Alex Hooked Up Early
Jim sent an email requesting a trip for himself and his grandson Alex. We decided on the where's and when's and I picked the guys up at their motel. The weather for the morning called for heavy rains with thunderstorms early and then a 50% chance of nasty weather the rest of the day. The radar was pulled up on my phone from the time I woke up until we arrived at the gravel bar to launch the boat. The water clarity was not as good as I hoped but there was enough clarity for the fish to see the nymphs and anything that was on the swing in their general area. 
Alex Making the Snit (Standard Nine Inch Trout) Look as Big as Possible
While I was gone to run the shuttle both the guys hooked up and before we launched the drifter both had shaken off the cobwebs and landed some fish. The mission for the day was to help a grandfather and grandson celebrate a recent Eagle Scout and to help Alex with his casting and mending. The better part of the early morning was dedicated to Alex as he worked on his casting technique. Alex was a good listener and his casting improved as he took the advice and modeled it to his on liking. Jim was patient as he waited in the backseat of the drifter watching the progress.
Waiting for Release
The fish cooperated throughout the day with a few dry spells for rowing and enjoying a Snickers Bar. Jim was on with excellent casts and good mends. He also worked the fish with an occasional slight lift of a dead drifted nymph. The water clarity was not great with an early morning shower as well as showers a few days prior to the float. The brookies responded to almost anything moving. Jim was dialed in before lunch and quickly got himself into double digits. 
Jim Waiting for the Next Spot
The Guys Taking a Well Deserved Break
We fished pretty hard throughout the morning. Alex was coming around and working on his timing while Jim continued to pick the right places for fish. We had a dry spell in the catching and made a switch to hoppers. We got some nasty refusals early but the guys stuck with the terrestrials I picked the spots and the guys dropped the hoppers in the right places. The fish responded to the meaty offerings as thunderstorms began to build again. We gauged the thunder for pace and tried to determine which way the storms were moving. Finally we gave in and made the final move to the takeout.
Hopper Action

The day was good and we all commented how early in the morning we weren't sure if we would even get to fish. The storms came early and late, but for the most part left us to fish throughout the day. Jim is already an accomplished angler. Alex improved his casting ten-fold. He was getting some distance at the beginning of the day and as the day wore that distance improved by the mile. His fly placement also improved greatly and with some more time on a fly rod he will be very good at this lifelong pass-time we call fly fishing.
Meaty Rainbows