Monday, September 24, 2012

River Report

Resting Before Floating Through a Real Tight Spot
We headed out for some warm water fishing this week. We took the big rods looking for some toothy critters and took some intermediate rods looking for some smallies. The toothy critters did not cooperate, although we did have one get all-over a streamer pattern, but it didn't eat. I stopped by Cumberland Transit this week and made the mistake of talking with Leo and Grumpy about sunglasses. After trying some on and finding out they were on sale, I walked out with a new pair of Costa's. Look down the page and see the on the river test photos to compare no polarize to polarized. Next comes the in the water test. 
Fish Tails
Caney Fork River- After the rain last week the US Army Corps has turned up the releases. They are releasing a generator and the big sluice. The release is at 6800 cfs but the water is clear. Launching a boat on this release can be dangerous. I talked to a friend of mine who launched a boat and said it was so rough, water was coming over both sides as they backed out to get in the river flow. On this release, if you just have to fish, I recommend using the ramp by the Long Branch Campground. The water rips by this ramp, but the waves have settled down by the time the water gets there, and there is a back eddy that keeps things more tame on the initial launch. It is a good idea to wear a life jacket on this flow too. The water is clear and cool, so catching nice fish certainly isn't out of the question. I wouldn't get out there and we are not running any trips on the Caney right now.
Without Polarized Glass
With Amber Polarized Glasses
The Elk River- This river is going through its Fall period. There is still some nastiness on the river bottom and the water has turned that green dingy color. This happens every year or at least since I have been fishing below Tims Ford Dam. The Elk resembles more of a freestone stream than a tailwater this time of year. There hasn't been a release in quite some time and the run-off from the feeder creeks can have a drastic effect on the water clarity in this smallish tailwater. The last rain event pushed some gravel bars around where the feeder creeks come in and that has changed the channel a bit. You may need to relearn the bottom structure in some places. Visibility is tough right now, however the water is cool and the fish are liking that cool water. Fishing nymphs is working and as usual swinging a soft hackle produces fish. Fall is upon us now and before we know it the streamer trips will begin. Stay tuned for upcoming reports...
We Caught Some of These

Monday, September 17, 2012

Caney Fork Fishing Report and Elk River Fishing Report

Brook Trout Goodness
The Elk River- The water in the Elk River needs a good flush and about 50 more CFS wouldn't hurt. The bottom is pretty nasty and wading means, find a spot and stay there until every piece of water you want to fish, is fished and then move on. Fishing and moving upstream helps with the nasty bottom scum. The water temps are still about 50 degrees at the gravel bar below the Highway 50 bridge and at Farris Creek bridge they are consistently below 70 degrees.
Late Evening on the River
The fish on the Elk are still taking midges and nymphs. Swinging a soft hackle will work, but don't forget downstream fishing is a bit mucky (mucky- there's a fishing term). Hoppers are still taking fish but the numbers are not as good as we like (are the numbers ever enough?). We are still doing all day trips on the Elk and they are starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending just before dark. It is a long trip and a long day, but the results can be very good and the river has less traffic than others in Middle Tennessee.
This Hopper is About 2 & 1/2" Long
Large Rainbows on Small Dries

Donnie Hooked Up....Often
The Caney Fork- The river is running clear and the generation throughout the week keeps the bottom clear. We haven't taken the temperature on this river in a while. We were down by the ball fields a few weeks back and the temp at 8:00 a.m. was 64 degrees. This reading was after the water had fallen all the way out. So the water in the middle and upper sections of the river should be real comfortable for the trout.  I will try to remember to take it on the next float.
Center Hill Dam
We have been fishing nymphs a lot on the Caney and the hatchery brats have been responding real well. When anglers have gotten their share of "nymphing for stockers" we move onto sight fishing for trophy trout. Things don't always go our way, but on some trips everything falls into place and we get some nice fish to the boat. And, most every time we've had several shots at a 20 + fish. Right now is a good time to be on the river, the water is clear and the fish have been responding real good for us. Most others are reporting good numbers as well. Don't expect as many canoes, however the number of anglers has increased. Expect some company all along the river from the dam to at least Stonewall Bridge. We have a couple of open dates, for half day trips, with good generation left in September and a few in October. If anyone is itching to get out for some Fall fishing call, email or text to book your trip.
It is Right There in Black & White

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Good Rod Mojo with H.E. and Jim

I spent some time at Cumberland Transit last week and the discussion turned to rod mojo. Some rods jut seem to have mojo and some do not. Reels can have mojo too and boats, some boats certainly have mojo. I picked up some of the necessary items such as hooks, line and tying materials. OK a new rod would be good too. So I picked several from the rack and wiggled them back and forth, why we do this I will never know. I found a 9'-6wt BVK that I liked mostly because it had a cool fighting butt, which immediately said "Big Fish". Leo and I decided this rod had all the necessary components for good mojo. I tossed my recent purchases in the back seat and raced a fast moving storm from Nashville to Murfreesboro. I arrived at home just in time to view the front edge of a lightening storm as I raced from the truck to the garage. 
Partly Cloudy and Plenty Hot
Jim called and said H.E. was flying in from Iowa and they wanted to spend a day on the river. He said H.E. was an accomplished angler and Jim made it sound as though he was just pretty good. We made the arrangements and I met them at the ramp. In-tow were several rods, including the new BVK and I brought out a Scierra reel that is out of production. The reel also has good mojo.
The Brookies are Starting to "Color-Up"
Darker Colors on the Hatchery Brats
Take a Photo of the First Fish of the Day, For Good Mojo
We started the day on nymphs. H.E. on the usual and Jim started on a rubber legged stone fly nymph. H.E. hooked up first and then again. Jim was a quick study on mending flat water, then he was off on a tear. First cast, then mend, and hookset. We tuned up on the Hatchery Brats and then moved onto more productive water. 
H.E. in the Fighting Chair
There is one place on the river that I usually like to stop. Every canoe, kayak and angler either stops to fish it or some how they end up completely off course and get into the spot purely by accident. This spot has been used so much the fish usually hang close only to come back and eat pretty quick after a boat passes through. On this day the spot had been left alone for 30 minutes or so. I was watching the spot while the guys were catching fish. That's when I saw the guy making his way through the brush. He was downstream about 50 yards from the spot and stopped at the edge of the water to fish. He was spending his day fishing from the bank and when he saw us headed toward the spot, he reeled up his rooster tail and began making his move. He (Mr. Rooster) climbed over blowdowns and through the sticker bushes. I was trying to let the guys fish while quietly trying to get there just before "Mr. Rooster" got there. It was obvious he was going to get there first, but that's no reason not to have some fun! When he was trying to climb over one of the logs and judge our speed at the same time, I gave a couple extra shoves on the oars just to see what he would do. He fell and the rod got tangled in the briers but he recovered and was just a few steps from the spot. Some line must have gotten snagged in the fall and he reeled the line as he scrambled and made it back on his feet. He grabbed a tree limb and slipped further down the bank, then he was taking up the space. He quickly unhooked the rooster tail and gave it fling, while trying to look like he had been standing there all day. We said hello and he spoke back. It seemed like he may have been a little winded but I couldn't tell for sure. Then we slipped on down the river throwing nymphs and now hoppers. It was clear the whole time we wouldn't get to fish the spot on this day, but making Mr. Rooster work a little harder sure made my day.
Sunlight in the Depths
So Jim was killing it on nymphs with his near perfect drift and H.E. was catching quality brookies each time his indicator dove. The Scierra's mojo was back, but we did not have the BVK in action long enough to tell if Leo and I were correct about this rod's mojo. Jim left a few trout without putting a hole in their lip but it didn't seem like many escaped unscathed. The sun was moving toward the hills and we needed to move to the take out.
Jim Rippin-a-Lip
It was time to get the BVK out and put it to work on some small dries. These rods have some backbone and the tip is soft enough that we can still throw small dries and protect the tippet. We found feeding fish. One nice brown and a few rainbows were taking bugs off the top. We were downstream a ways from where they are usually feeding. We may have found another spot that is not too far from the takeout to fish dries for a while. We started with H.E. throwing hoppers, then we went to dries, each time we were sure a fish was refusing we would go smaller. Just for kicks Jim threw a hopper in there to keep the fish honest. I dug deep into the rowers bench and found a box of dries that were long ago forgotten (enter "seasoned"). I spotted a size 20 something Hi-Vis Adams and tied it up. Checked knots and tippet for nicks and scratches, then H.E. was back in action. 
We let the fish settle back into a feeding pattern and then H.E. dropped the dry into the feeding lane. The Adams drifted by a rock and a nose broke the water, then the dry disappeared as H.E. stuck the fish. The fight was on and the rainbow went to the rocks. Jim turned the fish and it left those rocks for a bigger rock. The line went to the edge of the submerged rock as the rainbow dove for some stick ups. We backed the drifter up and H.E. got the fish to come up and the line slipped out. The fish was still on and throwing all the tricks it knew. Finally the fish was close and after spending the entire day in the Fighting Chair, H.E. stood and brought the fish to the top. Then the fish came to the net and we got the hero shots. H.E. fought the fish fair and square, and just like that H.E. is the newest member of the 20 + Club.
H.E.'s 20 on a 20
Jim was next up and we went from hoppers to parachute dries. We ended up on a Adams (imagine that) I checked knots and tippet for nicks and scratches, then Jim was back in action. This fly blended in so well neither of us could really see it. There was a large brown feeding and the tiny dry was on the right line. The fly was bobbing along without a care in the world. Jim and I were carrying on a conversation that went something like this. 
Me, "Jim do you see it?"
Jim, "Yes I, no that's not it"
Me, "OK- right by that leaf"
Jim, "I see it"
Me, "Mend, that one right there, it is headed to that fish. SET set the hook"
Jim, "what?" setting the hook
Me, "The fish ate"
The Line, said "Pop" as the fish made a blistering run and broke the tippet
Jim, "I was looking behind it".
Me, "Dang he had it, that was the fastest fish in the river. He is down there by the ramp by now".
After that we fished a little longer, then started making our way to the gravel bar to load the boat and head for home. The BVK showed it does have some mojo. H.E. tuned the rod up and presented a small dry nicely, while using the backbone to lift the fish to the net. Jim was more than just pretty good, as he said on the phone, and learned quickly about fishing nymphs in a slow flow. This was a good day to be on the river and we made the most of it.
Jim Also Bagged This Nice Brookie

Sunday, September 2, 2012

From Mongolia to Middle Tennessee

A Sporting Dog's Life
I was getting things together for this trip and stepping over one of our golden retrievers. So, I stopped and snapped the photo of a sporting dog at work....not. But drop a crumb and they spring into action. Anyway, back to the trip.  David flew in from Colorado to bring some of his songs to the folks in Nashville. David is an avid angler, has fished all over the world and told great stories about catching rainbows in Kamchatka, browns in Chili and taimen in Mongolia. What does an angler do when he has been fly fishing all over the world? Buy a working ranch with big trout. Brent booked a trip so he could spend some time with his Uncle. I picked them up and we were off to add another destination to David's list. OK, that was a joke please don't send me emails. But he really hasn't fished Middle Tennessee.
That is a Slam and in Record Time on This Trip
With Isaac churning and making its way North, we were trying to sneak the trip in between heavy downpours. We pushed the drifter from the gravel bar and as soon as we began to float, I swear, the clouds parted and the sun came out. It was unbelievable, but we believed it anyway. The fish believed it too and they were rising as far as we could see. David sat in the back of the boat and we watched Brent put on a clinic of nymph fishing. While David smoked a great smelling cigar, Brent pulled a fish from what seemed like every shoal and shelf in the river. 
Brent Hooking Up on a Big Rainbow...We Lost the Fish and It Hurt
Brent fishes with me quite often so he knows the water. Brent was the perfect test pilot for a new bug I was wanting to try. It is a floating nymph and the fly caught fish right away, then another and then another. The fly still needs some work and a name, but it is already a proven winner. An hour and a half into the trip David finally picked up a rod and within a few casts with a hopper he was hooked up with the fish of the day. He never left the comfort of the rear seat and the rear seat in the drifter is now known as The Fighting Chair. We snapped the appropriate photos and then he sat the rod down and fired up another great smelling cigar. 
David Having a Little Fun on a Terrestrial Pattern from What is Now Known as the Fighting Chair
We were throwing dries to feeding bows and Brent was in the front. We spotted a nice rainbow feeding on top. Brent went after the fish with a hopper. The fish refused several times and then turned on the hopper and  ate, but it wasn't a full-on eat and the bug didn't stick. We tried several more times and at one point the fish basically tried to sip a hopper three times in a row and never ate hard. You know when the fish crashes the fly and the fly sticks in the roof of the mouth. After that we found some more feeding fish and Brent hooked up with a pig of trout! This fish took a small caddis pattern and dove straight to the bottom. After a short fight the fish broke off. This is the second week in a row Brent had a pig break off. Needless to say his time is past due!
A Happy Angler and a Colorful Bow
The guys were a lot fun to float with on the river. David had some really funny stories and some stories that make me want to get on a plane with a tent and a fly rod. It was a good day all around and there are a couple fish with Brent's name on them, all we have to do is make everything go just right next time.