Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nashville Area Fly Fishing

It must have been a Caney Fork week. It seemed like every time we took the boat out of the garage we were heading toward Center Hill Dam. So I had opportunities to get some good info on the river. The one thing I forgot to do was get the water temperature. I can tell you the water is cold, but that's "all I got" on the temps. There is more to the story on the river though... 
queues de poisson

Let's talk about the water. The clarity of the water release from Center Hill Dam is crystal clear, or pretty close. The sluice has been turned off and now there are many theories out there about lake turn over and such when discussing the previous couple months. Whatever the change is, since turning off the sluice, it had a definite clearing effect on the water. That brings us back to the reason we go to the river in the first place...
Donnie Hooked Up Again...
 ...the fish. With this clear water the fish have plenty of inspection time to make up their minds concerning what they want to taste and what they do not want to taste. Even when the water is being released through the generators the water is clear. However, when the water is released the fish don't have quite as much inspection time and that is good for fishing streamers. That's right we love deer hair and marabou and right now the fish only like them. The fish will love them later. This year I am going to try some additional streamer techniques and hopefully positive reports will follow. 
Duck Dynasty Material
On low water it makes more sense to fish the high value areas. Lately the sluice has been turned off completely the flow has been slower with no generation. The dirty water that was coming from the sluice, even the 250 CFS release, is not in the river. Again clearer water and even more inspection time. Right now a slight wind in these situations isn't terrible. Whitecaps on the water are a different story. A slight breeze and small ripples on the water have helped us this week for sure. (Never thought I would say that).  
Upriver Views
That's the report this week. So, as this guide season comes to a close and we get ready for next year there are some other things on the horizon. There are some additional rods that need to be purchased, new lines that need to be put on reels as we head into the Winter streamer season. Also, in the near future I hope to do a product review or two. There are musky that need chasing and a trip or two to the the Park to check on those native fish. For now thanks for stopping by and taking a look at the report from Middle Tennessee.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Streamers and Slams

Rainbows are Colored Up Right Now
A text came one evening while I was sitting at home after spending time on the river. David was coming home from Colorado to visit his family. Most of our trips for the year are over and I was/am looking for excuses to get out on the water and wet a line. David would spend some time in the Smoky Mountains National Park and the following day spend time in the drifter on the Caney Fork. A check of the future generation schedule revealed the one generator would turn off at 11:00 A.M.  and turn back on at 5:00 P.M. We set up a time to meet and launch, then I rigged rods and loaded the streamer boxes for the trip. 
Some Brown Trout Goodness
We launched the drifter and went for large fish on streamers. We tried several different colors on the color palette. Eventually we ended on yellow with a little flash on the body. The first fish was an aggressive brookie. The brook trout took the streamer on the edge of a seam in deep water and from the looks of the bottom of the tail, recently it had been busy clearing some gravel. Anyway we were glad to see the fish and removed the skunk.
Aggressive Brook Trout
Late in the morning the Army Corps shut down the generation and the fish began to come to the surface. We threw some different nymphs, midges and dries, but they were keyed into something too small to match. That was OK because it was really a good day just to be out and once the water calmed we could try some additional tricks. 
Puttin the Bend in the Rod
The Water Never Really Fell Out

We floated into a well known spot on the river and with David in the casting brace I was hoping he would get a good fish so I could fish again.  We were fishing the edge of a seam (notice a theme here) and David hooked up. The fish put a bend in the Hydros and we chased the fish momentarily before David got control and brought it to the net. The nice rainbow was a welcome sight and measured in as the best fish of the day...then it was my turn.

Pesque Caudas
David was at the oars we were making good time to the take out. At mid-float we decided to fish deeper since the water wasn't falling out as fast as it usually falls out. The first cast after going deeper we hooked up with a decent rainbow. While David was releasing that fish, I cast again into some soft water that was behind a blowdown. I have put anglers in this spot many times and nothing happened. This time another fish struck almost immediately and David turned briefly to see if any help was needed. At that time everything was under control, then a few seconds later the fish started head shaking and went on a run. This got both our attention and David began spinning the drifter as the fish made a quick lap around (all the way around) the boat. In between head shakes the fish would make a run. Some line would be gained, then lost, then another head shake and run. David saw the tail come up when the fish was still a ways from the boat and he got excited. I didn't see the fish until it was next to the boat and then I got excited too. A nice fish still can really get the heart rate up. The fish came into the net and it was a brown trout that really makes a trip. We snapped some photos and admired the fish while reviving it. The net was lowered in the water column and the brown slowly came out, then with a kick of the tail it was gone. A short time later the sunlight was going too, so we fished from spot to spot until we were sliding the drifter into the takeout. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Elk River Fishing Report

Waiting for the Next Cast
The Caney Fork- The big sluice gate has been closed. On the November 5th report I posted a photo from the top of Center Hill Dam. The photo shows the dingy green water coming from the sluice and the clear water coming from the generator. With the sluice turned off the water in the river is clear. We all like clear water and we like to think the fish like the clear water too. It is a lot of fun to stand in the casting braces on the drifter and look search the river for fish.  If we can see the fish, the fish can see us. Well sort of...
Lots of Brookies
The clear water demands stealth. When wading take your time and try not to generate too many waves when moving from place to place. If you see a fish take a few minutes from the time you arrive and  the first cast. If you are fishing a nymph or a dry, take additional time between casts and drifts. If the fish doesn't strike on a drift, let the drift get as far below the hole as possible before setting up for the next cast. 
Fishing Blow-Downs
The release at Center Hill is all about falling water right now. Falling water is outstanding for floating. Nymphs drifted close to structure and the bank is a recipe for success. The fish hold close to structure until the water levels out and get used to the new flow. Don't leave out the shoals of course when swinging those soft hackles. The future generation looks like it will be lower starting on Thanksgiving Day and hopefully through the Thanksgiving Weekend.
Full Colors and Full Belly
The Elk River- It appears TVA is drawing down the lake and with the green stained water it appears the algae in the lake is coming through the dam , into the river. But don't fear the fish are hungry. The fish are not taking much off the top, but occasionally there will be a big splash as a fish gets a glimpse of a tasty floating morsel.
Recently Injured But Still Hungry
Nymphs fished in moving water, over shoals and gravel bars, are almost a gimme when fishing the Elk. We try to give the angler in the front of the drifter a shot or two across each shoal. For anyone floating look ahead and get the front angler set up before entering an area with a shoal or gravel bar. The fish are hanging in that faster water and filling their bellies with practically anything moving with the current. There is the report for this week. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner most of our trips are over. This leaves time for me to get out and fish some with friends and I can't wait!
This Brown Had All Fins and Resembled Browns We've Caught on the Little Red 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"I am Not the Fisherman of the Family"

Adam With A Good Brown Trout
Steve and his son Adam wanted to learn to fly fish and I was fortunate to get a call to work with them. The forecast for the day was sunny and 72 degrees. Everything looked good and then I heard the wind forecast of 20 mph with gusts to 30. The wind wasn't going to be in Middle TN until after lunch, so we had all morning to learn to roll cast, cast and mend. We discussed he conditions and the guys were ready to get on the water. We pushed the drifter off the trailer and backed out into the 250 CFS flow. 
A Different Point of View
Adam hooked up during the instructions, during a mend, and brought a nice brook trout to the net. Steve said "I am not the fisherman of the family." I bought that line but would soon figure out he is indeed a fisherman. We continued to work on his casting and mending. Both of the guys had fished with hardware so they had an idea of how to fish. As we floated along we discussed trout habits and how flow brings the food to the trout. We had good discussion with some of the other folks on the river then moved to a part of the river that has produced pretty well lately. Adam was picking up fish on a fairly regular basis and Steve was getting good drifts. Steve's indicator dove and he pulled up and stuck a nice fish. The fish headed for the boat and then the downfall that had been held this fish earlier in the Summer. Steve brought the nice brown to the net and we had our first really nice fish of the trip. And, we learned that Steve may not have been a fly fisherman for long, but he certainly was a good fisherman.
The First Nice Brown of the Trip
Some browns were paired up and on redds a month and half ago. When they started pairing up we concentrated on rainbows to give the browns time go through their spawning motions. One week later those browns were gone.  They haven't been seen since and I was beginning to think they were gone for good, nope, never coming back.  When Steve caught the brown I was shocked a nice brown made an appearance and more than that, glad!
Adam's First Fish on the Fly

Steve and Adam on a Break
We ate lunch and retied some tippet, then we were on our way as the wind began to blow steady with more frequent gusts. The Weather Channel Girl's wind prediction was going to be true. So why is it one day the weather was near perfect and the fishing was tough and the next day the fish came alive, along with the 30 mph gusts? Could be high pressure vs. low pressure, cows lying down or not, maybe it was fish eating before an incoming storm? Who really the half way point of the trip it was pondered, discussed, then forgotten because the fishing was heating up. The catching cooled off then heated up and it was that way for the next couple hours. The guys were hanging in there and both were starting to really "fish". The wind? The wind was howling and I could feel it pushing against the oar blades between strokes.
Down Under
A Good Rainbow

We were beginning to feel the pressure of the setting sun. The temps were cooling, but not at a fast rate. Rain was on the way and hopefully moving toward us at a slow pace. The guys where hitting their spots with regularity as the nymphs bounced along the bottom, pulling the indicator under on occasion. Just when you think the indicator is disappearing because the fly is dragging the bottom...
One of Many Brookies in the River Right Now
We try to bounce nymphs in some sections of the river. The fish seem to key into a nymph that is banging along the bottom. The technique is not easy to learn, but it is effective in some parts of the river. The trouble bouncing nymphs, it is not uncommon to have a false alarm. Anglers cannot get complacent and do a lazy hook set after a few false alarms. Steve spotted a nice slot of deep water and we discussed it momentarily. We decided the slot was worth a try and Steve dropped the fly in a good spot. Soon the indicator dove and Steve hesitated, then pulled the rod up. The fish felt the pressure and bolted for some rocks. Steve brought the line tight and the fish jumped. The guide said "Oh Shi..." "that's a nice fish."  With Adam on the video camera we were chasing the fish around the boat. As the brown tried the different tricks Steve kept up and we eventually had the fish on the reel. It wasn't long before Steve got ahead of the fish and that last blistering run was over. The head of the brown was finally out of the water. The fish came to the net and the net was full brown trout goodness. The fish was in great shape and really made the trip, along with all the others. We took the usual pics, measured the fish and added Steve to the 20 + Club, then it was over. Adam and Steve came a long way from their start at the beginning of the day. It is funny, the Weather Channel Girl's prediction wasn't bothering us at all... 
Steve Makes His Way Into the 20 + Club

Monday, November 12, 2012

Jamie and Rachel

Rachel and Jamie are very good anglers and have been longtime friends. The friendship started one day on the Caney, a Hyde drift boat and a couple fly rods. That first trip turned into other trips that year, which eventually turned into a pursuit of a large brown for Rachel. That pursuit ended successfully late one evening with a hopper, a rise and a brown trout take.
Fast forward to Saturday and 70 degree temperatures. The Army Corps has been on a low (how low can you go?) release schedule of 250 CFS four days in a row. Saturday was the second day of low water. The water was slightly green stained with visibility of about 2 feet. This was an all day trip so we were able to fish the river in a thorough manner and we fished some spots a couple times before darkness set in.  
Jamie Hooked Up or Hiding?
We launched the drifter and went right to work. The browns have been, for the most part, non-existent for almost two months. Chasing large rainbows is how we spent the last months of Summer and the beginning of Fall. The browns began to pair up about a month and a half ago and a week or so later, they for the most part had disappeared. It was nice to see Jamie hooked up and to bring a decent brown to the net to remove the skunk. 
The First Fish of the Day
Rachel soon followed suit and we floated down the river picking up our share of hatchery brats. We turned a couple nice nice fish on nymphs and tried some small midges. With no reliable rises we turned back to nymphs under the indicator. We found a couple places along the way that were worth a row upstream to fish again. The low water, with very little flow, made the row upstream much easier than usual. The river was more crowded than expected and with some jockeying for position we found a slot in the traffic.
Rachel Hooked Up Early
As with most friends we had a lot of catching up to do. While floating we discussed the usual family stuff, as well as camping in hot weather and Irish's a long story. The trip continued and as the sun began to set the fish slowed. The wind was coming in and bringing with it cooler evening temps. 
Happy Anglers and a Bloody Lip
We stuck our share of fish and missed some as well, but that big fish alluded us on this day.. What started out as a cool day, turned warm, then back to cool. The fleece that we put away early in the day was welcomed back toward the end of the float. Nymphs paid the dividends on this day. The high pressure may have kept the big fish in hiding or at least suppressed their appetite. Jamie and Rachel were as usual a pleasure to fish with and we accomplished a couple goals. We snapped some good photos of the couple along the way and a picked up a slam for each. Most of all it was good to spend a day on the Caney with a Hyde drift boat, a couple fly rods and good friends. 
Rach and Jamie at Break Time

Monday, November 5, 2012

Caney Fork and Elk River Fishing Report

Sluice vs. Generator Release
The Caney Fork- The recreation schedule is complete for the year. The Army Corps can now run water or not run water as needed. The lake level is 627' and the release throughout the week is relatively light. During the weekends they have kept the water from the generators off and only have been releasing 250 CFS from the sluice gate. Wading anglers have been pretty content with this weekend schedule as have the anglers who  do most of their fishing from boats. The fish are responding to nymphs fished under indicators, soft hackles swinging over the shoals and there are even reports of some dry fly action for the Hatchery Brats. If the water levels in the lake remain constant we could have an angler friendly November.
The other day I was towing the boat to the river and crossed over the dam just as the generator and sluice were fired up for a release. I stopped to take a look and a photo.  The view from above is interesting and shows the different current flows, as well as the contrast in water color for the releases. The water release from the generator reveals a clear flow as does the water coming from the caves. This water even under generation would be excellent for fishing nymphs, dries and streamers. 
The sluice gate, which measures 4' by 6', releases water at the base of the dam. The water coming from the sluice is green in color. The off-color water isn't ideal for fly fishing in general. Anglers will need to be more accurate with placement of the fly especially when fishing nymphs and dry flies. Vibrations from articulated streamers and streamers with fat heads will push water. Fishing streamers with these features should be more effective at getting a trouts attention. Overall the river is not in bad shape and the fish are still responding to different presentations. The water color could be better and we will see how it looks after the sluice gate is closed for the season.
Fish Tails
This week, I was fortunate to play a part in an all day Introduction to Fly Fishing Class. The students did a great job with their newly learned techniques and they caught some fish. The fish responded to the usual nymphs, which made many of the students very happy and the instructors happy as well. It is fun to be a part of an angler's first fish on a fly rod.
Empty River
The Elk River- In early June, of this year, the generator at the Elk was turned off and a valve in the dam was broken. For several days TVA couldn't get the valve open, so they released warmer water through the spillway. We were on the water during that time and as the water temps continued to rise, the fishing declined. Finally TVA was able to open the valve and get 90 CFS of cool water flowing through the generator. The water temperature in the river went down and the fishing returned to somewhat normal.
Fast forward to the past couple weeks. TVA has been working to replace the valve and apparently while that work was underway TVA was trying to lower the lake level through the spillway. During this time the water release schedule was not consistent. Now it appears the work may be complete. However, be aware that the water could turn on or turn off at any time. The observed elevations are still above the flood guide for November and the generation continues. Folks who have been able to get in a few hours of fishing report the gravel is clean and the vegetation is considerably less than early Fall. 
Nymphs Equal Results