Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jacob's Slam and Other Musings

Jacob and I started the day at the take out. He wanted to learn some more about the river while bringing some fish to the net. We loaded his gear in the truck and headed up river to put in. We began the float in front of several boats and behind a group of fishing kayaks. 
Before too long a usual suspect, who was where he was supposed to be, was tricked and headed for the net in a roundabout way. Jacob was a trooper and stayed with it even through the slower times. There were some slow times early and water we had to miss because others had stopped where I wanted to feed the fish, if you know what I mean.

We finally drifted to the edge of one of my favorite holes on the float and a healthy rainbow took the fly for dive. The fly responded just as it was trained and hung on for the ride, or at least the hook stuck the fish's lip and stayed there until it got to the net...whichever way you want to put it. We were well on the way to a productive afternoon. Then we hooked a brown which brought Jacob his slam and things began to get even better.

Jacob was giving fish a sore lips at most every turn and at one point we pulled several fish from one hole on the low water. Oh yes I almost forgot, we were well ahead of the generation and well behind the last pulse. The fish were spooky and had a long time to inspect the drift. When fishing the low clear water like we have on the Middle Tennessee rivers right now, drag is evil.
All those fish, all those quick hook sets, and all those subtle mends eventually pay off. We were floating from hole to hole and bouncing the fly into each one. We had a good system going that including fish in the net. Then the indicator dove, the hook was set and the rod was bent. After a couple rounds of give and take at just the right times, Jacob brought a nice brown to the net! We snapped the appropriate photos and released the fish unharmed to catch again. Then we picked up the pace to make the take out, stopping only at the most productive spots.

Both the Elk and the Caney Fork have been fishing good for us as of late. July really could be an outstanding month if the cards fall just right. Jacob was a pleasure to fish with and it was good to see an angler learn some things about the river that he will go back and use again in his upcoming trips.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Middle Tennessee and the SEC

The Caney Fork: This river is showing some windows of low flows early in the day. This schedule is good, because we are seeing some lower water. The down side is the water is super clear and the fish are spooking easy. Longer leaders and longer tippets will even the playing field a little, but these conditions can be hard to overcome.
David came in from Colorado to float with Brent and me. As usual it was good to fish with the guys again and we boated some nice fish on a non-traditional float. Brent really put a whoopin on us most of the day and it seemed he was nymphing up a fish every time we came to a good stretch of river. So we let Brent row us for a while!

The Elk River: This river is seeing some heavy releases on weekdays. However, TVA has been looking out for us on the weekends. The flow is 240 CFS on the weekends and this is just a tad higher than we usually see in the Summer months. We give this flow 3 out 4 Thumbs up!
Nymphs, nymphs and nymphs have been bringing plenty of fish to the net. The extra flow is moving food downstream and the fish are eating when something floats their way. There are some nice fish at the access points too. This is unusual and it may not last long.  I wouldn't be in any hurry to get out if the water is more than 500 CFS.
Terrestrials haven't been too good to us this week. The fish just don't seem to be looking up and naturally I cannot resist trying to coax up the bigger fish on these meaty little treats. Yes it is still early, but I can't help myself. So the next couple weeks should be good fishing and it should be a good time to get out on the water. July is shaping up to be a good month!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Brent and Doug

What does a guy buy for a present when a friend is getting married? Most of the time the guy never sees the gift until his wife comes home with it. Then whatever "it" is comes out of the shopping bag and the guy says, oh yeah that's nice and they should like it. "It" is sometimes something for the kitchen or a living room or something the bride can appreciate and the groom thinks is nice. 
After exchanging emails with Brent we set a trip up for him and his friend Doug. Brent decided to go above and beyond and picked up a fly fishing trip as a gift any angler friend could appreciate. This isn't the first time Brent has been in the drifter, no, when we last left Brent we were discussing how he can cast left or right handed. As Doug and Brent were talking on the way to the river Brent explained the work we did on his double haul paid off on a recent tarpon trip. Naturally he can double haul with either hand...We will just leave it at, some folks would be jealous.
Doug had already picked up several fish before we shoved the drifter away from the gravel bar. So with Doug in the front casting brace and Brent in the rear casting brace we were off with high hopes. The fish did not disappoint. Even after skipping the first part of the river the guys were quickly in double digits as the fish responded to the offerings. At one point the guys were catching on every cast, making me work hard with the net. Then the fish would not respond to anything. Then they would turn on and we would be the hero again.  
What can cause the fish to turn on then off?  At the start of the float fog covered the river. The fog seemed to give confidence to the fish and they would come a long way to the flies from their best hiding places. Then the sun popped and they turned off for a bit. Then after a while they turned back on and responded. But the fly had to be placed close to cover. The recent heavy generation has scoured the bottom, so the fish wouldn't come a long way if they had to cross a large patch of clean river bottom.

What is that old saying? "all we have is time." It was fun to be on the drifter with Doug and Brent. The guys put their flies where I asked and read the water themselves as well. We floated down the river catching fish most of the way. Time can sometimes be an adversary. On this day the adversary was to be back in time for dinner. We plugged along throwing hoppers, but the fish didn't respond in the way we wanted. It was a good way to cover water as we made up time, but not productive to the fish count. We mostly finished the day catching fish on hopper/droppers and making up excuses for being late...
...and the story would have ended that way until we were just yards from the takeout. It was there were we spotted fish eating tiny midges on top. Most of the time on the Middle Tennessee tailwaters the fish are actually eating tiny emergers just as they try to break through the surface film. On this day the fish were eating bugs on top, they were tiny bugs on top but they were on top. We stopped the drifter and pulled out the dry flies. Some of the fish were turning on every bug they saw, but even those fish were selective. We finally found a caddis spinner pattern that worked. 
Then the guys had to get back...for real this really this time it was for real and I couldn't talk them into to staying longer. Hey the fish were eating dries and well, you know... With multiple doubles and a lot of fish,  we loaded the drift boat on the trailer and hung the rods in truck. Then we pointed the rig toward home and headed out. When we crossed the river I bet those trout were still feeding. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Middle Tennessee Fly Fishing

The Elk River: There have been several days of good water release levels and the fish have been eating rather heavily. That's the good news. The "other news" is the future releases are creeping upward. Maybe by the weekend TVA will close the gate for those who want to wade. Deep fished nymphs are working and small streamers are turning fish as well.
The water clarity on the Elk has been good and for the most part the banks have been cleared of debris. TWRA has released some brook trout again this year and the holdovers are doing rather well. The wet season we are experiencing is rather unique. Don't give up yet...
The Caney Fork River: The generation on the Caney is still on the high side. The USACE is turning the generators off in the nighttime and running them steadily during the day. The future generation continues to be dialed back. Hopefully we will see some larger windows sooner rather than latter. This river needs to be fished on some low water.
For those who have been following the restrictions on fishing below USACE dams, I have posted the press release at the end of this report. The sportsmen and women have made a difference on this one. Today was a good day.
Warmwater Report: I have been looking for a quality body of water to run warmwater trips. Recently I stumbled up on one and it is a cool body of water. It fishes like a high mountain lake with lots of panfish to keep anglers entertained along with some quality largemouth and even a few smallies. 
Anglers will fish from the drifter using popper/droppers. Dropping the flies under overhanging trees, on flat shoals produces a variety fish on a regular basis. The carp, and they are some of the largest I have seen, are wary. However I believe under the right conditions these fish can make an angler's fish of a lifetime list.
WASHINGTON, June 3 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the two-year ban stopping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restricting fishing below dams on the Cumberland River, passed first by the Senate and then by the House, has officially become law.

“Now the Corps is required, by law, to stop wasting taxpayer dollars and ignoring elected officials who are standing up for fishermen,” Alexander said.

The legislation that became law today prohibits the Corps from implementing existing fishing restrictions for two years, while also delegating enforcement below the dams to state agencies in Tennessee and Kentucky. The U.S. Senate unanimously supported this legislation on May 16, and the House passed it on May 21.

In addition to today’s two-year ban, on May 15 the U.S. Senate passed Alexander’s permanent solution as part of the Water Resources Development Act. This permanent solution would prevent the Corps from establishing permanent physical barriers, and from taking any further action until the Corps ensures that restrictions downstream of the 10 dams on the Cumberland River are based on actual operating conditions – instead of 24 hours a day. The Water Resources Development Act would also give sole responsibility for enforcement of the restricted area below the dams to the states and require that the Corps seek and consider public comment before taking further action. The House has not yet taken up its version of the Water Resources Development Act, which Alexander said made it necessary to pass a two-year ban in the meantime.

The Corps had proceeded with its plan to restrict access below 10 dams along the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky, despite the Senate’s unanimous support for an amendment to the budget resolution in March that would allow Congress to prohibit the Corps’ plans. Alexander had also held numerous meetings with Corps officials encouraging them to find a compromise with state agencies, and after they refused, he said on May 8 he would restrict Corps funding in his role as the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

Alexander’s legislation, known as the “Freedom to Fish Act,” was cosponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). A similar version was sponsored in the house by U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.).