Saturday, August 31, 2013

Two Hydes, four anglers, two...

It's late August and the weather is now August-like. Hot days with high humidity and those afternoon showers that come and go like a Caddis hatch on a Middle Tennessee tailwater. Daniel, Doug, Kirk, and Terry met with Jeff and me at the Southeastern Fly satellite office and we struck out for the dam. Two Hydes, four anglers, two guides, enough fly rods, flies and lunch to make for a good trip. 

What is it about a group of guys with enough gear to make a good day of adventure, to get the heart pumping? I don't know what it is, but we were all ready for an adventure when the drift boats pushed away from the gravel bar and began to float in the current.
On this trip were a couple guys who hadn't fly fished before and couple more who had been fly fishing only a few times. So the first item on the agenda was teaching a roll cast along with a basic cast and of course mending. We took several minutes to get everything in order as the guys settled into the rhythm. But once they settled in it was "game on". 
Terry hooked up in mid-lesson and got the skunk of the trip early. After we moved into the better stretches of the river, Doug and Kirk were getting that fishy smell on the net. But the real story of the morning catching was Daniel. Daniel who gear fishes, caught on quickly to the long rod and was bringing fish to the net at a very high rate. 
As the boats came into the usual lunch spot the guys had all brought a good number of fish to the boats and were all hungry. We fired up the grill and stopping slowed the day down a little more, as the water flowed and the food cooked. After much discussion and good food lunch was over and we made a couple trades in the boats. 
The second half of the float belonged to Terry. After he missed several takes Terry got dialed in. This guy was a catching machine and at one point he brought a fish to the net on several consecutive casts. He dialed in on the Southeastern Fly style of nymphing and he was extremely productive.  We stopped in a couple places along the way as the trip wound down.

When the float began we all had an understanding that some of the guys had a deadline to be off the water. And as is custom with us, the deadline was blown in a big way. But, eventually we ended at the take out and the boats were loaded onto the trailers as the fishing stories continued.  We got the guys back to their vehicles and each went their separate ways.  Two Hydes, four anglers, two guides, enough fly rods, flies and lunch did make a good trip. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Elk River and Caney Fork Fishing Report

The Elk River: The fish are feeding on top and to nymphs. There are a bunch of stockers in the river right now, so be prepared to keep busy while trying to get the bigger fish to respond. We fished terrestrial patterns close to the takeout the other day and while there were some spots in the river that the fish wouldn't respond, it was worth keeping on lobbing these top water offerings.
What about terrestrials? We all have those patterns that sit up high in the water and look cool. But, getting a fish to hit one of those patterns piled high with foam and deer hair can be tough. As of late it seems a pattern that rides low in the water and has a bit longer legs bet met with better results. Getting the fly to ride low in the water has been an interesting experiment. The last pattern I tied was so low in the water no one could see one except the fish.

The Caney Fork River: The stockers have been super responsive to small dries. It isn't a bad idea to tie a dropper off the bend of the hook either.  But, it's never a bad time when there is just a dry tied to the tippet and the fish are responding. So, some folks are reading this and thinking stockers are fun but they want to catch the big holdovers. There is only one thing to say, don't give up throwing the dry, because you never know what might be lurking under the next cast.
Terrestrials have been getting the best of some fish on the Caney as well. Hopper/droppers are also worth a try. Nymphs have been the meal ticket on this river. Really, nymphs under an indicator, with the right drift have been the meal ticket. I know friends, people who are reading this right now and everyone else who has been on the boat get tired of hearing me talk about mending, but a proper mend puts more fish in the net time than any other technique. So, get better at mending because the presentation depends on it.
There are a couple reports from Middle Tennessee. Trips are starting to pick up and just in time for better fishing. August has already been a productive month,  for those thinking about booking, now is really a good time to get on the boat and feed some flies to some fish.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fly Fishing the Gunnison and Playing Touron in the Surrounding Area

So the trip was rapidly coming to a close and there were more rivers to fish with a few tourist stops along the way. Here is part of a day in photos. 
You know your close to good trout water when all the cabins in the resort are named after great flies.
The view off the back deck
The view off the front deck, down the Gunnison
Crested Butte
A very low Gunnison close to the lake

I am sure many anglers have stood right here

Oh I forgot this is a fishing report too. So here is a photo of a Gunnison River Brown Trout
Next stop South Park, the Breckenridge Taco Bell and the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On the River with Ian

What does an angler do after finishing a couple tours over seas with the military? Ian decided to try to figure out tailwater trout. He spent a couple days on his own fishing various releases and then on Friday he picked up the phone and called. Before the trip was over we were both thankful he did! 
Ian already had the basics of fly fishing and truthfully he was doing a whole lot of things right. There were just a few pieces that needed to be added and an afternoon trip would be a good way to add them. We started below the dam and with dry flies. Parachute flies were the first to get a knot to the tippet. Then we followed up with a trailing midge. The dry/dropper was our first shot at rising stockers. Those fish responded to both flies and eventually we were fishing just dries to browns and brookies. This was a good warm-up. 
Lesson #1: Fish where they are. Well really Ian already knew that, but the dry/dropper was something new to Ian and he took to it within the first few casts. Ian grabbed the slam on dries, then we moved down river and the next several fish came to our old friend the nymph. Lots of anglers nymph fish, but there are subtleties to the mend that are easiest learned in a one on one setting. Ian sure caught his share of fish on nymphs. 
We could have gone to the soft hackle, but this is supposed to be terrestrial time in Tennessee (yes it is close to football time in Tennessee too). So we tied on a terrestrial, because a football ain't easy to cast. We stayed with it only for a short time. With no responses we went back to a nymph for the entertainment value. Then a fish came up and blasted something on top. It is impossible to stay on a nymph when a fish goes-off hard on top water in August. 
The terrestrial rod came back out and Ian stripped off a bunch of line. He dropped the terrestrial right in the feeding lane and bang! The fish was on and trying all the tricks it knew. Ian fought the fish like a pro. Larger rainbows are known for their jumps, long runs, and this one even included an old brown trout favorite when it tried to rub its nose on the bottom. Ian stayed with the fish all the way to the net and we boated his best ever tailwater trout. With the sun setting we headed for the takeout. Ian was a pleasure to fish with on an afternoon float and I am looking forward to the next time we go searching for those tailwater trout.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fly Fishing With Adam and John of The Angler Magazine

When Adam called, from The Angler Magazine Middle, TN, he said he and John, who is a fellow editor from the Metro Atlanta & North Georgia edition, wanted to fish, we set a date and booked a day on the water. The morning of the trip we loaded the boat at the gravel bar and shoved off under sunny skies with a chance of heavy showers later in the day...
Adam and John have been fly fishing for a while and John brought the first fish, a rainbow, to the net after he cast below a fresh blowdown.  As the fog lifted off the water the fish began to respond to the nymphs we were floating along the bottom. The guys were in a rhythm early as the fish made indicators dive at a fairly rapid pace.

The guys were catching fish in most holes and most shoals as we made our way downstream. The first rain shower came and the fish shut down, then the sun popped and the fish responded again. So to sum it up, the fish stopped eating nymphs when it rained...

As noon passed we found ourselves at lunch. We broke out the chairs and table, then the BLTs! That's becoming my second most favorite meal on the river. We wrapped up lunch but not before John brought more fish to hand. 

The afternoon wore on with the guys boating fish at the usual places. Then Adam tossed a nymph at the leading edge of a pool and got a hit when the fly hit the water. This struck a nerve... After several more minutes we went to terrestrials. We had a few slashes and refusals but eventually we had some lip sticking action. 

Then the thunder, lightening, and rain came. We were a couple miles from the take out so getting to the truck wasn't really an option. We toughed it out and when the storm turned to rain, we turned to streamers on a floating line. The fish responded. So we ended the day on streamers with an occasional terrestrial thrown in for good measure. When we made it to the truck the trip was classified as a big number day. The guys had a smile on their face and I had some flies that had been chewed pretty good. Next time Adam calls we will be geared to fish rain or shine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fly Fishing the Taylor River

After a day of fishing the C&R waters of the Taylor we turned our attention to the lower Taylor. We would start the day with nymphs in an extremely public run. It didn't take long for a small, very small brown. David took one side of the river and I took the other. We worked our way upstream fishing all the best looking water in our personal-public stretch or Taylor River goodness
Before we went to that public stretch we did a bit of sightseeing. The trip up the river provided us with a visual of some really nice water. The road up the river was closed for reconstruction so we took the detour with a side trip to see Crested Butte. Some quick photos along the fence line and we were soon on the way.
Meanwhile back at the river. The browns were eating nymphs and we were lucky to have a nice public stretch to ourselves. Every small pool held at least a fish or two. This river is a lot like some of the water in the Smokys, high sticking is extremely effective in the morning. Like the Smokys that would change later in the day.
My routine was to try to achieve the perfect drift, hopefully catch a fish or two, then take a few minutes and look at the scenery. I have to admit the scenery was spectacular and I missed several strikes while looking at everything except where I was supposed to be looking. This wandering of the eye lost me a very good brown...
Private water is a big deal in Colorado. People who own property along the river also own at least half of the river bottom along the river. If they own property on the both sides of the river they own the entire river bottom. This means there are some great stretches of water that we could not fish. Above is a private subdivision of which we did not get to fish, but the water looked good and well maybe next time, who knows...
Later in the day the dries began to work and to get to the fish it was a lot of work. Dries were working for the bravest of the brave, who were working the opposite bank. Adams in various sizes would call up a fish, if the drifted fly was refused it was best to step down a size or two for a strike. We headed to lunch, leaving the Taylor and then we made a move to the Gunnison...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taylor River Catch & Release

Several days ago I flew from Nashville to Denver, where David met me in the new Trout Mobile. We took off from Denver International and headed into Western Colorado. We were staying in Almont, so we had several hours of driving through the mountains, over the Continental Divide via Cottonwood Pass, and we even met a very nice guy with blue lights atop his car...and they flashed too! Finally we made it to Almont and the cabin.
The next morning we took off in the 50 degree weather, this time up the mountain to the Taylor River C&R section. When we arrived there were several anglers above, but the Avalanche Hole was void. So, David and I stepped in and began trying to catch that pig. 
You can see the avalanche chute in the photo above. Since there were only small snow fields in the highest elevations it seemed safe to spend some time probing this piece of the Taylor. We fished nymphs and dries for a while. The Green Drake hatch was on so I tied a knot to a #10 Green Drake pattern and began to fish it. David suggested a skating the big ole fly and fish began to respond.
After catching a fish or two I looked down and saw a couple 20" browns cruising my boots. It sure was tough to concentrate with fish like these swimming under my nose. But, somehow I made it through the morning. 
Later in the day David was fishing a dry and getting lots of looks and refusals. He was fishing a seam along the hole when a nice brown came up and opened its mouth and then the fight was on. David played the fish perfectly and soon got it into the slack water. So dries were working too.

The fish in the C&R section have vivid colors. Photos don't really do them justice. The reservoir has mysis shrimp and similar to a shad kill they get sucked through the dam, then into the mouths of the waiting fish below. The fish grow fast and are a real healthy. They are  also easy to see because the water was super-clear...which was good and bad.
So, into the evening we fished. Always on the hunt for a feeding fish, or should I say a feeding fish with enough room between anglers. There were several fish feeding right along the bank and there was enough room to drop a dry. Lord knows I went through a lot of patterns, then I took a play from our Tennessee Fly Fishing Playbook and tied up a spent midge pattern. 
This fish was eating about every 20 seconds or so. The bugs were tiny so I figured the fish was eating midges. The fish was eating on top and it was easy to see the white from the mouth when it took a bug. When the spent midge got into the feeding lane the fish couldn't resist. The line came tight and the fight was on. David was several yards down the stream and the fish took off in that direction, and into the waiting net. It is always good to end the day catching a good rainbow on a dry! Day one was in the books.