Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Fly Fishing Gift

Ben, who is a very good angler, received a fly fishing trip as a gift and asked if he could bring a friend. Will, who had never fly fished before this day, came along to learn to fish. Before the day was over both guys would boat a large number of fish, both would get a slam and we would all see our first bobcat on the river.

After spending some time teaching Will to roll cast and then cast we went right into the mend. When it looked like he had it all together we pulled up the anchor began the float. The first fish of the day was a double as both guys hooked up within seconds of each other. That was their first of eight doubles on the day. Yes, they were dialed-in!

We floated the river on clear September day among rising fish. But, there weren't nearly as many rises as some would think. We fished to the rises, but structure really carried the day. Dropping a nymph off shoals was almost always a sure thing.

At mid-day I figured out the fish weren't the only hungry bodies on the water. With the mention of food the guys perked up. So slid we into the gravel bar and broke out the grill. Today's meal was cheeseburgers with extra cheese.  We ate quickly and before I knew it we were back in the flow of the river.

 It took a few minutes before we got back in the same grove we were in during the morning portion of the float, but the fish began to respond and we got into a real nice brookie.  This brook was "all colored up" and apparently looking for a date. 

The wildlife on this day was out as much as I can remember. We were closing in on the takeout at a pretty good pace when Ben spotted a bobcat. The bobcat was sitting on a log and tuned into something on the bank. It watched us for just a moment and then fixed it's eyes back on whatever it was watching. We were able to get a somewhat out of focus photo before it jumped of the log and took off up the bank.

We picked up the pace again and then came upon a spot in the river where I fished dries to a nice rainbow a couple years ago. I was telling the guys about the fish and Ben stood up, stripped off some line, then made a really nice cast. The fly dropped right in the feeding lane and the fish ate. Ben set the hook and brought the fish of the trip to the net. It was pretty much that easy.
We started the day with a double and ended the day with a nice rainbow. The trip was a lot of fun and the guys were a pleasure to be with in the boat. Ben caught the big fish and Will began his fishing career as a fly angler. It was a good day to receive a fly fishing trip as a gift!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Teaching Fly Fishing in Tennessee

A while back Terry mentioned he wanted to learn how to fly fish. Fortunately I get that from time to time and it gives me an opportunity to meet a bunch of really neat people. Some people catch on to casting quicker than others, some are better at the mending and some are better at the fishing and reading water. Few catch on to all of it in one float. The number one thing is to have fun...while catching fish.
Terry caught on to the casting as fast as anyone I have had the pleasure of teaching. We didn't do the "River Runs Through It" shadow-double haul type casting, people can learn that stuff later. We use basic casting techniques that will get new anglers in the groove quickly. Then there is mending and everyone knows how I feel about mending, not mention setting the hook. Terry was an excellent pupil, he worked hard and started catching fish almost immediately.
There were just a couple days left of Summer left on the calendar and a lot of things are turning. The brown trout are getting their colors as are the Fall flowers and some of the brookies as well. Not every brook trout in the river is "colored-up", but the brookies that are getting their colors remind us why even the tailwater brookies are a sight worth seeing.
While Terry was learning to fly fish Jim, after getting off to a slow start, began catching with regularity. We were floating nymphs into feeding fish and Jim was dialed in. Before the trip was over Jim would add the holdovers to the boat tally.
As each mile of the trip floated by there was a noticeable difference in the Fall colors over the past several weeks. Terry and Jim had great weather on this float, the colors were starting to turn and the fish were eating good too. There was one thing we made sure to do on this float. We had fun...while catching fish.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fly Fishing the Caney Fork

We were on the Caney Fork this week and as we head into Fall the river is fishing good in some stretches and not as good in others. I specifically wanted to find the big rainbows that annually respond to our dries.  The big rainbows did not respond to the dry fly, but we did find a couple eating.  Maybe we should have fished a spinner or a sunk spinner...
The other rainbows did respond to the nymphs we presented. I spent some time at Cumberland Transit a couple weeks ago as Leo and I discussed the different nymph patterns. A lot of folks know, I have a couple nymphs that we go to and stay on for the most part. But, Leo introduced me to another nymph that I thought might just work. 

New patterns require time to prove their worth, some patterns work and some do not. We spent some time feeding this pattern to the fish. Although the browns and rainbow responded to the new pattern, the brookies didn't eat it once. The experiment was interesting and obviously will need several more tests to prove it stands the test of time.
Fall is on the way! The leaves are just beginning to make the turn to Fall colors. This has been a strange weather year to say the least and the rain along with the heavy recreation traffic has kept us off the river more than usual. For a while it seems we played catch up because the better flows were scarce, now however we can run half day trips for at least three days a week. It is a good time to get on the water to fish and to take photos of the changing colors.

Fish tails: Last year we photographed a lot of brown trout tails for this report. One interesting thing about a the tail of a fish is the size. Some of the tails are small when compared to the body and some are large compared to the body. It seems most of the larger browns have a tail that is a bit large even compared to the large body. If that is indeed true, in the next few years as some of these fresh stockers get a chance to survive because of the regulations, we should have more nice browns in the river. Yes I know that was more theory than anything...
Brook Trout are beginning to get their pre-spawn colors for their spawning ritual. They will continue to get more and more color over the next few weeks and continue to eat opportunistically. They will not be the spectacular colors of their relatives in Smoky Mountains, but the tailwater brookies are spectacular in their own right. 
Donnie has fished in the drifter quite a bit. He recently got on a plane and flew to Florida to fish for reds. Looks like he had a nice time and we hate him for it congratulate him on his catch. Nice work!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Colorado The Last Leg

The Colorado trip was quickly winding down and we were on the last full day before I headed back to Denver International then onto Nashville and finally home. David would prepare to start teaching the coming week and had a steam in mind for late in the day before he started. It was a mad dash to fish some really cool waters.
We said goodbye to Almont and headed across Jack's Cutoff Cabin detour and onto Taylor Park, then over Cottonwood Pass and into Buena Vista with a stop (somehow) at the South Platte. The water was low, which seems to be the new western theme, but we fished for a while anyway and then back in the car for a run through Breckenridge...and a stop a Taco Bell for nourishment. Never pass up Taco Bell!

We made our way over several passes and the higher we went the more sleepy I got. Fortunately I was only a passenger and David was the tour guide on this day, much like he was the tour guide the other days. We were headed to Rocky Mountain National Park and weren't letting any grass grow under our feet, if you know what I mean.
We arrived at the park entrance and David swiped his card then we slid in the back side of the park entrance. Our first stop was a cool spring creek where rising brook trout were having their evening meal. David stayed back and gave me the water. I tied a knot to a dry fly and dropped it into a few feeding fish. Right on queue the brookie rose to the top and ate. The Helios played the fish and I smiled. This would be the last fish of the trip...
Just as I was casting, David came out of the woods and announced there was a mother and baby moose further down the creek. We made our way down the creek and were able to snap several photos before the crowds gathered, similar to the way people gather when a bear or deer is spotted in Cades Cove. We quickly slipped out of the mob and continued the trip through the park.
The photo above shows a river I definitely want to fish on my next trip to the area. That pool right there, yes the long pool you are no doubt wanting to drop a dry in right now, yep that's the one I want to fish... Maybe next time. So we continued on through the park and then came out close to Estes Park (somewhere). We continued on and dropped a few flies in a public lake before darkness set in.
It was a long day with many miles traveled and some fish caught. The brookie completed my slam of rainbows, browns, cutthroats and finally the brook trout. We were heading through the gorges as we drove along the St. Vrain and then came in the backside of Lyons. It was a bigger town than I had picture in my mind from Gierach's writing. This could also explain why he moved on further up one of the canyons (or wherever he went). 

Before I knew it, the next morning, I was standing in security waiting to walk through the metal detector and then on to board the plane East to Nashville (BNA) where I would get in the truck and head back to Murfreesboro. And after all the miles I was back on the oars on Middle Tennessee waters. My first trip to the West was a success measured a lot of different ways and it made me appreciate the many opportunities I have been so fortunate to experience.
Update: Estes Park and Lyons have both received extended periods of heavy rain and flooding since this report was written. Some of the roads we traveled on this trip are now washed out, highways included. The news from the area has not been good. Below is the latest note from David:
Doing fine out here as I thankfully live on high ground. I got out some today to take pictures and video of the ongoing high water and will try to share some of that later tonight or tomorrow. Not going to be fishing the local creeks for a while though. There are still lots of people unaccounted for so prayers would be appreciated for everyone affected by the flooding out here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tennessee Fly Fishing

The Elk: This river continues to produce good numbers of fish. I say this every week it seems and maybe we are just lucky. The fish continue to come to our nymphs and make indicators as well as the dries of the dry/ dropper combos disappear. The afternoon hopper bite is OK on some days and better other days. 

Don't forget TWRA is doing an angler trout survey on the Elk. The survey is done in person, but you can send your comments to I have talked with Glenn and sent some information after floats. He is a nice guy and was receptive to our input.
The Caney Fork: The recreational traffic on the Caney Fork is beginning to slow and we are able to do half day trips for the evening hatch again. Although the current release schedule is getting better it only allows us to do these trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. We have been fishing some dries to the stockers, then going to nymphs and finally if we find the rising fish we go back to dries and terrestrials. So be ready to fish everything for the best results

Fishing the Park: The fish in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are feeding well and will be in the shade, but they can be very skittish at times due to low, clear water. Putting on a thin leader and smaller flies can help with that and wearing natural colors does not hurt. Want to know which flies are really working? We can hook anglers up with seasoned guides who will know the right flies to use at the right time of the day.
The Holston: Guide reports for the Holston say smallmouth fishing is very good and the fish are eating poppers as well as streamers hitting topwater all day. A Fall warmwater trip is an excellent change of pace if you are in the area and now is a great time to try something different.
The Obey River: We pulled the drifter to the Obey this week and it's a ditch. OK, let's just say I misjudged the level of the Cumberland and it was like fishing a lake. After the first set of shoals, below the second ramp, the flow stopped and that slowed the bite to a crawl.  If you fish this river stay up high in the river. (FYI we did spot a 30 something inch striper just below the first ramp and it will not hit a terrestrial pattern...jest sayin). We definitely have better results in the Spring and early Summer on this river.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Holston River Smallmouth

The Caney Fork: Let's start with the Caney and we will work our way to the smallies. This week we spent days on a couple different rivers including the Caney Fork on Labor Day weekend. Yep we went to the Caney on a holiday, but we timed the float to start when most of the recreation folks were getting off the river or there about. 

We hit the float at a pretty good time and boated some nice browns and rainbows. Hoppers did not even get a look for us this week. So we drowned nymphs against structure and picked up some slot fish. 
Another thing we did was hit the dam pool below Center Hill Dam, in the evening, to fish dries. Small Adams worked pretty well all by themselves. If the fish stopped hitting, just adding a small dropper would change fishing back catching. Small dries late in the evening is a good way to wind down and it is very entertaining.
The Holston: Some fly angler's look at smallmouth and discount this fish before giving it a try. The nights are cool and the days are mild. The smallmouth can tell that the season is changing because the are putting a lot of effort in feeding throughout the day and the main course is thread fin shad and crawdads. 

The smallie's are chasing bait along the banks and literally rubbing their noses raw while digging for crawdads, they’re not going to pass up an easy meal like a popper landing on the surface either. This is a great time of year to target better than average fish by sight casting to them in the low clear water as they wait to ambush their prey. Want to try something a little out of the ordinary? Give us a call, text or email and book a ride in a Hyde for East TN smallmouth.

The Elk: I have to say, for us anyway, this river is really producing the numbers of rainbow, brown and brook trout. The fish are coming to nymphs and terrestrials as well. One of the keys to nymphing is knowing just the right depth. Get the depth off a little and the fish still bite but there is a definite difference in the count. 

The size of fish is mostly stocker size, but stocked trout aren't the only fish in the river. Holdovers can be coaxed to the fly from time to time. Bringing these fish to the net comes only by putting in time at the right stops along the way, along with a little luck.