Monday, October 28, 2013

Ronnie and Butch Round II

The last time Ronnie and Butch were on the drifter it was Butch's day. On this day Ronnie would have something to say about who would have their day. So we met on the gravel bar and pushed the drift boat into the moving water. We skipped the first sections of the river and then went to work along the banks.
Ronnie worked a few feet off the bank and began putting fish in the net. Butch's stick had reel problems and waited while the guide worked out the kinks on the reel. Ronnie was taking no prisoners and brought several rainbows as well as a nice brookie aboard. Then Butch was up in the rear casting brace and fishing the holes on the middle river bottom. The guys were through a baker's dozen before we finished that first section.
We kept hitting the high value areas and the fish began to get spotty. Sometimes we would drop a nymph and pick up a fish or two, sometimes three, and sometimes more than that. Other times we needed the patience of Job to get a fish to the net. The water was a little on the stained side which meant the nymph had to drift close to the fish or better yet right into the fish's nose. Accuracy was paramount.
 Lunch was BLT's and sight-casting to some big fish that we finally found. The fish were having nothing to do with anything we threw, but we did get another fish on the board while fooling with the bigger ones. We learned that smaller fish are much easier to train than larger and older fish.

Late in the day we found some rising to emergers. They weren't coming up to take the adults and there weren't any spinners laying around, not any that I could see anyway. We hooked up Ronnie with a dry/soft hackle and he began getting strikes on the second cast. Butch stayed on the nymph and continued picking up fish. The rest of the day was spent putting fish in the net and sometimes missing with the net, but that's a whole other story.
As the drifter came to a halt the guys had put good numbers in the net. They both got the slam and we saw some big fish. The day would have been better if we would have caught the bigger fish we worked on, but the bigger fish is a good reason to come back to the river and try again. 
There are just a couple of open dates left on the calendar. The next phase will be streamers for big trout and musky as Winter is just around the corner. If you want to set up a trip just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to get a day on the water.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jeff, Hanes and a Couple Slams

Several times every year I have the pleasure of hosting a father and son on the drifter. When their trip to Colorado didn't go off as planned, Jeff and his son Hanes still had the chance fish but it would be in Tennessee. Now we all know Colorado has many more fish per river mile than most Tennessee rivers, but Tennessee can be fun too.
The plan was to rip some lips with nymphs and then when the fish began to rise we would transition to dry/droppers. Before the first oar hit the water it was apparent the fish were hugging the bottom or at the very least not rising. The water was a bit stained and no rise rings were visible. But we still had high hopes and a secret weapon.
What was the secret weapon? Hanes was the weapon. Although Jeff boated the first fish, Hanes was in the front of the drifter and soon bringing fish to the net with regularity. He was catching his share of rainbows and Jeff's share the beginning of the day.  Then Hanes started picking up brookies from time to time. 
Jeff was soon dialed in and bringing his share of fish to the net. On this day it took an absolute drag-free drift. Most of the anglers we passed spoke of low numbers or worse. We continued to grind out the middle part of the river and Hanes continued bringing the boat numbers up. Soon he added browns and both anglers had their slam.
Jeff was dialed in on a short rock wall. There are some blowdowns throughout this stretch and we were working them pretty hard. Jeff dropped the Tutto on the upstream side, adjusted the line and the fly released into a good drift. About halfway down the blowdown the indicator took a familiar dive. Jeff raised the rod tip and the line came tight. The fish ran back for the wood but Jeff brought it into open water and then he got the head up. The fish, a nice brookie, was soon in the net.
The fish were really tight to structure again on this trip. They were either close to wood or hugging the bottom, it was rare that we saw a fish just cruising and eating. The water felt a little warmer than usual, but that could be from the cooler air temperatures of Fall. Did the temperatures have anything to do with the tight lips? 
I read in a Jimmy Buffett book that no one should ever get on a boat that doesn't have enough food onboard for the trip at hand and then some. As you can see from the photo above we had just enough Golden Oreos to get through the day and some other snacks for the "then some" part of the equation.   

The sun sets early this time of year but we were making the most of this day. Hanes was fishing when the urge hit him and Jeff was getting good drifts. When Hanes would decide he had the urge to fish he would strip some line off the reel and drop his nymph in the water...and usually catch a fish. Some days, as I have said many times, it is just your day.
Jeff and Hanes were a lot of fun and this trip, although the water was stained, was a good trip in fantastic weather. The guiding season is winding down for the most part, but there are still a couple dates left on the calendar to get on the water. The next phase will be streamers for big trout and musky as Winter is just around the corner. If you want to set up a trip just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to get a day on the water.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Walter's Day on the River

When I received the call from Walter he was setting up several floats as he traveled from New Jersey to Tennessee. We booked a day on the river and set up a fish and eat menu. The morning of the float it was nice to meet Ann, his wife, who came to see Walter off and later pick him up.
Walter had high hopes of catching some fish and I had higher hopes of catching a bunch of fish with some nice slabby-slab's mixed in. Neither one of us would be disappointed. We launched the drifter and started down the river. The daylight was going to be short so the light would be against us but wouldn't spoil our day.
We missed a few fish and then he was hooked up. The first fish came to the net and we were in business. Before I could get the first fish out of the net he was hooked up again. It wasn't long before we were catching our share. By the time we finished the first section Walter was well into double digits and we were both smiling.
Walter finished his slam when he stuck his first brookie on a nymph. We snapped the photo because it was a first and as I was reviving this one Walter stuck his second. He wore out the nymph on this fish and we changed. After the change the fish just kept coming.
The water was a little murky, but on this cloudless day I think it could have helped speed up the catching. A perfect drift was the best way to punch the fun ticket and Walter was dialed in. When a fish rose against the bank, I told him "that looks like good water, throw it there" and seconds later the nymph landed perfectly on the outer rise-ring. The indicator floated a few feet and then dove. The rod came up and the line came tight, Walter was hooked up with a nice brown.
So it was an outstanding morning. As everyone knows all good things must come to an end...except for this day. After lunch we hung a fly in a tree and then in a nice rainbow, then another nice one several minutes later. Soon we would make a switch...
The fish were midging heavily and it was time for the dry/dropper. The object was to hit the inner rise-ring and wait for the strike. We missed one or two. But Walter stuck the bug in the rise-ring and came tight on a nice brown. A couple more shots another the rise-ring and Walter brought another brown to the net on a dry. Then the fish stopped hitting the dry. We changed to a couple more patterns but they were not playing. 

We went back around to a "mangled" nymph that was in use earlier in the day and the fish came back around too.  We went through a couple dry spells as the sun went down behind the hills but eventually the fish would come around to the nymph that was now known as The Nymph That Would Not Quit. 
Finally the drifter slid into the gravel bar just as darkness was setting in. We hung the rods in the truck and drained the water from the drifter. Then loaded the boat and put an end to this special day. Walter was a lot of fun to fish with because he enjoyed himself even through a slow period or two and seemed to appreciate each and every fish. Walter that really was a special day.
The season is quickly winding down, but there are still a couple dates left on the calendar to get on the water. If you want to set up a trip just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to get a day on the water.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nashville Area Fly Fishing

The Elk River has been good to us and the anglers in the drifter this year. The water quality has been good, the fish have been hungry and they have been eating the flies we have been offering. As Summer now turns to Fall we are seeing the bottom of the Elk begin to turn loose of some vegetation. There are rumors of TVA testing the generator this week and then beginning the draw down of Tims Ford.
Downstream, with all the vegetation,  streamers would only be frustrating. The fish have been eating nymphs with regularity and that is to be expected. We have also been feeding them dry dropper combos and straight up dry flies as well. The fish have looked good and are fighting pretty hard in the cold Elk water. Every once in a while we hook up with a decent size holdover and that always creates excitement.  I haven't taken the water temperature but it is too cold to wet wade for long.
The Caney Fork: The talk this week has really been a guess as to whether the upper ramps would be open or not. As I write this on Saturday evening the ramps are open.  And, as I write this Saturday evening the fish are rising and eating.  As you can see from the photo below the work on the dam continues as well.
It would be difficult to count the number of times I have floated the Caney Fork, but not too long ago I decided to fish a stretch that I have rowed through almost every time. All this really started when I was doing a presentation and came to a point in the presentation where I explain that stretches of a river might look straight or even be straight, but the current seam always shifts from bank to bank as it moves downstream. ..
The past few times I traded that stretch of river for a stretch that used to produce some nice fish and now produces less than I like. So the test was to find out if this could be a higher value area or was it just a stretch that holds a few fish now and then.  So the past few trips we followed the current instead of rowing through the section and ran into several hook-ups including a nice brown trout or two. I guess it doesn't matter how many times an angler fishes the same river there is always something new to learn.
So fishing dries is still working in the upper section, but mostly the brookies are the fish that are eating. Streamers will get some follows and an occasional nice fish, but nymphs are most effective right now.  The trees are starting to add more color. Even some of the smaller and mid-sized browns are getting their colors, all those colors can make some decent photos if you take a camera to the river. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What About the Hatchery Brats?

Disclaimer: This is not a political post because we don't read fishing reports for political opinions.

So a day or so ago I was thinking about fishing, holdovers and where holdovers originate. Naturally, I went to the web and found the information below at this website:  

Fisheries and Habitat Conservation 
Each hatchery will have at least one person on site, with up to two persons on call to protect the physical facility and maintain the fish at the hatchery. During a short-term shut down, fish on site would be maintained, further determinations will need to be made as time passes in the event of a longer-term shut down. Fish Health Centers and Fish Tech Centers will also have at least one and not more than three persons to maintain live animals and cell cultures. The Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Program in Bozeman, MT also will have at least one and not more than three persons to maintain live animals and cell cultures.