Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Butch and Mike Chasing Tailwater Trout

Falling water! That's right up my alley and a great time to get on the river. Butch and Mike met me at the ramp and while I was running the shuttle the water turned off. The plan was was simple, fish falling water and catch trout throughout the day, until just before dark when the cold front would send the mercury into a tailspin.
Butch scored first and then again and again on a midge pattern. He also kept commenting on how Mike was usually ahead in the catching department when they get on the river. We rounded the first bend and Mike began picking up fish too. When a fish rose on some shallow water I asked Butch to throw in where the fish rose. Butch made a great cast and put the fly where I asked. Then Mike dropped his fly in the recently vacated spot  against the bank (the spot Butch just left) and scored a fish...Isn't just the way it goes sometimes.
The fish weren't big, but they were plentiful and had a lot of energy. When we would get into one fish we would usually pick up another. If there was a lull in the catching for a few minutes we would then make our move. The fish helped the guys use up some flies. Anytime the fishing is good we go through more flies, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. 
What about the weather? With late Fall and early Winter comes changing conditions. The weather changed several times throughout this float. When it would rain we would have to wait longer between catching. Sometimes the fish would all but shut down. Then when the rain would slack off the catching would pick up. Photos are a whole other story with the wet weather, but show proof the better fish eat when the rain is coming down.

We saw a really nice BWO hatch and the fish were eating them too. Most of the time we see midge hatches so the BWOs were good to see and made a wet day at the very least more interesting. Butch and Mike were fun to share the drifter with. They have been on several rivers and are outdoors men with more activities than just fly fishing. I am looking forward to getting on the river with these guys again.
We are waiting for water levels to rise enough to get the boat on the freestones so we can chase musky and Winter trout trips are upon us. If you want to set up a trip just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to get a day on the Caney Fork, Elk, Holston or Clinch rivers.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Newest Member of the 20+ Club

Perseverance: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition 

Terry had been on the drifter before and was brand new to fly fishing on that trip. He caught the fly fishing bug and made the drive to Cumberland Transit for waders, boots and all the accessories. With the wallet a bit lighter he was ready for the river. 

On a three day trip with 9 other guys Terry was the newbie. The first two days were somewhat unproductive for him. While others were talking of fish caught and fish that got away, Terry didn't have the "fish caught" part for his story yet. As the evenings wore on the chatter from the others...well it could have been hard to listen to, but Terry seemed fine.

See there are a couple prices we pay when we start fly fishing. One price is the monetary start-up cost of this pastime and the other is the steep learning curve of casting, presentation and finally, hopefully, the payoff of catching the fish. So the days wore on and the third day as the group made plans to fish and then head back home, Terry wanted and truth be told, needed to bring at the very least one fish to the net.

So the mission was to help Terry catch at least that one fish on the last day. We dumped the drifter off the trailer and rigged the rods with new tippet and fly. The boat would headed straight to a spot that had been producing. With Terry in the front casting brace and the boat positioned just right he dropped the fly in the feeding lane and instantly a fish was on...then off. We took that as a good sign and went right back to concentrating on the fundamentals of presentation. 

Then the fish stopped. Did he have just one more chance or was that it? We pulled the anchor and rowed the drifter upstream to a likely spot. We tried the main current and what should have been a feeding lane, but the fish were having nothing to do with anything we had to offer. In reality none of the other boats were catching and a bunch of people had long faces. We made a move.

The current turned off the middle of the river and was running right against the bank. Terry was hanging in there and asking for direction. The rocks against the bank should have at least held a SNIT or a hatchery brat. He asked I nodded and grunted to drop the fly against the rocks and in the current. 

The cast was good and no mend was needed. The fly was literally in the water less than a few seconds when the indicator took a dive. I must admit I thought the fly was hung in the rocks. Terry was setting the hook and it seemed like a trip to retrieve a fly from the rocks was our next move. But the snag began moving and  we took that as a good sign. The movement was that slow freight train type of a run. It took a bit but the fish gained speed and began to shake the tip of the rod. A fish that takes a bit to get up to speed is a good sign and a fish that can bounce the rod tip is a better sign.

The fish made a trip around the front of the boat as I pulled on the oar and shouted instructions gave subtle instructions. Terry did a great job staying in front of the fish and we were ready for pretty much every move. Terry got the fish's head up and slid it into the net. Right then Terry became the newest member of our 20+ Club. Finally, his perseverance paid off and Terry had the "fish caught" for his story. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Alain and Jeremy on the River

Alain and Jeremy had not fished together before and had contacted me separately. Both were wanting to get on the river and with one open date on the calendar, they agreed to a half day and we went fishing. We didn't know it at the time but the wind, water levels and hard rains would make conditions tough; so tough that at times it felt like fish were swimming through the boat instead of eating the flies...
The generation has been a bit on the slack side and the grass made the catching tough at first. We tried a few different patterns and finally landed on slightly different patterns for each of the guys. We entered a section of the river that under normal circumstances would be crowded. On this day, since we were the only ones on the river, we had the run of the place. Anyway, Alain put his fly right on the mark and threw a good mend for the different currents. Then he set the hook on a nice brown trout... soon as the hookset was complete the fish started head shaking and making short runs. Alain gained control of the fish and started getting the head turned at just the right time. The fish made a couple dives to rub the fly off on the bottom of the river, but wasn't successful and began coming to the net. Then just as the brown got to the net and almost halfway threw the hook. The fish simply went on its merry way. It would have been a nice brown just short of making the 20+ Club, still it would have been a nice fish and topped off a week of several big fish that got away.
So we kept at it as the wind gusts continued on and on. Nothing in particular was hatching and therefore the fish weren't real interested in eating off the surface. Between gusts Jeremy kept casting and mending.  Jeremy was consistently gaining confidence with each fish. Toward the end of the float Jeremy's hookset improved enough that he started catching pretty much every time the fish would eat. Alain, who is an accomplished angler was steady the entire trip.  
What could have been a disaster because of the weather and water conditions turned out to be a great way to spend a day on the of the times it felt like fish were swimming through the boat instead of eating the flies...

We are moving into the Winter stretch of short daylight and cold days. That means streamers and meaty offerings to big trout and musky. If you want to set up a trip just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to get a day on the water.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Caney Fork Fishing Report

The Elk River
TVA has been releasing water everyday and now they are dialing back the releases. The operating guide for Tims Ford is getting closer to winter pool. Falling water is a great time to get out there and fish. Oh and what about the cold weather, ice in the guides and sheets of ice in the floor of the drift boat? Those are just by-products of wintertime angling.

Falling water is a good time for wading anglers to swing a streamer for holdovers and anglers fishing from the boats can throw big meaty flies on full sinking lines. Arriving at the gravel bar after the water is turned off and has slowed to manageable flow is also a good time to swing a soft hackle or two. The rises have been fewer and farther between so we have kept the dry flies warming in the box for the most part. It's wintertime so get out there while the crowds are warming their feet by the fire.

The Caney Fork
The water from the sluice has been dingy and green, which isn't the best for fishing. We have been trying to fish as close to the feeding lanes as possible and dropping the fly on the trout's nose, so to speak, has been the best way to catch fish. Today as I write this forecast the Army Corps has turned off the sluice, hopefully for good. The release times will soon move to earlier hours and this gives us time to fish low water on the lower stretches of the river.

As Winter approaches nymphs are still working and nymphs with a midge dropper are catching fair numbers of fish. Dry spent midges are taking fish on top water when fished in certain pools on the river. This tactic doesn't work every day but does produce when the fish are feeding in the surface film.  

The river is not as crowded this time of year due to cooler weather and tougher fishing. With smaller crowds the high value areas are sometimes vacant on low water. With those vacancies a trip to the river can be worth it even on the coldest of days. So put on fleece for warmth and the wading jackets to block the wind and get out there!

We are moving toward 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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ben and Gray on the River

Ben and Gray were scheduled for a day trip on the river and due to the generation schedule we ended up on the Caney Fork. This would be Ben's second time in the drifter and Gray's first. Ben was a gentleman, giving up the front casting brace and Gray went right to work. Our first fish to the boat was one half of a double when both guys hooked up.
We floated down the river and the further we were into the float the more dingy the water became. The clear water from the one generation release was overpowered by the dingy green tinted water from the sluice. This happens every year at this time and some days the fish respond well and some days the fish get a case of tight lips.
The guys stayed with it as we rotated through the fly box. We even tried the new Gamechanger patterns but the jury is still out as the pattern still needs some time. The initial impression is the fly has good action, is a little on the heavy side until the first stop in the cast where it jettisons water and becomes easier to control.  It could make an excellent floating shad pattern though.
So we kept floating and the guys kept catching. The fish weren't just jumping on the flies like our last float, but they were cooperating some. Gray was catching rainbows and Ben was bringing colorful brookies to the net. The browns had other things on their mind and wouldn't react to our offerings.
These guys showed a real appreciation for the outdoors. Both pointed out the scenery and it is funny how floating the same rivers over and over the scenery can get overlooked. It was good to have another point of view.

The daylight savings time was pushing us along at a more rapid pace but the guys hung in for the long haul on this trip. We floated into the gravel bar at the takeout right at dark. It was good to have Gray on the boat and to have Ben back for a repeat float. Talk was already stirring about the next float...
We are moving toward 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.