Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Latest Entry Into the 20 + Club

Jim, Brent and I were drowning nymphs all day. It started on one generator and ended on low water, what happened in between was nothing short of fantastic. 

Jim has been fishing on the drifter since 2000 and something. I was lucky enough to be standing in the Elk teaching Jim to fly fish when he caught his first trout.

We made a trip to the Watauga where he was skunked in the morning, after lunch we waded out from where we were camping and he worked on getting a good drift. That day he really got the hang on nymph fishing and began catching fish on every trip.

Later that year there was a trip to the Caney where he bagged an 18" rainbow in the midst of 5 or so other anglers and boats. A few years ago we made a trip to the Hi where I went the entire weekend fishless and Jim caught every fish that came to the net.

Fast forward this year Jim moved from Ohio and has been able to spend more time on the drifter. He has been making the most of his time in TN and on this day he commented about how he had spent a lot of time fishing on the drifter, but still wasn't a member of the 20 + Club...

A short time later Jim dropped a nymph on the edge of a good seam. The indicator dipped, Jim set the hook and an absolute pig came out of the water. I mean it jumped a foot up and four feet sideways. There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind after the first jump this was a fish of a lifetime...

There were two things running through my mind for the entire fight. The first, that's a toad and the second, dang I hope the knots hold, actually the thought was... I really hope the knots hold. After several minutes of head-shaking runs and the fish trying to rub the fly off on the rocks. But, Jim got the head up and slid the brown into the net. 

If we had cigars on the boat we might still be sitting on the river smoking them. But we didn't and there were more fish to be caught before we made the gravel bar at the take-out. So we finished the day as the sun was just beginning to fall. Congratulations Jim on your fish and your first entry into the 20 + Club.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Middle TN Fishing Reports & A Guide's Day Off

This has been a wild week here in Middle Tennessee. One day we are in short sleeves and contemplating a warm Spring. The next day we are knocking down a guy in the grocery store to get the last gallon of milk or the last loaf of bread because there is chance of snow. But, always, the main thing in our mind is... are the fish biting?

Both rivers are fishing well and I will get to that in a bit. If you follow Southeastern Fly on Facebook you know I finally got to actually fish after several weeks of watching from the rower's seat as others fished. I am not complaining, nope because I enjoy that seat very much. But, with that much time between casting (and catching) even my wife agreed it was time for me to fish!
The Elk River: The Elk is fishing good and with a recent stocking the access points are fishing well. Nymphs, just take your favorite, are working as well as brown beetles. More on that in a future report, but well there's a reason. Anyway, as I was saying nymphs are working well and knowing the depth of the section of river you happen to be drifting a nymph is critical...
So David, Donnie and myself got out and took streamer rods as well as nymph rods. We worked on rising fish with dries, but the fish were eating emergers. We couldn't hang around long and Donnie was pulling in fish after fish on nymphs, so we left and dumped Donnie in the river.Anyway we started downstream and caught fish in all the right places.
The Caney Fork River: There are some long windows of opportunity for wading anglers right now. Several friends were wading around in the river as we have been floating by and they also report fish are active. After the big shad kills over the past Winter the fish are in very good shape and are putting a bend in the rod when you can get hooked-up.
We didn't really push Donnie in the river but I swear David had that look in his eye more than once. So we switched seats and Donnie rowed while David and I caught our share of fish. While David and I have lines in the water the fishing was good. Donnie steps into the casting brace and their eatin like they're out on bail. I don't know what the deal is... and yes, we put Donnie back in the rower's seat!
The float wound down as the Army Corps. turned loose another round of generation. We fished rising water for a while with nymphs and streamers as we drifted to the takeout. We made it to the ramp as the water just covered the gravel bar and was touching the bottom of the ramp. With that we capped off another good Guide's Day Off.
Who knows how the fishing will be tomorrow, but the fish are dining heavily at both rivers and open dates are filling fast. If you are contemplating booking a trip and waiting for a good springtime float just email or call/text 615-796-5143.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Howard and Tig Enjoy a March Day on the River

This day on the river has been planned for a while and it just so happens the weather and fish cooperated with the plan. We knew the temperatures would be cool and there would be a chance for rain but neither would be a problem. Howard's granddaughter Tig would join him in the drifter for a day on the water. This would not be Tig's first time on the boat and she is certainly no stranger to a fly rod.  
We knotted up a nymph and sent Tig up the gravel bar at the ramp. While I rigged up the other rods she floated a nymph and put the first trout in the net. No one else at the ramp was hooking up, she made short work of that trout. So nymphs would be the fly of choice and we would try several different patterns. Most of the different patterns we used produced fish, some would produce better than others and again our usual offering would produce better than others.
The different patterns would produce but only when the drift was almost perfect. A little too much drag from the end of the fly line sinking, a mend that wasn't in the right direction or to a line that was laying in different currents and the fish would let it pass. Howard is familiar with this type of angling and put fish in the boat with regularity.
We were looking for fish by picking a spot and in some parts of the river the fish were eating like high school football team gobbling down a few dozen chicken wings. If a fish would rise and we could get a fly just upstream of the rise-ring, we would get a hit.  Other times putting the right fly with the right drift in the right place and we would bring a fish to the net even in the least likely of places. Sure there were some slow times and we have never put too many fish in the net, but overall the numbers were good, the fish were healthy and we added some quality late in the day.
While Howard enjoyed catching his fish from the back seat of the drifter, Tig put fish in the net from the front casting brace.  This combination worked out well for us through lunch until late in day as the sun was falling behind the hills. We switched their seats and both picked up fish from their new positions almost right away. We were hitting the high-producing spots as we began our race with darkness.
We were still switching nymphs while we used the usual nymph as a control we were also putting a couple other patterns to the test. I was slipping the drifter around a downed log when Tig hooked set the hook on a nice brown. The fight was quick and decisive and she played the brown away from the boat just long enough to get the fish's head above the water, then slid the fish into the waiting net. As was the case with most of the fish on the day this brown was healthy. The tail is in an almost perfect shape. We took the photo, put the fish back in the water where it swam to the bottom and disappeared.  We boated another fish or two after that and made it to the take-out before the sun was fully behind the hills. We loaded the rods in the truck and boat on the trailer.

So far this year the rivers have been good to us. The fish have been eating and responding well to the flies we have been choosing. Although the fish are what bring us to the river it isn't always about the fishing.

We are booking into late March and April now. The weather and generation have been cooperating for most trips. So, if you want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Drift Boat Instruction

George has put in an order for his very own drift boat. Instead of waiting to get his boat and then learning to row, he called and we set up a time and place to meet for some instruction. Naturally there would be an opportunity to fish along the way too. So we loaded the boat with almost everything and off we went.
The water was high, real dang high, which presented some opportunity and some speediness as we made our way down the river. With the water up in the trees the opportunity to learn drift boat maneuverability was at a premium. George was a quick learner on the oars and we put the boat in places where some veteran rowers might shy away. It was never dangerous but it was interesting at times.  
Spring in Middle Tennessee is just around the corner and the trip to the river was telling. People were out on early morning runs, the deer were out in force and when we arrived at the river the beavers and birds were out too. The kingfishers were doing their usual thing as were the blue herrings. We were zooming making our way through a stand of trees and we spotted a healthy red headed woodpecker. We have high hopes for springtime...soon.
We fished streamers and nymphs all day and had some action on most every type of presentation. The most productive was fishing with an indicator in medium moving water. With the 2+ generators blowing water into the river a deep with weight was the only way to go. We were using a lightweight Chuck-N-Duck method that when in just the right place would produce. But it was similar to casting a couch pillow. George hung in throughout the trip and was rewarded for his effort.
We made our way to the takeout ramp after a full day of rowing and fishing. George has already made great strides in his rowing and boat control. George I am looking forward to row and fish from that new drifter of yours. 
This Shot Never Gets Old

Monday, March 3, 2014

Another Good Day at the River

Wow what a crazy Winter! It has been, uh interesting and for the most part super-cold. Steven and Karen flew in from Texas and we met-up to drift along and try to boat some fish. They had both fly fished a time or two and when the boat slipped away from the gravel bar then began to float it was shaping up to be a good overcast day.
It wasn't long before Karen put a rainbow in the net and Steven followed a short time later. Then Karen went on a bit of a tear, boating several fish in a row.  There were a few fish taking midges just under the surface and we began casting to the rise-rings. Then it happened, well sort of...
A fish rose, Karen and Steven both cast to the upstream side of the ring and Karen's indicator took a dive. She set hook on a large fish. The fish made some big runs and just when we thought we had the fish under control, it would prove us wrong. We never really gained control of the big brown but it did make several passes by the boat and it was clearly the fish of a lifetime. The fish sought shelter under the boat and broke the tippet. No one was more disappointed than me, but there would be more opportunity.
The weather was warming and the wildlife was coming out. On this day we say fish, otters, turtles, a beaver, various birds, and more fish. Lunch was grilled salmon, baked potatoes, a quick nap for some and some fishing. It was a good day. Karen was getting close to catching her full share of fish and then some, so we put Steven up front as we hit the high value areas.
Guide and angler is an interesting relationship. Karen and Steven both fell into a rhythm and were catching. Steven was dialing in and we pulled into one of my favorite long shallow pools on the river. He tossed the fly into the faster moving water, shook out some line, and threw in a mend. The indicator was moving along with the flow, just right. Then it took a dive, Steven raised the rod and the line came tight. The fish came to the net after a nice fight. Now if you are reading this and thinking so what...let me say sometimes you just have to be there to enjoy the moment.
As usual we were chasing daylight on our way to the ramp and arrived a bit before dark. The fishing was good and so was the catching. Missing a couple big fish and trying to get a really large brown under control was tough on the guy at the rowers bench. The anglers took it all in stride and seemed to enjoy their day. It was a good trip overall and the water was in very good shape. It was a pleasure to float along with Karen and Steven and I am looking forward to the next time they come to Middle Tennessee.