Monday, June 30, 2014

TN Valley Project Healing Waters Event

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be a small part of a Project Healing Waters event. The event skipped a year or two and then Bill C. called to invite me to guide for the Project Healing Waters weekend again. That year I had to tell him I was already booked for the weekend, therefore I couldn't make the event. The following year Bill called again and I had to tell him I already had a family vacation planned and a rental house booked, so again I couldn't make it. This year he called early, but we already had a beach trip planned for the same weekend, however this time there was an opportunity to get back to Tennessee in time to guide a couple veterans on Sunday for this years event. 

So on Saturday we loaded the truck, left the beach and headed North back to Murfreesboro. There was enough time to unload the beach stuff, trade the 10 wts. for a couple 5 and 6 wts. grab a few hours sleep, then load the boat and head for the Caney Fork. On Sunday morning I rolled in just in time for breakfast...and who is surprised at that? The first person I met was Bill who would be one of my anglers for the day and a short time later I met Jim who would occupy the front seat in the drifter. Jim had to be back early to make his way back to Alabama, but Bill was ready to be on the water all day. We enlisted Scott's help to move the truck and trailer from one ramp to the other and then we launched the drifter before most of the the other boats made it to the river. 
I know a little bit about PHW and heard stories of how fly fishing and PHW literally saved the lives of some of our veterans. Being a part of the event is an honor for sure and as with most events like this one I got a lot more out of it than I could have asked for.

We were on a limited time frame, so we dialed up the nymph patterns and Bill was the first one to set the hook on a nice little rainbow.  Bill had a nice cast and caught on to our style of fishing real quick. Mending came pretty easy to Bill and the only thing we had to work on was a solid hook set. He would catch on to that and eventually boated some nice bows on his way to the morning slam.
Jim, a newcomer to fly fishing for trout,  had waded the day before and by his admission was struggling to catch fish. We agreed early-on it just wouldn't be good to leave the river if he didn't bring some fish to the net. So Jim and I worked on casting, mending and eventually he would also work on the hook set to bring his fish to the net. We missed a real nice fish in one of the high-value areas of the float, but that fish will be there next year when Jim returns.
We were about halfway through a short float when the storms began in the distance. We fished to the last possible minute and then made our run to the takeout and safety of the truck. Jim was back at the campground only 4 minutes late, which is a record for me being off the water and somewhat "on time". We all said our good-bys and Jim went with his group back toward home. 

Round II- After being off the water for over a week I wanted to get back out there. So, when it seemed the storms had missed us I told Bill, I wanted to get back out there. He agreed and we rounded up Bill C then headed for the ramp. The rains came and went several times over the remainder of the afternoon but the guys kept the flies in the water and picked up fish on both nymphs and terrestrials. Bill and Bill C. both got their slam early in the afternoon as we concentrated on a solid section of the river. Finally they pulled me off the river we had to load the drifter on the trailer and get the guys back to the campground. 
If you want to get involved with PHW here is the contact information for Healing Waters of the Tennessee Valley. From what I saw the event was a success for pretty much everyone involved and a real asset to the local fly fishing community. If you get a chance to be a part of one of the PHW events around the country don't miss the opportunity.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Howard on the River

Howard and I have been fishing together for several years. We have caught our largest fish on dries, mostly in the Summer, and we have put the numbers in the boat with the nymph. We had a plan to go for the bigger fish on top. The second part of the plan was to fish nymphs when we needed a numbers fix.
It was time to push off and before we knew it we were floating. During the initial part of the float all rods, five in total, were rigged with a different fly pattern. Everything from top water to deep water nymphing was represented. We started on nymphs and the fished responded. Howard was dialed in with his casting better than I had ever seen him before and was getting some good drifts. We fished structure hard and the fish would come off that structure when the fly drifted by just right.
Then we went to the dry. We were hunting for feeding fish and Howard had a great choice of flies. We found a fish feeding hard and moved the boat into position. Howard tossed the fly a foot off the bank and it drifted about a rod length and nothing happened. We went back to the well and Howard stuck the fly right where the fish was feeding. The bruiser came up and ate almost immediately and Howard stuck it. Then the fly let go and we lost the fish. But, the whole experience pumped me up.
We fished along and went to the dry/dropper. The dry began attracting some fish although usually we would get the fish on the dropper which was normally a midge. The Blue Poison Tung was the leading midge of the day. This pattern has been in my box since my plane ride home from Denver a few weeks back. I have done a little tuning on the fly but straight off the shelf works too. 
We kept at it and kept-after that big fish and got into several pods of fish catching our share. The terrestrial/dropper combo worked well, but I think our biggest number producer other than the straight nymph, was the dry/dropper midge on the Orvis Superfine Glass rod. This combo is easy to like for sure. We had a long day on the river, got to the takeout late and we were both a bit tired. I have never seen Howard cast so much as we moved the different flies along the river. We didn't bag that big one and get him into the 20+ Club again, but we boated our share of fish and could have got even bigger numbers if we would have stayed on nymphs all day. We left the river and talked about the next time before he started back home.

To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our rates page.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Andy and Mark on the River

When Andy said he and his brothers wanted to get their Dad Mark a float trip for Father's Day naturally it sounded like a good idea to me. Mark had never fly fished but has fished for bass for several years. Andy had been in a couple drift boats but said he was essentially a rookie. It's nice when angler's let me know their abilities and in Andy's case he was underselling his casting stroke.
We made it to the usual gravel bar and pushed the drifter off the trailer. I worked with Mark just a little before heading off to run the shuttle. When I returned Mark was laying out some pretty nice casts in spite of being only 30 minutes into his fly fishing career. If you have been following this report for any time at all you know what happens next...yep we started the mend discussion. 

We slid into some moving water and began discussing mending techniques. I'm sure the guys got tired of me being so picky with their mends, but before the day was over they would understand currents and how the mend would push the fly along at just the right pace. Pace of the fly is important.
Andy put the first fish in the boat and I bet that rainbow was thankful for catch-n-release. After the first fish Andy followed-up with a brown, while I kept working with Mark.  Mark had a few "touch-n-releases" and I kept reassuring him the fish would come. There were several canoes and kayaks on the river and a group was passing us when Mark's indicator went took a slow dive. Mark raised the rod tip and he was hooked up. You could see small head shakes in the rod tip as the fish tried to free itself from the fly it had chosen to sample. Mark brought the fish to the net and slipped it in. He had caught his first trout on the fly and everyone in the drifter was happy about it. We continued on toward lunch...
We grilled some burgers for lunch and had good discussion. I took a few minutes to drift a nymph through a likely hole, managed to lose a couple fish and get hung in a tree...note to self, need to fish. We loaded the boat up after lunch and slipped off the gravel bar. Mark went to work and took over the afternoon. Andy was in his realm and catching fish, but clearly Mark was getting more dialed in with every cast. His drifts began to get more smooth and he began "to fish". I could tell he was starting to pick his spots and concentrating on a the drift, raising the rod tip when the indicator twitched, all while putting some numbers in the net. It was easy to tell when it all really came together, the guys began to trash talk. Both had a lot to talk about.
With the afternoon passing quickly it was time to get to the ramp. We caught a quick glimpse of an eagle on the way to the ramp as it flew across the river in front of us, but it must needed to be somewhere because it didn't circle or cross the river again. We loaded drifter on the trailer and headed back to Murfreesboro where the guys began their push back to Indiana.
It was pretty cool that Andy and his brothers were able to get Mark on the river for Father's Day. It was also nice to see another angler begin a fly fishing trip trying to cast a fly rod and by the end of the day stepping off the drift boat knowing how to cast and mend as well as how to properly set the hook all while bringing fish to the net with regularity. Yep it was a successful day all the way around. Andy thanks again for booking the trip it was a real pleasure to spend the day with you and Mark.
To see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our rates page.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book a day on the water.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Elton and David on the River

Elton and David are no strangers to the drifter. The guys were on the boat a couple years back when Elton became a member of the 20 + Club. That day was special and we boated some good fish. This time we would put so many fish in the boat it finally became a bit humorous. 
After I ran the shuttle and got to the boat I learned Elton had already put a fish in the net, while David worked on another situation. As a friend of mine often says he can stand about anything but a rock in his shoe. So after David got the rock out of his shoe we shoved off and began the float. 
We made it to the first stop and immediately the guys started boating fish. The fish weren't pushovers by any means but they would certainly respond to a properly presented fly. David started off catching the numbers while Elton's fly seemed to attract larger fish. Any way we cut it the guys were dialed in and catching fish on a large percentage of their casts.
We saw our share of wildlife on the river including a gaggle of geese. It looked like about three families of geese which were all hanging out together. Another thing we saw was several falling limbs. A couple in particular stood out. The first fell from a high tree when a turkey vulture took off. That particular limb fell with reason. The limb fell about 20' in front of the boat. The next limb we saw was under a tree we just floated under. The limb that fell was about 6' long and 10" in diameter. The limb fell so far and so fast it stuck straight up in the river bottom when it landed. This one really got our attention and we fished more toward the middle of the river the rest of the day.
Elton and David kept boating fish after fish and at one point Elton went 10 fish in 12 casts. It was amazing how he would get the cast just right and then get the right mend, then fish would eat at one of two places as the fly drifted. If the fish didn't respond a few feet after the fly settled we could almost count a second area to produce the catch. It was quite an amazing job by Elton. For the entire day the fishing was good and at times the catching was amazing. Both guys said they caught more trout than they had ever caught before. I have to admit between rowing the boat, taking fish off the hooks, and keeping active by netting fish it was easy to sleep that night and a bit harder to get up the next day and do it all over again.
The trip wound down and came to an end. We slipped the boat onto the gravel bar and with a couple tired anglers. The fish were cooperative and the weather held off...It was an amazing day with a couple good guys and I can't wait for the September trip.
If you would like to see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our rates page.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book your day on the water.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Elk River Fishing

The Caney Fork- We just loaded the drift boat and came home from the Caney Fork and we had a great day. As a matter of fact we've been having those types of days over the past month. Yes there are a lot of kayaks, canoes as well as other types of watercraft, but even when fishing between the other folks the fish are agreeing. 

Dry/droppers are producing fish and if you read the last report I was talking about a new pattern that just might work on midging fish. There is still a little work to be done with this fly but as they say "so far so good".  I noticed the the fish are looking up and had several looks on large hoppers too, so keep that in mind.

The Elk River- The Elk continues to produce large numbers, with a a nice fish every now and then. Nymphs are "killin it" from the casting braces of the F/V Southeastern Fly. I worked with some folks this week and we focused on getting just the right drift. Mending and all that other stuff we preach is critical to getting that fly at just the right speed. One guest on the boat got his drift right and pulled a couple handfuls of fish from one small run.

I say this all the time but it rings true every time "get the bug moving the same speed as the water and the fish will respond". This cannot be expressed enough... So how about those hoppers? Right now the smaller the better and some terrestrials are working better than others. A lob-type cast will set those hoppers down hard and the reaction strikes will come. Maybe an ant would work a bit better right now though.

If you would like to see the latest fishing report click here and for more booking information see our rates page.  If you are a seasoned angler or have never picked up a fly rod and want to set up a day on the river just email or call/text 615-796-5143 to book your day on the water.