Guided Trips

UPDATE: 3/13/2015 -- Quill Gordon and Blue Quill mayflies were hatching well on high water in the Smokies today. With the high flows, there were not many fish rising though. This next week is going to be awesome with good weather forecast and dropping water levels.

Lynn Camp Prong opens to fishing adding 8.5 miles of brook trout water in the Smokies!

Help support the Trout Zone and purchase your 2015 Tennessee fishing license using this link!

Photo of the Month: Winter Sunset

Photo of the Month: Winter Sunset

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Colorado Presentation Tonight in Knoxville

Tonight I will be giving a presentation on fly fishing in Colorado for the Great Smoky Mountains TU chapter. Ever visited Colorado or maybe you have been thinking of a trip but do not know where to start? I will be covering a few favorite fisheries including the best season to hit them and some other information that will have you ready for a road trip. For more information on the meeting time and location, check out this post on the Little River Outfitters message board from the chapter president. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shining Fins

As you well know if you have paid much attention to this blog, I enjoy messing around with a camera. On a recent trip to the nearby cow pasture lake, I decided to have some fun with a couple of the crappie that I caught. Here is the result. Both of these are versions of the exact same picture. I just cannot decide which one I prefer. Which one do you like better and why?



Monday, March 16, 2015

South Carolina Trout Fishing: Day One

Ever since my cousin moved to Greenville, SC, he has been trying to convince me to visit and experience some South Carolina trout fishing.

Not that I needed much arm twisting when fishing was involved, but you know how life gets in the way and things get busy. Last week, with the memory of the ice storm of 2015 still fresh in my memory, the thought of a warmer climate and spring hatches had me thinking about a road trip.

Most people probably don't even realize that South Carolina trout fishing even exists. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about the quality of fishing that I would find, but then part of the charm of fishing new water is in the exploration as much as in the catching. After doing a fair amount of research, I discovered that, yes, South Carolina does have some trout fishing although it remained to be seen whether it would be worth a second trip.

A few weeks back, when the Cumberland Plateau was stuck in winter's icy grip, I called my cousin and made plans to visit during his spring break. When last week turned out to be one continuous rain shower here in Tennessee, I knew I had picked the right time to travel. While my local waters were all high and blown out, the streams in South Carolina were almost perfect or at least the ones we were experiencing were.

All of our fishing was on the same stream although on different sections. This particular stream had an interesting catch and release section that is apparently only open 3 days a week. At some point in the past it appears that the fish received supplemental feedings, but we could not find any current evidence of such taking place. The fish were your average mountain freestone stream trout with a heavy dose of fingerlings and small fish up to about 5 inches. The occasional nice trout kept things interesting though.

Photograph by Nathan Stanaway.

Photograph by Nathan Stanaway.

On our first day out fishing, we noticed little black caddis, little black winter stoneflies, and early brown stoneflies in addition to the usual collection of assorted midges. A stray mayfly or two was spotted as well but not in enough numbers to get the fish keyed in. the good thing about this stream is that the fish did not seem to be very selective and we caught them on a variety of both dry fly and nymph patterns.

By the end of the first day, it was clear that the stream had potential and we were excited to get back for round two fishing higher up the drainage. So far, South Carolina trout fishing was pretty good!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Spring Panfish Action Heats Up

Spring panfish crappie tail shot

What a difference a week makes if you are looking looking for panfish! 

When I took a few minutes to run to a nearby small lake last week looking for some crappie and bluegill, things were pretty slow and ice was still melting in a few spots. One hungry bass did grace the end of my line, but that was the only fish spotted.

Fast forward to this week and I'm naturally wondering whether things have improved. With much warmer air temperatures and at least a couple of sunny days since my last quick trip, I figured the fish might be more active. One rod was already rigged and I decided to string up the seven weight in case I found some larger bass willing to plan.

The lake was again devoid of other fishermen. That won't last very long with such nice spring weather finally here, but I'll take it and enjoy it while I can. When I first walked up on the big rock that I normally start fishing from and peaked over the edge, I saw fish spook every which way. That is always a good sign.

As it turns out, the fish had mostly moved up into the shallows, probably enjoying the warmer water where the sun could do the most good. Oh, and they were hungry. I caught more and larger fish than I have caught in a long time from that lake. All the larger bluegill and crappie were hungry and were the more aggressive than even the little guys which meant I only caught three smaller fish.

Spring panfish bluegill

spring panfish crappie

In the end, I didn't fish all that long but caught a lot of fish. From now on, things will only get even better for panfish. Along with the warming temperatures has come a huge increase in the number of migrating birds which leads me to believe that spring might actually be here for real this time. Sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, and of course plenty of robins and other indicators of spring have been arriving. Some pass on to points much farther north, but every spring and fall I enjoy seeing the variety of feathered friends heading north and south respectively.

Even though spring appears to really be here, if we have learned anything from this winter it is to expect something unusual. In Tennessee, some of our largest snows have come in March so its not over until its over. Still, with hatching bugs and rising trout, not to mention hungry panfish, I'm fairly confident that we are starting to turn the corner.

spring panfish crappie

spring panfish crappie eye closeup

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Funny Story

There is a funny story in today's fishing report from Byron at Little River Outfitters. The story is about the opening of Lynn Camp Prong and how some wires got crossed just a little. Head over to the Fishing Report and check it out!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Lynn Camp Prong in Smokies Opens to Fishing

Great Smoky Mountains National Park brook trout on Lynn Camp Prong

One of my favorite mid elevation streams in the Smokies, Lynn Camp Prong has been closed for several years due to brook trout restoration, and I have eagerly awaited the chance to fish the stream.

Now I can fish there again. Today I received a press release from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park announcing the opening of Lynn Camp Prong to fishing. Over 27 miles of streams have now been restored to native brook trout water and Lynn Camp Prong is probably the most ambitious undertaking to date.

Matt Kulp and the rest of the Great Smoky Mountains fisheries crew has done a lot of work to bring us to this point. This is the first time in many years that all water in the Park has been open to fishing.

The best part about this opening is that it will take the pressure off of some other area brook trout waters. That is to be expected anytime you add an additional 8.5 miles of water to any given area. The downside is that I am not the only one excited about fishing Lynn Camp Prong. Lots of area fishermen have been waiting for this moment.

That said, the best thing about this opening is that there was no announcement ahead of time and no fanfare, just a simple press release the day of. For other stream openings, people have been waiting at dawn on the announced date for a chance to head in and fish the stream for the first time in a while.

I'll eventually get over to Lynn Camp Prong to fish for brookies, but hopefully the crowds will not be too bad. I'm guessing that it will get a fair amount of pressure from area guides since it is the most accessible brook trout water close to Townsend. That is just fine with me as other streams will now be less pressured.

Lynn Camp Prong now has brookies like this one.

If you are interested in fishing Lynn Camp Prong, you should know that it is almost the perfect size stream for learning Smoky Mountain fly fishing techniques. The water is never too big and thus you never have to cast too far. There are tons of great pockets which makes it ideal for teaching high stick dry fly and nymph presentations. In other words, it is a great all around trout stream.

If you are interested in a guided trip to explore Lynn Camp Prong, you may also contact me at the email address above or using the contact form at

Thursday, March 05, 2015

First Ever Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter

Today saw the first edition of the Trout Zone Anglers newsletter being sent out. If you have not signed up for the newsletter yet, don't forget to do so using the form at the bottom of this post or the bottom of the page. If you want a chance to see what you are getting in the newsletter first, here is the link to the March 2015 Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter. If you sign up, you will only receive occasional emails containing fly fishing tips and tricks, destination ideas, guided trip info, occasional discounts and other deals, and the same interesting content that you are used to seeing here at the Trout Zone. Check it out.

Also check out the results of the first fishing trip I've taken in a while!

Hungry Late Winter Bass

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Big Pike Eats Small Duckling [VIDEO]

Despite hearing the stories, I have never actually seen this happen until finding this video. I suppose it might be time to start tying some baby duck patterns for the spring and summer musky season.


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