Photo of the Month: Morning

Photo of the Month: Morning

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Quick Report: Guide's Day Off


So I'm running low on time today so I'll keep this as brief as possible.  The last two days, the Caney Fork had a couple of windows with no generation for all of us wade fisherman.  That didn't last long as today they are running water all day again, but it was nice to get out while I could.

With no trips scheduled on Wednesday and of course wanting to see how the river is fishing, I took off and timed it so I would arrive just as the water was falling out enough to get in the river and fish.  It didn't take long for me to see some MASSIVE fish busting on the surface or at least so it appeared. My first thought was, "Oh no, the stripers are already here. Too bad for the trout!"  After getting a glimpse of fins and tails breaking the surface, I soon concluded that it wasn't stripers and started to wonder what in the world was going on.

Eventually I discovered the commotion was made by spawning Bigmouth Buffalo.  I'm not entirely convinced that there weren't some carp in the mix as well but let's just say I was in awe.  I've always heard about these fish but never run into them in large numbers on the upper river and by the time I see them on the lower river later in the year, they are very tightlipped.

Running my nymph/midge rig through the deeper water eventually resulted in a hookup.  Wow! These things can pull!!!  My arm is still sore.  After catching a couple on the midge, yeah, that's right, I said a MIDGE on 6x no less, I was worn out and decided to go looking for trout.


That's a size 22 gray midge

The net opening is 16" x 22" for reference and this was not the largest I caught...

In some deeper water downstream I started catching some rainbows with regularity and had a large trout, probably a brown, break me off with just a couple of good headshakes.  The trout were showing a preference for the nymphs which was interesting.  I never did get around to fishing a dry/dropper rig  but they probably would have eaten the Zebra Midge fished that way.  Late in the day I even found a skipjack for a rather unusual slam of rainbow and brown trout, buffalo, and skipjack.  Fun trip for sure!

Fresh hatchery 'bow

Deeper water was the ticket...

The good news is that the midge hatches are getting stronger and the fish are responding.  The Buffalo are in the river as well and can definitely provide some entertainment if you've never hooked one.

This brown fought twice his size and had me convinced a big fish was on for a while.

Yep, spring is definitely here when the dogwoods start blooming!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Road Trip

This afternoon I'm hitting the road to head for Hendersonville, TN to speak to the Hendersonville Fly Fishers.  If you are a member and able to come tonight I'm looking forward to meeting you!

Yesterday was a much needed guide's day off and I found some good water on the Caney with willing trout.  There were a few surprises as well which I'll report on late tonight or tomorrow morning!  Let's just say the river is fishing well and if you need a guide to show you the ropes, please let me know!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

BRRRRR

The frost this morning appeared as promised, but thankfully it doesn't seem to have hurt anything too badly.  We don't have too much green around here yet.  The trout streams are probably having a much tougher time of it.  Take a look at this temperature graph from Little River just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Talk about falling water temperatures...that is a continuous drop of close to 15 degrees, and a drop from the highest recent temperature of more than 15 degrees.  I would be willing to bet that the fish might be lethargic to start things off today simply because of the drastic change.  Fish don't like huge fluctuations in temperature or water levels very much and will normally take a bit of time to adjust.  The good news is that the general direction of the water temperature is most important.  We should see temperatures begin to increase shortly as the stream receives full sun exposure throughout the day.  Once that temperature starts to rise, then the fish will be happier for sure.

In other news, it looks like I might get out on the water.  The Caney Fork is showing a 5 hour window without generation so someone clearly needs to go investigate to see how things are on the river.  Hopefully I'll have good news!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dogwood Winter

Right on cue, as the dogwood in our front yard started to bloom, an epic cool down arrived.  After temperatures in the 70s for several days, waking up to snow flying outside my window was a rather abrupt reminder that spring temperatures are never particularly reliable.  Indeed, even now, the snow is nearly gone after covering everything this morning with a fresh coat of white.  Temperatures should warm into the 40s before tonights hard freeze.  Some of the plants are already looking tired and cold while others are still trying to act as if spring didn't hit the pause button.

When I got up, I grabbed a camera and headed straight outside.  Around here you never know how long the snow will hang around.  Now I'm glad I was in such a hurry.  Here are a few of the pictures I took.

The woods received a fresh coat of white.

The maples are wishing they had waited a few more days to leaf out. 

The daffodils are already feeling pretty cold. 

Forsythia brings some bright cheer to an otherwise drab day. 

Ground with lots of sun exposure was still warm enough to melt most of the snowfall. 

Redbuds are just starting to bloom.  The ones who haven't are probably much better off now.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Pledge Drive

Okay, so I'm not going to ask for money, and quite honestly those pledge drive things on the radio drive me crazy.  However, I am hoping that everyone will head over to the Trout Zone's Facebook page and especially the page for Trout Zone Anglers and hit the "Like" button.  If you are one of the many who seem to be jumping the Facebook ship, but you do use Google+, then head over to the Trout Zone Anglers page there and check it out.  I've just started working on it and it is definitely still a work in progress.  That's all and thank you  all for your support!

Midge Fishing

Rescheduling a trip is always frustrating, mostly because you are looking forward to hitting the water and then something goes wrong.  In the case of the trip Chad scheduled, the Caney Fork was rising quickly when we originally planned to do our trip.  We rescheduled and then waited.  As Sunday approached it was painfully obvious that we would either have to reschedule again or change the game plan.  Thankfully Chad was flexible, and since his main goals were to learn to fish midges more effectively and possibly some other good tailwater techniques, we decided that the Clinch would work just as well.

When we arrived at the river, things were just reaching a good fishable level after the morning generation and we started up high. Finding open water was easier than I would normally expect on a pretty Sunday in April.  The Clinch is known as a "bring your own rock" type of river but on this day we were able to find water without too much trouble.  The bright sun and quickly falling water meant that we would be looking for deeper runs and holes with current moving through them.

Working across one good area resulted in spotting a few fish and one missed strike, but other than that things were looking slow.  We changed flies early and often and kept moving, looking for willing fish.  Finally we got into a spot I like that has a nice riffle dropping away into a nice run.  Trout were moving around on the bottom feeding as evidenced by the occasional flash we could see as the fish turned to eat the meal of the day.

With the greater depth, we changed to an indicator rig with a tiny #24 midge pupa on the bottom.  Chad was soon working the hole like an expert, polishing his mending skills to get perfect drag free drifts.  It didn't take too many drifts until the indicator dove and the fight was on!  He soon had the first fish in the net for a quick picture and then it was back to work the hole some more.


I had spotted a much nicer rainbow feeding on the far side of the hole but it required a fairly difficult presentation.  The flies and indicator had to be thrown over the strong current of the riffle and into the softer water on the other side.  Next, the angler would need to throw a huge mend to get a clean drift down to the fish with more small mends throughout the drift.  Chad was up to the challenge and after a few good casts, the indicator dove again.  This was a much nicer trout and soon Chad was admiring his new personal best trout on the fly rod!



Both trout showed a preference for the tiny midge pupa.  It won't be too long before they start taking Sulfur nymphs with regularity and they are probably already starting to key on them on the lower river.

We finished with another hour of covering some more techniques and working on distance casting when we found some large rainbows rising in a nice flat further down the river.  Chad was a pleasure to guide and I'm sure he will be putting his new skills to work to catch some more tailwater trout in the near future!

If I can help you with a guided trip, please contact me at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com.  

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Seriously?

Warning: I'm not going to apologize for the following rant, so if you don't want to hear me complaining, then stop reading now.  

Seriously people?  Fly fishermen have long had a reputation for looking down on "lower" forms of fishing.  Exactly where the reputation came from I have no idea, but I'm guessing there is probably some good reasons for people's opinions of our sport.  Fly fisherman are known as sticklers for the rules, often telling other people when they are in error.  Of all fisherman I've met stream side, I have run into far fewer fly fishermen who were trying to get ahead by cheating then any other.

In my opinion, chucking bait is not any better or any worse than any other type of fishing.  In fact, I'm guessing that's where most of us got our start, and let's admit, it's fun to watch that little bobber with a worm dangling under it.  However, I'm guessing that a lot of the bait chucker crowd tend to have less of a clue about the rules for a very simple reason: they don't know much else about fishing and probably just bought the gear they are using.  It might even be there first time ever trying out fishing.  "We have to have a license to do this?"  It's just ignorance.  In my opinion, ignorance is a problem, but is forgivable considering it's definitely not as bad as willfully breaking the rules.

On the other hand, if someone has progressed to the point of being a fly fisherman, there is a pretty good chance they at least know a little about what they are doing.  Same thing goes for someone who is an expert with a bait caster and haul in the bass one after the other.  They've been around the block a few times and know exactly what they are doing.  My favorites are the ones who do a little bit of everything and fish bait when they want to take a few home.  Those are probably some of the best fishermen out there and they always know the rules too.

That's why I hold some anglers to a higher standard than others.  Fly fishermen should know better than to break the rules and should always try to play by the rules.  All of this is leading up to why I was so ticked off yesterday.

While chucking streamers in the Smokies in what proved to be a futile effort, I came across a HUGE articulated fly beside a pool that has been known to produce some big fish.  I won't say how big, because someone would doubt without pictures, and I'm not at liberty to share pictures that friends have sent me.  Let's just say there are some monsters in the Park and leave it at that.

Anyway, as I get out of my car, I see what looks like a dead bird stuck to the side of a tree.  Walking over to investigate, I find a huge articulated fly stuck there.  How someone snagged the tree, broke off the fly, and completely did not see it is beyond me.  This is larger than a lot of flies I throw for musky.  I love throwing articulated flies in the Park, but am very careful to cut off all but one of the hooks.

This fly had two hooks.  Big ones too, I might add.  If you are fly fishing, you know better.  Park rules clearly state that the use of a dropper fly is permitted but the second fly must be a minimum of 12 inches from the first fly.  An articulated fly is no better than throwing bait on treble hooks.


The big browns of the Park are susceptible to unscrupulous fishermen and it doesn't take a whole lot of skill to put a serious dent in the Park's population of large browns.  Fly fishermen should know better. Play by the rules people!!!

Rant over.

1st Trout on a Fly

In addition to learning to catch crappie on the fly rod, Tyler had been hoping to learn to catch trout on the fly rod as well.  Knowing that the trout from the winter stocking program are now hungry and looking for a meal, I told him that we could head to the local state park and find some willing fish.  He was excited but I don't think he was convinced that the fishing would be easy.

To keep things simple, we used the same flies as we were for the crappie.  Trout that aren't picky are a pleasant change of pace.  The best trout fishing from a fly rod perspective isn't exactly where most people would expect which makes it all the more enjoyable.

We finally found my favorite warmup hole and started casting.  After some basic instructions, I let Tyler go and stood back to watch, camera in hand and expecting good things.  Sure enough, a few casts later I saw the flash of a trout as it hit his fly.  "Set!!!" I yelled.  Tyler is a great one for not asking questions and following directions and immediately lifted the rod tip.  Sure enough, there was a beautiful rainbow dancing on the end of his line.



I'm sure he will remember this fish for a long time.  We found a few more willing fish and Tyler is just about ready for a trip to the Smokies now!