Despite the crowds the river still fishes well, that is if you don't mind constantly being crowded. Last Friday I headed down to the river to fish and was the first one on a particular run. I started out with a new pattern that I have thanks to James Marsh from over at The Perfect Fly Store and Fly Fishing the Smoky Mountains. The fly was a Cream Midge Pupa and the Caney trout were taking the pattern well. There were lots of midges hatching when I first arrived at the river and the occasional rise looked more like the fish were taking bugs just under the surface. In this situation a midge pupa is deadly (another favorite is the Zebra Midge) and the fish responded well to the new pattern.
I had probably 20 minutes of fishing in when some more people showed up and proceeded to box me in on the extreme upper end of wadeable water at that access point. Things slowed down but I knew it was a good spot. Deciding to hang in there, I spent the next hour or more changing flies and tinkering with my rig. Finally I got things dialed in again and started catching fish again. The guys below me decided it was the best spot on the river after I caught several fish and as soon as I left, they headed right up.
None of the fish I caught were monsters this trip but there were several decent fish to around 17 inches including to gorgeous rainbows that fought like tigers. I honestly thought I had tied into a big brown both times I hooked a good rainbow but was pleasantly surprised to find one of the Caney's better 'bows attached. The browns should be off the spawning shoals soon if they aren't already and the best fishing is yet to come. Those cold days when most people are smart enough to stay home will provide some of the best fishing of the year.
Of course, remember that each person's definition of great fishing varies greatly. For me, solitude (or at least a few manners from fellow fisherman) rate right up there with catching tons of large fish. For this reason, I'll be heading back to the park for as much of my fishing as possible in the upcoming weeks. It probably won't be as often as I would like but I'll enjoy each opportunity. Those cold days where the line is icing will find me back on the Caney though... I still have more flies to try from James Marsh and I'm looking forward to ripping a few streamers soon on the Caney as well...