Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Now, that isn't the norm but it does produce some of the most spectacular results short of doing an overnight type trip. Those of you that stay within a couple of miles of the trailhead are missing out on some excellent opportunities. I understand that some people may be limited for various reasons but the rest of you who are just lazy, I want to say thanks for leaving the best fishing for me...
Standard pack for a daytrip
Also in what I hope is the near future, I'll be starting on my late winter and spring backpacking and camping trips. I'm looking to check out some new water this year and the best way to do this is on a weekend trip since most of the streams are at minimum a two hour drive.
Perhaps this Sunday I'll check out a stream for some lake-run fish. That sounds like a lot of fun...I think I'll do it!!!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The Upper Yellowstone, Snake, Shoshone, Clarks Fork, Little Snake, and Laramie Watersheds are expected to see normal to above normal snowmelt stream volumes this spring and summer.After the low flows and warm water temperatures last summer, this is some of the best news in awhile...
My biggest challenge when fishing during cold weather has always been staying warm. I don't really like fishing with gloves because I feel it really limits my dexterity for casting and also for playing the fish. For awhile I used half-finger gloves while fishing when it was cold but when I lost one of the gloves, I started searching for a better solution. This past weekend, I found a very reasonable solution to the glove problem. Recently, I bought a nice cheap pair of warm gloves (Thinsulate) to try out for cold weather fishing and Sunday was my second time trying them out on the water. The first time I didn't like them very much but it was much colder this past Sunday and I knew that without gloves of some type, I wouldn't be on the water very long.
Starting out, I wore them on both hands but was still having a bit of a difficult time controlling my line. It was after a couple fish (when I naturally had to remove a glove anyway) that I decided to go without on my left hand glove for awhile. This worked out great since the glove on my right hand was collecting all the water off of the line as I stripped it in. As long as you keep your hands thoroughly dry, they will stay warm longer. Best of all, I was out there catching fish and not freezing in the process.
Two other suggestions on keeping your hands warm are to take something to dry your hands on and to take and use hand warmers. I did both and the hand warmer in particular worked wonders. It is always difficult to tie knots in cold weather. The hand warmer not only kept my hands warm but in so doing also contributed significantly to my ability to change flies comfortably.
Another suggestion on fishing in cold weather is to rig up at home. This option isn't for everyone and by doing this you will be guessing blindly what the fish will want. If you guess wrong, you won't be catching fish until you change flies. It worked out great for me though on Sunday. Knowing the river you will be fishing definitely helps in making this a viable option.
I'm still working on solutions to the fly reel freezing up everytime you catch a fish but I suspect the only solutions either include not going fishing in the first place or not catching fish. Ice in the guides and reel are just part of the game when the weather gets cold...
Monday, January 21, 2008
The fact that the fish were feeding high in the water column was exciting because I had done something that I've never done before; tie on flies at home (where it was warm of course) and I had gambled on a midge hatch where Zebra Midges would work well. The fish approved and I was soon catching fish after fish. There were several large fish cruising and making quite a ruckus every time they broke the surface in their pursuit of the tiny bugs. The funny thing was, I had probably 6-7 fish that I thought were large when I first set the hook. Caney Fork fish seem to pull as hard or harder than any other trout I've ever fished for and yesterday they were in fine form. Several fish were landed in the 14-15 inch range and each time I was ready to proclaim that I had a bruiser on before I actually saw them. The one brown I landed I honestly thought was at LEAST 18 inches. Despite the fact that none of the fish turned out to be more than 15 inches (or maybe 16 if I stretched them out a little), it was still a great day on the water.
I even learned a few things. Later on I'll share some more of the cold weather wisdom I gained, but most importantly you should know that your reel WILL freeze up every time you hook an especially hard-fighting fish (this is actually a corollary to Murphy's Law). Also, your guides will generally be completely iced up just about the time a fish takes the fly (again closely related to Murphy's Law). Despite these minor annoyances, it IS possible to fish in cold weather and have a good time and even stay warm in the process.
One thing I feel it is important to point out, if you're going to take a picture of a fish when it is this cold, please leave the fish in the water until the last possible minute before you take the picture. Even better, as in the picture of the 'bow, leave the fish in the water (shallow water works great to corral the fish) to take that picture so water completely covers the eyes and gills...
Monday, January 14, 2008
My favorite addition is definitely the new "Hatches Made Easy" section that is still being constructed on a daily basis. Many Smokies fisherman often stick to a few standard patterns and while they may do well most of the time, there's always slow times and of course, always the chance for improvement. Paying closer attention to what the fish are really keyed on will help improve your success on the stream...
Sunday, January 13, 2008
My weekend did not contain any fishing but hopefully next weekend will be different. While I didn't fish, I did manage to take advantage of the nice weather and get out for a bit of hiking and photography. I found some nice water (which doesn't contain trout unfortunately) but really could never do the scene justice with the camera. Here is a sample of one of my attempts...
Another nice photo opportunity presented itself and after experimenting a little with the possibilities, I had a friend snap a picture of me as well...
The sunset gave some of the nicest lighting of the day...
While I won't be able to head to any of those small streams that I'm looking forward to, next weekend I'll likely be home so another trip to the Caney Fork my be in the near future for me... Soon after that, I'll be starting to do trips to the Smokies and to some other small streams in the Cherokee NF... I can't wait!!!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
While you're checking out my blog, please weigh in on the newest poll. I'm curious about how far everyone else out there will hike on a day trip so let me know!!!
The following picture contains the same section which is of course tight to the far bank. Notice the lack of flow in the above picture and the nice holding water that exists at "normal" water levels. I've caught browns up to around 12 inches in this run so it is good to see some water in it again.
Here's a closeup for easier comparison...
For yet another view of this run, it is featured as our current Photo of the Month for January.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I want to try some different flies and better learn how to fish some of the more technical hatches. This of course will undoubtedly involve learning some new techniques. Also, not only will I be fishing my favorite mountain streams, I also want to explore new ones, maybe even find a new favorite. This will involve a lot of time in the backcountry, both on day trips and longer overnight type trips as well. I have plans to experience more of what the Smokies have to offer. Specifically, I plan on checking some rumors of lake run fish on the south side of the park and all those streams that drain into Fontana Lake. Of course, I've been saying that I intend to do these trips for awhile so time will only tell if I really make it. I better start planning now so it happens...