As November gave way to December, there were still some great fishing opportunities to be had locally. Then it cooled off just a little. From highs in the 50s and even 60s, we are now going to be lucky to get to 10 or so above zero. The low temperatures last night were well below zero. As you can imagine, open water is going to be closing quickly now.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I made a trip over to El Dorado Canyon to find some solitude. A recent snowstorm had both coated the stream banks and chased away other anglers. I'm just fine with that. If it takes a cool down to get some water to myself so be it. Rocks were already gaining ice caps, and this was before our recent plunge into the deep freeze.
The snow on the plains had barely been a couple of inches. In the canyon it had piled higher though, up to 5 or 6 inches. Scrambling up and down the steep stream banks was an adventure but I just took things slow and made sure to not take any serious falls. This included NOT wearing waders, but instead just wearing hiking boots. Long ago, it became obvious that wading boots encourage me to take risks that I shouldn't even be considering. My solution now is to just stay out of the water. Yes, there is less water I can reach, but it also forces me to creatively improve my casting as well as try new methods. I tend to fish streamers a lot more when I'm stuck on the bank which isn't too bad of a trade off if you ask me.
Anyway, as I walked up the access road and stared almost straight down to the stream, the thought of scrambling down was a bit frightening. Eventually, I was almost to the top of the steepest stretch before I found a decent path down to the water. Here, the danger factor was in the "broken leg" range if I fell instead of "likely death." Oh well, surely I could drag myself with my hands out of the canyon. I'm glad I snuck down where I did. The browns were small but willing. Getting around the banks was a bit tricky, but I navigated enough stream to feel that the scramble down had been worth it.
When I discovered the road was now much easier to get to, I decided to jump out and head back down the canyon. Eventually I found myself fishing a hole near the car as the sun started to sink below the horizon. Already shaded by the clouds and canyon walls, the stream was becoming even darker. Finally, as the temperature was rapidly dropping, one last nice brown was eager to eat. A quick picture, and the fish was back in the water, and I was headed to the warmth of my car.
UPDATE:8/23/2015 -- The Smokies continue to fish well. Bugs are fairly plentiful with little yellow stoneflies, big golden stoneflies, a few caddis, and even some mayflies making appearances. The fish are obviously eating well but still seem to always be hungry. Now is the time to fish the higher elevation waters and enjoy rainbow and brook trout. This week will see Little River come back into play with cool overnight temperatures forecast. Last week, I fished Little River one evening and had my best dry fly fishing of the year. I know that sounds incredible. It was and you should have been there!
The Caney Fork is fishing well this year. The streamer bite has been good on some high water days but on other days the fish seem to be stuffed full already despite plenty of forage around. On low water, terrestrials, nymphs, and midges should keep things interesting. Contact me about a float trip if you want to get in on this great fishing at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.
Cumberland Plateau smallmouth fishing is good when the water levels cooperate. The terrestrial fishing continues to be excellent. There is very little reason to throw anything other than topwater right now. Ever caught a Coosa bass? That is a possibility right now as well!
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