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: 5/14/2015 -- Streams in the Smokies are getting lower with the recent lack of rainfall. Dry/dropper rigs are accounting for a lot of fish, especially on the dropper. Yesterday was a great day with lots of rainbows and brookies and even a few browns. Fish were taking both flies but showed a preference for my favorite caddis pupa dropper.
The Caney Fork continues to fish well. On a half day trip this past Tuesday, a brand new angler had a 40 fish day with some nice sized holdovers in the mix including a few browns. 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. With the holiday weekend and summer coming up, expect the fishing pressure to steadily increase on this river so get out and enjoy it while you can.
Smallmouth are turning on as well now. Last Sunday, I landed my personal best smallmouth on one of my favorite local creeks. This fishing will only improve. Isonychias are hatching on the smallie streams here on the Plateau and Golden Stoneflies should be just around the corner. Over the next few weeks, the streams will transition to great surface terrestrial and popper fishing.
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