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: 11/25/2015 -- Smokies Fly Fishing Report: The streams of the Smokies have dropped back to great levels but water temperatures have been chilly. Things should improve over the next two days as both days and nights should be warmer. Even on the colder days this week, fish have been active during the warmest hours. Midges and sporadic caddis activity are even bringing some trout to the surface. When you do get out, note that brown trout are spawning and should be left alone when on redds. Please avoid walking on and near the redds this time of year. The ability of the brown trout to successfully reproduce is essential to the future of the fishery. If you do not know what a redd looks like, avoid walking on the fine gravel (golfball and smaller) in riffles and the tailouts of pools. Fish that are paired up in these areas are probably spawning and are best left alone.
Caney Fork Fly Fishing Report: The Caney Fork is fishing well at times but only average during others. The good news is that you may get a shot at some better than average trout. Recent floats are giving us approximately a 50/50 mix of rainbows and browns so that part is nice. Float or wade trips are best done as 1/2 days this time of year with the current flow regime. Contact me about a float or wade trip if you want to enjoy this fishing at TroutZoneAnglers@gmail.com or call/text (931) 261-1884.
Cumberland Plateau Fishing Report: Smallmouth bass fishing is about done for the year and I'm transitioning towards fishing for the big toothy critters. Yesterday we moved 4 fish and had one eat from a solid 40"+ fish that came unbuttoned. Stay tuned for more on this great fishing as we head deeper into the cold season.
Help support the Trout Zone and purchase your 2015 Tennessee fishing license using this link!