"Larger than memories is my anticipation of rivers and streams not yet fished." - Charles Kuralt.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Well its been all quiet on the east tn front it seems. I know for me its tough to get out anywhere for any length of time. Judging by the frostbite fallout, it seems its been a rough go for all. Unfortunately, I was among those who just couldn't make it this time.
I have however, been chomping the bit to get to what sounds like and epic early quill gordon hatch in the park. Its killing me to see and hear reports from other boards of nice browns taken on dries. But alas, all my attempts have been thus far thwarted to seek the post spawn reverie. So desperate times call for desperate measures - my nearest fishable water is the lil' pig. But since the sewage spill tragedy, I've been leery of finding more than just a smallie. EColi is not something I want to catch and release. But the over whelming urges of spring-bin fever is itchin' me like something fierce and I had to scratch it - and at this point, no matter the cost.
So I trucked it down to one of my favorite bronzeback holes in search of something to stretch my line. I only had an hour and I know that the water still would be quite chilly despite our early spring weather. So with atropine/ 2pamcloride auto-injectors in hand, I plied the waters of refuse and waste in search of something brown... but...uhhh, preferably with fins and gills. Anyhow, as the second cast skimmed though the riffles and swung in to the pool with a slow retrieve, there it was... that ol familiar thump. Like a beat from a favorite tune, the rhythmic notation telegraphed up the line, through my cheaply build home made beater rod, and pulsed through my arm...I like this song.
At any rate, it was a respectable fight and my itch was scratched...for the moment anyways...


Ain't it always the way? You kinda get something started, ya figure your got it figured out and then life gets in the way and you go way off the reservation....only to come back. And so it has been with this blog. Funny how when I started, there wasn't much in the way of east tn blogs. Since making a departure then returning - there are tons of postings around. It's a good thing because one can get a great sampling of whats going on about the area. Sort of like viewing the varying temps in the region on the late night weather cast. At any rate, I'm trying to bring this thing back online, and I'll post a few outing from the last couple outings to get things rolling. Its been far and few between jaunts. Like I mentioned, life gets in the way. TVA hasn't been very accommodating too. Our tail waters for the most part have been generating around the clock and except for a few couple hour windows - the mountains have been the only real escape . Our oddly warm winter and way early spring have given us an out for the overly generated tail waters as hatches are already popping.
We are rapidly approaching our golden opportunities for fly fisherman in our area - Spring. Quill Gordons are kicking everything off in the park . Large browns are showing up, at except for the occasional disruption of a front passing through, the park has been fishing very well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July Jump

After spending the weekend in GA and dropping of the kids with the grandparents, my wife and I came home to a quiet house and a week off...well, she still had to go to class so I just had to occupy my time somehow. So I ventured out the the Smokies and while I just wanted to see how the brookies were faring up high in my favorite haunt, i decided to see if a slam was in order.
It was rather chilly out as I headed out. By the time I got above the Chimneys, it was down right cold for July 1st. The water was freezing, but with no thermometer on hand I could only guesstimate, but it hurt to keep my hands in for any length of time. My theory is that it shut down the fish. Even though the water was spooky low, usually you could raise plenty of fish in known slots and pockets. There were the few risers, but the specs were tiny... I did see a nice one rise in a dark pocket at a base of a "fall" but most of the brookies were tiny -
WC Spec The funny thing was that I came onto a 'bow that was of decent size for such small water. It was finning in a slanting current that was being washed back from a large rock - so the fish was facing away from me to the opposite bank. I saw it follow my yellow EHC with no take and so began a mini pursuit to take the fish. I tried several different flies that resulted in looks but no takes. There was a a quick mouth on a ant pattern but no hook up. Finally after watching this thing feed, it looked like to me that it was midging... so i tied a small black tailwater style midge with a zlon wing dropped off the ant pattern and after the first cast - boom! that fish rose and took the midge with out hesitation...
WC bowIt was only about 6" but it was the challenge and figuring out the problem that made that fish so rewarding...and as the saying goes, never pass up a feeding fish.
Since I had 2/3 of a slam, I decided to head on over to LR to look for a brown. This proved to be most dificult. Though I had some great looks from some sizable fish on a yellow stimi, there was no takes...I high stuck a bunch of small bows, but now browns. I hooked a huge horny head - but again no brown....finally I did hook a small guy high sticking a SMBSH, but lost the fish as I was digging for the camera...so in sense I did complete the summer slam, just no pic to back it up. At any rate - it was fun to get out and managed to find solitude streamside in the middle of summer. Though there tons of people about, the cold, low water must of kept most of em out of the water...anyhow, anytimes a good time to get out and fish...and it was a bonus to see the rhodos in bloom.

rhodo on LR
LR rodo bloom

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Catchup....

I finally had a chance to sloooww down a bit from work as I finally get a bit of a hiatus. Since then I've been able to get out a couple of times to do some fishing in the mountains with my buddy Mark and we ended up high stickn' some average size fish on the main stem of Little River and above Tremont. The water is low and clear, the best bet is start of with something yellow in a dry with a dropper of a pt or smbsh...the fish will tell you what they want then clip the other off and go with it. Didn't have a camera for the evening pursuits with Mark, though I wish I did. Those are the magic hours - the setting summer sun when the air starts the cool, and any hatch to that may happen commences...fishing may or may not pick up briefly but it doesn't really matter - its just a magical time of day to be in the mountains as the shadows grow longer and the silence gets louder...
I do have a confession though, I've been indulging in a little bit of warm water debauchery...and as some "purists" may destest, I've had a little affair with the rough fish...namely carp. Actually, it's always been in the back of my mind to tag one with a fly, just never had the gumption to go out there and do it with all the trout water explore. But I found myself in a situation where I only had a few hours free each morning last week and with decent smallie water and excellent carpn' water only 15 min away - it was a no brainer to make a go of it.
So I would try top water for bronzebacks and should I see a carp within range, I would switch over to a jointed hellgrammite. I did manage severa small bass over the course of the week
Photobucket But the carp really made an impression on me. These things are brute on a fly rod and a must do if you've never done it. The sheer power of these fish are nothing I've ever experience but hope to some day in the salt, an I hear this is a great primer. All I do is look for a feeding fish, position parallel or just up stream. If you don't spook 'em cast above them to where your fly lands not to far above the fish and then skip the fly by the "visual cone". More often than not the carp with scoot over and intercept. Set the hook when you see the mouth over the fly and give a couple good tugs to seat the hook, then hang on!... make sure you preset your drag and get these guys on the reel quickly and play em "down n' dirty" and I believe Stu Apt puts it for Tarpon. As you watch the line rip from your reel and possibly the backing you haven't seen in awhile, play the fish as even pressured as you can, they have soft mouths and hook pull is all but too easy and I've had the hook actually straighted out on a 1/0 saltwater due to my careless over pulling.
Eventually, I'll beach the fish and after a quick pic, a pair of pliers removes the hook and the fish is no worse for the wear.First Carp Landed
There is another target I'm after and though I've had some follows, just no takes, but a gar is next on my list. I did some research and think a rope fly is the best way to do, but I'm still perfecting that tactic as it seems to be a whole different realm to fly fishing as well... again, just another reason why I love this sport - multi faceted.
I was able to add a warm water species unexpectedly...I misidentified a smallmouth buffalo, I managed one thinking it was a carp. I pursued it and caught it as previously mentioned for carp, but was told they don't normally act that way - someone should tell the fish that. At any rate, a little research shows that they are primarily algae eaters, but will eat snail and other small aquatic insects....uhh, can you say snail fly??? More on that research and applied tactics later...
2nd one landed Tatanka!!!
Sooo, thats pretty much it for now and more or less caught up...hope to take to the water more as I do have the summer off, though I have my kids all day - I may have to drag 'em along my tie a dropper on 'em and let them go swimming in a hole somewhere in the Smokies while I high stick a run nearby...

Friday, May 2, 2008

May Day on the Lil Pig

While wanting to try out some smallie patterns that I tied up for an upcoming fly swap, I decided to steal away a couple hours and head out to the Little Pigeon to get them wet. Since my son was born (6 years ago mind ya), I have not been out during the week to flick a line... With my oldest in kindergarten, the youngest in a 2 day a week pre k program and the weather finally cooperating with my work schedule - I decided to venture out and wet a line.
My buddy Rusty came along and brought his raft as we were prepared to do a short float to cover more water for my little time, but of course Murphy decided to pay a visit and put the kibash on those plans. While parking my truck at the take out, I noticed it was acting up more that usual (I was already running on expired time with the starter) and sure enough, the mechanical gremlin reared its ugly head - the car wouldn't start. SOOO, what to do....I only had a few hours before I had to get back, teach my photography class, pick up my kids from school, and then go to work...but I wasn't about to pack it in either...well I'm already here, lets go fish.
We had to wade of course and the water was cooler thanks to a deluging front earlier that weekend. As a result, the smallie bite was off but I was just happy to be out, but its tough to fish effectively when you have issues looming - my eye was constantly on the clock.
Working my way down stream, the water was pushing fairly swift and was slightly stained. I was startled to hook a nice smallie in a soft side of a tail out not more that 3 feet in front of me. The surprise hookup didn't afford a good connect and in a couple of nice jumps and that bronze ship sailed away...it was a very decent fish, a porker too...
And it wasn't on the pattern I tied, I ended up switching over to a clouser because of the currents. But you gotta adapt to the situtation and the clouser seemed close enough for government for what the bass were looking for.
Minnow Match
The funny thing was that here we were looking for smallmouth and Rusty tagged a one of the bigger 'bows I've seen in a while (course I haven't got out much lately)
It's a washover - a washed down holdover from the "trout rodeo" that is in Pigeon Forge every spring. We reasoned that if it can make it to the tailwater and find a spring, it could theoretically live a long, healthy life. There is definatly enough food in the French Broad.
Lil Pig Holdover
Seeing as how the bite was off and the looming issues of me having to deal with my car and get back in time to deal with life's responsibilities - we cut the jaunt short and headed back up stream. 'Course you have to have that last cast and on the way out I managed to get this small guy to hand which makes it all worth it. In the end, the tow truck came, the starter was the culprit, and I made it back on time to take care of business. What a day...
Smallie on Clouser

Monday, April 21, 2008

Early Spring Slam

">While out on a weekend getaway with the family in Gatlinburg, I was finally able to get out for a few hours and wet a line. Knowing that I may not be able to get out for a while, I decided on the trifecta, the "have my cake and eat it too", and go for one of each - a brookie, 'bow, and a brown and thus frequent the waters I love to hang out in and consider "home waters". It would have been nice to get out somewhere and explore new water because in spring you see the best the any watershed has to offer with usually willing fish and bug activity, but limited on time and happy to be out, old familiar haunts make it well with the soul.
Rain had moved in that Friday night and I knew that water would be pushing harder that I'd like.
After rain flow" border="0" alt="" />Though we need the rain desperately around these parts, when you finally get to fish - a less that ideal situation is frustrating, but again, I was free and standing in trout water no matter the cfs.
There are some watersheds where you can find all three species in the same river, but I did not have the luxury of that pursuit so to make the best of it, I started my brookie hunt in the upper West Prong of the Litte Pigeon River - the map will day Walker Camp Prong, but its all the Li'l Pig to me. Over the years, 'bows have established a foothold and have been getting larger there and it disheartens me greatly to know that an easy access brookie spot will eventually go to the dogs...rainbow striped ones that is, but I know that the second part of the slam will be fairly easy to complete because of this invasion.
Passing the mist enshrouded Chimneys (should've stopped and got that picture!) the rain was not heavy, but enough to be annoying. Seeing patches of the river through the trees confirmed that the water was really pushing through the gorge and I hoped the stretch I was going to fish was a little bit slower due to is more "subtle" slope.
Upon arrival, it wasn't whitewater, but it was definatly pushing....
It was tough going inititally, and it didn't help that somehow I managed to leave my waders at home - that water was freezing. But after finding some soft spots around rocks a couple of brookies rose to a foam posted para adams and also managed a couple of bows. Part one and two of the slam complete.
Early Spring SpeckSmall stream 'bow
For the the completion of the slam, the Little River is brownie nervana and so I headed below Elkmont in hopes of better water conditions, a hatch, and more willing fish. The rain began to lift and the sun was making a showing by time I got to the parking area where I knew I'd find at least one willing brown. There were already a few anglers about, but non where I was going to put in, so with the para adams still on I plied the currents in a likely run. The water was at least warmer here 56 degrees or so and saw some sporatic hatches of gordons, caddis, and midges. Hopefully the fish would be looking up. A few casts in and a nice fish shot up from the depths and took that fly with authority. It was a great tussle, the rod was bent, the pull was refreshing - this was a nice brownie or so I thought...
A family watching with small kids joined in the fight, cheering me on as I brought the fish in closer. Only to discover it was a very nice, pot bellied rainbow and the brown it fought like - the largest I've ever caught on Little River to be sure (granted, it may have been about a foot long, but this is the Park). However, due to the show and tell for the young ones, there wasn't time for a picture as the fish needed to be released.
As I moved up to the next section of the stretch of water I was hoping to complete before having to go back to the condo, I began searching the dark, slower edges of the river where we've caught some nice browns holding in the past. Sure enough, one did come out to play and from a spot that seems to always hold at least one decent fish. Playing the fish to the waters edge and taking a snapshot completed the slam.Photobucket It was the only brown to hand, but it was brilliantly colored and the red edged fins signified all that is wild and what I love about the mountains.

After a few more casts, I decided to head out to catch up with family. On the way out I ended up meeting Ray Ball and his crew. Ray's been fishing the Smokies probably longer than anyone out there as he grew up in these hills. Calling him a fishing legend may be a shiny label he wouldn't think of himself as, but his name does come up in various anglers' discussions of storied anglers in context with the history of this park. He is a carasmatic guy that i hope i have half the zest and zeal he does at his age when talking about fly fishing. Ray couldn't stop grinnin' about the stories of the good ol' days, fishing holes on Little River he's named, and tying his beloved calftail parachute flies.
Meeting Ray was icing on the smokey slam cake. Its one fo the reasons I love fishing in the Park. There is such rich, diverse history to the Southern Appalacians and fishing is a part of it. The fact that I can meet someone such as Ray that brings the history of these waters to life makes me that more appreciative and fortunate to haunt the same waters as well.
Weaon of Choice

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Fishless River

Well, I know I have trips to log in that preceed today's timeline, but I've got to go ahead and get this one in before this one passes me up and details get fuzzy...

I took a new friend Chad out to fish this afternoon. He's never fly fished before and it's been a while since I've been out...so it was a time to get aquainted, hit the basics with the long rod, and hopefully put him on a trout. We were sort of limited on time and with the rain around we were in need of some compliant fish...I figured the "fishless river" was the place to go. The water was dubbed so by my buddy Mark "Varmit" as kind of a cheezy code for the river that's not really a secret, but most don't realize it as seasonal put and take fishery full of eager (okay, rediculously stupid and easy) fish. It's an ace up the sleeve, a secret stash sort of place that you really don't want to publicize. Sometimes there's some holdovers that can surprise you, but mostly the water gets too warm to maintain the trout population year round - but man, if it could, you'd have a tailwater that would rival the SoHo. This water is caddis soup. The hatches in the spring will be the best you'll find anywhere around here.
Anyhow, it was a drizzly morning that we were sure was going to blow off soon so we left the raincoats in the truck ...big mistake - don't you know- it'll only rained harder for the next hour or so when you're out there knee deep in the river. In the mean time, there were fish rising all over sporadically to some small olives, #22 or so and and figuring the action was on untill that rain hit harder and the fishing shut down for a while. So we worked on casting and mending and discussed the finer points of "if I were a trout, this is where I'd sit to eat" and so on. Chad was a quick learner and after getting the rain gear and the the weather subsided, he managed to stick a couple of fish on a PT. While they weren't brought to hand, he was able to feel the take and it was his first taste if of what very well be a new addiction.
Things were slow, couple of other guys on the water were not having the hand over fist action we all expect out of this section - it was beginning to live up to the cheezy codeword. But we then realized Marc and been out here the week before when they actually stocked as he quickly educated them to a sore lip degree. Thanks man, 'precciate ya...
But as the rain did move off, the fish began to rise again. Going with the "throw anything as long as it's a caddis" mantra, we switched over to an olive X caddis....within a few casts, Chad had on his first fly caugt fish. I had my back turned at the time, but the unmistakable ziiip sound of a dry fly hookset and flopping of a broadside landing fish is music to my ears...it was a decent fish of about 10" and Chad's grin was just as wide. I was pysched, I was glad for him and it broke a- take- a- buddy- out- and- fish- but- they- don't- catch- but- I- do curse. After a several dustings later of the X caddis, Chad hooked into another nice fish and I think he was hooked as well - pun intended. I was content. By this time all was quiet on the river front people wise, the rain had lifted, the trout were active again and my buddy was catching fish - very few times you get that fleeting moment when you feel a though everything is centered in your universe.
We cleared out after a while longer and headed out to find a burger. It was a great time this afternoon. The fishless river, though not up to it's usual compliment - did live up to its name in more than one way...