Category Archives: Little Pigeon

West Prong of the Little Pigeon fly fishing information

The Tennessee Tour

Let me first say how fortunate I am to live in an area that has such great and diverse fishing opportunities. East Tennessee has everything that a fisherman could ever want. From small mountain streams to tailwaters that fish like rivers in Montana and plenty of lakes in between.

Every year one of my really good friends, Wade, comes into town and we do a little fishing. The past couple of years we have always stuck to the tailwaters, but this year we realized that he had never fished in the Smokies. The streams in the Smokies are a true one of a kind experience, there is really no place that is just like them. So, this year we decided we would hit the Smokies. Day-One, we started on the Clinch and also got to fish with Doug (local east tennessee fishing legend turned corporate selling phenom ;-)). Day-Two we headed up to the Smokies for some small stream fishing and finally on Day-Three the South Holston.

The Clinch fished great. The water was slightly off color and there was a heavy fog on the water when arrived at 8am. We floated from Peach Orchard to Hwy 61. The fishing started off a little slow, but got good quickly and remained good until the 2nd generator caught us. Your standard rig of midges and pheasant tails produced as always under and indicator.

The Smokies, we woke early to find a band of really nasty storms rolling in from Kentucky. They were moving at about 60 miles per hour and looked really gnarly over the pleatau. Wade immediately thought the fishing would be done as he looked at the red masses on the radar screen. However, I had hopes that the storms would break up over the pleateu as I’ve seen happen on many occasion. So instead of rushing out to fish we hung back to see what would play out with the first band of storms.

What other way to wait out a storm than to spend the time cooking up some homemade biscuits and gravey. Let me restate that, this is no ordinary B&G, this gravey was made with Benton’s Bacon!, only the best ever, life changing bacon I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. When you cook it the smells will fill the entire house for days! It’s awesome!

First, wave of storms had passed and we took advantage of it and headed up into the Smokies. My original plan had been to take Wade into a special area that is tough to get into and fish. The only problem is once in this area you are basically stuck in the river until you come out at a trail crossing. When we got up there the water looked a little off color and it was starting to rain again. We knew that there was another storm on the way, so instead of betting our lives on fishing an area that would be subject to flash flooding, we opted for some high elevation road side fishing. We headed up to Walker Camp Prong. The fish cooperated wonderfully and we brought some really nice Rainbow trout to hand as well as a couple really nice brookies (however I left the camera in the car).  Para Adams produced all day as long as you got a good drift.

The South Holston, the fishing was just so so. They had been sluicing 250 cfs for the last couple of weeks and I had heard that the fishing was really good. However, we got there to find that they had completely shut the water off. I mean completely, nothing siltch, no water coming over the grates at all. It seems that they had decided to do a little house keeping on the wier dam. Fearing that it would take forever for them to get the water back on, we headed down to lower Big Springs road. When we arrived the water was about normal for low flow and we fished a couple of my favorite pull offs. There were a few sulphurs rising and the fishing was pretty consistent on dry dropper rigs. Later we headed back up to see if they’d turned the water back on and we fished up near the grates till the sun began to set.

Three full days of fishing go by so fast. It already seems like it happened months ago. There really isn’t enough time.

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Troutfest and Fly Fishing Legends

Troutfest 2011 is complete.  I’m not sure on the total money raised, but I’m sure it is as good as always.  For those of you that are not familiar with Troutfest, check it out at Troutfest.org .  In my opinion it is one of the coolest fly fishing festivals in the United States.  Where else can you sit besides Lefty Kreh and Joe Humphrey’s while you all watch a kid from Knoxville, TN tie flies of his own creation. 

I may be a bit biased as I sat on the planning committee for 2009 and 2010, but trust me it is awesome.  The event is a result of the Little River Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  Most people don’t know, but Joe Hatton (former lrctu chapter president) was one of the driving forces for getting the event started 8 years ago.  Since then, Byron Begley of Little River Outfitters ,has helped to grow the event over the last three years to where it is today.  In 2009 and 2010 the event grossed around $60,000 each year and donations of around $45,000 were donated to Great Smoky Mountain National Park both years as well.  Not bad for an event ran by volunteers.  I must give a hats off to all of them as without them it would not be possible.  There are probably around 100 volunteers each year that donate thousands of hours of their time to make the event a success.  It is truely a special event.  The feeling you get when attending and walking around is awe inspiring. 

Also, without the sponsors and exhibitors the event could not happen.  Here is a link to the Troutfest 2011 sponsors list.  We also get donations from many of the fly fishing industry manufacturers for our auction as well as attendance by all of the regional fly fishing industry manufacturer representatives; Randy Hamilton, Park Burson, Steve Burkhalter and Kent Edmonds to name a few.

One of my favorite stories is from two years ago when I had rented a cabin on Little River for the duration of the event.  I was waiting for my wife to arrive so we could attend the banquet.  There happened to be a swinging bridge just out from the cabin and I was enjoying the day and weather.  Just down from the bridge was a gentleman fly fishing.  At one point he looked up and asked the time.  His voice and face was oddly familiar and I figured that it was just one of my occasional fly shop customers.  However after second glance I realized it was Joe Humphrey and he was fishing 20 minutes before he had to be at a banquet, where he was a special guest!  I realized it is still just about the fishing and we all share that same passion.

This year was another great moment.  I have worked for the Orvis company as a Fishing Manager for 5 years now.  I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many of the people that helped to build Orvis to where it is today.  Perk and Dave Perkins, Jim Lepage as well as many of the rod designers and product developers.  These conversations are usually in some sort of work setting or after hours cocktail meet and greet.  I doubt that any of them could recall our conversations.

However this year I had the opportunity to hang with a person who truly helped to develop me as a fly angler.  That man is Tom Rosenbauer and he as written many of the books that most of us read when we were just getting started or trying to take our angling pursuits to the next level.  He has developed fly patterns and created one of the most downloaded pod-casts ever and has worked for The Orvis Company for over thirty years.  You can find more out about Mr. Rosenbauer in an article by Fly Rod and Reel, Angler of the Year.  He is a true steward of the sport of fly fishing, but you won’t hear him saying that.  It was cool to sit and talk with both Tom and Joe Humphrey at the same time.  Joe, who is also of one Tom’s fly fishing hero’s has attended Troutfest for the last three years along with Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser.  All of these men are living legends in the fly fishing loop.

So, this year was a true treat when I was invited along to go fishing with the gang.  Robert Bryant, Southeast Representative for The Orvis Company; Clay Aalders, Owner of Smoky Mountain Gillies and Tom Rosenbauer.  Clay took us to one of his favorite stretches in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  It was a rainy dreary day, but those are some of my favorite conditions to fish in.  The fishing was a little slower than normal, but it didn’t matter as you could sense that everyone was just there to have a good time.  Later in the day we moved to lower Little River and fished around the Metcalf bottoms area and had some great success.  I spooked one of the parks legendary monster Brown trout (yes, I will be back to see him during the next big rain with Mr. 7wt and a big ugly).  Everyone in the group also caught some really nice fish on dry flies none the less.  We fished till dark and left with smiles, all happy to have enjoyed one this nations great and beautiful places.

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Little Pigeon 4/19/2008

Unplanned success! I was supposed to teach a beginning fly fishing school, but due to bad weather my students had to postpone the school. Fortunately Doug had the day off and was planning on being in town to do some shopping or something. A quick call and the mention of some smallmouth and it was easy to convince him that is shopping trip was going to turn into a fishing trip.

Spring time Smallmouth fishing is one of my favorite times. Pound for pound a smallie will whoop almost any other freshwater fish there is. The will literaly rip the rod out of your hands. I happened to have my new 905-4 Tip Helios in the truck and thought it need a good breaking in. There is also the chance of hooking into some big carp, of which I broke 2 rods on last year.

We started off at a very frequented spot for local smallmouth anglers. Upon arriving we found suckers rising to something on the surface. I’m not sure if they were really eating off of the top or it was something to do with spawning. Anyways, on to the smallmouth. Doug started off the day picking up some decent smallies. I however could only manage to snag a few carp. Which can put up a very good fight, but aren’t as prestigous as a bronze back.

Doug proceeded to go on a pretty good tear of smallies. He even managed to hook into a 18 or 20 inch Rainbow, that was undoubtedly left over from a recent trout derby. I started to just chalk it up as one of those days. Then Doug made the mistake of turning the last pool over to me before we left. I proceeded to hook smallie after smallie as Doug watched. I think I brought 3 or 4 to hand before he was regreting his descision and trying to get a cast in. My tear continued as I picked off smallies in water that he had just covered. We caught a few more before moving on to another spot that I had luck in last year.

Spot number 2 started off a really slow. We both covered about a hald mile of stream before finding the mother load. It started off as one good smallmouth under a bridge that I had fished before. Then she hit like a ton of bricks and when that ton of bricks jumped out of the water, I about lost it. I was certain this was the biggest smallmouth I had ever caught. She put up a great fight, at one point wraping the line around a submerged log, but fortunately coming out of it. The nine foot five weight Helios was doubled completly in half. I finally managed to bring her to hand for a couple of pictures


The fly of the day was a tan Becks Super Bugger. The water was a bit on the cold side and the fish seemed to be sitting on the bottom. I didn’t catch a fish unless I was ticking the bottom. The fish were also in water depths of 3 to 5 feet just below a riffle, so longer leader was key to getting the fly on the bottom.


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