Category Archives: Tennessee Fly Fishing

Who needs to go out west when you have the South Holston

Really, I get the same comments all of the time. Those comments are; “Where do you fly fish around here?”, “I can’t wait to go out west.” and “It’s just different out west”. Most of the time these folks have never fished the South Holston or Watauga tailwaters, or if they have, they have not ventured far from the popular areas such as the weir dam where the crowds are.

We are very fortunate in Tennessee to have some true gems such as the South Holston and Watauga tailwaters. You can get a true western fly fishing experinence right here in the east. Especially if your willing to take off during the week and either do some hiking, floating or hire one of our local guides, you can really get away from everything. The day we took these pictures we saw only one other boat and two wade fisherman all day. Pretty awesome if you ask me, oh and we caught a bunch of fish too.

We also got an odd surprise by the last picture. I think it is a Lake Trout, but not quite sure. I guess it may have come up from Boone Lake or gotten stocked by accident by TWRA.

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The Clinch gives up another surprise!

Made it out to fish with a friend that happened to be passing through town.  I had a mid-term to study for, so I could only fish half of the day .  We decided on the Clinch as it is only about 20 minutes from the house.  Plus, it has been giving up some really chunky fish this year.  The fishing was slow at first, but as the fog burned off we got into some really fat Rainbows.  Indicator nymph rigs produced with pheasant tails winning over zebra midges again. 

The big surprise came towards the end of the day when TJ stuck a really nice rainbow.  As he was fighting it to the boat, I hear him start to holler, so I jump out of the rowers seat to see a HUGE striper trying to eat his rainbow.  It was very exciting for a couple of seconds.  TJ said the striper at one point actually had the fish about half way in his mouth.  Also this was no dinker rainbow, it was a 17 1/2 incher (we taped it)!

It never fails, just when the day seems like it will turn out to be normal, something like this happens.  I guess it is things like this that keep me coming back.  You never know what is around the corner.

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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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Clinch River Heats Up

The generation on the Clinch has not been the best this year due to very high water.  In addition to work, I have also been working on my MBA through Tennessee Tech, which has limited the amount of fishing that I’ve been able to do.  So this last weekend was a great treat.  I had worked all Memorial Day weekend, so I managed a five day weekend off.  Also my mother and father were going to come down on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The plan was for my father and I to fish on Friday, so I figured I should do some pre-fishing on Wednesday and Thursday, as a good son should.

We are also in the middle of heat wave so I opted to only fish for about six hours or so in the morning so that I would be off the water by noon and could get some things done around the house the later part of the day.  Oh the joys of home ownership and having a beatiful yard of clover!

On Wednesday I fished by myself out of the drift boat which is not really the easiest thing to do.  Trying to man the oars, control the anchor and cast to rising fish while floating down a moving river is somewhat complicated.  The best way that I’ve found is to cast way infront of the boat then drift with your fly while you have the rod proped up with your feet.  Also, of course you can anchor up in good riffles and fish them the way you normally would.  Just a note, but landing bigger fish from a boat with a 9′ 4wt. and 6X tippet by yourself is a little tricky, make sure you have the big net.

The conditions Thursday were going to be the same as the day before, but this time I had two friends that were coming along.  Mike and I had fished together before, but David the other gentleman had not fly fished in over fifty years.  I really wanted to get David on a fish, but it was great to hear his past fishing stories also.  I wish I could go back in time and fish some of the places I fish today before they ever became popular.  Some of them wouldn’t probably exist, but others would be lights out.

The fishing Thursday was pretty good and really heated up during a one hour pulse that came through.  I think that little bit of increased flow really makes the trout happy.  We landed some nice fish and lost even nicer ones, but that’s how it goes.  If I landed every big fish I hooked, what fun would it be.

On to the last day, Friday, again the conditions were pretty much the same as the last two days.  We opted again to fish in the morning as to get off the water before the heat set in.  My father has only done a little bit of fly fishing and not caught much.  Today however was a little different.  We caught some good fish early in the day, but the highlight was the one that got away.  Towards the end, my dad hooked a monster Rainbow Trout!  We fought it for a good bit, but right at the end the big Rainbow  made one last ditch dive under the boat and spit the hook.  So goes it, but I’ll be back.

The Clinch is fishing good and the river really seems to have some great fish in it right now.  We caught all of our fish on Split Case Sulphurs size 16 and 18, Black Zebra Midges size 18 and 20 and Bead Head Pheasant Tails 14 to 18.  If you are needing a guide for the Clinch check out the following CR Outfitters and Smoky Mountain Gillies.

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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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Spring Fishing Report Southeastern Style!

Spring

                       Fishinghttp://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/woolly_bugger/jpeg1-1.jpg

                                             Report

                                                                       Southeastern Style…

Hiwassee River Update…We have a great spring situation occurring on the river now. TVA is doing some work to the penstock in Apalachia Lake so we are getting a constant flow from the dam which is the equivalence of between one and two turbines. This should persist through April and is a perfect flow to fish the upper river from the powerhouse to Reliance and the middle section. We very rarely have these flows. I believe it has been about eight years since the last opportunity. What this means is we get to fish the upper and middle sections from the drift boats and that is where the best mayfly action occurs. We have Hendricksons with caddis mixed in turning to Sulphurs late April into May.

http://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/woolly_bugger/jpeg1.jpg Bottom of the World Almost…Our Patagonia trip this past February was fantastic as always. The fishing is always epic, but what makes it so special are the people and the place. We have a great group go every year and this year’s group from across the country was no exception. Our Chilean hosts and local guides are some of the most hospitable on earth and the country is mysteriously enchanting with another stream or river around every corner.

Chile is home to some of the world’s best and least explored trout fishing. We continue to fish new water every year. Plans are already underway for our 2012 trip which happens to be the big hatch year for the Cantaria beetle; a fierce looking but harmless insect, up to 4.5 inches in length and a favorite meal for the rainbows and browns. Join us for the fun next year.

The Crystal Ball -Trout Fishing in the Southeastern U.S….Every year about this time people start asking, “How is the fishing going to be this year?” Well, one thing is for certain – every year is different. But based on our winter and early spring weather summary, we are set up for one of the best seasons in east Tennessee and north Georgia. We had a good cold winter with rain and snow which provided us a stable supply of cold water for our mountain trout streams and a cold water reserve in our reservoirs. We have had an extremely wet March which has given us quick lake fill in the TVA reservoirs. So, we should have good stable and predictable flows for spring into summer. Combine all of that with the fact that our trout went through minimal stress last summer and fall and it all adds up to some good rod bending in 2011.
Southeastern Anglers Update…We are celebrating our 12th year as the premier drift boat guide service in the Southeastern USA. We are proud to be able to say that we have been around for a while. It all equates to experience and knowledge on the water and a high quality experience for you, the angler. Take a moment and visit our new website www.southeasternanglers.com. We have added some new services and faces, all without increasing prices for 2011. One great new feature is our new PCI compliant credit card processing system. For only $15.00 per transaction you can be assured that your trip payment via MasterCard or Visa gives you full identity theft protection. The Fishing Reports tab will be updated weekly with “what’s going on.” You can follow us on FB, twitter, or as an RSS feed to stay in the know.

Captain Dane Lawhttp://i686.photobucket.com/albums/vv230/woolly_bugger/png1.png

423-338-7368 / 770-655-9210 (cell)
danelaw@southeasternanglers.com
www.southeasternanglers.com

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March Madness!

Saturday started out like what seemed to be any other day on the South Holston. As my best friend and fishing buddy cruised from Greeneville towards the river, we were full of excitement and nervous energy. Knowing that all the other streams in the area were gonna be off limits for the day, the South Holston offered two trout bums the chance to float high water, deep nymphing the clearer upper river then swapping over to big nasty streamers in the deeper darker water.

When we got to the launch at Emmett Bridge our hearts sank. There were so many boat trailers in the parking lot that after we launched I rowed across the river to pick up Jake Mullins, from the parking lot at the grates.(which itself was nearly full of raft and drift boat trailers) Once on the water Captain Jake guided his Clacka in and out of boat traffic. A lot of our prime spots already taken and boats waiting to take them again. So I was forced to nymph fish other seams and holes that weren’t as familiar to me. I was running a 9ft 5x leader with a huge SG shot nearly 10 inches above a Cream colored caddis larva. Below the rock worm hung a SZ 18 pheasant tail, which seemed to work well in the upper part of the river. Pulling a few fish on board and watching countless others disappear as they flashed as if to say “goodbye boys you should have been watching that indicator, instead of telling that tale”.

After we floated past the cul-de-sac my streamer itch just had to be scratched. So I asked Jake to hand me the “big stick”! The 7wt Hydros was ready for deployment. I had chosen a super nasty Kelly Galloup pattern, that we had picked up last July in Wyoming. After the Galloup’s TA Bunker went to work, Jake and I were back where we seem to be every weekend, chucking big nasty streamers to our East Tennessee brown trout. And within minutes it paid off! Two fish swirled and refused the pattern before a nice, solid browny took the fly. We were like two little kids with a new toy, and the dark deep streamer water had just began. A nice 18 incher inhaled the Bunker just off the bank above Rivers Way. After a 20 minute fight in heavy current, and a boat chase that ended just upstream of Hickory tree bridge, we had another but quite a bit larger sample of the South Holston’s brown trout population in the net.

After floating past Jack Prater’s house, Jake couldn’t take it anymore. He gave up his seat at the oars, which I gladly took, after my morning I was perfectly content to row the Clacka the remainder of the day. He swapped the fly for the soon to be famous “trashy pole dancer” patent pending. And we were amazed as brown trout gave chase to this brain child of Jake’s that had worked beautifully a few weeks before on the Watauga river. After a few short strikes, and tons of interested but wary fish, Jake went back to the bunker. The solitude of pre-spring on the river was shattered by a shout from the front of the boat. “HOLY @!#$”, I sank the oars deep and pulled back hard to try to slow the boat as the hydros bent double! No sooner than we realized what had happened….. the leader snapped. And we stared helplessly as one of the largest brown trout I have ever seen, slipped backwards into the depths of the dark water. Shaking his head side to side with the Bunker inside his mouth. Jake quickly said “Hurry dude I need another one”! I replied, “Man I think that was my last one”. After a desperate gear search we managed to find one more Bunker hidden in a secret stash, well used to be secret stash in my boat bag.

He fished the Bunker hard for the rest of the float. Fighting the strong wind and the nagging taunts from his oarsman that kept reminding him of the one that got away. A couple of very nice brown trout later, and countless curious fish that wouldn’t fall for the bunker, we arrived at Rock Hold. Which was our scheduled take out for the day. However the excitement was far from over! A snapping turtle had decided to make the ramp his place of choice, to soak up the last few rays of sun, before the shadows took over the river bank. After a few fun snapshots and stories of the monster still lurking in the depths, we decided that it was time to travel back to Greeneville.

Days on the river are always an adventure. Whether it be mother nature or swarms of fishermen instead of flies. Sometimes the obstacles that we look at as a challenge, force us to explore other sides, seams, and parts of the water. A beautiful day with a friend like Jake, will always be a joy. And a friend as crazy about the sport as I am makes it easy to always find a reason to hit the water. I am reminded of a famous quote that seems to sum up all the excitement and wonder that March Madness on the South Holston brings. “Perhaps fishing is, for me, only an excuse to be near rivers”. -Roderick Haig-Brown-

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Watuaga Rain Day

Not every day on the water can be great.  Some days it is just nice to be out in the sun, floating down a river.  Other days you can have horrible conditions and the epic fishing makes it unforgettable.  Those are the days that keep us going back.  Sunday was one of those days.  It rained virtually all day.  It was a classic Blue Wing Olive day, overcast and rainy.  Not too much rain that you couldn’t fish but just enough to keep things interesting.

 The day started out with a little nymph fishing.  We were using  a big pheasant tail and midge dropper under an indicator.  The water was a little stained so we went a little larger on our fly size than we would have normally.  Once the rain started, the blue wing’s began to hatch and we switched over to dry dropper rigs, using a split case bwo as our nymph.  It was pretty easy picking off fish and the rain allowed us to get fairly close without spooking them with the boat.  Jake and Clay had good luck using a san juan and midge I believe.  They also threw streams and picked up some good fish. 

Towards Afternoon we watched Jake land a pig on a new streamer that he tied.  It looked kind of girly to tell you the truth.  Soon after the rain really started to pour and we all hunkered down under tree  while enjoying a few beverages and telling too many lies.  Upon starting to fish again I asked to borrow one of Jake’s girly streamers.  Then wouldn’t you know the darned thing worked like a charm!  I guess he might be on to something.  No, really Jake is a pretty darned talented fly tier and fisherman.  I am envious of his upcoming summer job also.

To sum things up, it was a grat day despite the rainy conditions and  we had a blast.  I wish every trip could be that good.

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A taste of spring

I made it out and fished the Clinch on Friday with a couple of friends. The fishing was not great to say the least but we had a great time anyways. I was just happy to be floating down the river again.

We only landed a dozen fish, but a couple were really nice. The highlight was when I stuck a little rainbow and this huge brown trout came after it like he was gonna eat it!

Flies of the day were red and black zebras in size 18 to 20. No real surprise there.

It’s gonna be a great weekend so I hope everyone has the chance to hit the water.

Tightlines!

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Orvis – Sevierville Seminars

Free Seminars

Saturday, February 12th
1PM – 2PM
Holston River Fly Patterns
Join us for a free fly tying demonstration on some of our favorite Holston River flies.  Also, you probably haven’t heard of the Fielden Caddis before.  We finally have convinced Brad to share his best and personal caddis pattern with everyone else.  Come learn to tie this deadly pattern for yourself.

Saturday, February 26th
11AM – 2PM
Free Beginner Fly Tying 101 – sign up required
There’s no feeling more rewarding in fly fishing than catching a fish on a fly you’ve tied yourself. Orvis instructors will teach the basic techniques and essential skills in the art of fly tying.  This is a 3 hour class and is limited to the first 6 individuals that sign up.  Please call us at (865) 774-4162 to reserve your seat!

Saturday, March 12th   
1PM – 2PM
Staff Favorite Smoky Mountain Patterns
Join us for a free fly tying demonstration.  Our fly fishing staff will share some of their personal Smoky Mountain fly variations.  We promise they will catch fish and you probably haven’t seen our variations.

Saturday, March 26th
11AM – 2PM
Free Beginner Fly Tying 201 – sign up required
This is an extension of Fly Tying 101 and we will build on the techniques we learned last month.  This is a 3 hour class and is limited to the first 6 individuals that sign up.  Please call us at (865) 774-4162 to reserve your seat!

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