Tag Archives: Brown Trout

South Holston

The South Holston Tailwater near Bristol, Tennessee fished very well today while wading. There were size 20 BWO’s, size 30 grey Midges, size 26 Black Flies coming off as long as the sun was out. We had a brief cloudy spell just after lunch and the fish and bugs turned off, then around 2:00pm the sun came back out and the action was hot.
There were more of those beautiful South Holston browns caught than rainbows, probably a 66 2/3 to 33 1/3 ratio.
There was still some snow on the ground and ice around the edges of the river when we got there.
A couple of the flies used today

Thanks for reading
Randy Ratliff
Troutfishers Guide Service

facebookmailfacebookmail

What happened to 33 degrees!

Wow it was a frigid day on the Clinch. However we caught some fish and had a blast despite the cold temperatures. I don’t think it got above 30 degrees all day. Here is a few fish that fell for Pheasant Tails and Red Zebra Midges.


facebookmailfacebookmail

Cataloochee Creek GSMNP


Since Kris, Doug, Scott, and Brett are all away at Yellowstone, I figured it was incumbent on me to post an entry. While I won’t claim that I wouldn’t have joined them if I could have (I am 6 weeks from fatherhood right now), you don’t need to travel halfway across the country to find good fishing.

I spent this past weekend camping with Niki on Cataloochee Creek. This is without a doubt my favorite Smokies fishery. Cataloochee is less than a 2 hour drive from Knoxville, just over the NC line off I-40. However, once you make you way up the steep, winding gravel road you are in another world.


The Cataloochee Valley was once a thriving community in the days before the park. There are over a dozen historic homes and buildings still preserved for you to visit. There is a small National Park Campground (around 2 dozen sites) located right next to a section of the stream. It is also the epicenter of the elk restoration efforts in the Park, and these magnificent creatures frequently make an appearance in twighlight hours every evening for your viewing pleasure.


The stream is a true jewel. It is different than the typical Park stream in that it has a much lower gradient that you would find on the Little or Little Pigeon Rivers. It looks like an Adirondak stream in its quiet, vegetation canopied character.


All three species of wild trout can be found within its waters. Browns predominate, though there is a healthy population of rainbows as well. This is the first time I have failed to complete my slam with a brookie as well. (This brookie is from a previous trip)


Due to the predominance of foliage, and lack of large boulders to hide behind, you need to be comfortable with longer casts and stealty movement. However, your patience will often be rewarded as the fish here seem to be a little more gullible than your average park fish, likely as a result of the lower fishing pressure this creek sees.


There are an abundance of larger fish in this watershed as well. This past spring I caught my personal record for the park, a healthy 15″ brown. I have also caught a number of fish in the 10-12″ range, though the average fish is still about 7″.


What I like best about Cataloochee though is the fact that I feel like I am in another world when I camp there. There are nowhere near the crowds that you would find on the Tennesee side of the park. In fact, I did not see a single other fisherman while I was there this weekend. There are miles of water to fish, and the solitude and beauty are truly a thing to be treasured.


As I said, I would have loved to have been able to travel to Yellowstone with my fellow TN Trout Bums, I can hardly complain. Cataloochee Creek is a gem, and you don’t have to drive 3 days, or take an expensive airplaine trip to get there.

facebookmailfacebookmail

Not boxing the waders just yet! Caney Fork 08-24-08

On a whims notice we decided to float the Caney Fork today. Seeing as I’m headed out west for 9 whole days I just couldn’t bring myself to box the waders up for shipping two weeks early! My father, Doug Moore and myself all toted off to the Caney. We started off early floating from the dam to Happy Hollow at around 9:30am with the generators cutting at 10am.

Lemme tell you, when there pumping full steam, they are pushing some water! A sick amount of water…Not only were they pumping water they were sluicing as well to the tune of around 5300cfs (I think). At any rate the boat launch looked like a canoe/yak parking lot and everyone was looking at us and this funny looking boat! We quickly launched and I managed to snap a picture of the release as it was teetering off….that’s about a 15′ wall of water coming out! The wake was rising into the gun whales of the boat!

Flows from the dam.

The hatch we had to contend with all day! The big bug riding in the film behind Doug!

Just as the dam was almost out of sight they cut the water off and the current slowed slightly. Dad hooked into the first fish of the day in the first 15 minutes of our float! It put gigantic smiles on every ones faces as he had a FAT 16” brown tug tightly on his line!…………….Just about the time I started looking for my net! Oh crap, well so much for that….I forgot the silly thing at the house! You know that makes for a good day! Leave the net at home!

Here’s a shot of that beaut of a fish!

I believe I manned the oars till the halfway point of the float and Doug hadn’t managed anything off the back of the boat and wanted a break…So a break I gave him. I had probably been casting for around 30 minutes and stuck a pig of a male brownie. He put a nice bend in a 7wt Helios, and upon bringing him boat side he measured in at 20″! Beautiful coloration’s almost in full spawn colors!

Bending that 7wt Helios!

He’s forming what will one day be a nice ugly kipe!

This is for your Doug, I cropped you out of my fish picture just like you said I would!

Gosh, a trout makes anybody look good! HA HA!I relinquished the rod at this point hoping Doug would get the S word (no I’m not referring to the 4 letter version I’m referring to the 5 letter word that ends in K and stinks when you hit one with a car!) Your welcome Doug! If you all haven’t already figured it out we left with him getting the S word! We floated over some really nice fish all day! Several really large browns, and bows!

Dad managed to pick up some more nice fish throughout the day, all fat and ranging around the 10 to 14″ mark. Including one beautifully colored stocked tail water brookie…These guys were amazing…Everyone one that got brought to the boat was gorgeous!

Here’s some of that coloration!

A little of Doug’s handy work!

That fish landed dad his Caney Fork Slam! Here’s his bow!

Doug got tired of ripping streamers and handed the rod back to me and I finished my slam about an hour before we took out! Landing a bow and, believe it or not, a brookie on a streamer the same size as him!

Here’s one of my last fish for the day.

So all in all, we had a darn good day! We got off the river around 7ish and packed it back in to Knoxville! I immediately went and dropped the boat off then rushed to get all my gear together to ship out! We leave for Yellowstone in less than 10 days guys! I’m sure we will have some excellent reports then! We are going to be fishing the Yellowstone for 5 days and then switching to the Big Horn River in Montana (floating it) for our last three days there! My heart races faster and faster the more I think about it! I’ve been day dreaming about it for weeks! Until then guys!

~Brett

facebookmailfacebookmail

Watauga 4/28/2008

Mother nature did not seem to want to cooperate with us today. I awoke to rain at 6:00am. Rain however does not always mean bad fishing, in fact it was just two years ago when Doug and I fished a miserable rainy day that resulted with my biggest brown ever. With that in the back of my head I was ready and at the loft to meet Doug at 6:30am. After running to get the boat and pick up doug we were in route for the Watauga, trying to catch some of the experience that we had had last week.

When we finally got to the river to drop the boat in it was still pouring rain. The river was a bit cloudy, but not bad and we hoped the mud would hold off for the float. I was feeling good when after just five minutes we were hooked up with are first two fish of the day.

With the skunk off I moved the boat down to a good riffle that Doug and I knew held fish. They weren’t taking what we had at first. I re-rigged to a soft hackle pheasant tail and a mayfly emerger pattern that had been burning a hole in my fly box for almost three years. I picked the pattern up on a visit to Jackson WY and hadn’t used it since. However after seeing a pattern that Steven was fishing last week, it perked my interest again.

First cast, I hooked up! Great, we’re onto them. Eric’s first drift, fish on! I was now getting excited thinking I had them. Unfortunately a few more fish and they turned off. What the heck happened? I guess we just managed to catch all of the dumb ones.

The next good run drops off of a steep gravel bar to the left. After droping down it had hammered the boat into a small back eddy. Eric began casting to a good seem and instantly a good fish hit. Okay I though, we’ve found them. Not quite. The fishing slowed a bit and I hopped out of the boat to fish a side channel. Three fly rods at once get a bit crowded. I picked up three fish, but nothing of any size.

Getting back to the boat, I reassessed the situation and once again re-rigged with longer leader and more shot. It payed off with a nice fish once again.

By this time the water had got quite a bit muddy, We picked up a few fish here and there, before switching to a streamer. I had a few follows, and turned it over to Doug, so I could eat some lunch. Doug immeadeately started getting follows, but few hookups. That is usually how streamer fishing goes. The fish has to really want it, and when they do look out.

Doug picked up some really nice fish on streamers and we managed to salvage the trip.

facebookmailfacebookmail

Watauga 2/02/08

I got the opportunity to go back with Doug and Kris for another day on the water. We got started around 8:30 am and floated from the Elizabethton Launch. The day started at a bone chilling 24 degrees as we shuved off and started the float. There were a few trucks at the launch and 3 boats launched all around the time we started our drift. We knew it would be a good day, seeing as the high temperature was supposed to reach 55 degrees with clear skies.

The day started off the same as the last time we floated, maybe even a little slower. It started off slow but picked up rather nicely. We snagged decent fish at a moderate pace until making it down to the caddis riffle. Kris finished off his grand slam (a bow, a brown, and a brookie) just before coasting in. We anchored the boat and set off to wade in knee high and make waves in a different way.

Here’s some of that early action!

Here’s some of Kris’s handy work with the net!

Kris offering the fish a moment of peace. What dreams are made of!

Doug and Kris ventured downstream killing fish as fast as they could while I ventured upstream of the boat towards a slower moving but promising looking riffle. This seemed to pay off upon loosing half of my leader to a brute of a fish. I was a little disgusted, after losing my flies and having to wade into the hole to retrieve my indicator. After retrieving my indicator and re-rigging I made a long cast above the riffle and floated it through. I felt the tug and on pursued a good fight. I brought to hand a solid and extremely fat 15, or so, inch fish.


Now, after making the initial probe with a hook up, I knew it was time to get serious and make the cast I wanted to take. The seam of the riffle where I knew a big fish would lie. The cast was made, a steady drift followed, then a very abrubt stop with a dissapearance of my indicator followed. Hooooook settt, I believe I murmurmed to myself. This 18” fish, set of with an arial display, followed by several rolls, and consistant dives to the bottom and back into the current. I yelled down to Kris “This is a good one!” Kris started towards me, as I brought the fish to net. In the process of landing and hook removal my camera decided to make a sacraficial leap of faith. Damn! Luckily the camera strap somehow managed to land on my pinky finger but didn’t manage to prevent the camera from taking a bath. Damn again! Kris came to my aid, and was also kind enough to snap a picture or two. Though I will say the picture is a less then desirable picture of myself. But that’s not why where here and I’m not posing for PlayGirl anywho! No, I wasn’t sneezing, I believe I was saying “Huh?”

Either way here’s the fish porn.


We settled back into our slots. All three of us had a section of water we were working when it happened. TRIPLE! I beleive Doug shouted when I hooked up on a fish. Doug and Kris were both in mid fight when I hooked into another fish making Doug shout “Triple!” That’s a good feeling and I would imagine that it doesn’t happen all that often on the Watauga in 30 degree weather. I managed around 8 to 10 fish from my little honey hole, and I believe they both managed at “least” 10 fish a peice, from their little section of river. By this point and time I’ve witnessed a grand slam, a fish over 20, and now a triple. Not much else to do now but enjoy the rest of the float downstream!

I did get to enjoy the rest of that float and even got the opportunity to row Doug’s new Hyde Low Pro. I will say I had an idea of rowing and thought I knew how easy it would be. I started off just trying to move the paddles in sync, a feat in itself! I never moved the boat in circles and it’s definately something that takes a little muscle memory. It’s alot more sensitive than it looks like it would be and takes a little coordination. It was nice to get to sit down and give it a try. Now, I just have to work on getting one of my own. I managed to row in a straight line for about 100 yards before finally kicking the boat around to float forwards and anchor off. We stopped at a good riffle that was already tied up with another boat and it’s fisherman. Doug and I stayed in the boat, while Kris got out and worked down to the other guys. Doug’s ankle was hurting, and I was just completely satisfied with what we had already accomplished. Kris worked the riffle where the other two guys where and we floated down to pick him up. We worked another good section of water, picking up a few more fish before settling down on another good spot while in the boat.

Kris and Doug managed quite a few nice fish in a sweeping, slower, deeper run of a riffle. I managed myself out of the boat and downstream of the guys. Something I forgot to mention, is somewhere between the campground and my current location I had lost my only working fly. I got a few hits the rest of the day but nothing seemed to locate fish the rest of the day, at least for me.

Here is a pic, courtesy of Kris, of Doug’s fish.


We floated on down through the last sections of water picking up another fish or two. We passed two anglers hooking up on every cast. We anchored off about 50 yards past them to see if we could manage the action ourselves. I re-rigged while Kris hooked up on a few more good fish and I believe I even managed one or two more.

Here’s a picture of one of my last fish of the day.

We anchored up and floated down to the steam plant to pack in for the day. I believe we pulled the boat out around 6:00pm, and talked to a few guys about their day on the water. No one really complained and there was three smiles on three individuals faces for sure. Over all, it was an excellent winter day on the Watauga. One that won’t be soon forgotten. Everyday that I get to spend on the water, is building a lifetime worth of memories and something to pass on to my friends and family.

~Brett

facebookmailfacebookmail

9/6/2006 Little River GSMNP

I managed to get away for a day fishing with Tim Doyle. Tim is a good friend and local guide. He runs Smoky Mountain Flywerks guide service. We started out the day throwing big terestrials to over hangs and under cuts. This is one of Tims specialties and I learned a lot of great tips. My first fish was a 13 inch brown trout. This was my largest fish to date in the GSMNP. We continued fishing and ended up in a very well known place that holds some large browns.

After Tim caught a couple I started fish some likely spots. I had absolutely no looks and started working my way up stream. I was looking upstream and a flash of white caught my eye. I froze to get a better look. What I saw astounded me as the largest brown I have ever seen appeared before my eyes. He was lodged in a large slot on the stream bottom. I yelled at Tim, is that a fish. Your “F”ing right thats a fish he replied. Tim immeadeately knew what was on the menu.

While I stayed frozen, he placed two flies on a stick and threw it out to me. Hands trembling I tied on the two flies. On top was a small girdle bug and on bottom was a size sixteen bead head pheasant tail nymph. After four drifts the brown looked as though he had eaten and I set the hook, but nothing was there. At this point I was completly frazzled, hands trembling and my heart was ready to jump out of my chest. I took a couple seconds to recoupe. Three drifts later he ate and the party was on. He came to the surface and shook his in fustration. After a couple of good runs I managed to beach him in a small back eddy. This was my second fish and now largest fish to date in GSMNP.



facebookmailfacebookmail