It has been good wading the past week on the South Holston near Bluff City, Tennessee. It has been Mercer’s Micro Mayfly in the soft riffles. The rainbows are colored up and spawning. Those beautiful deep crimson red stripes and fins make you truly appreciative of God’s work.
Tuesday was absolutely beautiful! Great sun, nice breeze and perfect temperatures. I love fishing in the fall. I met up with an old fishing buddy and the original plan was to fish the Clinch, however TVA had different ideas for us. We ended up driving up to the South Holston for the day as it was conducive to floating, plus I had been hearing of some great reports from other anglers and guides.
We put on the river around 9:30am and there were risers every where. Tiny BWO’s seemed to do the trick. Once the water came up the fishing slowed a bit. Towards early afternoon we got to a good riffle section and started getting into a bunch of fish. Every good pocket held a few nice fish.
Not long after fishing through the riffle, the water started to drop out and around 4pm we started to see a lot of rising fish. There was a combination of BWO’s, Sulphurs, Crane flies and Caddis hatching. Jake caught fish on BWO’s and I caught them on dry/dropper rigs. It turned out to be a great end to a day that had started off slow. We both rode home with smiles on our faces.
Wednesday I got up on the South Holston to fish with Randy Ratliff of Troutfishers Guide Service, . They were going to start generating around 9am and we were on the water by 9:30am. Randy has a sweet wooden drift boat that he does some of his float trips with.
We started off with some double nymph rigs and immedeatly started sticking some smaller fish, which gets the day rolling and gets the skunk off. We nymphed for a good bit early on untill we ran across a few rising fish up under some over hanging trees. We through beatles, sulphurs and soft hackles, but couldn’t by a look. Then just as we started to pick up the anchor I stuck a little brown on a soft hackle.
After lunch we switched over to streamers and got some fairly consistent follows and picked up a few fish here and there. Towards the end of the day we got into some really nice pods of decent fish that were following and swiping at our streamers.
It was not a spectacular day but a very good day of fishing with a new friend.
Made to the Watauga two weeks in a row. I had a regular customer, Ken, who had just purchased a new Orvis Zero Gravity Helios, this rod has been getting crazy reviews. Ken had never fished the Watauga or out of a boat. He purchased the rod to take out west this summer. I didn’t think the rod should sit in the closet until his Montana trip, so I invited him to go fish the Watauga from Dong’s drift boat. Also along for the ride was Clay Aalders Owner/Guide of Smoky Mountain Gillies. Clay hasn’t been guiding much because of the weather, so we’ve had the opportunity to fish together quite a bit.
The day started out really cold and unfortunately stayed that way. We were busting ice off of the guides untill about 1pm. Luckily the wind wasn’t howling and the sun would poke through the clouds a little giving us a short burst of warmth. We started fishing around 9:30am and I worked the boat fairly quickly down to the the old River Ridge campground, so that we could get out and do a little wade fishing.
Once down to the River Ridge area, Clay and Ken quickly began picking up fish on caddis pupa patterns. Fish ranged from 10 to 14 inches. We all consistently hooked fish for about 2 hours before moving down stream a little to the Caddis riffles. When we got down to the Caddis riffles we noticed one boat parked on top of them. Not usually a bad sign, but this boat had passed us almost 2 hours prior, so I’m sure the hammered the fish. All the same we stopped to fish it anyways.
I didn’t expect the fising to be off the hook, but to my surprise we all started catching fish. Both Ken and myself caught our biggest fish and we had a double. To add to the excitement, Clay completed his slam. I guess the group before us hadn’t spooked the fish as bad as I and feared. Fishing the rest of the day was a little slow, but I think everyone had already had a banner day and the rest was icing on the cake.
The flies of the day were Rubber Legged Copper John, IKO Caddis Pupa, and Cased Caddis. Fish to boat were in the 60 range and 10 to 16 inches. Another good day on the water with better friends.
Alright, so if you read the last post our previous trip didn’t go so well, but it was a good learning experience. I’m not sure what I learned though. Clay and Sean proably learned not to go on wild goose chases with me.
So I’ve had some really good days on the Caney Fork the last couple of months and in talking with Clay, he was wanting to check it out for himself. With that we decided to hit up the Caney Fork. We left Knoxville around 7am and got to the Caney around 8am, due to the time difference. I missed the exit for the dam and proceeded to the next exit. We took the round about way and I showed Clay the Betty’s Island access along with a few others. We took a tour of the dam and looked at the crazy leaks coming out of the bluff, which always makes me a bit uneasy, untill I start thinking about the fishing and forget about the possibility of being washed away.
We stoped first at a pull off along Lancaster Road that I had never fished before. As we were rigging up we could see some fish rising on the far bank. After climbing down to the river we saw that the fish were rising to some very small midges. We both tried some nymph rigs to start with, but that produced no results, so we switched to some small Griffs Gnats and began picking up a few small fish. About this time it started sleeting and the hoods came up. A little while later I switched to a dry dropper rig. My dry was a large Parachute Adams and the dropper was Bead Head Pheasant Tail type nymph tied by Steven “Bubba” Dark. I think he calls this one Just Add Water and that is about the truth. I stuck a few more small bows before heading off to another location farther down Lancaster Road.
Our day almost came to an abrupt end as we had placed our rods in the back of my truck with the bed topper propped up. I thought it would stay in the raised position as we drove down the road a few hundred yards, but due to the high winds I was wrong. I looked back to see that the bed cover was no longer in the up position and for a second I thought of not even telling Clay and just driving home, as I envisioned our rod tips dangling by a bit of fly line and leader. I gave in and pulled over very quickly, we both expected to find two broken rods, but to our surprise they were both okay. I guess the fishing gods had blessed us this day.
Okay, disaster adverted and on to the fishing. This second location is a spot that I had witnessed some very large browns spawing back in the fall. After getting into position we found some very nice sized fish rising to emergers and small midges. Rigged with dry dropper rigs we began to pick off fish after fish. At times they were rising all around us. Nothing gets my heart racing more than seeing fish sip dries off of the surface. We both caught some very nice fish during the small hatch. Afterwards I started getting a little creative and swung a Wiggle Minnow down the entire run. I didn’t get any firm hook ups but I did get five or six very aggresive follows. Oh I also didn’t mention the twenty mile per hour wind gusts, the fish didn’t mind and we didn’t mind as long as they were on the end of our line, but it did make things difficult at times.
This trip turned out the be very successfull and I’d say we landed around fifty fish toghether with a few really nice ones tossed in the mix. The Caney Fork surprises me every time I go and I always leave planning my next trip.
Well, I can’t think of a better way to start the year off than by hitting the river with new and old friends. The day started out before light, hitching the boat up and heading out towards JC to hit the Mighty Watauga. The generators were off and reports had been coming in all week of pigs being caught…nuff said. Kris and I had planned on fishing all week…something that doesn’t happen very often anymore with our conflicting work schedules. And after some arm twisting, new friend Romer agreed to come along. I’d met Brett sometime ago while working at Orvis and was more than happy to have him along. Since the recent closing of the campground at the start of the “quality zone” the usual half day trip from the campground to the bridge is no more. So, we decided to put in at the TVA access and float down to Persinger Bridge. Although I’m pretty sure that this spring with hold some insane fishing due to the closure and lower wade fishing pressure, I liked the old way, being able to fish the lower section more thoroughly. But anyway…we’ll see. Back to the fishing, it was alittle slow at first. We spoke with another drifter and he said that the day before was slow until the sun hit and warmed the water alittle. He was right on. We really didn’t catch much of anything until things warmed up and even after than it wasn’t the typical “knock your waders off” type of action usually found there. Kris had a nice catch site fishing a slower section. There were a couple nice fish probably 18 and 20 inches respectively feeding at the bottom just behind a small shoal. Brett and I both saw the fish and the take. Kris saw the fish but has learned to just watch the indicator. Things went slow-mo, then…fish on. I had my shining moment when we anchored up just below smallings bridge. I probably caught 8-10 fish in a matter of thirty minutes. Just had the right combination at the right time. One of those times where you just, “act like you’ve been there.” Romer tied into several nice fish throughout the day and really started to figure ’em out through the shoals. Romer is a great caster and a hell of a fisherman…and welcome in my boat any day…Just have to get him up to speed at the oars.
I don’t care what anyone says…fishing from a drift boat is a different ball game. Yes, it is (imho) more fun and you can more easily fish the entire river, but everything from your length of cast to mending to constantly changing flies due to the constant changing river bottom can be alittle over whelming the first time out. That being said, when everything comes together it’s a beautiful thing. Just one more facet of this addiction we call flyfishing.
One side note:
Kris actually stayed awake the whole ride home!!!