Tag Archives: Pheasant Tails

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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Size doesn’t matter with a skunk on your back

Okay…go ahead and admit it.  You’ve been guilty of wishing for a small fish.  Sure, we all hop in the water with visions of one of those grip and grin laviathans that will make us the envy of all our angling buddies.  We picture the perfect hookset, the admirable fight, the headfirst guide into the net, a smattering of accolades from angls who saw the whole thing and were impressed by your skill.

Then the real world hits…

You’ve been fishing for four hours and haven’t got so much as a twitch.  Nada.  Nothing.  It is around this time, when you can see the end of your trip in the distance, that you are just wanting to get the skunk off your back, just one fish to justify the trip, just one fish to put a bend in the rod; even if the fish is so small that the rod only bends a couple of inches from the tip.  It is moments like that when you don’t really want to impress anyone, you just don’t want to be the poor schmuck who leaves without anything.  This usually occurs when those around you are catching a few.  Pride has a way of making us ruthless in our desire not to be odd man out.

Recently, I was on such a trip, in this exact set of circumstances.  I was fishing with my ol’ buddy Jermz, who by the way is one of the most prolific anglers I have ever seen.  I’ve even seen him catch fish literally right on top of his boot in six inches of water.  Love the guy, but sometimes I just wish I’d see him get skunked.

To continue with the story…I got to the river at around six, full of the aforementioned thoughts of glory.  He showed up about fifty yards down stream three hours later.  I had yet to get a bump.  Not fifteen minutes later and he has an impressive bend in his rod.  So, in line with these modern times, I broke the anglers code and called him on my cell phone.

“Hey man!”, he says full of glee.
“What did you catch that one on?”
“Pheasant Tail”
“Thats what I am using and haven’t caught any.”
“C’mon down!”

So, with my tail between my legs, I wade downstream.  He caught three more by the time I arrived.

Two hours at least pass and I reached the point where I was just hoping for a minnow.  Then I notices a healthy Sulphur hatch.  Of course, I had no Sulphurs.  The only thing I had close in color was a size 14 Yellow Humpy.  Not exactly matching the hatch.

Three or four unproductive casts, and then it happened.  WHAM!!!! A trout that we both agreed would go t least 24 inches came roaring skyward with my fly in its jaw.  I set the hook and the fight was on…for all of about five seconds.  That beast snapped 5x tippet without slowing down.  Never even got him turned.  He felt the hook and just took off.  I was left shaking and empty handed.

“My God that was a monster!” He says.

“I never had a chance.”

“He was so big he could hardle get airborne.”

“Yep.”

In the next two hours, neither of us got another hit.  Storms rolled in.  The day was done.

No, I didn’t catch a single fish.  I left with the skunk I rode in on.  But that morning, I hooked a fish of impressive length and girth in full view of one of the most respected anglers in my circle of friends.  If only for five seconds, I was on top of the world, and I had a story to tell.  A story to tell with a witness.  Sometimes that is enough.  Even though the smell of fish was absent as I slid into my ride and headed home.

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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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Clank and Topper fish the Clinch 5/30/10







Happy Memorial Day. I want to thank those who have given their lives and those who put their lives at risk to give me the freedom to be a Trout Bum.

I hope everyone has been able to hit the water at some point this weekend. I got to spend the day on the Clinch with Doug “Topper” Moore. While I am a competent guide on the Clinch and I know the river fairly well, Doug has logged many more hours on the river both guiding and fishing than I have.

The TVA was giving us a recreational release schedule today. The water was off until 10am, they ran 1 generator from 10am-2pm, and kicked on a second at 2. This is the ideal schedule to do a Peach Orchard to Hwy 61 float. Conditions were perfect. There was thick fog on the water, and pretty solid overcast above. We put on about 8:30am and threw dry dropper rigs as we floated down to the first shoals. This is usually a productive stretch, but we only caught one on the way down. However, once we reached the shoals things started to pick up. We started to catch fish on a PT nymph dropped about 24″ below an elk-hair caddis. We also picked up a few on a double nymph rig in some of the deeper slots. A had my grand slam (Brown, Rainbow, and Brookie) completed by 10am or so.


We picked our way through the shoals and continued picking up fish in both the tailing riffles and flat water. Hitting the edges of structure is always a good idea, and this proved true today as well. The water reached us in the vicinity of Coldwater Farm, and things just got better. We caught fish on dry/dropper rigs, double-nymph rigs, and even picked a few on a small olive bunny streamer on a sinking line.

The sulphurs started to pop shortly after and fish started to rise. We might have done well if we switched to sulphur dries, but the PT nymph was producing so well that we never bothered. A few fish even rose and took the Elk-hair.




Sight-fishing to rising trout is one of the most exciting ways to fish. We would see a rise, cast about 6 feet above it, and when the nymph drifted by the fish would usually take it. When it started to rain the fishing got even better.

We lost track of the number of fish we boated, but it was several dozen between us. The majority were in the 12-15″ range, but we caught several larger fish between 15-18″. All in all a fantastic day on the River with a great friend.

If you can get out tomorrow, I would highly recommend it.

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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.


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Holidays and Fishing

Working retail during the holidays is extremely busy. When I finally got some days off to visit with family and do a little fishing it was long awaited. I was able to get on the river with an old friend and do some fishing. It was a great day on the water.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Clinch Sept. 13th and 16th

Wow, I’ve managed to get on the water a good amount so far this month and the fishing has been good. What makes it better is I have been able to share it with quite a few of my friends.

On the 13th I fished with Chad and Brad. Chad works part-time at the store and Brad works full-time. Even though Brad and I work together quite a bit, we usually work opposing schedules, so we have coverage in the fishing department at all times. This makes it hard to get away and fish together.

Chad with a nice Bow

On the 16th I had an old fraternity brother, who was in town with the family, and was able to get away for a day. I hadn’t seen Brent since his wedding 4 or 5 years ago and it was good to catch up and talk about the college days.

Both days we got on the water around 9am. The 13th was nice and sunny and the 16th was rainy and over cast. We caught good fish both days. Before the water came up we fished dry/dropper rigs, casting to the midging fish. After the water came up we would switch to heavier double nymph rigs with larger flies. I also had a couple of fish chase streamers on the 16th. So I’m excited to pursue some more streamer fishing next trip out.

Brent’s big Bow

Also on the sixteenth Brent landed his first Brook Trout and first Brown Trout ever. Plus he had a grand slam before we even made it to the first riffle below Peach Orchard. None of them were big, but it didn’t matter. Then later towards the end of the float he caught one of his largest Rainbows ever on a fly rod. It was very cool for me to have just been there to see it.

Brent’s Clinch Slam!
Brent’s Clinch Slam

Brad with a nice fish

I caught a few too

I have been amazed at every trip to the Clinch this year. The river is amazing and it shows me something new every time I go. I have been having a lot of fun fishing it this year and can’t wait to see what it holds this winter.

Tightlines,
Kris Maurer

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Clinch River August 4th

A day that we could do no wrong. It is not very often that you have a day where everything comes together perfectly. The type of day that the fish cooperate and every fly that you pick seems to be the ticket. When those days happen you need to take advantage and really enjoy them. The only thing that makes it better is being able to enjoy it with friends.

It has been a few weeks since I last floated the Clinch. The rain and high water and possibly need for increased electricity had TVA running almost constantly. The flows are back to being conducive to floating and Doug and myself had the day off, so it seemed like a good idea to float. Coincidentally I had a new associate, John, start at the store and we invited him along as well.

We got on the water around 9:00am after having to weave the drift boat in between two bait fisherman’s cars. I don’t have anything against bait fisherman, but wish they would practice proper boat ramp etiquette. Anyways as soon as we got pushed off we started catching fish on dry dropper rigs. We stuck fish consistently all the way to first set of riffles. So consistently that Doug had landed 20 fish by the time we got to the first set of riffles and reluctantly handed the rod over to me so I could get off the oars. John had also landed a good amount, but was still getting some of the cob webs knocked off.

Doug and I continued to switch off about every dozen fish, which on this day didn’t take too long. Since John was the newbie he got the front of the boat pass. All newbies get this the first time, and if they fair well, they’ll get to row from them on.

Around noon we stopped for lunch and Doug got out to do a little wade fishing. I should say wet wading and for those of you that have fished the Clinch that is a cold proposition. While I was eating my sandwich I think I must have seen him land at least 8 fish!

Just as soon as we had pushed off John hooked up with a huge fish. All I saw was a gigantic brown tail flash as John set the hook. I thought this was the brown of a lifetime, but as it streaked by the boat I saw it’s big scales. It was a very nice carp. Although John had my 8’4″ 3wt Helios! in his hands with 6X tippet. I honestly thought there was no way we would land it, but I did my best to keep close to it with the boat as John played it perfectly. After a good fight we brought the bruiser to the net. Nothing better than a carp on a Midge with 6X tippet and a 3wt!

Just past Cold Water we got a text from Doug’s girlfriend saying that severe thunderstorms were heading our way. Honestly at this point we had caught more fish than should be allowed and we reeled in our rods and headed for the take out. We had been lucky enough all day and did not want to tempt our luck any longer. This had been one incredible day that will be remembered for a while.

Tips from the Trip: The rig of choice was dry dropper with and Adams size 14 dry fly and midge dropper. I don’t know if the dropper really mattered as the fish really wanted to eat that day. We used a red midge or the new Hickey’s Auto Emerger in Sulphur/PMD, both flies were size 16 to 18. Long leaders of 12ft and 6X fluorocarbon was a must.

Tightlines,
Kris Maurer

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Clinch River June

I’ve fished the Clinch six times in the last month and it has been fishing great! We’ve managed to catch good numbers and land a few respectable fish each trip. The menu has been made up of sulphur dries, split back sulphurs, pheasant tails and sow bugs in sizes 14 to 18. Most days We’ve kept the same size 16 split back sulphur on till it is literally shredded. Dry/dropper rigs or two nymph rigs with yarn indicators have been the name of the game. Once the sulphurs are done I’m sure it will switch over to more midges and standard tailwater fare.

Doug and I have floated Peach Orchard to the 61 bridge twice recently and fishing was spectacular. There is some really great water throughout that float. We landed fifty or more fish on each float. Both times we only made it about three fourths of the way before the water came up and pushed us out. There were only a couple places that get a little tight in a drift boat, but nothing unbearable and we had to get out once because we took a wrong turn around a shoal. I’m really looking forward to seeing the entire stretch on low water and really learning this river.

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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.

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