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.