Tag Archives: Smoky Mountain Gillies

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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And it begins…

Some folks say that they don’t care if they actually catch fish. I am not quite so Zen in my approach. I hate to get Skunked. I really, really hate it. That being said, some of the best, most memorable days I have ever spent on the water were days when I only caught one fish. Maybe the conditions were lousy, and it was an epic struggle to get the one. Maybe the fish were being persnickety and it took all day and all of my skill and luck to catch that fish. Maybe I forgot some important piece of equipment and had to improvise. But these one fish days are the ones that always stick out in my mind. Today was a one-fish day..and it was wonderful.

It was a really long winter. The Tailwaters were blown most of the time, I am not a huge fan of fishing for stockers in the various Delayed-harvest waters, and while you can fish the Park all winter long, it isn’t the most productive winter fishery and we have had so much rain that it has been blown a good deal of the time as well.

Niki knew that I have been out of my mind from cabin fever. It is already weeks later than we typically get to fish the National Park for the first time, but the weather this weekend was supposed to be fabulous and for once the forecasters were right.


The first trip of the year is always a bit of a mixed bag. Today was no different. The water level looked perfect, 200cfs. It was crazy-clear, but that is to be expected when the water temp is in the upper 30’s low 40’s. There was still snow on the ground in the shady spots and North-facing slopes. There was a solid brown stonefly hatch along with a smattering of blue quills and other unidentified mayflies.

However first trip of the year is more about promise than results. The fish were sluggish, they were certainly not rising, there was a short window of opportunity when the sun was on the water and warming things up. This time of year we always want more than the river will give us. We were given just enough to remind us of how good it will be in just a few weeks.

But the day was special because I got to spend it in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I got to spend it with one of my best friends and favorite fishing partners, and in the end I caught one fish. It was a really nice 12″ rainbow that took a Prince Nymph that I was high-sticking deep in a slower slot downstream from the Sinks. It will almost undoubtedly be one of the bigger fish I catch all year. And that one fish will still be special after the dozen fish days, 30+ fish days, etc. which I know are just around the corner.

H. Clay Aalders
www.smokymountaingillies.com

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Birthday on the Clinch 1/18/2009

Got out with a few friends on the Clinch to celebrate a buddies birthday. The weather was amazing and the fish cooperated fairly well. We caught fish on zebras and pheasant tails sized 14 to 16.

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Paint Creek 10/30/09

Headed for Paint Creek on a last minutes whim. The original plan had been to float the Clinch and throw streamers, but TVA decided they wanted to run two generators. So in a last ditch effort to get a little fishing in, we headed over to Paint Creek.

The drive over was really cool. There is a some pretty country over there and the leaves looked amazing. We got on the water around 12:30pm. There was not as many fish in the river as years past, but there were some very nice ones and a few even cooperated and decided to eat for us.

It was a great day and we even managed to catch a few fish. Doug and Clay found one really nice run that produced some great fish. We wrapped it up at 3:30pm and made it home for dinner.

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More of a plug actually…


Not exactly an entry, but I finished my latest video for my Orvis Days presentation on Greenbrier Creek. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCw6wVHaW88

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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.

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It’s been a while / Gone Fish’n

It has been quite a while since I, or anyone for that matter has posted a blog entry. I think it has something to do with the fishing/guiding season going full swing.

I have spent at least 4 days a week in the National Park over the past 2 months. When asked about this, my standard answer is “I get to go to work in God’s Office every day”. This is more than a pet phrase I learned from Bill Perry in Guide School, it is something that I truly believe.

Back when I was on staff at Beaumont Scout Reservation during High School and College, the Program Director used to remind us that “This might be your 6th/7th/8th week out here, but it is the campers’ only week”.

These two phrases, while they may sound trite, make up the basis of my personal guiding philosophy. I realize that there are folks that spend 51 weeks in an office cubical, staring at screen-saver shots of fish, reading FlyFish Tennessee or other online resources, and wishing that they could be spending the day knee-deep in Greenbriar Creek or the Little River. When I think about this, the sore knees and back, the bumps and scrapes, and the mental and physical exhaustion I face after 4 straight days of guiding suddenly don’t seem so bad.

There is no feeling in the world like getting a new fly-fisherman (especially a child) onto their first wild trout. A close second is the feeling I get when I point out a specific crease/seam/pocket and tell the client to place their fly in that spot – and a fish immediately cooperates by rising to the fly. And at the end of the day, when a client shakes my hand, and tells me that they can’t wait to come back and do it again, I realize that I have the greatest job in the world.

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Holston River

Sunday brought a nice south breeze and correspondingly warm weather. It was sunny and temps reached the upper 60’s.

Sean and I headed to the Holston River to “research” water for his new position with River Ridge Lodge.

We hit a riffle near Tampico that is among the most scenic I have ever seen on Holston. We tried our hand at nymphing. Sean caught one or two, but I couldn’t ignore the plethora of midges flying about, laying on the water, and enticing trout to the surface.

I tied on a Griffiths Gnat with a thread/cdc midge dropper and began to work the fish. I farmed a couple before hooking and landing my first rainbow of the day.

Sean took over for me while I tried to shoot some video. I got some great footage of Sean missing a great brown trout for posterity.

After a while Sean went back to nymphing his previous hole. I returned to my rising fish. I saw a rise and set the hook. I had a fish on and immediately heard Sean shout “Double”.

I quickly netted my fish (which was side-hooked – hey it was on a size 20, I was slow alright!)
and ran over to help Sean. His was bigger, in the mouth, and a nice holdover Brownie to boot.


I know mine was dry-fly gaffed, but it was nice to spend a Sunday afternoon in the sun, with tight lines and a good friend.

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