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

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Caney Fork 2/01/08….This time it worked…….

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.

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Ok, so that didn’t work

Last friday Kris, Sean, and I decided to try a rumored spot behind the John Sevier power plant in Rogersville. Kris had heard that there were all sorts of stripers and carp that stacked up in the warm water discharge from the plant. The parking lot is located a good distance from where we were fishing and it was cold as balls, so we decided to walk down before wadering up.

It was only slightly disconcerning to see a sign by a holding pond which read “If contact with pond-water is possible or anticipated, contact plant saftey coordinator”. After the expected jokes, we pushed on to the river.

We startled a nice deer along the way, and what we could see as we approached looked promising. We returned to the car, suited up, rigged, and walked back.

I know I mentioned in my last post that it isn’t always about the catching fish, but in hindsight it would take some pretty solid info that the fish were in fact there (in all fairness, it was considerably warmer than the mainstream of the river, and it did look fishy as hell) to get me to go back again. Something like pictures of 20 stripers in one day…maybe.

My wading boots still smell Kris 🙂

I can’t say that we didn’t have fun, and this is the cabin-fever time of year. Any excuse to put-off the “Honey-do” list and go fishing with your buddies is all it takes. In 6 weeks or less we will be fishing pretty back in the park, or drifting the tailwaters. We have a steelhead trip coming up (more on that later), and I am sure that we will find another excuse to “stand in a river, waving a stick” before then.

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Holston River 1/13/08

So Doug and I had a plan to fish the Caney Fork, and get up really early so we could make the long drive. Unfortunately it didn’t happen as planned. We both apparently slept through our alarm clocks. I know that shouldn’t be an excuse, but oh well. Since we ruined the possiblity of doing a long day trip, we thought we’d salvage it with a short trip up to Nance’s Ferry on the Holston.

We got on the river about 1pm and fished the closest riffle to the boat ramp. We immedeately started catching fish on nymph rigs. I think the fly of choice ended up being a black zebra midge under a bead head soft hackle pheasant tail. We worked our way up to the top run catching fish the whole way up. Doug pulled some nicer fish out of the heavy water. We then focused our attention on some risers and picked off a few with dry dropper rigs.

We were off the river by 4pm and I think we landed at least 30 fish between the two of us. A bonus was the when the sun came out and turned a gloomy January day into a great day to be out on the river with a good friend.

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Watauga 1/05/08

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!!!

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It is not always about the fishing…

Sometimes getting out to the river is not about the fishing. Yesterday, Sean “Fish Pimp of the Year” McKay and I had a couple of errands to run down towards Seveirville and Gatlinburg.

I am not sure about Sean, but I know that I haven’t been on the water since before I left town at the holidays. After we finished our errands, we grabbed a couple of beers and went off in search of some “River Chicken”, stocked fish on the Gatlinburg Public water.

The scenery isn’t great, when compared to fishing in the National Park, but the doughbellies are more prone to eating when the water is 38 degrees. We tried a couple of spots where we had seen fish in years past. We spooked 2 or 3 fish in the time we were out, looked at the fish in the children’s section of the stream as we walked back to the car, and rolled on home. Who knows if Gatlinburg stocked as many fish this year for the catch-and-release period, or if locals are keeping them anyway, or we were not looking in the right places.

The bottome line is that a day on the river with a buddy is always a good thing, regardless of what the fish are doing.

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Tight Line time of year…

Sundays in the park with a fishing buddy… what could be better? I went fishing with Caleb Abramson this past weekend on a clear and crisp day.

Fishing in December has its joys. Water temperature is not among them. The water was a balmy 38 degrees near the Sinks, and consequently fishing was a grinding ordeal of high-stick nymphing.

I have a fair amount of experience with high-sticking, dating back to my Steelheading days. However, I am not in the same league as Caleb. Local guide Tim Doyle refers to Caleb as the “Jedi of the Wet Fly”. Caleb grew up fishing in the park with many of the old timers, emulating their favored technique.

There were many subtle differences in Calebs style of high-sticking. Most notable was the lighter rig he was using. I am used to using a great deal of split shot, actually bouncing it across the shale bottom of my Ohio home streams. Caleb uses little or no shot, relying instead on the weight of the nymph to get his rig to the bottom. He also favors a 3-4 cast and move on approach where I am used to repeatedly dredging the same slot until I am convinced it is a futile gesture.

I learned a few other things Sunday. I learned the Little River is one slippery stream. I learned that when you combine a cold stream with a slippery bottom, you can end up shipping a bit of water and are left with some very cold feet. But I also learned that with patience, high sticking can be a very effective way of taking fish in the park when there is no hatch activity to speak of.

In the end I caught 5 fish including an 11 inch rainbow, but I am not yet a Jedi. Caleb, at home on bith the river and with his chosen technique netted just under a dozen.

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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.



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Tennessee Fly Fishing