News & Updates

Departing Chatham Bend

Created on 29 May 2016 in Category: News & Updates

chartDeparting Chatham Bend*

Arrival: After a quick cattle-car flight down to Orlando and a meaningless drive to Melbourne, I materialize in the humid Florida air sometime after midnight.  The wind is whipping the palm trees into raucous frenzy while the Palmetto bugs and lizards dance in the disturbed night’s air. We discuss the week’s activities; the mood is as light as the air is thick. As I tuck myself in with whatever remnants of whiskey I can find above the stove Steve shouts a reminder to shut the door to the night air as the peacocks will invite themselves into my room with the morning light.

Day 1: First light and we are up hooking the skiff to the truck headed over the causeway to meet Rick at Harry Goode’s before heading south through the chaos that is South Florida. After sometime on the turnpike, a miscue lands us at the Whole Foods in suburban Coral Springs where old Jewish women ferry their older Jewish mothers across a vast parking lot for a bite to eat before a quick sweep of the Stein Mart and the afternoon’s nap. Somehow I’m blamed for our misadventure, my alien body struggling to get into the regular grid pattern of this completely manufactured world. The traffic and the boat conspire to whip Steve into a frenzy as he hunts for the last gas before we brave the seventy odd miles of across the tip of the state. As we cross Alligator Alley Pastel Porsches and ‘blu’ Maseratis whip past us in a race to poor taste.

Some four hours later and we arrive at the end of the Earth, on a centuries old shell midden, sits Chokoloskee, enveloped by the only thing left that is real in the whole state of Florida.  Contrary to what others may claim, there are no ghosts in modern Chokoloskee, only lizards from the North who arrive two by two in their giant Airstreams pulling bay boats. After finding our bearings, the rental house, and the marina, boats are launched and rods are strung. In light of the low tidal situation, we make our way slowly across the bay. I throw gurglers at oyster bars. Red fish oblige but do not come to hand.

Day 2: The others are up early pouring over charts and maps. I’m less concerned, not having a piece of fiberglass in the mix, I’m happy to be along for the ride. Flats boats are fantastic right up until that moment when they are not. In the early dawn light, up on plane, their hulls chatters rhythmically with the light chop of the protected bay where the winds are still relatively light.  Winding our way through a corridor of mangrove and the black water of the backcountry we find our route through to the gulf, up the Lopez River and back down the Chatham, a vacuum of time.

The winds are up and the gulf is awash with white-tipped waves. In the lee of Pavilion Key, off her southern point, shadows are spotted swimming precisely where one would expect. Hugging the key’s western shore, protected from the eastern wind, reds and snook patrol the wood, visible only when it’s already too late. We seek new water, new keys, on borrowed time. The tides, influenced by a waxing gibbous moon and a strong easterly wind, come four times a day. There is no time to ponder or linger, in an hour the tide will be moving again.

Day 3: The winds have laid down, the gulf is flat, the lizards from the north are out in numbers encouraged by the calm, we cross their wakes and run south in search of fish.  With one boat on the point looking for silver the other slides into the back of a bay on the interior of Mosquito Key. With the water falling back out of the mangroves, we spot our first snook, and then another. They are set up in pairs and trios. On points, hidden by the mangrove roots and milk white water, they pivot, snout facing out, searching, like us, for fish. The other boat has had success as well. Tarpon and reds off the Clam point. Embolden by our discoveries we make the run back through the maze. White Ibis dot the wall of green having found their roost for the night in the still setting sun.

Day 4: The winds have returned. Our glory from yesterday slides beneath the waves. Aquatic landmarks from just the day before are nearly unrecognizable.  We push back into the southern bay on dead low and to our surprise, a laid up tarpon, with its back out of the water, explodes off the bow of the boat. The boats split, one poles the mangroves in search of snook, the other poles south and finds a tarpon that refuses the fly. The snook are there, in the back of the mangroves, an unimaginable ecology illustrated only by the sounds of their attacks. The east wind builds.  Our bay is unprotected. Searching for the familiar, we return to the lee of Pavilion Key with little to show save for a few snook and salt incrusted hair. Like the tide, spirits have fallen. In the evening, there is a sickness and packing.

Departures: In the morning there are just two of us left, the others having departed for home. The winds are sustained and persistent; despite them we make the run to the gulf. There are no other boats out on a day like today. The point where the skiff has become a misery has been achieved. There is no angle we can run to keep the spray off of our faces. There is no loud talk, Mr. Watson’s now gone from Chatam Bend and I have found Rick’s sickness somewhere during the night. The desolation of the surroundings has inhabited us, it is time to go.

*Appears in the Southern Culture on the Fly, Issue 19, Spring 2016

Orvis Rod Swap, May 13 - June 19!

Created on 17 May 2016 in Category: News & Updates

Orvis Rod Swap



From May 13 through June 19, Orvis and 3 Rivers Angler will give customers 20% off a new American-made fly rod (Helios 2, Recon, or Superfine series), in exchange for a trade-in rod, which will be donated to charitable organizations that help get kids into fly fishing. 

Trade-in rods don’t need to be new but must be in fishable condition and in good cosmetic shape. Broken, dirty, or otherwise damaged rods are not acceptable. Good-quality spinning rods are also eligible for trade.

May 16th Fishing Report

Created on 16 May 2016 in Category: News & Updates

3a0f8263-6436-4b30-b647-e3e966f6c288Another weekend is in the books and despite the cooler than average temperatures we've had some pretty stellar fishing in and around East Tennessee. The Holston River below Cherokee dam continues to have ideal flows for both wading and boating anglers. The river is currently experiencing good numbers of caddis (size 18, olive) throughout the day with higher numbers popping off when the sun is out and in full effect. While the fish are pretty happy to eat a dry fly, you will find a good number of fish still fixed on emerging caddis so don't hesitate to try a swung we fly if your dry isn't getting any love. We are also seeing an increasing number of sulfurs on the water and while I have yet to see fish actually on the sulfurs I have had at least one angler tell me that he had a good day fishing sulfur dries. The unstable spring weather we've been experiencing still has the fish keying on a good number of midges. Over the weekend the nymph my clients had the best luck with was a size 18 red zebra midge. 

The Clinch River below Norris Dam is fishing very well with favorable conditions for the wading angler but tough flows for those wishing to float the river. TVA has been sticking with a low water regime in the mornings with one generator typically in the afternoon. While there is sporadic sulfur activity on the surface the bugs are still not out in numbers great enough to get the fish to rise to them consistently. Your best bet for consistent action on the Clinch is going to be a bead head pheasant tail or a split case sulfur. I suspect the best fishing on the Clinch is still a week or so out. This Sunday, May 22nd, marks the beginning of the recreational schedule on the Clinch. I suspect having flows on the river earlier in the day may encourage the bugs to start coming out in mass. A stable summer weather pattern wouldn't hurt either. 

Flows and temperatures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are nearly perfect. Cool temperatures in the mornings may make the fish a little sluggish early but they should be happy and looking up later in the day. If I was up there this today I'd likely fish a dry dropper rig until the fish told me it was time to get rid of the dropper. 

Finally, the small mouth bass bite is getting good. While walking the dog the other day I noticed my first June Bug crawling around on the sidewalk. That can only mean one thing: top water time is approaching fast. Thus far I've had good luck with streamer patterns but if we get a good calm day and some warm temperatures I think it's time to get out the poppers and stealth bombers.

With so many options here in East Tennessee you can be assured that no matter where you decide to fish and whichever species you decide to chase, you're going to have a great day! Get out and play.


May 3rd Fishing Report

Created on 03 May 2016 in Category: News & Updates

HowardDry fly season is upon us here in East Tennessee and the fishing forecast for the weekend is shaping up to be fantastic. We got a welcomed dose of rain yesterday evening and that extra water in the lowland tailwaters will hopefully entice the hesitant hatches to get going in full force. A little bit of a cold snap is expected for the rest of the week but the warm temperatures are expected to return by the weekend. This warm weather coincides perfectly with the continued lower flows predicted by TVA on the Valley’s tailwater fisheries and anglers can expect to be rewarded with significant hatches on both the Clinch and Holston rivers.

The Holston River below Cherokee Dam is finally showing significant signs of life with nice hatches of both crane flies and caddis flies, mixed with a sprinkling of sulfur may flies. While I have yet to see a full fledge hatch on the river, my best catches last week were all on size 18 elk hair caddis. On the Clinch River below Norris Dam, anglers are beginning to report the arrival of sulfur mayflies. While sightings have been largely sporadic to this point I did get my first credible report of a full blown sulfur hatch on Sunday when most anglers were off the water due to the weather. With both rivers expected to have wadeable flows over the weekend anglers should make every endeavor to get out there as this will truly be the first weekend where dry fly fishing on the tailwaters is going to be not just an option but indeed your best bet.

Closer to home, the waters around the Forks of the River on the lower portions of both the French Broad and Holston River is absolutely polluted with Skip Jack Shad. The shad run this year is as thick as I can recall in recent history with nearly every cast producing a fish in the better waters. Smallmouth bass are in spawning mode on the freestone streams in and around the East Tennessee area but have yet to become active on the larger rivers due to lower than average water temperatures. This may change over the next week as lower flows and higher temperatures prevail.

Anglers in the mountains are having good luck with a variety of hatches still coming off. Yellow sallies are just now beginning to show up in the mountains but it won't be long before they are in full force. At present you can expect to get some action on caddis, Hendricksons, stimulators, and adams. While dries should work later in the day you should expect to need to pull out the nymph box early and often. 

April 12th Fishing Report

Created on 12 April 2016 in Category: News & Updates

2c51040a-159b-4953-a971-9885c0c1c1b0It's been about ten days since our last fishing report and with good reason. The wind. It feels like the wind has been blowing for about three weeks straight. It's blown enough where I have personally opted to stay in the shop and do important work rather than play hooky on the water. Rock Cox  was in the shop last Thursday and we were both joking about the wind. Despite the weather, Rocky said he had been on the water twenty days straight and the fishing had been solid. I had to concur. When I have managed to get out and about either on a guide trip or for myself, the fishing has been surprisingly good. 

Both the Clinch and the Holston have been good, slow, and great on any given day with some days being a bit of everything. These unsettled weather days have meant that fishing can be great at one point in the day and slow at other times, the action being subject to the whims of the ever changing barmetric pressure. We've yet to see any appreciable bugs on either of the tailwaters although a few sulphurs and caddis are being seen. If the rain holds off and these low water conditions prevail, it shouldn't be too long before we see some great dry fly action on both rivers. As it stands right now, bead head pheasant tails and a variety of zebra midges seem to be doing the job admirably. 

John was up on Norton Creek over the weekend volunteering his time for the very worthy cause of Casting for Recovery. It was, of course, very cold in the mountains over the weekend and John said the fishing was slow. While the Smokies are seeing a lot of action in terms of the spring bugs (light cahills, march browns, hendricksons, and blue wing olives), the cold temperatures dampened their activity. Despite the tough conditions, the ladies participating in the Catching for Recovery weekend had a fantastic time. I have a good idea why, John looked beat up and worn down yesterday morning. He and the other volunteers put a lot of time and effort into making sure the event was a success despite the weather. 

I've been getting a lot of inquiries either by email or phone concerning our warm water fisheries. Anglers are wondering if the small mouth bite had begun yet. The truth of the matter is I didn't really have a good answer for them. I did some poking around a couple of weeks ago and while the white bass bite was off the charts the small mouth were still few and far between. I think that has changed. I snuck out for a bit on Sunday with the intent of catching more white bass and skipjack shad. Both of these species are in the process of making their migratory runs up into the French Broad and Holston Rivers. For me this more than any other event marks the beginning of Spring. The wind on Sunday, mercifully, laid down and while it wasn't exactly warm it wasn't too cold either. While I managed quite a few skipjack over the course of the day, the real surprise was the quality of small mouth I put in the boat. I caught several nice and fat pre-spawn fish holding in fast water lies looking for easy meals. Fat enough and nice enough that I'm going to have a hard time sitting int he shop the rest of the week getting all my busy work done!