The deep freeze that tightened its grip on East Tennessee and much of the south is momentarily over, but don’t get too comfortable just yet. Temperatures have risen out of the 20s and 30s and into the 50s and 60s this week. Unfortunately, this warm weather is only going to last until Friday. Looks another cold front is on its way and will deliver more precipitation and more cold mornings.
The smokies have felt the worst of the recent deep freeze. I was up there this weekend and got to see the effects first hand. If you can believe it, the picture below is at the Sinks on Little River. In some places on Little River, the water was so cold it was freezing from the bottom up. It is not likely the fishing in the freestone streams will pick back up until we see water temperatures climb back into the 40s. Until then, you should spend your time on our local tailwaters.
Despite the weather, the fishing has been very consistent on our tailwaters. The Clinch has been fishing as good as we have seen in recent weeks. Generation schedules have been favorable for both the wading and floating angler. So, there has been no shortage of opportunity to hit the water. Either way you go, a few things will remain the same: The water is cold, and the trout are happy and hungry, and the midge hatches have been insane. Every time I have been on the Clinch in the past 3-4 weeks, there has been a solid midge hatch. They started off sparse and have increased in both abundance and duration more recently. On our recent float down the clinch, we watched trout sip adults and emerging midges for five straight hours. We saw large (#16-#18) black and gray midges on the water the entire afternoon. Although there was plenty of activity on the surface, it was not so easy convincing these fish to take a dry. We largely stuck with beadhead midges fished under a small yarn indicator. Most of our fish took #16 and #18 black midge patterns. Gray midge patterns were also effective. The streamer rod had its fair share of action as well. An olive grumpy muppet fished on a sinking line brought several slot rainbows to the boat.
Speaking of streamer fishing, our friend Keith Oakes ventured down the Clinch this week looking to bag a big fish. Based on this photo, I think they found what they were looking for.
Whatever you decide to do, have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to check TVA generation schedules if you are planning on heading to a tailwater. As always, if you have any fly fishing questions for us, please come by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271.
Over the past week temperatures have been dropping significantly. However, the weather doesn’t seem to be slowing down the fishing action on much of our local water. For the floating angler, the clinch River is fishing consistently. Single generator flows seem to have the fish comfortable and more settled throughout the length of the tailwater. Contrary to the past few weeks, fish are not solely concentrated in the upper stretches. Brett and I floated last Thursday, and found feeding fish all the way from Millers Island to Coldwater Farm before rowing out. We were able to pick up slot fish on a variety of techniques.
The streamer rod reigned king at the end of the day, with Brett bagging a nice brown in the final hour on a Sculpin pattern fished near the bottom. At the top of the river, nymphs were more productive, and we fished larger sized Pheasant Tails deep below an indicator. For our rig we chose a size #12 or #14 tied on a jig nymph hook (commonly our go-to anchor fly), followed by a midge or smaller PT. From what we could tell, a few other boats found a lot of success floating that day as well, a good indication for anyone willing to bear the cold for a few hours.
We also got multiple reports in the shop this week of wading anglers seeing their fair share of success. On low water, the Clinch streamer bite can still be productive, but we recommend sizing down to flies such buggers and sparkle minnows. Midges will likely be the main thing on the menu if you do decide to throw on the waders this weekend. The Holston River below Cherokee Dam is in many ways a similar story. On low water, a few anglers have thrown large streamers recently and done well. Other flies to focus on are midge emergers and small parachute style dries. If you are wanting to watch an indicator, the usual fare of midges and PTs should treat you just fine.
If you are itching to get up to the GSMNP, keep an eye on road conditions and weather.looks like it may be a bit warmer, and this could be a good opportunity to go check on the wild trout in the park. After giving the streams the early morning hours to warm up, deep drifted nymphs in larger sizes would likely get some fish in the net. Additionally, we have been finding some success from small streamer patterns fished in appropriate areas. Focus on little pockets on the edges of current lines, and keep an eye out for larger stream features that provide good ambush points for feeding fish.
Flows have been good this past week and are looking even better for the weekend ahead. TVA has given us a mixed bag of wadeable and floatable schedules on both the Clinch and the Holston rivers. Fishing on both of our closest trout tailwaters has been awesome. When I geared up to hit the Holston last weekend, I did not expect to be headhunting with tiny midge dry flies. However, that is exactly what happened. There was a good hatch of larger olive and cream midges for much of the afternoon. The long slower runs had trout nosing the surface picking off adults and emergers stuck in the surface film. My go-to rig for this situation is a dry-emerger setup. First, I tie on a smaller dry fly like a #18-#20 parachute adams. Ideally, it is one you can track and not so small you lose sight of it halfway through your drift. Next, I tie a two-and-a-half-foot piece of 6x flouro to the bend of that hook and attach a smaller midge emerger or dry fly. This way, I have a dry that I can see ahead of a smaller pattern that is not as easy to follow. I will watch the lead fly and wait for a nose to poke up and pick off something within 2 feet of my lead fly. Most often, that rise is a trout coming up to take your trailing emerger pattern. My favorite midge-emerger patterns are Olive or Gray RS2’s, Gray or Black Smokejumpers, and Palomino midges. This time I tied on a black #22 palomino midge behind my parachute adams. It was exactly what these trout were looking for. Fish after fish came up and picked off the trailing palomino midge.
The Clinch was cold and windy yesterday, but the bite was solid. When the sun was out, and the wind was minimal, the midges were thick. Unfortunately, the wind didn’t die down enough for the fish to rise with any consistency, so I stuck to nymphs. I found success fishing a #18 purple midge under a yarn indicator. It was great to finally see the water temperatures dip back down into the 50’s. In previous weeks, we didn’t see the Clinch read anything under 60 degrees. Yesterday I took multiple water temps at 55 degrees. Hopefully we will see that water temperature continue to drop and see the fishing continue to improve.
It looks like the weather is going to warm up a bit in the next few days. Be sure to get out and make the most of it. As always, swing by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271 if you have any questions or need help getting geared up for your next fly fishing adventure. We will be OPEN on Sunday December 17th from 1-5pm, come and see us.
As fly fishermen, we understand how difficult it can be to shop for the fly fishermen in your life. We are here to help make it easy for you this Christmas by highlighting some products that have caught our attention this season.
Fishpond Nomad Mid-Length Net River Armor Edition
Fishpond has changed the game with the addition of their Nomad River Armor Edition nets to the nomad family. Nomad River Armor Edition nets are constructed with a core of carbon fiber and fiberglass, and an outer layer of woven DuPontTMKevlar® fiber and carbon fiber. This unique construction makes these nets extremely durable and light in hand. This is the slickest net we have seen yet and is the perfect size for wading anglers. The mid-length size provides extra reach and makes it easy to land big fish by yourself.
Echo Traverse Kit 9' 5 weight
Echo has already made an awesome entry-level fly rod outfit with their Echo Base Kit at $169.99. Now, they have filled the void of the not-so-entry-level outfit for a very affordable price. This rod has a medium-fast action and can really throw some line with accuracy. The ION reel that comes with the kit perfectly balances this setup and is loaded with premium AIRFLO fly line.
Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack
We have always been fans of Fishpond's gear bags and packs becuase they are well-constructed and highly practical. The Wind River Roll-Top Backpack is no different. Whether it's a day trip, or an overnighter, the Wind River Roll-Top Backpack has 38 L of space to provide ample storage for all your gear. The roll-top waterproof main compartment will keep your gear dry even in the harshest conditions.
Simms Fish Skin Bottle Opener Belt
Tacky Fly Fishing - The Predator
Tacky Fly Fishing flipped the fly box world upside down with their innovative silicon rubber inserts. All of their fly boxes have been focused around storing nymphs and dry flies, until now. The Predator box is designed for the big stuff. A redesigned silicon insert holds up to 72 flies, depending on the size. It also comes with 5 wishbone pieces to keep your things organized.
A cold front has moved into the valley this week and cooled things down significantly. The next few days we will see highs in the low 40’s and lows in the 20’s. Luckily for us, our tailwaters remain around the same water temperature throughout the year and our trout don’t seem to mind the cooler air temps. Norris has been running one generator day and night for the past week or so. This schedule has put wading anglers watching from the banks of the Clinch, while giving the folks with boats ample opportunities to hit the water. I’ve heard good reports from both the upper (Miller’s to Peach) and lower (Peach to Hwy 61) stretches of the Clinch from the guys that have been floating. The streamer bite has gotten better, with numerous reports of productive days throwing meat. Small rainbow trout patterns have been the ticket. Galloup’s Barely Legal in olive/white, Grumpy Muppet, and an Olive Circus Peanut are just a few recommended patterns. If those aren’t working, try running a tandem streamer rig. When you are attaching your 1x or 2x tippet to your short streamer leader, clip one tag end and leave a tag end from that connection so you can tie on your first streamer. Generally, we will use a smaller pattern like a #6 wooly bugger or sparkle minnow for that first fly. Now, on the end of your tippet tie on a larger streamer such as one of the patterns mentioned above. Use a loop knot to tie on both streamers for the most natural movement. This rig will give the imitation of a larger fish (Galloup’s Barely Legal) chasing a smaller prey item (Wooly Bugger) and often grabs the attention of some of the larger trout in the river looking for an easy meal.
For anglers keen on wading, the Holston has been off for a few hours each of the last couple days. The window has been tight and restricted fishermen to the upper end of the tailwater. Per reports, the fishing has been good. Nymphing has been most productive, even with the sporadic caddis and midge hatches we have heard about. No need to overthink fly selection right now, BH pheasant tails in the #16-#18 range with midge trailers should get it done. If our closest tailwaters aren’t your flavor, the Watauga and South Holston have been producing. BWO hatches have been consistent, with lots of fish willing to rise to dries in the tailouts. When the BWO’s haven’t been on the water, small bwo nymphs and midges are the way to go. Matt and I floated the Watauga on Sunday and found lots of trout via a bacon n’ eggs rig. Brown Girdle bugs served with a side of sucker spawn put fish in the net all day long. By no means is this my favorite rig to fish, but clearly it can be a very effective setup this time of year.
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, be safe, layer up, and as always check TVA generation schedules before you make your way to the river. If you are short on cold weather gear, swing by the shop and check out our winter apparel inventory. We have lots of warm pieces that will provide the perfect layering for the bitter cold we will see this weekend. If you have any questions or need help preparing for your next fishing outing, swing by the shop or give us a call at 865-200-5271.