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.