As Winter approaches and the streams in the Smokies get cooler by the day, so does the fishing. Cold fronts push through along with cool nights chilling the water and pretty much ending most of the hatches. This doesn’t necessarily mean the fishing is done, just don’t expect the results to be the same as in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Nymph fishing is primarily the way to go and don’t be afraid to add split shot to the leader to get the flies down. This is the time of year when the browns are coming off the redds and bulking back up with food before Winter sets in for good.
This is also the time when we’re focusing a lot of time on the Clinch and Holston Rivers in drift boats as the temperature of the big rivers starts to get back to normal and the trout are feeling frisky. Up until a couple of weeks ago the tailwaters have had pretty high flows which makes the fishing tough. With the flows getting cut back and becoming stable the fishing has improved and there are some nice fish out and about.
Leigh with some nice fish from the Clinch.
There has been plenty of midge activity on the Clinch with a sporadic black caddis hatch here and there. A variety in colors of small zebra midges and pheasant tails will work just fine, but on low flows make sure to use fine tippet and get a DEAD drift. The Clinch is known for having skittish fish and that’s especially the case when there’s no generation.
With the generators running and the flows high the fish aren’t as spooky but they are closer to the bottom and fishing heavy flies and split shot can be tough if you haven’t done it before. That’s what we are here for though, to show you how to fish in not so perfect conditions. These were the conditions that Jim, Allen and I experienced the other day with the Clinch running 1 all day. It was all about getting it at that right depth.
Jim is a saltwater fisherman and hasn’t done much freshwater, but I couldn’t tell it from my seat.
These rivers can fish pretty good in the colder months and keep us on the water when everything else has ice on the banks. The reason for this is the regulated water coming out of the bottom of the dam and temps hovering around 50 degrees. They also have better than average size fish that are willing to take a fly throughout the day and not just during the heat of the day like the freestone rivers. One thing about being in the drift boat in the cold is that the coffee thermos is right there with us and ready to warm you back up for the next fish.
If old man Winter has you down and you need to get out, feel free to give us a call (CONTACT US). We’ll be fishing either way and would be happy to get you out on the water. Take care and have a great day.