Well, it’s December in East TN and we’re seeing pretty typical weather patterns for this time of year. The best way to describe it would be “sporadic”. One week we’re in the 20’s to 30’s and it’s hard to keep the ice out of your guides, the next it’s in the 60’s and we’re in a long sleeve T-shirt. The only reliable thing lately has been the fishing in the Smokies and on the Holston River below Cherokee Dam. If the weather is the only thing to complain about then I think we’re doing pretty good.
The water temps in the Smokies streams have dropped some in the last couple of days which can make the fish sluggish, especially in the morning and the need to eat isn’t as important as saving energy. This doesn’t mean they won’t eat it just means it might take a little more work to get them to take your fly. The good thing is the water levels have also come down which makes it easier to get to the fish and the lack of split shot cuts down on some of the work. LITTLE RIVER WATER LEVEL.
This was Joel’s first fish in the Smokies and though it wasn’t a giant it was a big moment for him.
Your best bet for fishing the Smokies is going to be the warmest part of the day from 11:00am to 3:00pm when the water temps have peaked for the day. This has been the most productive time that we’ve seen, plus the fishermen are happier to sleep in. Keep the flies simple with prince nymphs, pheasant tails and some birds nests and try not to go too big. The water is very clear and big flies can turn fish away in tough conditions.
Probably the best thing we have going for us right now is the Holston River. There are plenty of bugs moving around and the fish are happy and healthy. Nymphs are going to be the biggest producers by far, but during the heat of the day hatches of midges, caddis and crane flies will be on the surface giving us a chance to catch rising fish on dries.
Glenn was having withdrawals from his lack of fishing, but he got his fix.
Pheasant tails, caddis pupa and zebra midges are pretty much all we’ve needed to catch fish as of lately. As the sun gets above head and the fish are most active EHC (tan) and small adams are good choices for surface flies, just make sure to get a drag free drift. Stripping a wolly bugger through the riffles might also get some aggressive strikes from larger than average fish. Apart from the miles of riffles on the Holston it also has it’s share of slow flowing water, some of which can be your best bet for sight casting to actively feeding fish.
You can’t beat sight fishing, especially when the prize is a chunk like this.
Sight fishing is as much fun as it is frustrating sometimes, but in clear flat water it’s neccessary to put the fly directly in front of the fish to get him to eat. If you are blind casting with zero structure to aim for then you can spend hours just practicing your cast. Fishing from a boat gives you the advantage to not only cover water but also adds extra height to see into the water. It’s definitely our favorite way to fish the bigger rivers. Not many places can say the have good fishing in the Winter or even several options to choose from, but if you need to get away and enjoy a quiet weekend and get in some fishing in the process, it’s hard to beat East TN. The mountain towns are quiet and the rates are cheaper.
Let us know if you are getting cabin fever and need to get out on the water, the boxes are filled and we’re ready to go (CONTACT US). Don’t forget about gift certificates for that special outdoorsman as an emergency Christmas gift. Take care and be safe on the water.