As of late we have seen just about all types of weather conditions from rain to ice to heavy winds and then sunny warm days all within a weeks time. This week isn’t any different; yesterday was great with temps in the 50’s and sunny and the rest of the week is cold with snow. On top of the extreme changes in weather the flows on the tail waters haven’t been much better. The Holston has been our primary place to fish mainly because it’s been the only river with halfway decent flows. Most days TVA has the water shut off in the afternoons for 4 to 5 hours which is hard for the fish to get used to. On occasion the water has been off and low all day and the fish have been active and feeding pretty good.
Smaller flies can be very productive in the Winter and produce better than average fish.
On sunny days olive and grey midges in sizes 18-22 have been the majority of food in and on top of the water with the occasional hatch of crane flies. With the sporadic flows and cold temps we haven’t seen many caddis in the past couple of weeks, putting midges at the top of the menu and keeping the fish keyed in on them. Pheasant tails, zebra midges and griffiths gnats will work but the fish can get picky so don’t be afraid to change up flies, tippet and even your position. Fishing these super small flies with light tippet isn’t the most glamorous way to fish but can get the job done in cold conditions.
Another thing to keep in mind when things are slow is fishing streamers. We’ve seen days lately when there hasn’t been any bug life at all floating on the water and the fishing couldn’t get any slower, but streamers came to the rescue and took up the slack.
Josh with a great fish that took a streamer on a miserable day.
Streamer fishing isn’t the easiest thing to do especially when throwing bigger flies with weight, but done right and it can be one of the best days you’ve ever had. It’s no surprise that big fish eat small fish, but they’re not the only ones. Fishing streamers can be a very productive for numbers as well, especially when there’s not much else going on. Our rivers are full of shad, crawdads and many other types of baitfish which give the trout plenty of food options besides bugs.
One thing about throwing streamers from a drift boat in the wind is that there’s not much room for mistake and sometimes there are casualties, most of the time it’s the guy who’s rowing.
It’s a good thing the barbs were pinched.
All in all you have to look at the big picture which is that it’s January and we are still able to get out and spend time on the water. Here in the Southeast we are blessed with fairly mild Winters and decent, sometimes great fishing so we can’t complain too much. We’re looking forward to Spring for sure with nice days and good hatches of mayflies and caddis, but until then we’ll settle for this view.
We’re going to be in Kentucky this weekend for the fly fishing show in Louisville, so if your in the area then stop by and hang out and talk for a while. If you’re getting cabin fever and need to get out and fish feel free to give us a call (CONTACT US), we’ll be glad to get you out on the water.