Fishing here in East TN has been great the past couple of weeks with the arrival of the quill gordon and blue quills in the Smokies but we’ve been pretty anxious to get back on the tailwaters. The flows on the tailwaters have been low the past few days and the fishing has been just shy of fantastic.
The weather’s great, the fish are hungry and there are a lot of bugs hatching, maybe even too many. We’ve been on the Holston River the past couple of days and we’re here to tell you that it’s fishing great. There is occasionally some early caddis action in March on the Holston which we were hoping to see but only saw a few caddis all day. There were however a blanket hatch of black flies and very small tan midges keeping the fish rising all day.
Jules holding a healthy bow from the Holston during our last cold front.
Yesterday was a grey day to be on the water and the conditions couldn’t have been better. As we dropped the boat in the water first thing in the morning we noticed fish sipping bugs just below the surface. There was surface action pretty much all day long with fish keying in on black flies, but with the amount of food on the water made it tough for the fish to notice our flies. We could get fish to rise to a dry but it took repetitive casting and getting it right on the fish’s nose. Nymphs fished under an indicator worked well and didn’t try our patience, so we stuck with them.
Bob started the day off with a bang sight casting to a slab.
The action was red hot in the afternoon with numbers of fish rising in the riffles and seams. The fish are aggressively eating the adults on the surface with splashy rises. It’s as if it was the last time they would see food for a while. Bob liked the fact that he could spot the fish first before making a cast.
He wasn’t letting up.
As we were on the backside of the float and things were winding down, we decided to try for a few more fish and call it a day. When Bob laid the fly in front of the fish and had it eat he got one last surprise to end the day on a high note.
Bobs biggest to date.
The forecast looks great for the next 10 days with warmer days and low chances for rain. The flows should be down for a while which will be great for the fishing and bug life. Maybe before too long we can see some early caddis action and fish bushy dries for these aggressive fish, it’s only a matter of time. At this point it just feels good to be back behind the oars and getting the boat wet.
If your heading to the Smokies and want to get in a day on the water whether it’s wading in the National Park or floating the tailwaters GIVE US A CALL and we can set up a trip for you. Take care and be safe on the water.
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Thursday, I had the pleasure of showing John and Joe Horning how to fish the Smokies. Wednesday night it rained a lot and it raised the water a solid foot and turned it a tea color. The fishing was a little off and we didn’t see many bugs coming off. The nymph activity was pretty good in the morning, but when the sun came out we couldn’t resist throwing some dries and had several strikes on them. Most of the strikes that we got were pretty subtle, but it only took a few times missing fish to sharpen their reflexes.
As the afternoon crept up on us, the fishing slowed down some, so we hiked in a ways to find higher ground and maybe even some dry fly fishing. It paid off too, because John and Joe both had strikes on yellow sally patterns and were sight casting to fish that were barely breaking the service. We caught a few more fish at the end of the trip and one of them was a brown. It was a good day and I think that these two guys will be fishing more together in the future.
If you are thinking about fishing the park, Yellow Sallies are coming off strong in the evenings but you can catch fish on them all throughout the day. I would probably use a pheasanttail or haresear nymph in the afternoon and dries the rest of the time. Also find water higher up away from highly populated areas.
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Lately I have been tying a lot of streamers, poppers and dries for the Spring. It is hard to tie up flies like that because it gets me thinking about smallmouth slamming topwater, carp tailing in the shallows and trout sipping down emergers in the riffles, then I look out the window and there is 6 inches of snow on the ground. I started going crazy yesterday, don’t get me wrong, I love tying but every man has his breaking point. I took a break and drove up to the park to fish for a couple of hours.
I figured with the warmer temps and snow runoff, it would really put the fish down. To my surprise the fish were really active even though the the water was freezing. I got pretty close to the holes that I wanted to fish because the water had color to it. It was definitely worth getting out of the house for a couple of hours. I think all in all I ended up landing about 10 fish and lost a really nice fish that I had on for a few seconds. Keep your hopes up folks, Spring is almost here and the fishing will pick back up.
Most of the fish that were caught were in this range and were really pretty.
This was the biggest of the day and reminded me of a cuttbow from the Snake River in Idaho. Most of these fish were males and some of them milted on me when they came out of the water. I guess they can see Spring coming better than we can. Oh, did I mention I caught all my fish on streamers, I love it.
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