Early Winter setting in

Fall in East TN can be spectacular with stunning views of colorful Mountain sides from the middle of October till sometimes almost Thanksgiving. This year has been quite a bit different and the weather has turned cold quick. Here we are in “SNOW-VEMBER” and we’ve already seen several heavy snow falls in the mountains along with dustings in the valley. There have also been the occasional flooding problems here and there but that has settled down and the water looks great. The only threat to the fishing has been the water temps which have ranged anywhere from the low 50’s to the mid 30’s which can definitely throw the fishing off axis.

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Glenn landed several fish like this last week and deserved everyone of them for fishing in terrible conditions.

The fishing hasn’t been bad at all it’s just that the temps make it tough to stay warm and keep moral high. It’s pretty bad when you catch a nice fish and don’t want a picture with it just to keep your hands from touching the water, but I give credit to anyone that will come out and fish in those conditions. Fishing cold mountain streams means changing techniques to fit the situations. Dry fly fishing is almost completely gone now but fishing nymphs can be just as fun if done right and can even produce some better sized fish, not to mention it keeps the rod bent in tough conditions. Small nymph’s like 18’s and 16’s with light tippet (5x-6x) will do the trick.

Something else to keep in mind is staying out of the fast water where the fish would have to work hard to swim. Cold water slows the fish’s metabolism way down making them sluggish and they’re not going to want to waste energy to get a small meal. Slower pools will definitely produce more activity. Just make sure to add the right amount of weight for the water you’ll be fishing and get those flies to the bottom.

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Jules landed this beauty on a number 18 nymph in frigid temps.

The good news is that starting Friday we should see a warming trend with days in the 50’s and even 60’s which will be a nice break from the teens which we’re sitting in while writing this report. This dramatic change in weather should turn the feed on and get the fish active. Heck, it will be nice to just be on the water with the sun shining. The tailwaters are also still running high but should be cutting off soon once they get the lakes down to their winter levels. When this happens it should be fantastic since the fish haven’t seen much in the way of fishing traffic.

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9,000 cfs isn’t easy to fish in but it can be done.

Our season is winding down and we’re seeing less and less traffic on the roads and more open pull off’s in the Smokies. This is that time of year when solitude can be found once again on the river where you might not see another fisherman all day. I love this time of year personally, it’s become one of my favorite times of year and we get a lot of fishing done. If you’re in town and would like to get out on the water don’t give up on the idea of catching fish; GIVE US A CALL and we’ll take you out and show you how.

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Fall has definitely arrived

With the arrival of fall we’re seeing cool nights with lows in the 40’s and high’s in the 70’s. The water temps are dropping slowly and you can tell a difference in the fish’s attitude. The Smokies have been fishing well with both dries and nymphs and there have been quite a few bugs flying around throughout the day. One of our favorite hatches in the fall are the Isonychia’s or slate drakes which are size 12 dries and have started popping off in the mountains.

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Is there anything better than kids catching fish?

The tailwaters are having decent flows and the fish have been pretty active despite the warmer than average water for this time of year. It’s not fatally hot but fish don’t need to be played very long or handled too much. I recently helped out Mike Bone on a float trip down the Holston and the fish were fairly aggressive and had good weight to them which was great to see them surviving the summers. There were a few caddis and cahills hatching but midges were in far greater numbers. The fishing on the Holston should be great this fall and winter.

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2 fish in 4 casts with another one breaking off. Bill had it going on.

As for the smallmouth enthusiast the fall bite can be great here in East TN with the smallmouth bulking up before the cold weather sets in. The fish have been very aggressive to say the least and have been taking both topwater and streamers. With some of our tailwaters being smallmouth rivers the water takes longer to cool down, making for a longer than normal season. This changes from year to year but you can usually bank on the bite going strong pretty much through October and sometimes the even the first of November. Every weather channel I have seen says we’re in for a cold winter so we’ll just have to see, but we’ll be out there no matter what.

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Some thick slabs putting an 8 wt to the test.

Seeing someone hook up with a fish is always fun but “doubles” are something you don’t forget especially when both fish are around 18 inches, that’s when things get hairy.

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A thing of beauty.

The fall might just be the best time of year with the leaves changing and the cool air coming in, but it gives us one last good run before the nasty weather hits us leaving only memories until spring. If you want to get out on the water GIVE US A CALL, we’ll be out there anyways so you might as well be with us. Take care and have a blessed day.

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A way to beat the heat.

It has been a crazy summer so far (in a good way) with lots of fishing and hardly any time to keep the fly boxes stocked up. I know I have been slacking on the fishing reports but tying flies and getting lunches ready for the next day takes up all of the time left in the evenings leaving no time for updates. We’ve been on the water every day.

As we dive into summer and the days get longer and hotter the thought of fishing through the middle of the day isn’t  a fond idea with most fishermen. In our area we have several options to choose from to escape the heat of the day. Most tend to go high on the mountain and look for splashy rises from brook trout in the cool mountain streams as others fish early in the day and/or late in the evening on the tailwaters.

This is our favorite time of year when the sun is high, the water is warm and the smallmouth are active. The topwater bite has been incredible for the last month and we’re expecting this trend to continue through July and into August. Like trout, smallmouth love terrestrials and there’s plenty of beetles, ants, dragon flies and damsel flies on the water to keep the fish happy and focused near the surface which makes fishing poppers so effective.

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Andy and Steve’s first time catching smallmouth and loving every minute of it.

After the big one shook Andy’s fly and got away he felt short changed but didn’t let it get him down. His focus paid off later in the day when the bottom fell out from the popper and a stiff hook set shifted everyones attention towards the front of the boat.

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A great fish and on a popper to boot, way to go Andy.

With the lack of rain we’ve had over the past few months the water levels on most rivers are low and as clear as ever.   The upside to the low/clear water is that it’s made site fishing top notch which is very exciting as long as the fish doesn’t spook before the fly hits the water. Spooky fish combined with these conditions can be tough especially with a stiff wind blowing but changing tactics and getting out of your comfort zone can make all the difference in the world.

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Byron from Little River Outfitters works hard and doesn’t get to fish much, but when he does he lays it all on the line.

I got to fish with Richard and Jon Anna from Arkansas for 3 days where we targeted trout for a day and smallmouth for two. Our first day we had good topwater action for smallmouth which is always a good way to start the trip. On day 2 we started with high water and ended with low water and spooky fish, but after switching to micro flies and longer casts we got after them and Jon Anna got lunker for the day with a healthy rainbow. Day 3 brought it all together when Richard spotted a nice smallmouth and sight casted to it followed by a swift hook set and a long drawn out fight.

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Two great folks holding some well deserved fish.

Although the heat of the summer can be hard to get through for some, there are several alternatives to choose from to keep you on the water. If you would like to get out on the water and enjoy the warm weather give us a call. The bite was good in June and is the same for July and should be for August. Be sure to be safe on the water and drink plenty of water and Gatorade and wear protective clothing and/or plenty of sun screen. Take care and have a great day.

 

 

 

 

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