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Take What You Can Get……

Fri. July 25, 2014….That is the mantra or has been for the past month.  We have had hot, cool, everything in between, drought in places, heavy rains in others…its been all over the place.  We’ve been all over, from small waters to the TN tailwaters to the Smith in VA to the several smallmouth waters we guide, float, and fish.  Not short on variety or change lately.  Been a bit tardy on posting reports, a lot going on, some of it trying to stay consistently in decent fishing with all the weather woes.  But we need rain, and great to get it when we do.  So like the fishing, we take what we can get.

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Things continue to be all over the map in terms of conditions and fishing, the TN Watauga and SoHo have been decent, minimal releases on the South Holston , a deviation from the normal summer high water float season.  Sulphurs have been hatching, but confined to the upper 2 miles of river for the most part, as the water temp is the key thing.  Some spotty hatches on high water, the few times they have released, but spotty is the key word.  Low water fishing for sulphurs has been good on some days, less so on others.  When not on sulphurs, midges and scuds have worked well, and the terrestrial bite continues to be pretty good on both rivers along their entire lengths.

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Bass and panfish locally has still been good, surprising there’s  lots of clear water even with recent storms.  Recently the bass have hit poppers pretty well, and good action early and late.  Lots of damsels out and about, and that always gets them looking up.  My son Ben has been home from Wilmington this week, he did well at a friends pond on some bass, landing about a dozen and one that was about 4 1/2 pounds, all on a popper.  Redfish and flounder on Monday, largemouths on Tuesday, and smallmouths on Thursday…..he had a rough week.

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Did a recent float with Mike Callahan, a good friend and fly manager at Great Outdoor Provision Co, we did a VA/WV float, Mike and I got an extra early start, we fished near the VA/WV border , the water is clearer there, even though a long haul from our area. But we went where the clear water was. It was slow to start, we caught only a few, maybe 3 or 4 smallmouth at the first stretch we fished, some on poppers, others on hardware…..but things picked up for us considerably the second half of the day. It was hot, 87F to be exact, and we had all day sun. Had hoped the clouds would help us out, but they didn’t stick around. The forecast was for thunderstorms but they did not materialize.

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We hit one stretch where we banged them pretty good, I’d say we landed probably around 35-40 smallies….many more on that came off. We also saw a lot of fish out in the open, plainly visible, one thing that had been non existent for the past week. The area we did pretty well in holds a lot of fish but they are deep, making them very difficult to target and catch. But in that spot we put probably 25 in the boat just there. We fished all the way to takeout, Mike caught our last fish fishing some deep ledges , and it smashed a popper. Then we floated to take out just down river. Saw one of the heaviest hatches of sulphurs ……..some of the smaller smallmouths and redbreast and redeyes were rising to them. Rivaled what you’d see on the Holston, just no trout there rising to them…..

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Also finished up our GTCC Beginning Fly Fishing Class, final session, good class, a truly great bunch of folks…. Spent some time fishing with students and everyone caught fish, Steve Beasley took honors for big fish with a catfish…..catfish on a fly…gotta love it.  We had recent bad weather put a damper on our class field trip twice, so we’ll be redoing it in October with promise of cooler weather and fishing some stockers so everyone can get into some fish.

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Took yesterday to do a smallouth/musky float with my son Ben, his birthday trip, along with his new 10 weight rod from his mom and I ….we christened it, and had hoped to do it with some musky slime, but we didn’t see or turn a fish where we’d caught some previously.  Not the best conditions for it, and before leaving for the trip I wondered  if the cold front coming through and the heavy thunderstorms firing with put a damper on the fishing….which stood the real possibility of giving us  some muddy conditions not just from rain we might get but from rains of Tuesday and Wednesday.  Things played out pretty much like I thought, but we did get a few hours of fishing in before the rain/storms hit.

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Things were really slow to start, I was starting to think maybe we should have made different plans.   We hit it hard, worked our wazoos (is that a word?) off, and  my son Ben put about 2 dozen smallies in the boat, the water was very off color when we got there, the morning release from Claytor reached us, and that cleared things a little, but then the rain/storms hit and the runoff from yesterday’s rains came upon us, plus that mixing with another release from Claytor dam and by then it was a wash.

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Fishing was slow at first, but decent from 10 til about midday, Ben certainly worked hard for every fish.  Holding him in spots to cast was difficult, some areas are too fast to anchor or not safe to do so, so we hit holes in the rapids just with me holding him by rowing.  So we worked for every fish.  The water was stained at best, we had about a two hour window when the release pushed some of the dirty water out but it quickly got that way again as the next water release came and some runoff made its way in from way upstream, mainly from two trout stream tribs, Big Walker Creek, and Stony Creek.

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We sat bankside under some low trees, actually right on one of our favorite musky holes, one that produced a 45″ fish last fall for my son Ben…it rained …..and rained…….and rained….. We got a 10 minute respite, then another line of heavy showers moved through and I rowed a stiff wind a driving downpour for a solid hour to make it to the table rock rapid (what locals call it) and we floated on to take out.

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It turned off windy and cool as the cold front pushed past. Temperature dropped about 22 to 25 degrees. I imagine there will be a sizeable release from Claytor on Friday and the fishing will be off for a day or so. It was still a fun day, we got drenched….but hey we needed the rain.  We need it so badly in SW Va, really a lot of places in VA, that I am glad to see it.  Even if the tradeoff is fishing that is off because of it.  One thing about summer is things rebound quickly, and you are back to fishing soon.

20140724_182215Had a float scheduled with Ken Teague, Winston-Salem, NC, and based on yesterday’s weather and likely releases today we postponed , will likely make it up soon.  The water when we took out near the WV line yesterday was up about 1700cfs, running fast, and very colored and getting muddy.  There’s about a 18 -22 hr window when runoff mixes in and you get a dam release from Claytor dam in Pulaski County, 22 hrs upstream from where we were.  So calculating water conditions is a bit like an algebra equation.  This plus that times something else equals…….. if it looked like it did when we floated to our take out, Friday’s conditions likely would be ramped up a bit over that.  A No go.  Been there, done that.

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Take a large river like the lower New, add a dam release, then some runoff, you have some Class I /II water (normal) here that can become II/III in an instant.  Several of our summer floats for smallmouth are like this.  One plus though, is after thunderstorms and dam releases the ‘slug’ of cooler water, usually cooling off several degrees, turns the fish on somewhat.  This is why  if there are releases, even significant ones, we often still go.  But a large release, and runoff mixed in with it, not good.

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Have a busy schedule coming up, a few days remain open early August on our calendar before I head to Wyoming to guide groups for the remainder of the month.  The terrestrial bite is good, if walk and stalk and fishing dries is your game some good opportunity is there.  Also, smallmouth action remains good and should still be then.  The lower New gets really good late season as the grass starts growing and the fish begin to look up.  We’ve seen the start of that and it only gets better from here on out.  And for those wanting a short or close trip, we do summer trips to the Smith (great terrestrial fishing), small streams, and local bass /panfish.

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Have a great one…..and good fishing…

Jeff

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Things dry out a little after getting them drenched in yesterday’s heavy storms on the lower New River…..fun!

 

 

Great Day of Rainbows and Smallies….

Fri. June 27, 2014. …What started out as a great morning stayed that way, I guided Curtis Reeves and after a great morning the rest of the day proved to be good to until mid afternoon when the 94F temps put a damper on the fishing. We also had thunderstorms all around us.

But not before landing 15 to 20 rainbows from 17 to 23.5", along with 10 smallmouth bass from 1 to 3 pounds. The rainbows we caught sight fishing with dries, including the largest one….a near two foot long rainbow that ate a size 6, yes you read that correctly, a size 6 dry fly. We also caught the smallies on top, they either took one of my black ant dries or a popper.

Great day, great to spend it with Curtis. We knocked off at about 530pm and headed home.

I have a half day trip and lesson with Clayton Patteson tomorrow and I will be teaching casting, line management, and we will also spend some time putting those skills to work trying to catch some bass and bluegill. Should be another great day.

I have been dodging storms all week but fortunately it’s been a great week with no downtime despite it. I am thankful for that

Enjoy your weekend …!

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

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Great Morning…..

Fri. June 27, 2014……Great morning guiding Curtis Reeves of Archdale, NC and we got an early start and have done well, landing several nice small mouth up to 2 lbs and a dozen rainbows up to 23.5".

We have sight fished to everyone and seeing a giant fish eat a dry fly is something special. We have caught all fish on top…..so summer has some redeeming qualities for sure.

Headed to the next spot……..this is going to be good….

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

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Too Much Heat for Good Fishing….Right? Nada.

Sun. June 22, 2014….Too hot to do well on the water right?  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Had some great bass and panfish trips lately, and also doing really well on smallmouth.  Had lots of good trips lately, and doing well on the tailwaters as well.  Just had a moment to catch my breath, put together these clips for the start of our summer smallmouth fishing…..

 

Our summer fishing is just getting kicked off.  Lots of opportunity, public water, private water, more smallmouth opportunities than you can shake a stick at, tons of sight fishing for trout, particularly if you like the stalk and hunt game, plus tons of great dry fly fishing on the tailwaters.  More than you could do!

In any case, hope your weekend was great, will be on the water tomorrow guiding Patti Nolan and her son on one of our private trophy waters, and Tuesday will be guiding another smallmouth float trip on the New River guiding Mike Workman and Brian Fitzgerald from Thomasville, NC.  Looking forward to a great week….

Tight Lines…

Jeff

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Great Day…..Soggy Day…..

Sat. June 21, 2014…..Great day today on the South Holston, we started our day in downpours and a half muddy river. Guided Dr Bose Ravenel and Durham Potter, Raleigh, NC, and we were into fish almost right away.

First we worked them over with midges, then a dry/ dropper rig using a Sulphur or a big stimulator with a new fly I have been using called a TN Turd. It works well, in fact for the next several hours we nailed fish after fish.

Bose headed out at 2pm, Durham and I went to another spot and got into some sulphurs. Caught a lot of fish on dries, mostly sulphurs but we did nail several fish on terrestrials as well. It was good…..

Got back in late, looking forward to a day off tomorrow. ..enjoying the Lord’s day and relaxing a bit before another busy 5 trip week again next week.

Have a great weekend…..

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

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Good Day, Missed Storms……

Sat. June 21, 2014…..First day of summer …..Guess it’s official. Of course it’s felt official for sometime. We have had a hot start to the summer, and recently add some regular storms to the menu. Hot, humid…..summer. It’s here….

Had a great day yesterday, guided Dr Bose Ravenel and Durham Potter on a New River float trip and we fished for smallmouth. Did well putting 35 or more in the boat, and several quality fish. Some of them were on surface bugs, my/our favorite way to catch them.

We floated a six mile section near Woodlawn/Galax, Va. River is quite clear even with all the daily thunderstorm activity. Fish are really turning on to poppers, as evidenced by the large numbers of quality fish you could see cruising . Fun to watch a big smallmouth stalk your popper…..pretty sweet.

Headed out this morning to guide Dr Bose and Durham again this time on the South Holston. Heavy t storms in forecast, we will see. Hoping to catch the post pulse Sulphur hatch……

Will post more later……have a great weekend. ..

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note II on location in Possum Creek, TN

Summer……Thunderstorms…….Normal…..That’s What It Is…

Thurs. June 19, 2014…..Busy week, been dodging fly lines and lighting bolts….lol, we are in the typical summer Bermuda High pressure that puts the hot, humid air on top of us and plenty of instability for afternoon storms.  And we’ve had a lot of them.  But hey, its summer, and that’s normal.  Not global warming, not some bizarre turn on planet earth.  Normal.

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Had a busy week,  and a lot of stuff to work on around here with regard to upcoming trips….including Wyoming trips 2014 and 2015…..my week really started on this past Saturday.  Guided Ken Teague, Winston-Salem, NC, and met Ken  early in Bluff City, TN and we hopped in the driftboat and headed upriver. Lower river is full of gizzard shad, I am sure the stripers and big browns are having a feast. We didn’t see any stripers but I am sure they will show in the coming weeks and months as the TVA gets on its summer release pattern. Ken and I fished the lower river, caught a few fish, jumped a nice brown that appeared to be in the 20″ category, it took a double nymph rig and jumped right after the hookset and was free….bummer! We fished on and caught maybe a half dozen fish on dry /dropper rigs. We then trailered the boat and headed up river to see if we could find a hatch. Indeed, bugs were coming off, not a ton, but just enough to get the fish up and rising. We did much better in the afternoon, landing probably 30 fish or so, some on beetle patterns and others on sulfur dries and a dry dropper rig with a weightless nymph. We sight fished to fish for probably 4 to 5 hours and had a lot of fun doing that. Was surprised we didn’t do better early in the day but later made up for it. Ken was a blast, a good fly fisherman, great to spend a day with.

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Had a Monday trip at Dunlap Creek, the Escatawba Farms section,  and guided  Ron Feltz, Waco, TX …….met Ron and his clients Greg, Kirk, and Ben early at the Farm and we were off and in the water fishing….had some success early, big dries, a mish mash of rubberleg patterns, large and small, as they always do in June, did the trick. We caught some huge rainbows, and by lunch time we’d landed maybe 25 to 30 fish altogether up to 24 inches. We had a quick lunch, then back in the water for some sight fishing. We murdered fish on inchworms sight fishing to cruisers…..find a cruising fish, put the inchworm 3 to 4 feet ahead of them, watch them bolt or cruise over and eat it. Its sight fishing at its best….we landed a 25 to 30 more fish mix of browns, rainbows, and brookies doing this, while Ron worked his magic using dry/dropper combos. It was a great day, and we didn’t even fish to the close to 100 cruising bass and bluegill in the lake……..Great day, great guys, here are some pics of our day. Would have had a gazillion great photos, had not yet another smartphone (mine) taken a mid morning swim in the river….ooops…….

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ESCATAWBA UPDATE……Great news for summer fishing, due to good flows and temps up there we are able to do any scheduled trip as an Escatawba trip as well…$195 per person, and it can be an early morning trout (brook, brown, and rainbow) foray, then the upper river and the 2 ponds and one lake and catch some cruising trout (brown, brook, and rainbows) and also some largemouth bass and some huge bluegill. Tons if not all sight fishing…..that is fish to fish you can see and watch them eat your fly…….All combined I can see an easy 75 to 100 fish day in aggregate. A great opportunity but the time to do it is now as it won’t last all summer. This is a through mid July thing before the Farm closes for the late summer heat of August in order to protect its fabulous trout population/resource. Just call or email if interested……probably some of the best fishing in the radius of 200 miles of us right now……

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Also the past two weeks have been doing a lot of fishing and guiding  for bass and panfish trips on days I am not in the mountains.  Its been good despite the heat.  On Wednesday I guided  Sandeep Mazumder, Winston-Salem, NC, and we did a  Local bass/panfish boat trip, we met early in Oak Ridge and were off, it was pretty good early, steady actually, and as the sun got high in the sky we hit the shade hard. We fished mainly for panfish, and sight fished to a couple of 8 to 9 lb bass, one of which tried to eat a bluegill of about 8 or 9 inches long……ended up with about 30 to 40 nice hand sized or larger blue gills and a good many smaller ones. While surface fishing has been really good, we took a different route today…an intentional move by me……just to try our hand at some deeper water fishing with the recent heat wave. We fished a lot of deep points and fished structure very methodically. It paid off….We did very well with the deep rig, and the killer hot fly for today was one of my flies from way back fishing at Callaway Gardens in Georgia…..the RLD, or rubberleg dragon, a fly /bluegill killer originally conceived by Carl Warmouth….great pattern, and the olive or black with hot yellow legs destroyed them today. We caught fish right up even in the heat, and saw one of the largest bass I have seen in weeks try to eat the last bluegill we landed. The fish followed all the way to boat side and couldn’t have cared less that we were there. It was totally unafraid of us altogether. But it was a great day, we quit at 2pm and probably good as I have come down with some sort of stomach bug……major yuck. Hope I am in shape for end of the week trips….

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As far as a round up on local waters, conditions, and the like, the smallmouth are in full swing and topwater fishing has been good.  Also streamers midday a good way lately to put up some numbers.  Local lakes have fished well even though its been hot and the lake temps have risen to the mid to upper 80s.  I have done well with clients catching some incredible panfish and bass.  Local guided bass and panfish trips continue as well.  Want to do some great fishing without leaving town?  Plenty of it here.  Would be glad to introduce you to some of it…

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Nice that we are getting rain as local small streams needed it badly, flows are improving and helping as hot as it has been.  The most reliable fishing, and its normal for summer, is tailwaters.  On the Smith River, sulphurs still on the upper end, BWOs everywhere else, terrestrials everywhere else…..TN  Tailwaters have fished well despite the TVA not generating on the South Holston since March.  Lower river is warm, up to around 70F so we’ve been fishing more on the upper end.  The Sulphur hatch is decent, still spotty, but better than it has been thus far this year.  Bugs heaviest after the afternoon pulse……nymphing continues to be good with a sulphur dry and a sulphur nymph or midge dropped off the back being about the hottest thing you can throw right now.  The terrestrial bite is also developing nicely, and with all the Jap beetles out now it will only get better.  Be prepared with ants though for those fish that snub a beetle.  Also , look before you leap.  Make sure you look where you are stepping into the water…the best fish you see all day might bolt off in terror from there.  Caution.  Discipline.  That is what it takes.

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Also, have been a bit under the weather…bizarre.  But isn’t fun to have the summer bug.  Missed a trip today with one of my good customers Ho Lee, Mathews, NC.  A lot of trips coming up, and I finish the week  doing a float trip guiding Dr. Bose Ravenel and Durham Potter on the New R for smallmouth and Saturday the South Holston with Durham and Boze again.   Should be some great fishing, hope we can dodge the storms, looks like a soggy forecast.

Will have some more reports from the water on tomorrow’s trip…..thanks and have a great evening!

Jeff

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19 1/2 inches of South Holston wild brown trout…………a true treasure.

 

 

Two Good Days Back to Back….

Sun. June 8, 2014……Just off from two days guiding one trip on the SoHo with Tim Pastoor and Tom Parshley and we had a good day albeit without any hatches or rising fish to speak of. The bugs were light to non existent but we caught a ton of fish nymphing and some of them really nice. It was good enough that when I asked the guys if they wanted to go upstream after we ate lunch, and see if we could find a Sulphur hatch, they said "nah, there are plenty of fish and good ones here." Probably why we did well….stayed put and we didn’t leave fish to find fish.

Had a good day yesterday even with a lot of folks in the water. Floated the New R with one of my fave clients Dr Jim Kramer and we did the smallmouth and musky thing. We did well on poppers, landing a number of fish up to 2.5lbs and we got all of them on flies and we catching them when on one around us caught much of anything. We were grateful for the good day we had.

A busy week coming up……Enjoy your Sunday .

Tight lines…..

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

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Another Early Departure……

Wed. June 4, 2014……Another Early departure, we have settled into a summer like pattern already which means good fishing early…..As early as you can get on the water.

Fishing has also transitioned to hatches early and late and sight fishing and or looking for fish to fish to during the day. Often just fishing the water is counterproductive as it disturbs the water and spooks fish.

A good supply of smaller nymph patterns, dry/dropper rigs, terrestrials, and smaller yellow dries should comprise your selection right now. Yesterday was the first day we have targeted sighted fish with terrestrial dries and nailed them, and we did it several times.

I will be guiding Tom and Jack Wren of Richmond, VA, and I’m looking forward to another great day. We will be fishing two waters.

More to come from the river. Enjoy your hump day, weekend is coming!

Tight loops……

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note II

Great Day in SW Va….

Tues. June 3, 2014 …. Great day in SW Va guiding Mimi Williams and Bob Schwirzke on a private stretch of Big Cedar Fork. We got an early start amidst some significant rain, we actually started the day in a downpour. We got the first two fish, a pair of 20 plus inch rainbows……Both on streamers.

No rising fish though we did catch a few on terrestrials we did the best sight fishing with nymph rigs. The rain held off for the most part and we had a 25 fish day catching trophy rainbows up to almost 28"long. It was a great day.

Guiding Tom and Jack Wren of Richmond, VA tomorrow on two NC waters….More to come….

Jeff

Jeff Wilkins FlyFishing
3703 Windspray Ct
Summerfield, NC 27358
336-944-3628
www.jeffwilkinsflyfishing.com

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note II

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