Dec. 1, 2015 ….Been very busy the past few weeks, and its been wet. Record wet in many respects. I think mid to late December will mark the first time I have done trips that are new trips not rescheduled from previous months dating all the way back to midsummer. Its been soggy for sure. 35 inches of rain since early September….that’s a lot.
But we’ve fished a lot, floated a lot, hit the days here and there on our smaller waters when we can. Where we have been able to work around high water, its been good. The only total blow outs have been on some of our private waters and lower elevation streams where the combination of high water and waters that have some mud/sand bottoms have kept things pretty stirred up. Some great TN tailwater floats though, its been a great fall for that. The browns are partly to mostly through their spawn on the tailwaters and small streams alike.
December is here….where has the year gone? A lot of our clients are aware that we post recommended flies for our area for each month of the year but many are unaware that we also have a downloadable hatch chart on our This Month’s Fly Box page of our main site. You can go to that page every month and download/print a hatch chart for the month and fly recommendations for that month. If you’d like a printable hatch chart for December click here . We are certainly progressing toward winter though, I am finding a lot of stoneflies in leaf clumps in the river, some of them our large Pternarcys, sp. flies. These are large, size 4 to 8 flies and one reason in winter I use double fly rigs with a large stone or dead squirrel or wooly bugger as the top lead fly in a two fly rig when I am nymphing. These bugs aren’t often in the drift but in cold weather , late fall through mid winter while there are still leaves in the river….that is the time they are a legitimate food item. A high value target for sure.
GUIDED FISHING TRIPS
We have been doing a lot of trips, small waters, DH waters, wild waters, and tailwaters. When the water’s been up, we’ve been doing the TN tailwaters. Had some great floats lately, and have had a good many times when we floated two stretches of water in the same day, getting in some nymphing and streamer fishing on high water early, then floating again and getting into some dry fly fishing in the afternoons and casting dry flies to rising fish….not bad for late November. And on some of our floats we’ve been getting into some big browns floating the big water flows using deep sinking lines and large articulated flies more akin to bass and saltwater. Here’s a recap of our recent trips…
11-16-2015 FISHING REPORT – I guided Zachery Daniels, Boone,NC, NC mtns, met Zachery and his girlfriend Ashley , both App State students , in Boone and we were quickly off on our way. It was chilly, hi 20’sF , but quickly warmed up and turned out to be a nice day, albeit partly to mostly cloudy….which certainly helped the fishing where we were as it sometimes makes fish easier to catch. We fished a variety of nymph rigs, and I always know that cooler weather and winter is coming when both tiny flies and certain large patterns work well, often together. Like large stonefly imitations. Stones are active when our leaves are dropping and for long thereafter as they are one of the insect species that “shred’ the leaf material and use it as a food source. So, when leaves are dropping the large stones as well as certain other mayflies, caddises, etc., are moving about going from leaf clump to leaf clump and doing the work of leaf shredding. We fished these rigs on and off all day and did well, landing a good many fish and the last area we fished we sighted 6 different fish and five of them ate one of my large stones. The most effective one was an older Charles Brooks type of fly tied in the round, a very basic , crude stone , almost so much so that it offends my creative side that wants to make a great looking fly. Catches fish. Caught fish when the others failed. Also, it was a body weighted, non bead head fly…..go figure. That’s all we (I) fish any more for the most part, bead heads, right? Guess I’ll be pulling out more of those patterns again and putting them back in service. Today they saved the latter half of the day so to speak. We fished til late afternoon and called it a day, it was Zachery’s second time fly fishing and Ashley had never fly fished in the mtns before. She did very well, Zack had the large fish of the day, a fish that was in the 18 -19” range. It was a good day….
11-19-2015 FISHING REPORT – Did a TN South Holston Float trip with fellow guide/friend/customer Tom Smith, they are pumping water allowing for a nice all day high water float……Jeff’s birthday, he’s getting to the age its time to downplay birthdays….and in fact forget how old I am. Had a great day today, Tom and I floated two sections of river and even with all the rain still did quite well. You’d have been hard pressed to find fishable water today as the high country got 3 to 5″ of rain and everything was blown out. One benefit to South Holston floats is there is rarely a time it isn’t fishable , we did the top 5 miles of river twice. We had great conditions for ripping streamers. We nymphed, streamer fished, got in on a two hour sulphur hatch in the early afternoon, then ripped more streamers til dark. It was great. Landed probably 30 fish or so is my guess. Landed over half our fish on streamers, some large 4 to 6″ long baitfish patterns, and broke off a large brown that was in the two footer class. The river was about 6″ high with some color below Hickory Tree which made for some interesting streamer fishing. Great day though, Tom was great to spend it with.
11-20-2015 FISHING REPORT – I guided Tim Bauer, Winston-Salem, NC, TN South Holston /Watauga Float trip, another outstanding float on the Soho, we did very well, met Tim near Pilot Mtn and we were off, putting in around 10am or so. We dinked around up near the put in for an hour or so and caught some rainbows, then moved downriver as we approached midday. We caught several more fish on nymphs and a couple on dries, and had one 18 to 20″ fish come up and try to eat a yarn indicator the size of a tennis ball. Never seen that on this river, always figured these fish were too sophisticated for that. Think again. We started to see more and more rising fish, switched to just dries, and caught a few more fish including several nice rainbows and browns, the brown, a 16″ fish, was the best of the first part of the day. We slid over to the side, in hopes the hatch would get going, had lunch, and sure enough, like so often in the past, the bugs began to pour off and soon there were fish rising everywhere. It was phenomenal, one of the best dry fly days for a while……caught a good many fish on emergers, lost a few, broke off several good ‘uns (Tennessee talk), it was great. Tim has been fly fishing for a couple years and first trip on the Soho, I think forever a hatch chasing dry fly addict he will be. We had some great fishing. TVA has been dumping extra water, like 150cfs on top of normal generation, so we made the run downstream through the closed spawning area and resumed fishing below Hickory Tree. With the extra water, we also get a short ‘whitewater’ run as at present flows a couple of the rapids morph into some class III’s…….great fun and get a little wet too. But it was great. We resumed fishing below Hickory rapids and found some more risers, had one large pod of risers that were feeding like crazy. Nailed two from that bunch, and had one large fish that ate the bug and broke off. Im guessing of the 20in variety, quite a catch on a dry in high water. We fished a few more spots and thought it a good idea to run the other rapids before it got too dark. We floated on out and found two more risers to cast to but they did not take. But great day, caught a lot of fish……great weather, Tim was great to spend the day with. I have two open dates coming up Nov 23 and 24 and it is probably going to be outstanding. If you want to get in on some great fishing high water floating on the Soho, it is fantastic and right now is the time…..with some streamer fishing for bigs an option too. Brown trout spawn is in full swing. If you see redds be careful !!!!!! not to walk on them and we recommend leaving spawning fish alone. Plenty of other fish to harass, not all of them spawn at exactly the same time.
11-25-2015 FISHING REPORT – I guided Dr Jim Kramer, Greensboro, NC, TN tailwater float trip, did two floats on the South Holston, had great streamer action right from the start, in fact its the only way we fished the first half of the day, ripping a bunch of nice browns on big articulated streamer patterns fished on a heavy sink tip line. We used a variety of streamers but the two best were one of my articulated 6 inch Olive and white streamers, and Kelly Galloup’s Barely Legal in White…..I didn’t keep count but we put a bunch of fish in the boat (two dozen?)…..and really good ones up to 20 inches.
Had several beasts follow to the boat as well….25 to 30 inch fish. We did the first float and then took out and headed upstream and did it again. The second float we got into some good dry fly fishing, and an excellent sulphur hatch which brought many fish to the surface. We did well, landing several nice fish on dries before we switched back to streamers for the second half of our second float. We landed a 22″ brown near the end of our float, plus a number of 14 to 16″ browns. We only caught one rainbow all day long. We fished til dusk and floated our way to take out. An epic streamer day for sure with a nice sulphur hatch and dry fly fishing to boot….hard to beat.
11-27-2015 FISHING REPORT – I guided Craig & Graham Endean, Clemmons,, NC, NC Mtns, met Craig and his son Graham bright and early and we were off and on our way. We fished two waters, started off with nymph rigs….double nymph rigs….and were into fish right away. They were working so well we fished them hard and never looked back.
The water was still up the four waters we drove by, and the two that we fished. The water is still up from recent rains but that makes for excellent nymphing as we were doing. Craig and Graham were first time anglers, and they put 45 to 50 in the net today, a number of which were in the 17 to 19″ category and several of which were wild 16 to 18″ browns. It was great…..the fishing, I’d say, was lights out. We fished til a little after 4pm and called it a day.
11-28-2015 FISHING REPORT – I again guided Dr Jim Kramer, Greensboro, NC, NC Mtns, the first of several trips with Jim lately, fished the big water today, water still up where we fished a little farther away Western NC, but we had an excellent day. We tossed around the idea of floating and ripping streamers again for larger fish on the Soho, but they cut way back on the generation/releases which eliminated that opportunity. But we went to plan B, and for a plan B, maybe it should have been a plan A. It was great.
Water was high, high enough to make for some touch and go /sketchy wading, but we had great fishing fishing some new ‘anchor’ rigs I’ve been using, ‘yarn n anchor ‘ is what I call them, and we did quite well. We fished nymphs all day, and while the urge to chuck some big ugly streamers passed through, we stuck with what was working which proved to be a good move. I lost count of the fish we caught, a mix of browns and rainbows, with a couple bigs (20 inchers) thrown in and a few bigs that we had on that jumped and threw the flies. It was a little work wading in thigh to waist deep fast water most of the day but in the end it paid off. Used a few new concoctions , a ‘Dead Squirrel Mini’ with a tunghead and tied on a jig hook, it was murderous on them. Like the above, I don’t know how many fish we caught, but in my thoughts and Jim’s words…..”close to 100.” I’d agree. It was excellent.
11-30-2015 FISHING REPORT – I guided Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, TN South Holston float, heavy rains overnight messed up several parts of the river, lots of tribs coming into the main river were rolling with mud and discolored the river. We floated a short stretch for a little while, and had one strike on a streamer but that was it. We then moved upriver and floated a 6.5 mile stretch. Chilly, rainy, breezy…that was the mantra for today, and lots of dirty water dumping into the river. From the upper boat ramp at the grates downstream the water was significantly colored. Normally great nymphing and streamer fishing, but not nymphing if high water……we only saw a couple of risers, so we nymphed several runs I knew would hold fish.
We stuck two good rainbows that came off, got a few streamer bites, but settled into one of my favorite runs above a midriver island and finally got into some fish on nymphs using a Y2K /zebra midge combo…..we caught fish on both. We caught a couple, moved downriver, and repeated that. We ended up catching 5 rainbows all together on a stretch that has been producing numbers of fish. My guess the conditions put them off. It will recover once things settle down. We fished our way downriver chucking streamers, has tons of follows and short strikes, and had one really nice brown on, but it came off.
Ended up landing 3 browns total ripping a big articulated olive/grizzly streamer. With water conditions and weather was it was I feel fortunate to have landed fish at all, it was definitely off for sure, but glad we caught 8 fish….and feel darn lucky to have caught those. Ted was great to spend the day with always.
Have a 2 day trip coming up that starts tonight/tomorrow with my client from Monday Ted Linczak and 4 clients from Pennsylvania, Ken Okorn, Chet Hagenbarth, Don Albright, and Bob Moyer. Looks like we could be in for some heavy rain late today, tonight and tomorrow. Will have to play it by ear as far as conditions. We will be on the South Holston and while they are projecting a limited release due to expected flooding conditions for Thursday they are showing wide open generation. Some good floating days coming if they do this.
Looks like a wet week, it will be interesting to see how all the other waters react to even more rain. I’ve been in Abingdon, VA and spent Monday evening there and am scouting this morning to see what other waters look like with more trips coming after this one. Could be a few days of no fishing but we’ll see. We get inquiries on spawning browns on the SoHo……there are places on the river with some spawners that are not in closed fishing areas………we do not target spawners but instead think it best to leave them alone to provide us with more of the great browns we love so much. Plenty of other places on the river to fish.
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