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Wet, In Case Any One Has Missed It…..

Thurs. Feb 13, 2020 … Yes, the title has a bit of sarcasm…..intentionally.  Man has it been wet….. really wet.  But we have had a lot going on regardless.  This is always trip time and in between time get things set up/planned/taken care of for the rest of 2020.  Things are looking good…even with all this rain!

On 2-8 I had scheduled a guided Trip with Dr Jim Kramer, Greensboro, NC, we ppstponed and rescheduled to 3/17.  Muddy high water conditions in Mtns from recent rains was the reason but things are starting to clear out.  Some high up waters you could fish, not easily, but you could do it if you were desperate.  The highest elevation waters tend to be the coldest though, and present some opportunity during high water as they are the first to clear out….but the water is cold and fishing is somewhat limited by that.  I spent the morning with a friend from church scouting some local spots , we normally do really well on bass locally this time of year, particularly spotted bass….but we had water conditions that were very muddy and fish and bait balls, which they are normally feeding on, were very scattered….as were the fish.  Fun anyway though, got to play with a new Tohatsu 4 stoke outboard motor and it pushes the drift skiff pretty good.

On 2-10 I had planned a guided Trip with Edwin Stott, Burlington, NC, we ended up postponing due to more rains and Im giving water an extra day or two to clear up.  Still plenty of opportunity though, tailwaters will fish fine during this weather wackiness….this isn’t unusual, winter is always a wetter season…..there isn’t anything unusual, bad, off, past the normal….whatever adjectives you want to use…this is normal stuff for this time of the year.  Yes, at times….. flooding.  It is a normal thing, a normal occurence, always happens, serves a purpose, does positive even though it is portrayed as negative.  Nope.  Plus, we can still catch fish…to boot.  Below was a recent float with longtime client Ted Linczak…we had snow, super cold temps, 4 inches of snow in the boat…..and the snow came on the heels of heavy rainfall…..note the swollen, dirty river……But like I usually say, don’t take my word that you can catch fish in bad conditions make me prove it.  Let’s go flyfishing!

On 2-11 I did a presentation for Nat Greene Fly Fisher’s monthly meeting at Leonard Center in Greensboro on the Delayed Harvest Fishing Program in NC and local opportunities in winter.  Great turnout, super turnout, all seats taken…got to see a lot of longtime friends as well as meet/make some new ones.

I shared some ideas on what winter boxes I work out of…..and here are a few pics of those boxes…..

Have been working on design of a piece of artwork of one of my flies for a friend /client/restaurant owner ….. the fly and the artwork…. they are planning on using it on some of their packaging.  Great stuff!   Also just got in a couple of new stickers, something clients ask about often.  We are going to be offering more and more of these as times go on….. here are two most recent ones…..one silver holographic logo and one with a mountain logo.

 

Working on a ton of stuff this week including some stuff for some upcoming trips, fly fishing schools, fly tying events , and a presentation I’ll be doing on March 3, 2020 on NC Fishing opportunities for the Dogwood Chapter Trout Unlimited in Statesville, NC, hosted and promoted by Carolina Mountain Sports Ltd, in Statesville, NC.  Pay Richard Griggs and his staff a visit if you are in the area.

The rain has continued but we are fishing, we have some trips coming up and we also have a little drier weather coming as well.  I have posted a recent video fishing report and after it a second quick video on my $0.02 on how to cope with this wet weather….essentially its a message of “Deal With It.”….lol.  You can access it on my main website fishing reports  here .

Tomorrow is Valentines Day….. Happy Valentine’s Day !  No fishing on Valentine’s Day…. Will be spending our day hiking Mt Jefferson and some surrounding trails.  Should be a good day….chilly though….highs in the low 30s…….  Many thanks to my wonderful wife who has contributed to the success of what I do more than anyone on this earth.  I can’t thank her enough….she has been a gift of God to me.

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Will resume trips on 2-15 doing a guided trip with longtime client Mike Workman, Thomasville,NC, and we’ll be doing a TN float trip.  Also have some trips next week as well so we’ll be fishing.  Looking forward to some great days.

Have a great weekend!

Tight lines…

Jeff

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2020 OFF TO A BANG……or GREAT START

Thurs Jan 30,2020 ……We have had some great fishing already this year. The nymph bite has been on fire the past several weeks. I have done a good many trips since Jan 1 and since mid month we’ve enjoyed a mixed bag of trips…. On 1-17 I guided Robert Johnson, Cherryville, NC, on TN tailwater trip, Robert brought his friend Carl along and we met up mid morning, Robert had fished with me before but it was Carl’s first trip, and first time fly fishing. We fished nymph rigs, swung wet fly rigs, fished dries, even tossed some streamers…and caught fish on everything. Fishing is pretty good…well, excellent to put it straight. Carl put almost 30 fish in the net, quite exceptional I’d say for never having fly fished. Together the guys put between 60 and 70 fish in the net over our day long float. It was great. Cool weather but not terribly cold, light wind, part sun to clouds to end the day, a perfect winter day and the boat traffic was light to boot. Made for an exceptional day on the water. It was great, a fantastic day for any time of year. Normal stuff for January on a tailwater though. Good fishing will continue, no reason to wait til spring when things will get pounded and we’ll be all booked up.

On 1-18 I guided Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, a TN float trip, and I met Ted early as the threat was for Freezing rain, sleet, and snow to start the day….weather warnings were posted online and on all the weather channels and apps…and as usual they were wrong. Apps on your phone are almost never right. But fortunately it kept a lot of folks away… we enjoyed the river to ourselves only seeing a couple of other boats all day long. We nymph fished and threw streamers as well and had a banner day probably putting 50 or more in the net…including some quality larger fish on the meat and a couple really nice dredging bottom with the nymph rigs. It was cool and midday started to rain and get windy which made for raw, nasty conditions all the way to take out. Imagine 5 miles through breezy and rainy conditions with chilly temps….it will test your desire to be out there. But as in the SIMMS ads, we mocked the weatherman, forgot the forecast, and made a great day of it. The nymph bite lately has been off the scale….. red hot.

I have spent several days working on website edits, continuing to learn how to use a new Mac in all the stuff I have been doing for years, as well as tying flies. January is also pre-spring maintenance time. Its a time where everything gets a look over…..equipment, boats, trailers, fly lines, you name it. If it needs replacing or servicing now is the time. With a handful of nasty, chilly , cold , bad weather days in the High country some of this will get done. And did I mention how enjoyable servicing /repacking trailer bearings is? Wonderful good time.

Also have been spending a bit of time finishing up a pile of fly orders …… making up for some off the water days a couple of days with the temps in the teens….. I fish in this, guide in this, have for decades…. and believe it or not you can still catch fish in it. We have done it many times over in some pretty sketchy conditions. We are still fishing if a customer calls. I have been working also on several things as well, designing some stickers, hats, t -shirts, etc., excited as a lot of it uses some of my own art and photography. Look for some of that real soon…..dependent upon how quickly Jeff acclimates to a new computer system and some new design software.

I get a lot of questions about the variable appearance of Brown trout in area streams. Folks remark that there are wildly differing colorations. There’s actually a reason for this. Trout in our area have two separate blood lines. Most people that think of browns they think of German Browns right away. Many of these and a good many of the ones on our tailwater are German browns….what is known as "Bachforelle" strain. Around here the river fish are pretty much of this variety. They migrate up and down a river system but are more river fish (salmo trutta fario…."river dwelling").

There was another type of brown that made its way to America as well. It is called the Lock Leven brown. Lock Leven means "Lock Eleven" and is a brown of Scottish heritage. Both trout species were brought over in the holds of ships by early settlers. Some Scottish strains are also referred to as seeforellen…..these are what we have in local tailwaters….most notably the South Holston where you have a strain of ‘lake run’ fish that migrate in the spring out of the lake and into the river. These fish are highly migratory (salmo trutta lacustris…"lake dwelling"). We often catch these sight nymphing in summer on low water and streamer fishing in spring, summer, and early fall on high water. Fish have intermingled somewhat wherever the two live side by side. The way to tell the 2 breeds apart before they became intermingled was the different spot patterns. German browns typically have reds spots intermingled with the other spots. Loch Leven browns have no red spot. It has also been suggested that the real way to tell them apart definitely is to look to see if they are wearing leder hosen or kilts. lol

This week I have spent a fair amount of time on small water. Have also had some great fishing. The rains we’ve had have been great "maintenance" rains….just enough to keep our streams full and fishing well. On 1/29 I guided longtime client Curtis Reeves. We fished a wild stream in Central VA. We started with a short hike in. I knew weather wise we’d be in for a great day and we were. Cloudy, to mostly cloudy, back to cloudy, cool but not cold, and great water conditions. Curtis booked the day with me with the goal of hitting wild water in a remote area and working on sharpening up for an upcoming Competition he is participating in with some of the best tightline nymphing anglers in our region.

Water temp where we were was low to mid 40s…we started with dual nymph rigs. Curtis was using his setup w 10’2Wt and long leader and two tungsten bead heads. We then we rigged up and fish a short section of deep swift, pocket water. That section produced four nice rainbows. Three of the rainbows were 16 to 19 inch fish, one was close to 20. From there we moved upstream and targeted a couple of other deep slots And caught several more rainbows probably eight or 10. Cloudy skies in near perfect water conditions were producing a really good Nymphing bite.. Continued upstream to another spot and a spot that has always yielded a lot of fish. There were some rising to blue wings but the tightline rig was working so well we stuck with it. That spot yielded over 15 fish …several nice wild rainbows and a stunner of a wild brown…. a wild 14 or 15 inch brown…..a real prize for any small stream with wild fish.

We continued to work holes, pockets , seams and caught close to 40 fish when we decided around 130pm to stop for a quick streamside lunch. We hiked back to the car and had lunch. Then hiked upstream to another secluded area and started back fishing. We had good fishing for another hour and a half or so……including two nice fish (one of them an 18 inch rainbow) on dry flies. By 4/430pm the sun started to slip below the ridges and tree line and fishing shortly tailed off after that. That is normal stuff for a wild small stream. Things shut off and we left and hiked back to my truck as we had had ourselves one heck of a day. 45-50 fish roughly…..that’s a great day anywhere, anytime….let alone late January. And on wild water at that. Fishing has been great! And it should continue….

I am looking forward to a great week’s end and end of January. I have two trips, on on Friday 1/31, a wade trip with Cory Kirkland on some NC water. on 2/1 I have a tailwater float trip with client Ted Linczak. Expecting some good fishing on both…..

Fishing is good right now and I have some open dates coming up in February. Let’s go bend some rods…..

Tight Lines….
Jeff

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Guide’s Perspective in Dealing with High Water and Changing Conditions

“Its not a problem if you prepare for it.  Buffalo famously gets a lot of snow.  Growing up there, though, no one really freaked out about it, because we had machines to get rid of it and the attitude that it was hardly a problem worth hyperventilating over.

Most problems are like that.  When we prepare for them and get used to them, they’re not problems anymore.

That’s merely the way it is.”

-Seth Godin

"Mutare cum conditionibus" - latin for "Change with Conditions"

What a profound statement by one of my favorite authors, Seth Godin, and how true.  Exactly the way I look at changing conditions.  When you fish/guide for a living, you have to make a lot of less than perfect….and sometimes bad….conditions work.  If you fish only “perfect” days you’ll get 20 or so a year where the temperature, humidity, sun, everything is just like you like it …if you are lucky.  That’s not how it is. Hardly ever.  Almost never.

If you are a guide and there aren’t ideal conditons…guess what…. the game must go on.

I use a fairly simple approach to dealing with changing conditions.  Basically, there are four constantly changing variables that nay fly fisherman deals with everytime they go out.  They are:  (1) Weather conditions/light conditions, (2) Water Temperature, (3) Water level, and (4) Water Clarity.  Around those 4 variables most every decision is made in some fashion.  Below are some short thoughts on each.  Also, at the end is a link for a page you can print out as a guideline for choosing flies and how to rig them…..leader, tippet, etc, those considerations.

The Variables

Weather – weather dictates whether we go or no.  Weather dictates the water and light conditions. Winter and Summer are alike in that they are stable seasons, generally that is, and weather patterns are fairly consistent.  Spring and Fall are times of quickly changing weather, and times when we frequently have severe weather.  Bad weather, when most folks stay home, often offers the best fishing of all.

Water Temperatures

Changes with the season and dictates hatches, fish movement, spawning migrations, you name it.  Like a medical patient the temperature is a general indicator of what’s going on.  Generally, fishing for trout is best in winter when its above 35 degrees, though we catch fish in water colder than that.  Temps above 40 make fish most active, spawning occurs often when water is in the mid to upper 40sF.  Under 40F mostly midges and small stuff will be hatching, sans some winter stoneflies in Appalachia, while upper 40s sees the beginning of our mayfly hatches most notably blue winged olives.  Just under 50 we see caddis and our large spring mayflies, low to mid 50sF our classic hatches.  “Prime range is 45-65F”, and arguably the perfect range is about 52 to 60F.

Water Level

Water level will effect many aspects….one, whether or not you can fish at all.  If you can, it might limit your ability to wade….or to reach deeper areas of the stream.  It reduces the amount of water you can safely wade.  It will affect what you fish with.  It affects rod and line choice, line weight choice, what flies you fish, leaders, tippet, rigging…everything.  It also affects how fish feed, where they will feed, where they can hold, whether they feed on top or the bottom.  Water level also affects spawning, migrations, etc.

Water Clarity

Water clarity will affect how fish feed and what they can see, and equally as important…. how or if they can see you.  It also affects many of the above things….leader length, tippet size, fly type and fly size….all of this is important.

Putting it all together……to pull all this together to formulate a game plan I have a link below that you can click to take you to link where you can download a chart you can save, print, and take with you on the water to help in deciding how to tackle the conditions in terms of rigging and fly choice.   I had originally put this out for May, but the info is applicable to all seasons.  Click link below to access this handy guide.

Guides Perspective for Addressing Changing Conditions

 

WINTER FLY FISHING TIPS

Winter fly fishing is very effective, and a lot of folks figure out how good fishing can be once they have tried it.  The uncrowded water, hungry and willing fish, and great water levels make for a great experience.  There are many things though that will help you make the experience so much the better.  10 years ago I put together this Winter Fishing primer….an 8 page downloadable guide that you will find helpful in your winter fishing.  Its as relevant as it was 10 years ago.  Click the link below to access this resource…..

WINTER FLY FISHING by JEFF WILKINS

Client Ted Linczak above on a 20 degree day in late December , a day we fished with 3-4 inches of snow in the boat.  The rewards?  Many fantastic browns, including a fish over 30 inches.

Fishing Has Been Red Hot…..

Monday May 1 2019….Been a busy time, so busy in fact I have been in the river or in the boat on the river ever since my last post.  Except for Sundays and a few days lost to high water we’ve have been cranking.  Its been outstanding, one of the best springs we have ever had.  Lake fishing, small streams, tiny creeks, larger rivers, tailwaters, we’ve done well on all.  Its a by product of a wet year last year and wet year so far this year.   Every month we offer a FREE printable hatch chart with the bugs you can expect to see on the water and what flies you might use in your fishing.  Click here or below to print the chart, or visit our This Month’s Fly Box page here.

JWFF MAY 2019 HATCH CHART

Here is our first report for three weeks…..here’s the scoop…

On April 11, I guided a trip with Thane Barnes, Stokesdale, NC, NC Mtns, fishing was crazy good and today would prove to be no different, met Thane very early and we were in the water a little after 7am and catching fish right from the outset. Conditions are/were great, water temps in the low 50s to start where we were and reaching 60F by late afternoon. A couple rising fish here and there, but we stuck with tried and true double nymph rigs and a variety of two fly rigs and caught fish all day on them. Caught several citation sized browns, one fish that was over 20″, and lost a rainbow that was huge. Caught somewhere around 60 fish today, it was outstanding. Weather was cloudy and cool to start, but second half of day sunny and mid 70sF. Great day to be outside. In late, out again tomorrow, and abbreviated report as it usually is when that is the case with several days trips in a row.

On April 12 I guided Dr Art Kriner, Greensboro, NC, Dave Wiebking, Kernersville, NC, NC Mtns, we arrived pretty early to our fishing and in driving through rain most of the way, including some downpours, we expected to have the rain be an issue affecting our fishing. We did fish through one downpour and some showers but for the most part we were able to get in the trip. We had decent wade fishing, probably catching 30-35 fish. The water was high, a little off color, and we ended up mostly nymph fishing. The first area of the day produced a 20 inch brook char, the largest fish of the trip. We caught brookies and rainbows, no browns. We did have one brown on, and it was a large one, maybe 20″ or more, but it came off within a rod’s length of the net. Busy week so its an abbreviated report….but here are a few pics….

On April 13 I guided a float trip, William Smith, Chapel Hill, NC…….. William was joined by his friend Ted on the trip, we met early on the NC side near Jefferson and hit the South Holston. With the 1400 sluice flow it was great for a float, which is what we did. Fished the upper river, caught fish on everything, dries, nymphs, wets, etc., we did not sling meat but could have. I usually find that effective at higher flows, but we did well enough with everything else it didn’t matter. We started a little slow, one fish here, one fish there, and not surprising with the boat traffic. Sunny to start, quickly it clouded up and rained on us a bit on and off through lunchtime. We had sunny weather the rest of the day. Put a mix of rainbows and browns up to 14″ in the boat, no large fish, but a lot of fish…Probably 4 dozen or so. Ted managed a double, two browns at once.

On April 15 and 16 we had trips scheduled with Dr Pat Burney and his son JP, and grandson Diego, and were able to do neither because of heavy rain and blow out conditions.  It was gnarly, even some snow up high on mountain tops.  NC Mtns got between 1.5″ and 3″ of rain Saturday/Sunday depending on location.  East TN and SW Virginia fared likewise.

On April 17 and 18 I guided two float/wade combo trips,  Tim Ramsey, Charlotte, NC,  and his friend/client Jim Kristufek…on Day one we wade fished first half of the day and got some absolutely stellar weather, sunny, warm, no wind to speak of, and caught a good many fish, probably 3 dozen or so, a mix of browns and rainbows. Used mainly dry/dropper rigs and caught them on the little stuff. We took a lunch break early afternoon, and then did a short flat water, low water float and caught a bunch of rainbows, some quality fish up to 17/18″ on midges……it was great, we stayed til dusk it was so good. Lots of risers…… Thursday we got out really early, hit a stretch of the river for a short low water float and did well there as well, landed maybe 25 or so and some quality fish up to about 15″ or so, a mix of browns and rainbows. It got extremely windy around 1pm so we headed for takeout and had lunch quickly on the boat and then took the boat out and headed to a wade fishing spot for the afternoon. Not many rising fish in the windy conditions, so we rigged up some long light nymph rigs with double rigs and caught a ton of fish, probably 25 or so, and ended the day with some nice fish up to 15-16″. This afternoon was one of the windiest days on the river I ever remember….it was insane during the afternoon. Two good days of fishing though, caught a lot of fish.

On April 19 I had a trip scheduled with Dr Jim Kramer, Greensboro, NC, but we had flooding/blow out conditions.  The rain and runoff was significant enough to postpone my April 20 trip with Tyler Johnston as well.  The water is a hassle or inconvenience for obvious reasons but an extra charge of water here and there is giving us great fishing because its maintaining great stream flows.

On April 24 I guided a float trip with Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, TN tailwaters,  started early, all day water, so we did 15 miles on the South Holston…in other words a very full day. We opted to sling meat the whole day, as Ted loves that, and I will say its pretty high up on my list too. We did very well, boating well over 60 fish and many nice fish also. It was great. We missed a bunch, had a good many also come unbuttoned at boatside and near us….great in that I got to test out some new fly patterns…..one of which absolutely killed them. Killed them…..no other way to put it. There was one stretch where we caught a fish on 10 consecutive casts. That’s hard to do with a streamer. It was great, and I got in real late so this report is somewhat abbreviated….busy week! Fishing is red hot folks…

On April 25 I guided a wade trip, Ron Rhoades, Greensboro, NC, NC Mtns, met Ron bright and early, it was very warm, kind of nice to leave my place in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Been a while for that….but we were on the water early and man was it good. Like I always say, if you are willing to adjust, work around high water, you can reap a bounty if you are willing to work for it. Ron reaped a bounty today, we fished a couple miles of water and only saw one other soul on the stream all day long. Man was it good, we started off with nymph rigs, usual sauce for the high, clear flows we were fishing. The fish had the feedbags on….and they should. Its April you see, and they eat all day long. All day long. All night long. All day and all night long. I knew when the first several casts produced fish it was going to be a great day. And it should be. Great day, decent weather, high water, the right flies rigged properly and presented to the right water in the right way. That should produce a great day. And it did. In any case, we tallied two nice fish right off, then the next run we fished gave up 7 or 8. It took Ron all of 15 minutes to be in double digits for the day. I fished the usual suspects, the all around high water Pats fly, along with several HE and soft hackle droppers. Most of the first half of the day was like arrive to a spot, make a cast catch a fish. Spend 15 minutes there and catch a bunch of fish. Move to the next one, rinse and repeat. Again, a reminder this is after all the “terrible flooding that washed a lot of fish away”…..all that is nonsense talk. IF you hear that, remember it. Because it isn’t true. That hasn’t happened. Great fishing has though. And Ron managed probably put 60 -70 reasons in my net as to why the recent flooding has done nothing but give us plenty of water and great fishing. In a month or so we’ll be glad we had the water too. We had a quick shore lunch on the creek bank, and after that, right back to business and picking up where we left off. We caught several red hot wild rainbows , a couple of wild browns, and a few brookies. A lot of waters where there are a mix of wild and stocked fish I have over the past two years of high water been seeing a ton of wild fish. Streambred, wild rainbows and browns. All this water helps that. We ended up fishing til about 4pm and calling it a day, just ahead ofthe rain moving in. Great day though, over 60 fish and had a lot on as well that got off, including 3 very nice and one 20″ wild brown that pulled loose after about a minute and a half fight. Rain is coming in…..and it won’t do much to put the fishing off. No deluge expected, just a little “maintenance” level stuff that will keep nice water levels in our smaller waters.

On April 27 I did a FLY FISHING SCHOOL @ SUMMIT CENTER in Brown Summit , NC, and it was full/soldout.  We partnered with  Rob Arends and the folks at GOP in Greensboro to do a one day fly fishing class and it turned out great. A very comprehensive one day course for 10 students. We packed a lot of information into the 8 hour day, including: casting, knots, equipment, fishing strategies and fly selection, for coldwater, warmwater and saltwater species. Beginners learned the skills that will allow them to catch fish on their own, and intermediate level fly fishers can advance their casting skills and fill in some holes in their technical knowledge. We provided all equipment & materials, as well as morning snacks/coffee/drinks, plus a very nice gourmet chicken entree with cheese scalloped potatoes, sweet carrot medley, and a zucchini medley for lunch and drinks.  We used the 6 acre lake on the site to do some casting and fishing for a few hours as part of the class.

We had a full class, thanks so much to Tori, Chris, Ben, Anita, William, Jeff, Joe, Jim,Daniel for coming, and for Rob Arends , General Mgr @ Great Outdoor in Greensboro for his help in doing the class. We had a great time, folks learned a lot, we made new friends and some new fly anglers today. Ton of casting success too, there were some great casters in this group. IF these folks stick to it they will become GREAT fly anglers. Great casting! We had NW wind, bluebird skies, as a result of the passing cold front…always tough conditions for fishing warmwater but we caught fish anyway, many of which were nice bass. All in all a great day…and a great class.

On April 29 I had scheduled a guided float trip with  David & Adam Carter, Greensboro, NC, 2 angler TN tailwater float trip, but had to cancel due to a wheel bearing /rotor on the truck go out just prior to trip and had to reschedule. On a different note, our fly company APPALACHIAN FLY COMPANY is going well and we are selling a ton of custom flies.  Here are some pics though from a client who buys a lot of custom flies from me….he and his daughter Anna wrangled this stud small stream brown trout on one of my custom crayfish patterns:

On April 30 I did a guided wade trip, Brian Graham, Winston-Salem, NC Mtns, and we had stellar weather, stellar fishing. I have tried to reiterate that to all I know , customers , friends, anyone wanting to do trips because of the great setup we had (lots of rain, etc.) for great fishing and today was yet another reason why. We had a banner day, met Brian early at 0′ dark thirty and we hit two different waters, and we did well on each. Caught some with nymph rigs and streamers, plus raised a nice brown with a dry but that was the only dry fly fishing we tried. It was Brian’s first time out fly fishing, and I’d say he had a great day. He landed citation sized brookies and rainbows and had a shot at a brown that was in the upper 20″s /near 30″ but we could not get him to eat. The others, well, they did eat. Brian landed between 40 and 45 fish, and had one brookie that was a stunner….about as obese a brookie as I have ever had someone catch. It was huge. Great day though, the weather and fishing and fellowship was fantastic. Water temps are in the 50s meaning plenty of bugs, plenty of fish, and great fishing….. Here are some pics…

We have a ton of trips coming up including a 5-2-2019 trip with James Brewer, Robbins, NC, Dan Rominger, Stokesdale, NC, 2 angler TN float trip. a 5-3-2019 wade trip with David Qualls group, TN Tailwaters, a 5-4-2019 float trip with Drew Seitz and his father, a TN tailwater float, a 5-6-2019 TN float trip with David Slaydon, Reidsville, NC, and Bob Stanford, Greensboro, NC, a three day trip with Dr Jim Kramer of Greensboro, NC….May 7,8,9, and finishing up that week with a 5-10-2019 trip with Ron Davis, Winston-Salem, NC.  Looks to be a busy time!

Our summer calendar is beginning to fill up…if you want to book a date to fish time to do it now.  I am booking days and sometimes multiple days daily.  May is full, June will soon be full and so will July.  Summer and heat does not end our fishing….some of the best of the year , especially dry fly fishing, happens during that time.  Weather and fishing are here…..time to get after it!

Tight lines…

Jeff

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Great Fishing Continues…..Get in On It or Miss Out!

Monday April 8, 2019  Another great week behind us.  We had a busy week and the fishing was excellent.  April is one of those months where you almost can’t go wrong.  Everything is getting going…..local bass and warmwater fishing, shad and stripers down east, reds and specks and other species in the salt, and mountain trout, bass, and more.  Hard to choose where because so many places will be good.  Good problem to have though.

On 4-1-2019 I worked on on our usual beginning of the month stuff plus catching up after two weeks of being on the water almost 6 days each week. Mountain of email, messages, fly orders, things are very busy. There was a cool down, and will be for next day or two then back to great spring weather. Fishing is great and will only get even better on all waters. Perfect as perfect gets as far as conditions. Delayed Harvest waters restocking for April starting today, opening day on all Hatchery Supported waters is Saturday Apr 6.

4-3-2019 I guided a TN float/wade trip, with Mike Delissio, Winston-Salem, NC, TN tailwaters, we did a half day /morning float and had some good fishing, mostly subsurface stuff and caught some nice browns…a mix of rainbows and browns , caught a number of fish swinging wet flies also. We floated the upper section and stopped for lunch just after 1pm. After lunch we went upriver and caught some more fish with double nymph rigs. Rising fish were here and there but they were never rising consistently. Put about 30 in the net today, and Mike even landed a couple of doubles.   Beautiful weather, mid 60s and sunny.

On 4-4-2019 I guided  Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, and took advantage of a split schedule on in the morning and off in the afternoon to do a morning float and afternoon wade. Great fishing on float, probaby 50 fish in the net and several quality, big browns. Afternoon we waded low water and got some olives, caddis, etc., and caught another 25 or so to put an exclamation point on an already great day. Sun, warm, 75F made for an incredible day. Busy week, and busy weeks end so report is kind of short but simply put the fishing has been superb. Superb. Have a few days left in April, beyond that June is the earliest next opening. IF you are looking for a date to fish time to reserve it now as I expect I’ll be full soon. Here are a few pics from yesterday of some of the hogs that came to the boat…

On 4-6-2019 I guided Dr Jerry Reeves, Oak Ridge, NC, and Mike Blackman, Greensboro, NC, and we had an early start, a really early start, in expectation of a nice weather Saturday with plenty of sun, and with that the expectation of a lot of other anglers on the water.  We got lucky with the rain on Friday, it was widespread and heavy in some areas but we missed a lot of it where we fished, and we fished two different waters.  One was in great shape, about as good as it gets, the other was high and very off color, just short of what I would call muddy.  Both fished great, we had a banner day, spent most of the day nymph fishing with double rigs and soft hackle rigs and did very well.  Caught about 40 before 10am , browns, brookies, and rainbows, several 18″ plus fish included.  We fished about a mile of water before lunch and had about 50 fish by lunch, the largest a 21-22″ rainbow landed by Jerry and an 18″ brookie by Mike.  We had a quick shore lunch, then headed off to fish another couple of stretches and also one other stream as well and we caught fish like the morning, ending up with just shy of 100 fish on the day.  It was excellent to put it simply.  Conditions were great and continue to be.  This pattern of a several dry days and one day of rain is keeping conditions optimal…..and we are enjoying and reaping the fruits of that.  Here are two citation fish that came to net…

We have more photos than the above on our main website fishing reports page.  You can see more by clicking here . Expecting another great week this week.  We have some rain coming in but it is only tonight and early tomorrow and then its out of here.  It will help keep our local waters at an optimal level, so with that I welcome it.

Our upcoming FLY FISHING SCHOOL on April 27, 2019 at the SUMMIT Center in Brown Summit is now full.  It is an all day even we are doing with or for our friends at GREAT OUTDOOR PROVISION COMPANY in Greensboro.  Looking forward to a great event.

We have a busy week of trips coming up, several wade trips over the next few days rounded out with a few float trips toward week’s end.  Should be a great week of fishing.  As I have said for a while, time to get out fishing or you will miss out.  Prime time is here, time to take advantage of it.

Tight Lines…

Jeff

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Spring Has Arrived…..

Monday, April 1, 2019….Spring has arrived even though it feels quite chilly out today.  A cold front slid through yesterday morning bringing with it a couple of days of cool temperatures before things rebound to a May like feel on Wednesday.  We have had a stellar past week and a half though, and have caught a ton of fish.  Here is what’s been going on in the way of trips the past week and a half…

On 3-21-2019 I guided Wes, Red, and Susan Gormus, 3 Anglers, Charlottesville, NC, Va Private Water, good day, crazy weather, cold, windy, hi reached 50F but it didn’t feel like it, we had high winds and snow all around us, even some snow falling on and off on us.  Never amounted to anything but we ended up having several inches to a high of 8 inches just northeast of Lexington,Va.  We had a good day fishing though, tons of quality rainbows up to 22″, probably 50 on the day, although I didn’t keep count really.  Water conditions were high and clear/green and water temp 39F….running at 150 cfs and perfect.  About as perfect as it gets in that regard.  Great day, ended with very windy conditions and a blast of cold air.  Such is the two faced month called March.  Here are some pics…

On 3-22-2019 I guided Trip, Greg & Alexander Adzima, Boone, NC, NC Mtns, had a very cold windy day, temps were in the low 30s to start and wind blew 25 to 35mph with gusts to 50mph.  Quite breezy to say the least, we still had a good day though, and it eventually got up into the 40s even though the wind never really subsided.  At times you had to quit casting and wait 30 seconds so it could blow….we had a good day though.  Alexander’s girlfriend Tiffany joined us also.  We caught about 50 fish total, a mix of rainbows, browns, and brookies, with Tiffany getting the fish of the day a an 18-19 inch brook char.  Good fishing, the water is, well, ideal or about as good as it gets.  We fished til around 6pm and called it a day, covering about 3/4 mi of river.  Great fishing, here are some pics….

 

On 3-23-2019 was the annual River Cleanup South Holston and Watauga Rivers, TN,The Bill Beazell and Allen Robbins Memorial Tailwater Roundup, presented by the Cherokee and Overmountain Chapters of Trout Unlimited and local community leaders, provides an opportunity for those who love the South Holston and Watauga Rivers to join forces and make a difference. Past years have been great successes, with members from conservation groups, the fishing community, paddling enthusiasts, and the fly fishing industry showing up to take part.  A lot of trash was removed and was a much needed thing after the flooding of the past several months littered the banks and bottom with tons of new debris.

On 3-25-2019 & 3-26-2019  I guided two float trips, Ken Okorn, Mechanicsburg, PA, and  Tom Lanyi, Carlisle, PA, TN tailwaters, Day one float we got blue winged olives, and rising fish, and caught a bunch of fish on nymphs, dries, wet/soft hackles…..and fished much of the day in a steady moderate to heavy rain.  Great day fishing though, probably 50 or more fish landed.  Day two we floated a long stretch of the lower South Holston and did well on some large fish, probably 20 fish altogether, but some trophy sized >20″ browns, one smallmouth.  Great two days, an abbreviated report as Jeff got in really late and have several more trips including tomorrow…. here are some pics…

On 3-27-2019 I guided  Jeff Chalmers, Jim Bolling, Summerfield, NC, NC Mtns, cold start but the fishing was on fire, we fished two different waters and caught all our fish on double nymph rigs, water levels are nearing perfect and the nymph fishing is simply on fire in most places, fairly typical of this time of year.  We had a chilly start but a very nice weather day, and put probably 50 fish in the net…..a mix of browns, brookies and rainbows.  A short report as I got in late and have another trip tomorrow…here are some pics…

On 3-28-2019 I guided David Carter, Greensboro, NC, NC Mtns, early start and David and I were in the river before 8am.  A heavy frost and chilly start but the fishing was great right from the start.  Water temps are optimum and levels are as well and temps in the a lot of places are in the upper 40s to around 50F.  50F where we were at midday and that means hatches.  Good dry fly fishing should be coming any day now.  We had a stellar day putting about 50 fish in the net, a mix of browns , brookies, and rainbows but mostly rainbows.  caught some large fish, the largest a pair of nice rainbows, one of them a citation sized fish.  Nymph fishing is simply on fire…..no other way to state it.  Best weather day of the year so far, 66F  sunny, no wind, zero humidity.  It was great.  Another long day, up early, in late….but that is what spring is like…!   Here are some photos…..

On 3-29-2019 I guided Patrick McDaid, Greensboro, NC, NC Mtns, another day of incredible weather, warm, it was mid 50s to start which was kind of nice….very nice.  Patrick and I fished two different small streams.  Water levels are fantastic, about as ideal as it gets, and most places are what I’d call normal level and even a few, if you can believe it, are running lower than you’d expect, what I’d call slightly below that….a shocker given how wet the year started off.  Water temps range from mid 40s to around 50F and bugs are hatching like crazy.  Saw a lot of rising fish today, and that is typical of warmups and falling water.  We did great and caught a ton of fish, some nice wild browns as well.  Capping off a very busy week, here are a few pics….

Its now April and I am working on our usual beginning of the month stuff plus catching up after two weeks of being on the water almost 6 days each week.  A mountain of email, messages, fly orders, things are very busy.  If you have messaged me and not heard back I am getting caught up and will get back to you.  Lots of 18-20 hr days here lately…..crazy season has arrived!   Cool down next day or two then back to great spring weather.  Fishing is great and will only get even better on all waters. Perfect as perfect gets as far as conditions.   Delayed Harvest waters restocking for April starting today, opening day on all Hatchery Supported waters is Saturday Apr 6.

I put out a free printable Hatch chart in PDF format for the month each and every month and you can print this at our page here or by clicking the link below:

JWFF April Hatch Chart

It has not only the insects that you will find to be active but also what flies match them.  Of course, a lot of waters its more about presentation than the bug per se.  But there are times, and we’ll all encounter them if you fish enough, where something a bit closer to what they are eating is needed.  But those aren’t the majority of situations.

The most notable thing about the current conditions is that we are primed for the best dry fly fishing of the entire year any day now.  I saw more risers this week than any previous to now, and the reason is warmer temps and falling water temps.   A continuance of both of those things will yield more and more fish rising.  Right now, water temps above 4000′ are still low to mid 40s but that is warm enough for fish to be actively feeding and nymphing is great right now with dry fly fishing coming.  Water temps between 2000′ and 4000′ are in that key upper 40s to low 50s range that yields bwos, dark caddis, and our largest clinger type mayflies….most notably Grey Fox, March Browns, Lt Cahills, and more, and I have witnessed many of those already hatching.  Our lowest elevation trout waters  in those 1400′ to 2000′ elevations(front slopes…i.e. Mitchell, Ararat, Wilson, East Prong, Stone Mtn Creek, Catawba R, Elk Fork, etc.) are already in the prime low 50s and reaching mid 50s on some.  Prime dry fly action exists and will continue and soon we’ll see all our ‘yellar’ bugs (local vernacular) made up of sulphurs and Lt Cahills.  On the tailwaters, blue wings continue mixing with black caddis and we are already seeing a few sulphurs pop if you can believe.  The Watauga caddis hatch is upon us and so is the South Holston sulphur hatch.  Looks like warm weather coming so that will only serve to speed things up.

Time to get out and fish.  Our calendar is filling up.  We have a couple of open April dates week of April 8th and last week of April, and May will soon be totally full.  We are filling summer dates daily as well so if you want a date time to grab one while we still have openings.

Tight lines!

Jeff

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New Week, Same Result…..

Wednesday March 20, 2019 …..Pretty much, this is a new week but the same result as last week.  Great fishing.  Often I will post a preview of what the upcoming week should look like…or what I think it will look like……occasionally it works out not only exactly like you like it but it even tops that.  Here is what I wrote on our website fishing reports page…

WEEK of 3-18 to 3-25 Preview….. Going to be a good week, if sun is what you have been waiting for. Chilly yes, but good fishing weather absolutely. We have a full week of trips slated, conditions are great, about as good as you could hope for. Small streams , Delayed Harvest waters, and tailwaters are all fishing great, I’ve been on all just about everyday the past week and it was stellar…..

Had a great start to the week and yesterday’s trip with Dr Terry Massagee was outstanding.  Hard to imagine better.  Here is the fishing report from yesterday and the cold day of fishing in the NC mountains.

Terry and I met bright and early, it was cold, really cold, right on the heels of a cold front that swept through on Monday. Other than feeling chilly, it didn’t bother the fishing, as it shouldn’t have. Its spring, time for them to eat and for us to fish. Today was proof you don’t have to wait on “perfect conditions” and in fact, if you do you will miss out. It took about a half hour for the sun to get above the trees, and when it did it was game on.

We covered about a mile of water and all of it produced. Some spots we’d catch two or three fish, others as many as 8 to 10. The first half of the day produced about 40 fish, two of which were citation (20 inch) rainbows, several nice native browns, some quality brookies.

We took a break for lunch and had a nice lunch streamside, and it also had warmed up significantly. We ate quickly but enjoyed it greatly, we took little time because there was more work to do…..catch fish. After some difficult climbing down a treacherous ravine, then a tough riverbank, we started in one of my favorite places to fish late winter/early spring.

It produced several fish, maybe a half dozen or 8 fish, but one of them a lifetime fish. Terry made a cast to a spot where I have caught large fish before. He made the cast, set the hook, and the fish came up close to the surface. It was a leviathan of a brown trout. A huge female brown, the fish rolled under the surface and then it was on. For the next 8 or 9 minutes Terry played the fish. I walked him through every move, give line, take line, rod up, rod to the side. He followed perfectly, and in about 8 or 9 minutes the largest NC brown trout I have ever had a client catch lay in my net. The closest to a three foot brown I have ever come in NC.  The fish ate one of my custom Dead Squirrel flies, a longtime favorite of mine and many clients for decades.  I tie and sell these.

Had a client catch one of this size a few years back on the upper South Holston in Virginia, and a couple in TN close to that, but never in NC. Had one years ago in Chinqapin Lake in Ashe Co that was 27-28″ but never a 30″ fish. This one was beyond that. A great fish, a lifetime catch for most folks who flyfish.We had a great afternoon after that, catching another 30 fish or so, including two other rainbows that were in the 18-22″ range. A killer day, we netted about 80 total on they day….epic fishing by any definition.

Here are all the photos from yesterday…..on our fishing reports page here we have a short video clip of Terry and his giant brown and the release….pretty sweet.  Check it out here .

Weather is great folks. It is cold in the mornings, but minimally wet now and minimally so over the next few days. Of course, we’ll be fishing regardless. Cold or nice. Wet or Dry. Fishing is on fire and with dropping water levels and warming water temps both the bugs are becoming more active and the fish have put the feedbags on and are munching like wildfire.  I’ve said before and will reiterate, we are experiencing one of the best spring fishing seasons we have had in some time.  All things point to things continuing to be that way.  Right now our March has been full for some time, and our May is nearly full.  April will soon be full as well so don’t miss out if you are thinking about a trip.

Hope today is a great one…..!

Tight Lines…

Jeff

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Fishing Has Been On Fire….

Monday March 18, 2019 ….. Best way to state it, fishing has been on fire.  Going to be a good week, if sun is what you have been waiting for.  Chilly yes, but good fishing weather absolutely.  We have a full week of trips slated, conditions are great, about as good as you could hope for.  Small streams , Delayed Harvest waters, and tailwaters are all fishing great, I’ve been on all just about everyday the past week and it was stellar…..and clients caught a ton of fish.

Bugs are hatching, and fish will be looking up as spring comes officially this week.  The fish won’t be looking up because of that though.  Its because with dry weather comes falling water levels and with lower water levels comes increasing dry fly opportunities.  Bugs have been active and coming off all along.  But as usually is the case with higher flows, nymph fishing is way more productive.  Period.  But as the water drops the fish begin to key on the insects which have been active whether the water is high or not.  Enough of that though, here is a recap of our most recent guided trips…

On 3-13-2019 , we had the first day of our annual spring NC Trout Bum trip, and those joining me were Dr Pat Burney, Ted Linczak, Tim Moore.  We had a great day, sun , warmer, cloudy later in the day, zero rain…..water was clear/green and high, fishing was stellar from the start.  We fished a variety of nymph rigs, double nymph rigs, and even had some excellent streamer fishing too.  Fish have not been pressured and fishing is real solid right now.  Today was an 80-90 fish day, with two 20 inch brook trout landed by Ted the big fish of the day.  Here are some pics….

On 3-14-2019, Day two of our NC Trout Bum trip, Dr Pat Burney, Ted Linczak, Tim Moore, we had cloudy skies when we got out early but it was warm , in the 60sF, and fishing was on right from the start.  We fished double nymph rigs and streamers and did very well,, I think all total the guys landed somewhere around 125 fish total today.  A mix of rainbows, browns, and brookies, several of the fish landed were citation sized brookies (18-20″) and a rainbow.  Tim landed two gaint redhorse suckers, which are fun to catch.    Fishing was on fire today, no other way to say it.  We fished til about 630pm and called it a day.  Here are some pics…

On 3-15-2019 I did a tailwater high water float trip with Ted Linczak.  Ted did the two day trout bum trip and decided to stick around and he wanted to do a float trip on the big water on the South Holston.  TVA still dumping 4100 + cfs (normal generation amount is 2400-2500cfs, the river is in the trees.  Fishing was on fire.  Ted wanted to do a streamer float, which is what we did, we did the lower 10 miles of river and had a great day.  300 grain sinking lines and big rods and big flies…..plus fishing them in the right spot and we ended up having a 60 fish day on streamers will a ton of nice fish caught, several of which we 20 inch and larger browns.  One rainbow in the mix otherwise it would have been a brown trout event totally……Caught all our fish on one of my Olive Double L streamers, they simply ate it up.  We did the close n precise game, using some of the techniques I used for years on some of our big rivers in Eastern NC striper fishing….and works like a charm.  We had an incredible day of streamer fishing, ask good as you could hope for.  It rained heavily in the morning before we started, but it quit and remained cloudy til 2pm when the sun came out.  The fishing was good regardless.  Sunny 64F and that is hard to beat after all the nasty weather we’ve had.  Here are some pics of our day….

Our March calendar has been full for some time and April has a few openings, but I suspect they too will be soon full.  We have a very small handful of days still open in May for anyone interested.  Booking up a little faster than in years past, going to be a great spring!

Tight Lines….

Jeff

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Behavioral Drift….

There are many things that get the focus or attention of fly anglers that get the attention owed to them….we all love hatches and the great dry fly action that comes with them. Some love the aggressive eats of a pre or post spawn trout , be it a brook trout, rainbow trout, or my personal favorite…brown trout. Some like low water terrestrial fishing in summer…others high water nymphing in early spring. But there are some things that have a profound effect on fishing, and are worthy of the same attention of the things I mentioned above. Yet few know about this one.

I’d say if you lined up 10 experienced anglers up in a line, almost no one would know anything about this. I’d say the same for flyfishing guides. Yes, fly fishing guides. There I said it. So what is this “thing” I’m talking about? It is called Behavioral drift.

Basically, it is when insects leave the substrate /bottom and enter the water column and drift with the current.  This activity occurs daily, seasonally, annually, and so forth.  But the fact that it occurs goes largely unnoticed by the angling community.  There’s a reason our nymph fishing on trout waters is really good during our early season.  One, the bottom is more densely populated with insect fauna right now than at any time of the year.   Most if not all insects who hatched last year and successfully laid eggs those eggs are now fully developed or nearly mature insects.  Those are ready or will be ready to hatch.  And they drift in large numbers.

There are several categories of drift that entomologists are familiar with:  Catastrophic drift, where high water or floods displace numbers of insects;  Behavioral drift as a result of activity, be it feeding activity, moving from one spot to the next when food supply dwindles, avoiding predators (other animals and insects), and so forth.  There’s also distributional drift, which is thought of as a method of dispersal.  That is once eggs are laid in the riffle areas of a stream the eggs hatch and then the nymphs as they develop and feed they will enter the drift occasionally and move to other areas of the stream thereby preventing the depletion of a food supply in the place they came from.  To sum it up, this is all drifting activity not associated with an insect emergence.

It has been my experience in the early spring to mid spring time frame that this drift activity, collectively, has a great effect on fishing.  Fishing is excellent, and the fish are well attuned to this activity that most folks aren’t even aware is occuring.  They just notice the nymph fishing is really good, but they don’t know why.

Drift occurs daily, and there are, from what entomologists often tell us, and the ones I know reiterate this, some definite times of day that this activity is more prevalent.  Insects drift on and off throughout the day but a large part of this occurs during the low light hours and overnight.  Often significant activity occurs very early in the day, waning a bit during the daylight hours, then picking up again nearing sunset, once again reaching significance in terms of impact.  Light often retards some of the activity, and even moonlight can suppress some of it.

Fish do notice this, and will often feed heavily on the drifting nymphs, and often in areas in the shallows where you wouldn’t normally expect to find large fish, particularly gravel strewn edges with weed patches, shallow tailouts of large, flat , deep pools, and so forth.  To the angler who knows this is occurring they can catch some tremendous fish in very shallow water, and often sight fish to large fish who are feeding in response to this. I have personally witnessed this phenomenon on the South Holston River in East Tennessee, where large fish gorged themselves on the drifting ephemerella invaria (sulphur) nymphs that were visible in huge numbers in the water column in the shallow tailout of a pool I was sight fishing to fish in.  I had actually heard of drift from a friend, professor, fellow angler and gentleman I once worked for at the Fly Line Fly Shop, Dr Jim Sellers.  Jim was a master angler, to this day the best I have ever known, and who I name as a mentor having more influence on my early fly fishing endeavors than anyone.  Jim is still the only person to this day that I have ever heard mention it.

Certainly a fascinating thing drift is, and its probably the reason you have enjoyed great early season nymphing, and particularly early in the day.  A lot of research has been done on drift.  There’s a great paper or research piece that explains a bit more about it, and its an article called “Invertebrate Drift-A Review”, which was published in Hydrobiologia, January 1988 and revised by Dr JE Brittain in 2017, University of Oslo…a joint paper written by John E. Brittain and Tor Jan Eikeland, Zoological Museum, University of Oslo, Norway.  This is now located at the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Albury, NSW 2640 , Australia.  If you desire to look into it further, you can find this article online.  You can also download it for FREE.

 

Time to Fish….

Wednesday February 27,2019…Of course , that is what a fishing guide is always going to say , right?  Well, its true.  Things are shaping up, have cleared up, and we are back to fishing.  The past two weeks, here has been the scoop….

We made a return to cooler (seasonable) weather…..that warm weather may feel nice but we do well in cold weather, and very little competition from other anglers! Small stream and tailwater fishing has been good, we had great days the past month in all kinds of weather and anyone who has ventured out with me has done well. We are catching numbers of fish, and some trophy sized fish as well. When you have been guiding for three decades you find ways to work in all kinds of weather, the bills gotta get paid. We catch fish in all weather.  Stoneflies, early browns and blacks, continue to be active as well as Aminephura, sp. and Allocapnia, sp. stones, the little 18 and 20 sized flies that pour off all our small streams and DH waters in winter. Fish are munching them, one of our trips during the past week with Dr Pat Burney we put 50 fish in the net , mostly with these little flies. I custom tie them, and I sell them. They work…….

As far as tailwaters , they continue to fish great, we have put over 60 20 inch fish in the boat on our floats streamer fishing since early December. Its been phenomenal. When its not streamers, the nymph game has worked well, along with some small blue winged olives and dry fly fishing that are always a winter option here and there. And its not over.  Tailwaters never freeze, and there’s hardly a time you can’t find some fishing on them. There we have fished in everything from teens and blowing blizzard of snow to 60F and sunny…..and caught fish in all of it. Lots of fish.

On the 15th, I guided David Carter, Greensboro, NC, on a float trip in Tennessee.  David and I dropped the boat in around 845am and shoved off, didn’t take long to get into some fish, we had great nymph fishing the first half of the day. Caught fish on deep rigs, two nymph swivel rigs and bounce rigs, did well with both. First half of the day we caught a nice mix of rainbows and browns, probably 3 dozen or so before breaking for lunch.

There were olives beginning to hatch as well. No rising fish yet, but that would come. We pulled over and had a nice hot shore lunch, just before the anticipated 2 hours of low water we thought we’d get based on how TVA has been releasing past couple of days. We had lunch, and just as we finished the water began dropping as the flow dialed back to 285 then 366 giving us three solid hours of great fishing ahead. We caught more on nymph rigs, then switched to dries and caught some on dries, then moved our way down river and switched off to a light low water nymph rig that I love to use on intermediate flows /sluice flows.

David started hammering fish on that one too, and we caught a good many fish on that rig, eventually making it down to one of my favorite stretches where we caught more on the same rig. About 415/420pm the water came on again or had eventually made it down to where we were and it went back up to full flow. We put up the light rigs, got out the heavy nymph rig we started with, and went right back to hammering fish on that. It was excellent. Probably around 5 dozen or 60 fish on the day. No bigs, I think our best fish was 15 inches and that is a quality fish anywhere, especially being a wild fish. Great day….

These trips we cancelled because the particular location we were headed to was either high and muddy or blow out, and all were super extreme cases of that….because we go unless its an extreme situation with flooding, muddy water, or travel issues (snow and ice) getting to and from the river.  Rain, heavy rain, all day rain, part of the day rain, snow, sleet, you name it we fish in all of it and don’t cancel trips based on that unless it is absolutely unworkable.  Anything less, we’re fishing.

2-16-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Todd Collins, Madison , NC, Steve Sowden, Roanoke, Va, NC Mtns, ppd high muddy water where we were fishing….rescheduling to another date

2-18-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Ron Davis, Paul Briggs, Winston-Salem, NC, NC, ppd high muddy water where we were fishing, a shame though tailwater fishing is fine!

2-19-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, NC Mtns, ppd high muddy water where we were headed….continued rain, smaller waters are up and some are muddy but tailwaters are fine….ice/freezing rain not helping matters today

2-20-2019 FISHING REPORT – Guided Trip, Jeff Chalmers, Jim Bolling, Summerfield, NC, NC Mtns, high muddy water where we were supposed to fish, a shame though tailwaters are fine

Wet has been the theme though, and to beat a dead horse I’ll share all of this again.  If this weather has you down you are gonna have to learn to fish in the rain if you want to fish, or at least learn to overlook it. 2018 was a year of record rain and record fishing. Yes, I said that, record fishing. We had great fishing with all the rain……this year will be no different. Those going anyway will find opportunity, that is , those willing to go to plan B or plan C when plan A doesn’t work out. What does this look like? Like planning to fish river A and fish one way but being willing to go to plan B or C and fish another way. Flexibility is key. We are in a wet period, I am not suggesting fishing in flood conditions or red muddy water. But what I am suggesting is fishing right up to that point. Fish still eat in those conditions. Some fishing is better in those conditions than on your ‘perfect’ day. What does this look like specifically? You wanted to wade a small stream but the only option is floating tailwaters…or vice versa. This is going to be another spring where if you don’t fish anyway you might not fish. We are in a wet period, 2018 was a record wet year…wettest on record. 2019 is already starting ahead of that.

While wishing for the perfect conditions day is always at the forefront with and for our clients, perfect rarely ever happens. If we waited on that we’d guide three days a year.  Fishing is an outdoor sport in the elements.   To reiterate from the above we are now only canceling due to these factors…….(1) those where the road conditions (ice , snow) make travel to or from fishing dangerous, and (2) flooding or muddy water to the point that catching fish is not possible…all others we will go anyway or fish in an alternate location or alternate type of trip. No cancels due to it just being a rainy day. We have always been super flexible in every case, and in most cases not requiring a deposit, but we are having to make some significant changes because when someone cancels its often last minute and no way we can fill the spot on such short notice. That’s hard to swallow when there were other people who don’t mind fishing in less desirable conditions and would have fished on that day or who we could have booked for that day.

On a different note we have been steadily working on the launch of our fly business with a site and social media pages . Actually I have tied and sold flies for decades but making it a larger and separate entity …. things are coming along nicely, lots of flies going out the door! Some new logos that I have been playing around with, as well as getting things up and running.

Fishing has been good also on the coast.  Shad have shown up in some of our southernmost coastal rivers and the redfishing has been epic.  My son Ben has been in the reds , catching a lot of them on fly.  He and his best friend, Capt Jud Brock, who runs Muddy Fly Guide Service, and who he used to live with on Wrightsville Beach has been in both the reds and the shad.  He and Ben had some good fishing day before yesterday.  They have some openings also….folks interested can book with Capt Jud  here .  Here are some of them….

NC Delayed Harvest waters will receive their first spring stockings beginning Friday March 1, and stocking will continue through mid month until all waters have been stocked, these waters can be fished at all times and are never closed during any season.  Hatchery Supported waters will close to fishing on end of day Feb 28,2019 and these waters will be stocked through the beginning of April and will reopen to fishing on Apr 6, 2019.  Among the bugs that are active this month, there are…..Baetis (BWO) size 18, Blue Quill Size 16, Quill Gordon size 12-14, Hendrickson size 12 -14 (only lowest elevation waters front slope), Early Black Stones size 14 -16, Early Brown Stones size 12-14, Dun Caddis size 18, and Midges in sizes 20-24 and darker shades.  Click here for a FREE printable March Hatch Chart for our Appalachian Waters.  This applies to NC waters, tailwaters will differ slightly.

Its going to be a good week and upcoming month.  Our March calendar is almost full, as are April and May, and they soon all will be. Our dates are going fast, as always 12 months of calendar of availability is always listed here on our website.  Going to be another great spring.

Tight Lines,

Jeff

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