Mon. May 12, 2014…… Well, as I think I had mentioned in my last post…summer is here. Where did spring go? Really, its almost like it was never here. But one thing is for sure, its been warm. And things are steadily moving toward midsummer conditions already. Just off our first group SoHo trip, one of several annual group trips we do. We had some interesting and different fishing…..caught a lot of large fish, and landed one large white sucker (a beast), Patti Nolan landed a 25 inch brown on 6X, and had one client Jim Ritter put the smackdown on a 20in brown trout with a Tenkara rod. So a lot of different and unusual stuff.
Sulphur hatch? Where is it? I have heard that a thousand times. My answer? Its all about water temp. You wont get a sulphur hatch when its above 60F. Not here anyway. You can bank on it. Now, let me say what I’m not saying. I am not saying you won’t see a sulphur. I am not saying you won’t see a few sulphurs. There are renegades in everything under the sun. Bugs are no different. Always a few that march to the beat of a different drum. Just like us humans. But a hatch where you see insects on water, in the air, fish porpoising, gulping, slashing, jumping….mayfly mayhem…if you have fished with me on the SoHo in May through Sept you ‘ve likely experienced it…..that type of hatch didn’t occur. And its not occuring in full force yet on much of the river. And it won’t until some key things happen.
Why? Limited releases because of a slowly rising lake coupled with warmer than avg temps raised river temps above what is the target range of say 52 to 58F for a blanket sulphur hatch, the kind the South Holston is known for…..the NORMAL South Holston sulphur hatch. And until it cools off, we get a good bit of rain, and they release a good bit of chilly water from the dam, it will be hit or miss. But its coming. Any day now.
Had a great group though for the May 8 to 10 trip, we had six anglers. Here is my report on the trip that I posted to the main site earlier today… Boy, catching up is a real chore when you are going from 530 am til 930pm at night, only to rise and do it again two more days. Whew, easy to get behind, which is why I haven’t posted as much as usual. Got to take care of my folks. So here’s the scoop…
The setup for the trip was the persistent hot and dry conditions of the past month. Temps were pushing 90F when all my guests/clients arrived, and it was downright hot. Hot enough that any sulphur hatch was squelched unless you fished really early or really late. Warm temps and only 1 hr of a half release (1300cfs) three times a day meant very low water and while there were some risers it wasn’t typical of May this time on the SoHo.
As a result we did more nymphing than usual, as the fish were ready to eat if and when the bugs showed up on top. Problem was, they did here and there, only for a short time, and it was of such low activity as compared to how it is normally for May that we fished a lot of ground, nymphed a lot, and had to take our shots when and where we could find them. We fished one area a bit more than we ever would and I ever have, even though I know the water inside and out, but it continued to produce and produce large fish that we came back again and again and got results each time, and on a variety of fly patterns.
When everyone arrived on Thursday, we headed down to the river and there were a few risers. We nailed a few on dries, some on nymphs, there were spinners in the air, but they didn’t come down until it was so late it was hard to see. And it was limited. We got up early Fri morning, had breakfast in Bluff City at the Diner, then headed out fishing. We did very well, scoring a good many fish, mostly nymphing, a few on dries and swinging soft hackles, and we came back to that time and again throughout the day.
We headed up to the house midday/early afternoon, had lunch at Prices, then back to the house for a break, then back out for the late afternoon/evening. Still no hatch to speak of, a few risers here and there, but nothing of note ….at least compared to what the SoHo is known for. We had a decent evening, nailing some pigs….
I will say that overall we caught more large fish this year than ever….and did it nymphing. Doesn’t surprise me of course, because you will almost always catch more fish that way most of the time whether or not its most folks’ way of enjoying the fishing. We landed maybe 20 fish on Thursday evening, about 60 or so on Saturday, and probably 30 to 35 or so on Saturday. Saturday was very crowded up and down the entire river, even with the threat of t-storms and severe weather, which surprised me somewhat….and I thought Friday and Saturday we were going to get pounded with rain and storms. Saturday we had heavy showers on and off most of the day, and the heaviest rain didn’t set in until late Sat evening and then we got a few really monsoon like downpours. But all in all it was another great trip, great folks as always, everyone had a great time, and it was a great pleasure to host and guide them. Here are some pics, not all of them of course, but I will post a link also where folks can view the entire photo album……
Also, at the end of the trip I took Jim Ritter and Phil Snyder to a small NC stream for a few hrs as a make up for some bad weather the last trip down as they had come down from Pennsylvania to fish with me. We fished a small water on the frontslope of the mtns, near home, did ok , it wasn’t stellar and dont know if it was maybe fishing pressure from Saturday that impacted the fishing or all the up and down weather changes or what but it was a little off. Still caught fish, maybe 15 or so before I headed home to spend Mothers day with my special ladies…… We caught the grand slam though, browns, brookies, rainbows, and smallmouth …..so still a good day. I headed off and Jim and Phil were going to fish a little more then head back to PA.
Busy week coming up, my next group arrives tomorrow afternoon, and I’ll be doing a morning float tomorrow on the SoHo so its a busy time. Looks like we could see some severe weather this week and hoping it doesn’t rain too much. We need some as its gotten mighty dry…and things are hit or miss in terms of coverage and limited in scope. But we need rain. As much as I know what that can do to clear running water. So I say that with caution.
But if you like to fly fish, its time to make hay…..
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I and many others are guilty of giving the SoHo browns most of the glory, but there are some fine rocket rainbows too…..they even sometimes have an orange cutthroat slash on the underside of the chin……pretty sharp. This beaut I landed while trying out Jim Ritter’s Tenkara rod.