Where Fly Fishing is a Professional Passion…..

Archive for April, 2017

May is Almost Here….

Sun. Apr. 30, 2017  Hard to believe that May is almost here.  Feels like the past two months we have alternated between summer and winter, some weird and wacky (or normal for here) weather.  Last week was really wet, like almost two months of rain in three days.  Enough so that we did not fish our last 7 trips until yesterday, Saturday Apr 29, when I did a float with Jim Kramer and his friend Camille.

We did a day float and put in around 9 or a little after…..it was a busy day boat wise as with all the high water and TVA running big flows (3000/three units) on the Watauga that meant a lot of extra boats on the South Holston.  Things were a little slow to start, we nailed a few on nymphs, Jim got a small rainbow on a streamer, we had several fish hooked that came off, a lot of missed strikes also.

We go into a few more fish, browns a little further down toward the end of the upper stretch above Hickory Tree, even a good bwo hatch but only saw one fish rise.  We had a couple hookups swinging wet flies, Camille landed a pretty nice brown doing that, and Jim got a couple on nymphs.  It was challenging, one fish here, one there, not a bunch in any one spot.

We also threw some gear as well and landed probably 15 fish doing that, including one brown in the 18 to 20″ range.  Probably landed between 20 and 25 fish and worked for every one of them.  They are running on the Soho 24/7 and our summer float fishing season is going to come early.  We saw a mega hatch of sulphurs and its building steadily and very soon (tomorrow perhaps this week?) it is going to be epic.

Another busy week coming up, I have trips booked everyday except Tuesday.  We have an ongoing project going through my mom and dads estate in Winston-Salem, NC and will be doing so at least a day a week for the foreseeable future.  Only time in the past decade I can think of having had two days off a week.  Feels weird.

Looks like more stormy weather coming for Monday then a cool down again.  The scoop is that we could be getting some more severe storms on Monday.   Of course, just in time for the last delayed harvest stocking til October.  All streams will get one last stocking of fish and that will be it until fall.  We have a great summer of fishing ahead of us.

Take care…


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4

Some Great Wade and Float Trips…

Sat. Apr. 22, 2017 … Finding myself at the home 40 on a Saturday, which is a rare thing this time of year.  But we got rain , lots of it, and lots more coming later today , Sunday, and early Monday.  Last two days of trips I’ve not done, today I was headed up to do a float on the New River and it was high and dirty after the storms of yesterday, last night, and today.  Not complaining though, we need the rain.  This shot of it will help a lot, as will the cool temperatures that will come on the backside of the frontal system passing though tonight and tomorrow.

On Wednesday I did a guided float trip, Ron Davis, Winston-Salem , NC, TN South Holston float, Ron and I did the long low water lower end float from Chinquapin to Bluff City and it was raining cats and dogs when we put in. Only one other boat and no other anglers to speak of all day long. It was great, we put in and it took a bit to get into the first fish but man it was a dandy brown, followed by others and by a few large ones that broke off as well.

We had great fishing, heavy rain, then sun, then clouds, then sun for the latter half of the day. We caught almost all our fish nymphing, and there ended up being a pretty good sulphur hatch toward the end of the float, and a massive spinner fall, and we did well. Cast to several rising fish over 20″, they were on an unbelievably difficult flat and we got takes from 2 of the 5 20 inch plus browns that were rising….missed one and broke the other off.

Both were fish in the 23 to 25″ range. Pretty incredible you can fish a river in our area and catch browns that size , wild browns too, on a small dry fly. Our last few fish were nymphing before we got to the spinnerfall, and the best one was rainbow in the 18 to 20″ class. Its a high or top shelf experience to be sure. We fished all the way down and hit our takeout at dark. Great day, some great fish caught.

Got in late Thursday night, just in time to get some shuteye before guiding a Friday trip, Jeff Chalmers, Jim Bolling, Oak Ridge, NC.  I met Jim and Jeff early and we headed up, a warm day for sure and it was warm early. Threat of showers but that was gone as we headed up the mtn and to where we were fishing.

We fished two waters , one large and one small, and the first we got into a tan caddis hatch and did well, landing a bunch on nymph rigs, and swinging flies and also twitching and skating flies. We fish hammered a skated and skittered caddis very well. We landed probably 20 to 25 fish and lost about as many to hooksets and fishing just coming off.

We fished there til about 1pm or 130pm and then headed to the small stream. Did well there also, but it was all nymphing. Landed probably 20 to 30 more fish making it an outstanding day. If we’d have landed every fish that we had on or hooked briefly it would have been a 100 fish day.

We caught the trifecta today, browns, rainbows, and brookies. Water levels were great but a lot of places are getting real skinny with the lack of rain.  We did see a lot of bugs, and a few fish rising, but not a ton.  The overly warm temps have been affecting that somewhat, with prime water temps occurring early in the am and late pm….anytime that happens in spring its the result of what we’ve been having….warmer than average temps way sooner than we usually have them.

Relief is on the way though, a big rain is coming for Friday through early Monday.   A huge front is making its way East and the forecast is for several inches of rain.  Things could get real ugly Sunday and Sunday afternoon.  Hail, heavy rain, and possible tornadoes are all possible with this weather moving in.  Not complaining though, because as I indicated we need both the rain and the cooler temps that will follow.

Hope your weekend is grand….tight lines!


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4


Great Weekend…….Warm But Change Coming….

Mon. Apr. 17, 2017   …Just finished up an incredibly busy few weeks and a 4 day trip Wednesday through Saturday the past week with Dr Ken Karb and his son Ben, Dr Hy Muss and his son Jonathan, Ted Birke, and Dr Pat Burney.  We had a great trip with a ton of fish caught and many nice browns up to and over 20 inches.  One of the best April trips I can ever remember.  Amazing too that we did it nymphing and without much of the epic dry fly fishing you’d expect.  That is mostly due to the really warm weather, just not many Aprils where we have a solid week of 80 to 85F weather that followed temps in the 20s/30s F and snow.  Really weird.  But sometimes weird can be good if you know what to do.

On our last day we had great midge fishing to start, and got in some dry fly action with sulphurs, caught them on little stuff and also on dry flies. Landed probably 50 fish early on starting just before the pulse and continuing to just past it, then we decided to leave and have lunch at the house and then go way downriver to see if we could find some action there. It was good, we landed probably 15 more fish including some up to 20″ mark, the best fish, a 20″ brown, landed by Hy Muss and it was on a dry fly.

It was particularly satisfying as one boat fished where we were and had moved below us and we caught 8 fish in water where they had passed by/passed up …including the best fish of the day. We fished til 4pm and the guys called it a day and headed home. Great 4 days with these guys, hate it is over, its been such a blast.

Warm yes, but a cooldown is coming.  Next few days temps will drop significantly and that is a good thing.  Mid 80s in April isn’t good for us if it lasts for very long.  The warm temps coupled with a changing sun angle and lack of vegetation on our trees all make for things getting really dry really quick.  Even when you have had lots of rain and flooding like we just had a week ago.  Weird but that’s the way it is.  More fire danger too, as there are fires burning again including one in GA that is now over 20,000 acres and that is responsible for the hazy, smoky conditions over our area the last few days.  Pray for some more rain!

Busy week again coming up, with 5 trips so should have some great fishing and great reports.  Looking forward to it for sure.

Hope Easter was a great one…..tight lines!


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4

Warm Weather , Good Fishing Continues…

Fri. Apr. 14, 2017 ….Another warm one today, the temps reached the low to mid 80s.  That’s mighty warm for mid April here.  The fishing is good though, hard to go wrong in April.  We had another great day today fishing several areas on the South Holston.

We started out on the Soho on the upper river not too far from the dam, it was a little more challenging but we still did pretty well.  Some rising fish, albeit sporadic, and while they were rising here and there we did best with subsurface midges.  In fact, everything we caught was on midge patterns.

We fished a quarter mile of river, and surprisingly few other anglers in a couple places which is strange for a holiday week/weekend.  The guys landed around 40 fish or so, and at about 130pm we headed back to the house for lunch.  After lunch, we went to the lower end of the river and fished til dusk.

Landed another 20 fish or so, including several browns and rainbows in the 20″ class….Ted Birke had the largest with a 23 3/4″ brown that ate one of my flashback PTs.  We ended the day with some fishing with dries….and there was a massive spinner fall building but the spinners never came down.  We quit about dusk , another great day done.  

Have our final day of the group trip tomorrow and afterward will be heading home to spend Easter with my family.  Hope your weekend is a great one….

Tight Lines,


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4


Warm Weather, Good Fishing…

Fri. Apr. 14, 2017 ……Day two of our group trip went well and we had a good day, we were out early, early breakfast at the diner and then we were off. Things were a little quiet for the first hour or so then it picked up and we started catching fish steadily. Saw a good many bugs but not many fish taking interest in the first sulphurs of the season just yet, at least not where we were. That will change…but we stuck with what works and that is the midge game.

Lots of fish on midge patterns and small bwos, we got into fish pretty regularly and by lunchtime or shortly thereafter the guys had landed probably 40 to 50 fish with Ted Birke’s 21 inch brown being the best fish of the first part of the day. We fished through the one morning pulse and about 130pm took a short break for lunch. We then went downriver and did some carpin’ for a while, a few lookers but no takers, as we had had two of those beasts on yesterday but couldn’t score today.

It was warm, low 80s, certainly warm for mid April. After some carping, we drove back upriver and spent the evening fishing near the house and did pretty well, landing probably 10 more fish, several of which were quality 15 to 17″ rocket rainbows, and the best fish of the day, Pat Burney’s 22 inch brown.

We had a fish on that appeared to be in the 24 to 26″ range but the fish broke off after a couple long runs and a spirited fight. We finished up around dusk and headed back to have dinner. Great day….a lot of fish caught even though not much dry fly action to speak of.

Headed out in a bit to grab breakfast with the group and then we’ll be off for another day of fishing.  Will post more later today.

Happy Good Friday to you…….tight lines…


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4

Summerlike …

Thurs. Apr. 13, 2017 ….In one word that is how I’d characterize the last few days and the days to come.  From cold/snow to upper 70s /low 80s.  That will push things along quickly….and that is exactly what is happening.  We have gone from winter to summer .  Again.

Seeing lots of bugs on all waters and particularly on the tailwaters where I have been and will be for several days.  Warm temps and minimal releases has brought on sulphurs…lots of them.  I am doing a 4 day trip right now with  Dr Hy Muss and Hy’s son Jonathan, Chapel Hill, Dr Ken Karb, Greensboro, NC, Ted Birke , MS, Ben Karb, Charlotte, NC, Dr Pat Burney, Greensboro, NC.  Our time will be spent on the South Holston and Watauga.

On 4-12 lots of sulphurs, a few rising fish, lot of fish on nymphs, including a 23.5″ brown that was the best of the day.  All the guys made it in safely too, which was fantastic.  Fishing red hot right now…..going to be a great kick off to the best dry fly season we have.  Looking good too…

Getting ready to head out to take the group to breakfast.  Burning daylight soon, and looking forward to a great day on the water.  More to come…

Enjoy your Thursday, I hope its on the water somewhere.

Tight Lines…


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4

Life Is Good….

Tues. Apr. 10, 2017 ….Great start to the week and all is good, the weather and fishing couldn’t be better.  I started the week with a guided trip with Will Johnson from Winston-Salem, NC, and  Phil Atkins, Austin, TX, and we fished a NC water.   I knew in advance we’d have great fishing today, as I indicated in some of my reports after all the high water….fishing is always good around here following a really wet spell.

First, the flows improve and the fish get some extra food I’m sure…..they get a rest too as while the water is really up the fishing pressure virtually disappears.  That is particularly the case with the several back to back weather events we had.  So, they get a good rest and the first few fishable days after weather is usually epic.  It was cold early but would end up being the most perfect of days with temps in the upper 6os /low 70s, zero humidity, and sunshine.  About as pleasant a day as you could ask for.

  I met Phil and Will early and we were on the water well before 8am, and we were into fish right away…..literally from the first few casts.  It was great, a fair number of bugs coming up but the water was still up where we were, so no risers or dry fly fishing.  No cause for concern though, we got great nymph fishing.  Using the usual assortment of bugs with a few new ones thrown in we did very well.  We landed probably 30 or so before lunch fishing about an eighth of a mile of river.  Lots of weight, big indis, two flies….get it down or go home.  We got it down, so we did pretty well.  We caught a mix of browns, brookies and rainbows but predominantly rainbows.  Most fish were up to the 12 to 13 inch mark.

We took a lunch break about 1pm and then hiked down into a favorite gorge like stretch and did excellent there too, nailing a ton of fish and Will starting off part 2 of our day with a nice citation rainbow that ate one of my golden stoneflies.  We caught probably 20 fish in that little stretch, then worked our way down a short section and Phil ended our fishing there with five more fish, all rainbows.

We hiked back to my truck , then headed to one last stretch to finish our day.  We landed probably a dozen to 15 more fish there, many nice solid rainbows and Phil’s citation rainbow, his best of the day, that was about 18 inches.  Phil ended up landing double digits there, a favorite spot I often like to end the day on as its shaded water and with a high bright sun our shadows as anglers don’t go over the water we are fishing…as often happens late in the day with the sun at your back.

Will landed the last fish, a solid rainbow on a sucker spawn fly, and that ended our day with the sun setting behind us.  Great day, two great guys to spend it with.  I can see now ‘Fishing is On Fire” will be a frequent mantra.  Prime time folks.  We have great fishing ahead and our summer will be great.

Our April calendar has been full for some time and our May will soon be as well as I have only 3 days still open.  June through Sept we have openings but they will start to fill quickly.   Summers are great for our floats and float/wade trips.  I do the TN tailwaters and we both float and wade , and also do summer smallmouth ….these two options are not plan ‘B’s….or as some may suspect ….’second fiddle’ in comparison to our winter , spring , and fall trips.  June through Sept is our BEST dry fly fishing, both high and low water on the tailwaters.

April and May are good but if you see them as best and write off June through Fall you will MISS fishing that is as good as April and May if not better.  I’ll say that again…. June through Sept is our BEST dry fly fishing, both high and low water on the tailwaters.  April and May are good but if you see them as best and write off June through Fall you will MISS fishing that is as good as April and May if not better.  And the smallmouth fishing, well, simply put fishing is great from June through Oct.

Some of our best smallmouth action is in the blistering hot weather of August and September.  The absolute best fishing for smallmouth on top is during hot, dry, low water conditions.  It can’t get too much that way and hinder the smallmouth fishing.  It only makes it better.

Have a busy week coming up, in today to take care of office stuff plus other stuff.  Also getting ready for Wednesday through Saturday trips, will be doing four days on the tailwaters with Dr Ken Karb, Dr Pat Burney, Dr Hy Muss, Ted Birke, and Ben Karb.  Should be great, will have lots of reports…

Have a great one, get out and enjoy a week of great weather…


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4

Another Wet Week…..

Mon.  Apr. 3, 2017 …Really wet, that is the theme.  And while it presents its share of challenges, we aren’t complaining, we needed the rain.  We have made up a good bit of the deficit and looks like the rest of the week could be a little more.  Even some snow late Thursday into Friday.  Yes, I said snow…if you can believe it.  A chance for accumulating snow in the mtns, especially along the NC/TN border.  That’s Appalachian weather for you though.  Heavy rain early in the week, 70F temps, followed by thunderstorms ending with accumulating snow.  Normal and business as usual in the Appalachians.  Not boring though.

We are still celebrating the Tar Heels’ win last night.  Congratulations to Roy Williams and the players and for getting #redemption after last year’s heartbreaking loss to Villanova.  Thankfully they were able to get some defensive stops and came through in the end…when it mattered most.  The sky is really blue in Carolina this morning…..

I started off the week on Monday with a guided Trip, Sarah & Ronnie Wrenn, Charlotte, NC, NC Mtns , as forecast was for another big rain in the mountains, area wide also….Sarah was celebrating her dad Ronnie’s 64th birthday and we fished the SoHo, about the only fishable water in the area unless you were floating the Watauga, its been that wet, and more rain fell on top of that, several inches in fact.

We got in the water and scored a couple fish right away, one rainbow and one brown. It was clear that conditions would eventually deteriorate to the point we’d have to stop, but we got to fish til almost mid afternoon before calling it a day. I think we landed a total of 7 or 8 fish, mostly browns, and almost all on midge patterns, and had several fish on that briefly that got off.

Pretty good given we battled high winds, heavy rain, low light conditions that made it almost impossible to see a fly. It rained heavily and our original concern was that we’d be battling thunderstorms/lightning, upon which I usually get out of the river, but they never came. Just really heavy rain. Still an enjoyable day though, even with the rain…..which does not damper the fishing at all. Its more a test to see if the angler can do it. Sarah and Ronnie were troopers.  Did not take many pics, not because the camera/phone couldn’t take it, but because Jeff didn’t want to get soaked opening up the front of the rain jacket to get it.  It was raining that hard!

Had another guided trip on the books for Tuesday 4/4 , a group guided Trip, Brian Pilcher Group, Oak Ridge, NC, NC Mtns, and I cancelled due to flooding /high water conditions.   Literally no where I could have taken them it was that widespread and right on the heels of the big rains of two to three days ago.  The impact was area wide, things should start clearing out by Wednesday. But one thing is for sure, the  water conditions are going to be in great shape or in the very least much improved, we’ve made up a big chunk of the deficit that we’d had since the end of January.

This shot is of the upper Doe near Roan Mtn, it was way up already and was rolling high and dirty, and I imagine would only have risen more than that given it looked like this before the heaviest rain arrived.

This is the upper Toe in Avery County, it was high and swollen and holds its water anyway after a big rain.  It was still up a bit even after the last rain a few days ago.  It was high and rolling and rising quickly, I can only imagine it was several feet higher than this this morning, especially on its lower reaches.  This shot is in Minneapolis, on the upper river in Avery County.

Another water on the upper Watauga basin, upper Elk…it was high and rolling when we drove past it on the way to the Soho, and was even higher on the way back through.

Watauga was high and dirty, and it gets pretty impressive when it is like this.  I can only imagine the kayakers were having a great day, especially on the gorge section that has a number of Class V to V+ rapids on it.   It was in this condition before the heaviest of the rain hit, not to mention this is on the lower reaches and the runoff from Boone likely hadn’t reached here just yet.

Our April Hatch Chart (free and printable) is available via this link click here or on our This Month’s Fly Box page on our website.   We are getting in to our lighter bug theme, and you’ll see more bugs tan and yellow coming up so now is a good time to get some of those patterns.  Tan caddis, yellow stones, sulphurs, light cahills, you name it…they are all coming.

Have a busy end of the week guiding Mac Cheek on Thursday, Tony and Joseph Pugh on Friday, and a group trip with Mike McKee, Jim Beeson, and Dave Link on Saturday.  Should be a great week and will have some weather drama on Wed/Thurs but thankfully when we get to this time of year its always short lived especially if we are talking cold weather.

Have a great one and tight lines…


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4

Good Fishing Mid-Week, Then Very Wet!

Sat. Apr. 1, 2017   …..Happy April Fool’s Day!  Busy week, wet to start, then a short dry period in the middle, then some major flooding rains for Friday….which put a damper on most fishing anywhere Friday and many or most today.  Today is the opening day for Hatchery Supported Waters (Green and white signs, no these are not delayed harvest and delayed harvest isn’t hatchery supported…they are two totally different things).  I bet a lot of folks were disappointed to find many waters high at best, blown out and muddy at worst, but all were in less than perfect shape  All.  We got a ton of rain on Thursday night and Friday.  Two to three inches with isolated amounts in the 4″ to 6″ range.  That’s a lot.

On Tuesday I had scheduled a guided trip with  Dr Pat Burney, Greensboro,NC, and we headed to 4 different places and all were blown out with the heavy rains that fell overnight…..water colors ranged from pumpkin spice latte to caramel macchiato….pick your flavor. But not fishable so we called it a day, reeled everything in, and returned to the fort.

I recovered my pictures from our 3-22 and 3-23 Trout Bum trip that I did not get to post because the camera /phone took a swim while doing some net work…..but thanks to Samsung technology and a new snap in battery the phone not only still works like a charm but I was able to recover the pics…..here’s one of the recovered pics from that trip, this one of Lloyd Allen’s fantastic rainbow from the Watauga Gorge….

On Thursday I guided a trip with Rob Rau, Summerfield,NC , Private water, and Rob and his friend Alan Stowe joined me for a day of fishing Dunlap Creek.  We met up bright and early and were on the water pretty early. Great weather, it was cloudy/drizzly and overcast all day temps in the upper 40s…..perfect weather to catch fish. River was running at 114cfs which is ideal and we did very well, landing close to 50 trophy rainbows and one brook trout , the rainbows ranged in size from 13 to 26 inches, two of the rainbows were over 10lbs, one close to 12lbs.

We did well on a variety of flies, especially nymph rigs using orange spawns and a bead head copper prince Jeff…..a new fly I have been using lately….a hybrid copper john rubberleg prince kind of thingy. It works wonders on big rainbows, and these guys ate it up.

We caught fish on a variety of other patterns too. It was great, incredible numbers of fish and large fish, one of the better days here in the last two seasons.  We fished til late afternoon /early evening and then headed back fully satisfied from all the huge fish that were caught.  For sure it was an epic day.

On 3-31 I had scheduled a guided trip with one of my regular out of state clients Dr Jeff Hutchison, Columbus, Ohio, and we ended up not being able to fish anywhere due to high and muddy conditions as a result of the heavy overnight and early morning rains…..a ton of rain. We looked at 5 or 6 different waters and all were at or near bank full/flood stage.

Not even close, completely unfishable.  Period.  ……the type of high water if you get in you risk your life doing so.  A real mess…..Wilson Gorge, one place we headed to take a look at was about as high as I have seen it and it was almost out in the road on the lower end and still rising.  After a quick look we left so we could get out while we could before the road went completely under.

For Saturday April 1 I had scheduled a guided float trip, Adam Norris, Lewisville, NC, a New R musky, trip but I cancelled due to swollen river conditions from the unbelievable amount of rain overnight and during the early morning hours. Some areas got 4″ plus of rain, nearly every water in the area was blown out on Friday and likely still that way Saturday. What started as a clear river running at 1200 cfs at Galax had swollen to nearly 7000cfs by 7pm Friday….and below Claytor it is rising as well and should approach 10000cfs. New River will be blown for several days/a week but the smaller waters should recover by late Saturday.  But as messy as it is, we needed the rain.  And we will need more after this one.  Its been that dry since late January.  But one sure thing, a dent was made in the deficit, a considerable one.

Very busy week coming up, I have a guided Trip on Monday with Sarah Wrenn from Charlotte, NC, Tuesday a trip with Brian Pilcher and his group from Oak Ridge, NC, a Thursday trip guiding Mac Cheek and Alex Thorup, a Friday trip guiding Tony & Joseph Pugh, and Saturday Mike McKee from Chapel Hill, NC, and his friends Dave Link and Jim Beeson.  Should be a great week of fishing.

Have a great weekend, what is left of it.  I guess in a few short hours my Tar Heels will be tipping off.  I wish them the best.

Tight lines….


Posted via the Web with WordPress 4.4