Fri. July 28, 2017 …Been several days since I have posted a report. Putting in a lot of really long days, before sunup til 10pm…seems to be the thing once the dog days of summer arrive. I have been doing a lot of wading and floating on the tailwaters, and doing a good bit of smallmouth fishing too. Topwater fishing and dry fly fishing has been stellar, and that is normal summer stuff. Had some really good days lately. The small streams got a shot of rain the past few days and that should improve things on that front. Areawide rains of 3/4″ up to isolated 2 and 3″ amounts have provided some needed rain. Combine that with a cool down coming ….some of which will include some record lows for late July/early August…. Have a few days more of trips and then will be heading to Wyoming on Aug 9. Here is a rundown of the past week or so of trips…
On July 20 I did a guided trip, David & Alicia Horky, Greensboro, NC, Va Smallmouth float trip, we did a 6.5 mile float and had a good day catching smallmouth on top, caught the majority of our fish on topwater, with a few on streamers also. We also about half way through the float had a shot at a musky who gave us a brief look. Great day, hot as blazes…which is normal stuff for July and Aug in the Appalachians.
On July 21 I did a guided trip, Curtis Reeves, Archdale, NC, TN tailwaters, good day, hot as blazes again with a heavy storm/downpour early afternoon…..wet again…..as usual. We spent most of the day sight fishing, probably put 15 or so in the net. Caught them mostly on a mixture of midge patterns…and we got a couple large fish. Several quality fish, we wade fished low water and finished up when the water came up on us down in Lakeview. In late again….beginning to see a pattern here….lol.
I did a July 22 guided trip, Ian & Jake Craig, High Point, NC, Va smallmouth float trip, met Ian and Jake bright and early and we hit the New River for smallmouth. Did a 7.5 mile float today, today had to be one of the hottest floats I have ever done. Bright sun, temps in the 90sF, and strangely a wind of 25 to 35 most of the day and which at times would gust to 40 plus. It was hard to keep us going down river at times. That definitely affected the fishing, we still caught maybe 20-25 smallies, redeyes, redbreast, and had one huge smallmouth on at the beginning which if landed would have been in the 6lb range…and it was on topwater. We all gasped when it surfaced and leapt and then leapt again and came loose. It was one of those shock and awe moments…..a true trophy on and gone and it happened so quickly it left us shaking our heads as to what just happened. We had just nailed several on top right before that and it would have not only been fish of the day but fish of the year so far on the New for me or a client. We fished through til about 430pm or so and called it a day. It was blazing hot, and the wind dried us out pretty good….it was a hot wind. We had put in 10 hours already so it was probably a good call. A cold front is pushing down on us and the wind was from that and the thunderstorms, which were around us but never came to us.
July 24-25 I took some time to perform site maintenance on our website, shopping cart, fishing report site, tying site, blog, etc., some pages of our several sites may work in a limited capacity until we are finished with maintenance. Quite a chore for sure, but a “few times a year” must to keep things updated properly.
On July 26 I guided a float trip, Ron Davis, Ed Wilson, Winston-Salem, NC, TN tailwater float, we did the upper Soho float and did well, getting into some excellent dry fly fishing and a pretty good sulphur hatch. Got in very late as I didn’t get off the river til 9:40pm but it was great…. Ron has fishing this type of fishing a lot and caught a bunch of fish… Ed got his first taste of tailwater floating and dry fly fishing here and caught a good number of browns….all browns in fact. The great dry fly action continues for yet another day.
On July 27 I did a guided float trip, Ted Linczak and his client, Summerville, SC, TN tailwaters wade/float or float, we started late morning and nymph fished scoring several nice rainbows and one large fish, looked like a big brown on briefly but came off after a blistering run downstream. We fished til about 130pm and then put the boat in for a float. Had two pretty good downpours and ended up having lunch under the bridge at the put in.
After a quick lunch we were off. It took a while for the fish to get cranked up but by 345pm we had rising fish and that would increase in intensity very quickly and we soon had rising fish everywhere. Zero other folks on the water, no other boats.
Had one other boat pass in the heavy fog and rain and that was the only one we saw on the entire 5 mile float. We started hooking up on sippers right away, it was fun to powder the dry fly and within a cast or two see it get eaten. We scored several good rainbows to start, then about midway through the float we got into some great browns.
We hit a spell where every riser Ted cast to ate the dry, it was great. Scored in one spot literally 25 fish in consecutive casts…..red hot that is. That continued pretty much all the way through the next mile or so. It was awesome, I didn’t keep count but we must have been near 40 or so on dries by the time we reached the last mile of the float.
We got several heavy downpours, enough so that the handy bilge hand pump got put to use. It would rain hard, we’d have 1″ to 1 1/2″ of water in the boat, I’d pump it out, then we’d repeat. After the rain passed, the fog set in and there were times the fog was so thick you couldn’t see 50ft beyond the bow of the boat.
Near Zero visibility. With one last rapid to run, we decided to call it a day and head to the takeout. Great day, phenomenal dry fly fishing, about as good as it gets. And had it all to ourselves. Another long day though, by the time we took the boat out, I took Ted back to his vehicle, and was getting something to eat and settling in it was 1030pm. Typical summer stuff though.
Will be pulling out of my place near Johnson City, TN today (July 28) and heading out to do a float pretty soon with client Bill Lathrop and his wife, they are from Atlanta, GA. We will be putting in midday for an afternoon/evening float and hopefully some dry fly fishing. Will finish up the week with a Saturday trip guiding clients Dr Shanker Polsani, Winston-Salem, NC, and Curtis Reeves. We will be doing a wade trip on the South Holston. The TVA is showing a 210 sluice for the weekend and will start the regular sluicing on Aug 1 due to the generator replacement project at the dam.
Continuing to prepare for the summer Wyoming stint in August. Shaping up to be a great trip, will definitely be a good time. I look forward to the lack of humidity….maybe I will finally dry out a little there….
Have a good weekend….stay dry. Great weather coming….
Posted via the Web from the rim of Boone Lake , Johnson City, TN
Tues. July 19, 2017 …. One thing is for sure, the dog days are here early. Hot, humid, and severe sun…..that seems to be the pattern now. It has been hot indeed, but so has fishing. We have continued to have great smallmouth fishing as the damsels get cranked up and water levels drop. The setup is making for some great topwater fishing, and a typical pattern….fish early and late with poppers…..and shady banks with poppers. Go deep during the day. On our trout trips we’ve been on the tailwaters alot…..they continue to fish great. The heat leaves them very much unaffected by hot weather. I’ve witnessed, guided and fished some of the best sulphur hatches in my lifetime over the past few weeks.
In fact, the best one was day before yesterday. Yes, then. Not in May and June when the ‘magic’ time, as good as it is, but July. Two days ago. There is a bizarre mix of events happening in combination that causes this to be so. On the South Holston, we get release schedules where we have one pulse (1hr release of 1300-1400 cfs) early am like 1 or 2 am…..then another at 9am…..then full release at 3 or 4pm. This produces water temps in mid 50s shortly after 9am….then the blazing sun and hot temps warm the dark bottom (ledges and grass) of the upper river to the low 60sF which effectively quells the hatch. Then, when water is released at 3 or 4pm, the result is a hot bottom, chilly 50 to 52F water running over it, and mixing that brings the temp into the ideal target range of 52 to 57F. Because it occurs in late afternoon/early evening when the bugs would come off anyway, you get a blanket emergence. And because of the time of day the water stays in that “ideal” range for 3 to 4 hours or more.
The result? A blanket hatch. Tons of rising fish. Tons. Some of the best dry fly fishing of the year. And on Tuesday we floated downriver in amazement that we were
one of many the only, yes the only driftboat fishing the river. 4 miles of sulphurs and rising fish all to ourselves. Some pretty good truly epic dry fly fishing.
On Monday 7/17 I guided Roger Hixson, High Point, NC, and Dan Rominger, Belews Creek, NC, and we did a morning to early afternoon wade trip and caught a good many fish, probably 30 to 35 or so , a mix of browns and rainbows on midge patterns, Lickety Splits, and sulphur dries.
Got a few sulphurs on the midday pulse but they were light. We had on a couple 20″ plus browns that broke off in addition. Fished to a fish that was over 25″ but he would not eat. We took a short break to eat lunch about 230/245pm and then put the boat in around 4pm to catch the sulphur hatch.
Within 45 minutes a blanket hatch was going strong, and we caught several fish to start on dries….on a couple of instances we had doubles. We fished through several pods of fish and caught one here , one there, and we had risers til probably 8pm or so….a common thing during hot weather and when the release doesn’t start til 4pm like it did today.
We hit a pod of risers in one last spot in the gorge section we were in and there were a ton of fish rising. Roger nailed one of the fish and it was a nice brown of about 17″. On that one we called it a day and headed for takeout with the heavy fog rolling in and the light fading. Great day , probably 40 -45 fish on the day so it was a great one.
Got a recent call from my friend and fly fishing writer/photographer Anthony Vinson Smith. I have done many projects over the years with him and he started several years ago putting together a book for fly fishing in NC. The book was released at the end of June and I just received my copy from Anthony. Its a great book full of info and great variety. The book covers destinations from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast. Some great maps, useful info on each location, and some great photographs. Anthony featured many of my fly patterns in the fly section and also did a 4 page feature, pg 78-81 on me and one of my favorite NC waters.
It is a paperback book , part of a series “No Nonsense Fly Fishing Guidebooks” and retails for $28.95. It can be purchased at Books a Million here for $24.60. You can also purchase a copy on Amazon here for $19 to $23. Anthony talks of our trip where we got into some huge rainbows on 3 weights…..great piece to read.
Have a busy rest of the week with a New River smallmouth float trip with David Horky on Thursday. Then I’ll be doing a tailwater trip with one of my regular clients Curtis Reeves. I’ll round out the week with a trip guiding Ian Craig on a New River smallmouth float trip.
All hike in waters in NC, TN, and VA fishing pretty well despite the heat. DH waters I’d look elsewhere. Smallmouth fishing is good and will continue to be so, and the only damper is that on some waters the afternoon thunderstorm game is here. Hit or miss, some folks get drenched and some remain dry as a bone. Tailwater fishing? Red hot. As good as it gets if you know where.
Also, prepping for our annual Wyoming trip….will be taking care of some final stuff and we head out on Aug 9 to Jackson Hole, WY. Waters are shaping up and it should be a good time to be in the hills there surrounded by wild cutthroats of the best kind.
Stay cool….and hydrated. This time of year you really have to drink plenty of fluids. Water is hard to beat, and go light on any caffeinated stuff. A couple of good tests are (1) you should be needing to head to the bushes once every 3 hours or so….and (2) if its difficult to spit. The second one is very telling. I spend a lot of time in open sun on the river , both wading and in a driftboat, and would say that if you feel wiped out at the end of the day, overly tired….my guess is you are more dehydrated than tired…. or rather being dehydrated is making you feel that way. Just sayin’……
Have a great one…
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Sun. July 16, 2017 …Same summer theme its been for weeks now….long days, lots of warm weather, and a ton of fish. The past week has been a mixed bag both in terms of location and species. I started off the week doing two smallmouth floats, and finished up the week with three trout trips. Busy week, and great fishing. And while we’ve continued our streak of getting rained on on our trout trips….to the tune of 95% of the last two months…. it wasn’t as wet as in weeks’ past and we fished right through all of it. Great fishing also…… With warmer temps and rain lessening water levels are falling . This is good news for smallmouth fly anglers, and also good news for those who delight in low water fishing with terrestrials. Both tend to be great when we have our lower water levels.
On July 10 I took my youngest son Josh & Justin Iocona, Stokesdale, NC, VA on a New R smallmouth float. Got an early start with the heat, and caught some fish to start, including a couple that would be the best ones of the day. Caught a good many fish on top today.
That is just turning on, and flow was at 2900cfs….the topwater fishing will do nothing but get red hot with flows being reduced. The guys fished hard and we fished til dusk, making to takeout…good day, probably 35 smallmouth on the float trip today…..and with the river dropping the excellent popper fishing when the damsels get active….the fishing the river is known for…. the popper fishing will only get better and better.
On Tuesday July 11, I did a guided 2 boat trip, Jim Noble Group, Charlotte, NC, Va New R Smallmouth Float, two boat float trip with Jim Noble, JP Grice, Joe Haubenhofer, and Bo Buxton….we put the boats in and immediately , caught a few small smallies to start and worked our way downstream to a favorite spot of mine. Both Joe and Bo got a really good one, probably best ones of the day.
We worked our way downriver and caught some more on poppers. Joe had three musky follows and caught two very nice fish. We took a break and had lunch on a mid river bar and after lunch we continued down the river and spent the afternoon throwing poppers and did pretty well.
Lots of bass on top, and lots of surface feeding activity. And its just now really turning on. We did well scoring probably 40 to 50 smallmouths and 1 musky….and Joe had one other musky hooked that he played for a while until the hook pulled free. We arrived to takeout just before dusk. Great day…..and this fishing will only get better.
On July 12 and 13 I guided trips, combination wade/float trips with Ted Linczak, Summerville, SC, Bob Schwirzke, Fayetteville , NC, on the TN tailwaters. We had a great two days we wade fished mornings on both days and it was a little slow the first morning but we had a killer afternoon float and caught a gazillion fish on dries, a 15 or so fish morning ended with a few dry fly browns.
The afternoon float was amazing, we got a great hatch and had rising fish almost the entire time scoring many nice browns up to 17″ and some rainbows to 15″. I lost count of the fish we caught, and we scored several doubles….two fish on at the same time. We got out again on Thursday and had a much better morning, scoring some more nice browns and rainbows on a mix of midges, bwos, sulphurs, etc.
Low water fishing was pretty good and they were running morning pulses and afternoon generation. Morning fishing we probably scored 30 -35 fish. The fishing was again excellent, we got into more fish way downriver which sometimes happens on an earlier release.
They started at noon so we delayed our put in til 2pm in an effort to just focus on dry fly fishing. It paid off, we had bugs by 430pm and it was steady the rest of the way. Got into quite a few more fish downriver than we had in the past. It was great. Probably another 30 to 35 fish in the boat. Great two days …..fairly typical for July though.
That’s why folks shouldn’t look past summer fishing thinking its too hot. That ‘s one thing great about tailwaters…..its never too hot. So if you are thinking there’s no opportunity to catch trout in the long hot summers we have then you need to rethink that….not only do we have great opportunities in more than a handful of places some of it is as good as you will find all year long. Why wait?
On Friday 7/14 I guided a wade fishing trip with David Slaydon, Greensboro, NC, Bob Stanford, Greensboro, NC, TN tailwaters – South Holston, and had a great morning in stormy weather/threatening weather that stayed with us most of the day. Showers, then sun, then thunder, then a short downpour, that was our day or at least most of it. We did well in an area I fish a lot but have not fished in a while.
With no generation and three pulses, the river was quite crowded so we opted to wade fish and did pretty well. Bob scored the first several fish including several nice browns as we fished dry/dropper rigs in some challenging flat water. We moved up to a spot and David then got in on the action, scoring a pile of nice browns in a deep slot that always holds nice fish.
We sight fished for probably 4 hours and did very well, I guess we netted probably 30-35 fish or so over that time and several browns in the 17 to 18″ range and one fish, the largest that was close to 19″. We used a variety of micropatterns…… Bob stepped above us and nailed several as well, some of them on a sulphur emerger. The pulse was to come through about 130pm or so, so we took a lunch break with storms threatening and had lunch…then returned to the river during the pulse and a building thunderstorm and there were rising fish….something that always seems to happen during the pulse.
We managed several nice fish on dries that we would see rise, dust the fly, and present to the fish. For about a half hour every riser we cast to ate the fly. David scored several nice browns…..We left that spot and headed upriver in hopes of catching the pulse again and we did.
Caught some decent fish on dries there, Bob scored a good many on dry flies and David scored a nice rainbow…..before we decided to call it a day at 750pm or so. Great day, even if we had to really work for them, I still think we put 40 to 50 fish in the net…..pretty good on any water, let alone the fabled South Holston that humbles many a soul.
Hope your weekend was grand, we have a busy week coming up with a guided trip on the TN tailwaters on Monday and will be guiding Roger Hixson and Dan Rominger, then unavailable for a couple of days , then starting up again on Thursday and trips Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Should be another great week.
Some info on the South Holston Dam upgrade project is as follows….
A major update to the South Holston River Dam turbine is scheduled from July 2017 through March 2018, according to James Everett, P.E., RFC Ops Support for TVA River Management. The current turbine is 67 years old and the original to the dam. TVA will be replacing this turbine with a new and more efficient model.
This project will require TVA to manually operate downstream flows during the project. As most anglers are aware, the rate and time for downstream flow rates depend on energy demand and weather conditions; during the project only weather will be a concern. However, the plan is to provide 4 to 5 days during the week of flow between 1200-1500 cfs and 2 to 3 days on the weekends with no more than 400 cfs. Flow rates between 400 cfs and 1200 cfs are to be avoided because of oscillation affect on the weir dam.
Although all the details have not been refined, TVA will be providing notice of anticipated flow rates on their mobile app and using the siren at the weir dam when higher flow rates are coming.
TVA will be monitoring water temperatures downstream during the entire project operation as well as levels of Magnesium (Mg). At the lower elevations within the lake from which the water is to be drawn, there are higher levels of Mg. As needed TVA will use high elevation of lake water to mix with the discharge in order to dilute the Mg. TVA biologist, Dennis Baxter in involved with this part of the project.
That is the current scoop…..and yes we’ll keep updating this info and YES we will fish through all of this with no interruption.
Have a great week….
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Sun. July 9, 2017 ….That’s what its been like lately, been burning the candle at both ends as its been off the charts busy. Also busy juggling the continued settling of my parents’ estate which is both time consuming and emotionally consuming, but its all gone very well. Just things that must be done, and everyone at some point goes through that. Fishing has been off the charts though, even if we’ve endured every possibility as it relates to storms, wind, rain, you name it. The only thing it hasn’t done is snowed.
On 7-3-2017 I guided Ryan Sexton, Matthews, NC, TN tailwaters, we did a short low water float and also a high water float, morning fishing was good we netted a good many fish, a mix of browns and rainbows, with two big browns on midges. We fished til the early pm pulse passed through and took the boat out and ran upriver to try to catch the sulphur hatch.
Hatch was good, a few rising fish early then it turned on and we got about 3 hours of solid dry fly fishing. Ryan smoked them, it was fun, we caught several risers early in the float then moved on to my favorite…..sniping singles and two or three fish groups. It was like….pull up, spot a head poking out, put a cast and drift over him…..got em. I watched as Ryan did that to probably a dozen straight fish. About as good a two hour stretch of casting to fish and catching them as I’ve had all year long. It was stunning, and fun to watch.
We worked our way downstream and hit a riser here, riser there, and again, most of them hooked up on the first or second drift. Caught several solid 13 to 16″ browns, and the largest was a 17″ brown. It was great, getting them on some of my older patterns I have not used in a while. It was great. We floated to takeout as there was one large thunderstorm bearing down on us. About a half mile from takeout the bottom fell out, dumping a quick one inch of rain on us.
After celebrating the July 4th holiday with a quiet day at home with my wife and the doggies I did a 7-5-2017 trip and guided Trip, Mike Workman, Nick Sweitzer, Thomasville, NC, TN tailwaters, South Holston. We met bright and early, we got out early and did some wade fishing, caught several fish to start nymph fishing with midge and sulphur patterns . We moved downriver to a flat tailout and caught a nice fish on a beetle that was sipping on a bank, then several on dries, then several sight fishing with nymphs.
Had a couple of really large browns own that came off. We fished til about 230pm and took a short break for lunch, then put the boat in for an afternoon float…..dry or die style. That is, we committed to fishing dries and had a great afternoon and evening of dry fly fishing , with lots of nice browns and rainbows, probably 25 or more, and several really nice fish including one 21-21.5″ brown and several other large fish hooked that came off.
It was great. We had a pretty good thunderstorm threatening that broke apart , with some of it going south of us and some north, and only grazing us with some wind and light rain. We got lucky. Fished til 830pm and arrived at takeout at dusk.
Did another trip on 7-6-2017 and guided Trip, Ryan Sexton, Matthews, NC, TN tailwaters wade/float, another stellar day. Ryan always books a couple of days in July while he is vacationing for a week with the family and it was great as usual, just like our past July trips. We opted for a later start with the forecast for storms early am and rain, but they never came.
We started down near where the South Holston enters Bluff City and spent several hours nymph fishing and put several quality fish in the net, some great browns and rainbows, probably a dozen or so, not as many numbers but quality without question…landed several quality fish up to the 16/18″ range. Nymphed up two giants from one deep ledge, both fish well over 20″ that after two long blistering runs broke off. One fish appeared to be in the 24 to 25″ range. The other was smaller but close to that.
I accidentally left the phone/camera in the truck so didn’t get many pics of the first few hours….and it was too far to walk back to get it. We left that area and went upriver and fished one more spot I like that contains some deep ledges….its not an easy spot to get to or fish but we did well, nailing probably 4 more fish from there and one of the best browns of the day.
We then took a lunch break at the diner in Bluff City and went up river to float the upper river and catch the sulphur hatch. We got the hatch, caught a good many fish on dries, missed some, and had our daily downpours as usual. We had some heavy rain but thankfully no severe weather….which was a significant concern when we were fishing. Turned out ok. Another late arrival to the ramp though, we arrived right at dusk. Great two days with Ryan this week, we caught a lot of fish and some good ones.
Finished up the week on 7-8-2017 with guiding a wade trip with Anthony Hipps, Lexington, NC, Adam Harman, Kernersville, NC, TN tailwaters, we got a minimum flow schedule and I opted to wade fish the guys today even though I knew it’d be crowded, and we’d see a lot of folks. While there were a lot of folks wading, we never really fished in sight of many people and did very well.
Both float and wade fishing is excellent right now, and it should be. We had an epic day, we picked off several top shelf browns nymphing some of my favorite deep ledge pools on the middle river…..several quality fish including some 20″ plus and one that was in the 23-25″ range that managed to break off after a pretty lengthy fight. We caught a bunch of quality fish, browns and rainbows, including a very nice solitary riser that Anthony picked off on a sulphur dry.
We put probably 30 or so in the net at our first stop, had a quick tailgate lunch streamside, then headed upstream to fish the pre pulse sulphurs and post pulse. We got to the next spot and it was game on again, we managed to put probably another 30 to 35 fish in the net there, a solid mix of browns and rainbows. We caught most of those fish sight fishing some of my sulphur nymph patterns (Lickety split nymph) and midges, with lots of fish eating both. With everyone gone, we moved to one of my favorite spots in anticipation of the pulse and rigged up with dries. It came off as advertised and exactly as I thought it would be….the fish started rising right after the pulse flow reached peak and continued to do so the entire time of about and hour and a half it was falling.
Adam and Anthony smoked them on dry flies, we netted probably another 25 or more fish, many of which were quality browns. We fished til the pulse was over, caught a few more, then decided to call it a day. If the guys didn’t hit 100 today they sure came close. Im sure an epic spinner fall would have come later (near dusk) as it often does. A lot of this goes unnoticed because everyone is gone for the day……anglers and guides alike. I fish a lot til dusk or dark this time and observe this a lot…..by dusk most folks are gone.
Have another busy week ahead, Wyoming trip is coming upon us too. This week I’ll be doing two smallmouth floats to start….one with Justin Iocona and my youngest son Josh….a second one two boat float trip with Chef Jim Noble and his crew from Charlotte, NC, including QC Exclusive Magazine editor JP Grice, then two tailwater South Holston and Watauga trips with clients Ted Linczak and Bob Schwirzke, and a Friday trip on the tailwaters with clients David Slaydon and Bob Stanford. Should be a great week of fishing and reports. Great terrestrial fishing is on right now as well as the topwater smallmouth bite. Right now is the time to book a trip, for soon July is full and so will be August.
Have a great one….!
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