Where Fly Fishing is a Professional Passion…..

Great Fishing Continues….

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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