January 15, 2018 ….Our first post of 2018, its been a cold and slow time here in the Appalachians. We’ve been out some, probably more than a lot of folks, but its been very cold. Historic , in fact. We had one 8 day period that was as cold as anytime the past century. During those 8 days the night time lows were in the low single digits (0 to 4F) and highs below 20F. We have cold winter weather but we usually don’t see it quite that cold for more than a few days at a time. It was below average cold for two weeks before that period, and for a week afterward. We had a slight warmup, but another cold shot tommorrow coming and some snow too.
We have been fishing though….you can check out our most recent reports here on our website fishing reports page… Alot going on otherwise preparing for the 2018 season. No shortage of stuff to do, trip planning, making some repairs to boats and equipment, tying flies….any day we aren’t on the water we are doing tons of stuff. So much goes into a year of trips that there’s a lot to take care of.
Our son Ben recently fished a captains /guides tournament in Wilmington, NC, put on by the Cape Fear River Watch..it is a guides tournament and Capt Ben and his guys (Capt Jon Huff, Arlen Ash) won the event….and won all categories including largest fish, most fish tagged, and largest two fish aggregate.
Here is the scoop for local fishing….
For the most part winter has had a tight grip on us….we’ve had bitter cold temperatures, bitter wind chills, and all waters except our tailwaters (Smith/South Holston/Watauga/Clinch) choked with ice if not completely frozen over to the point of completely unfishable. In fact, that would describe most waters in the area. Simply no other way to state it. We had a couple days above freezing, and some of the ice broke up, and we got some rain, but waters are super chilly with a lot of ice floating in them. Common sense should be used fishing anytime its this cold, and if you have trouble with footing, or are less fleet on your feet than you used to be, wait til it warms up. One slip and in the drink and you could be chilled in seconds and be subject to hypothermia. But if that’s not the case, and many folks do fish in this weather and do fine, then take your time…plan your arrival time later, bring something warm to enjoy when you take a lunch break, and get out of the water and walk often.
Most of our mid and low elevation rivers are a mix of flowing riffs with pools that are a 1/3 to 1/2 frozen across. One thing you’ll notice, on rivers with fewer fast rapids/runs/riffles, and mostly gently water….those are the first to freeze and last to thaw. One of the challenges is finding enough open water where you can even get a drift….what makes it more difficult is fish are in slower water right now…and guess what water surface freezes up first? The slower water. Downsize your flies, tippet, and make slow, deliberate presentations. Where you find one fish you usually find more.
On our smaller and higher elevation waters wait for a warm up. Not even an ice ax or auger would do you good here. The smaller streams (wild waters) are the last place we recommend fishing in winter. Especially in bitter cold.
Our Delayed Harvest waters will fish well even in bitter cold, but like the above it depends on how much open water you can find. Front slope drainages thaw fairly quick, but be prepared to find one river fishable and another closeby not so. You have to search til you find open water. Stocked fish aren’t as lethargic, but they still hit slow and you’ll want to have some smaller flies and search for fish in slower/deeper water. Where you find one you’ll find more.
Tailwaters….business as usual. Nymphing with a few olives and midges.
Stay warm! Looks like two more days of this weather…at least through Wednesday/Thursday then we’ll get a significant warm up.
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